As I promised last week, here I am with my predictions for where all of the best 2010 fee agents will be come next season.
This summer's free agent class has the potential to change the balance of elite, powerful teams for the years to come.
Who knows? The Bulls and Lakers could be meeting in next year's Finals. Only time will tell—and maybe this slideshow will shed a little light on the subject at hand.
Without further ado, here are my predictions:
The Nets have lots of money, a new owner, a new coach, and will be moving to a new arena after this season.
Did I mention lots of money?
These are just a few reasons why Richard Jefferson should move back to New Jersey, where he played his best ball, and retire there in a few years. New Jersey could also use a SF, especially since they just traded Chris Douglas-Roberts to Milwaukee.
The Knicks have loads of money, are America's basketball team (even though they are perennial losers), and they are definitely looking for a certain SF...I think his name is LeBron?
Well, the Knicks will not be getting LeBron, so they will have to settle with Matt Barnes's athleticism at the SF position.
Josh Howard is still a solid player and is a former All-Star, but he is starting to get too old and too injury-prone to be offered any contracts larger than what Washington is already paying him.
Plus, with some solid rookies like John Wall coming in, I do not see why Howard would leave the Wizards.
If you think about it, the Kings have everything that Raymond Felton wants and needs. This includes a nice city, good fans, good coach, good young players (Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins especially), and they even have Sean May, Felton's former teammate with the Charlotte Bobcats and UNC. He would be able to jump into a starting position and would not have to be one of the better players on the team and definitely not a scoring option.
Ronnie Brewer is heading back to Utah after taking a quick pit stop in Memphis. Memphis is saving money to keep Rudy Gay, and, meanwhile, Brewer will be inking with Utah again because they would love to have him back for depth purposes. They are also most likely losing Carlos Boozer, so they need some more athleticism on the court.
With the Suns looking to unload Jason Richardson or Leandro Barbosa and Orlando looking to bring in Gilbert Arenas (potentially), I do not see J.J. Redick staying in Orlando. Redick is also one of the best 3-point shooters I have ever seen, and Phoenix does seem to like players who can shoot 3s. Redick would be a perfect fit in Phoenix, especially if they unloaded Barbosa.
The Knicks have a lot of money, but they suck too much to attract any of the big-name free agents. This means they will sign several decent players to fill voids. Udonis Haslem would be a good fit in New York, especially since David Lee is probably heading out of NYC.
Brendan Haywood just got traded to Dallas and is already their best center. He is also old and prone to injury, which I think would be too big of a risk for anyone else to invest in. Haywood stays in Dallas and will retire there.
Once again, the Nets have money and need a SG instead of Courtney Lee. John Salmons is a player that loves to play the second half of every game, and the Nets could really use a player who can finish a game.
What can I say? Shaq is just an absolute monster! He's old, but he is big, strong, can score, rebound, block, and could easily start in Miami with Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, and possibly Chris Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire. Shaq would definitely take a pay cut in order to win a championship, and Miami would give him the best chance.
Ray Allen is getting older, and he is not as good as he was back in his Sonics days. But he is still a staple that could be valuable to a championship-contending team. Of course, he has won a championship with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo in Boston, and I think he needs to stay. While many teams are hustling and bustling this offseason, the Celtics should just chill, and they will still be a top-five team in the East next season. Plus, Allen is still a lethal 3-point shooter.
Being a Bobcats fan, of course I see Tyrus Thomas in a Bobcats uniform next year. But on top of that, Charlotte is the best fit for Thomas. He is splitting minutes with Boris Diaw (though I think he should be starting over Diaw), and Charlotte has already extended a qualifying offer to Thomas. I don't see any team trying to match the offer sheet, but of course anything could happen in this free agent market.
Luis Scola is a RFA this season, so he will probably end up in Houston again. Plus, he should stay in Houston because they will be a playoff team next season. I guarantee it.
Yao is back from injury (he is staying in Houston too), Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza are getting better, and Kevin Martin is just a dynamite scorer. With players like Kyle Lowry, Chase Budinger, and now Patrick Patterson coming off the bench, the Rockets will be contenders for a top-five spot in the Western Conference.
The Hawks drafted Josh Childress a few years ago, and after spending the past two seasons in Greece playing for Olympiakos, I believe he is ready to come back to the Hawks and help them contend for a Finals berth.
Of course, the Hawks would need to add more than Childress to reach the finals, especially if Joe Johnson is headed out of the ATL.
As I stated when I was talking about Allen—why would any of the aging Celtics players want to leave their big money contracts in Boston when they would take huge pay cuts on the open market?
Paul Pierce is supposed to make $21.5 million next season in Boston if he doesn't terminate his contract.
Boston really needs to relax this offseason and just sign their ancient all-stars and work on developing their youngsters in hope of having a bright future.
Sorry about the funny picture, but it was the best I could find.
Anyway, David Lee is headed to OKC because the Knicks are looking to sign two big name contracts, and they will lose focus on re-signing Lee.
While the Knicks are exploring, so will Lee.
I believe he ends up in OKC, where they are in desperate need of a center other than Cole Aldrich or Nenad Krstic, or any other nobodies they have at that position.
Lee working alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would be lethal, and would guarantee the Thunder a top-six seed next season.
Sorry Grizzlies fans, but I see Memphis agreeing to a sign-and-trade with Minnesota that would send Rudy Gay to the Wolves for Jefferson and then building around the young OJ Mayo, Jefferson, and the aging Zach Randolph.
Of course, if this happens, the Grizzlies would need to find a new SF, but with the way the powerhouses of the NBA will be changing, I see Memphis as the eighth seed in the West if they do this trade.
Plus, they just drafted Greivis Vasquez and Xavier Henry (who could maybe play SF). This is a solid team.
Oh, I almost forgot, they still have Marc Gasol too!
Yao is a human skyscraper—and monster—and is the best center in the Western Conference when he is healthy.
I do not know of any reason why Yao would even think of leaving Houston, especially with all of the young talent that is developing down there.
Yao and Martin are potential All-Stars, and they have a more than solid starting lineup and bench.
Houston will contend in the Western Conference next season.
Carlos Boozer wants out of Utah and into Miami, but they are too focused on Wade, Bosh, and Stoudemire. Because of this, I think Boozer ends up in New Jersey because they are a team with potential to drastically improve next season, possibly from 12 wins all the way back up to being a 40-win team.
The Nets already had a great draft, and if they have a great offseason, they WILL be in the playoffs next year. I know it's hard to believe, but just think about it.
Amar'e likes to play for "hot" teams and is also from Miami. With a chance to play in his hometown, I think Amar'e will ink with Miami in the first couple days of free agency, by July 4th at the latest.
With a chance to play with Wade and a few other big names in Miami (maybe Bosh and Shaq) I definitely see Miami as a top-two team in the Eastern Conference next season. I guess that's what happens when you have almost $44 million of cap space available for free agency. Good luck next season PHX. You're going to need it.
Alright Bulls fans, here's where you guys come into the picture. With the cap space to sign 2 max free agents and a couple of free agents who want to come to Chi-Town, the Bulls will have a great offseason.
The Bulls are sending Kirk Hinrich to Washington in hopes of being able to land some big names. Joe Johnson fits perfectly in Chicago alongside Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and someone else who I think most people agree will land in Chicago. The Bulls will have great potential to dethrone the Lakers next season, and I believe they will be the No. 1 seed in the East if not the entire NBA. I am really excited to see what Chicago does this offseason with all of their money.
Chris Bosh, though he is an All-Star, cannot carry a team all on his own. He is the perfect sidekick star player. He could be the Robin to Wade's Batman down in Miami, whom I believe will have Amar'e and Shaq as well.
Could you imagine a lineup of Mario Chalmers, Wade, Bosh, Stoudemire, and Shaq?!?! Talk about another team with 3-4 starters being All-Stars in one season. Miami will meet Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals, and who knows who will win that matchup.
Honestly, why would Dirk leave Dallas? They offer him the most including money, talent, fanbase, a good coach, and a great owner. They also brought in Caron Butler and Haywood in hopes of keeping Dirk around to make a title run.
The Mavs are reportedly interested in LeBron James also, but their first duty this offseason is to resign Dirk in order to keep him away from rivals, particularly Houston.
Dwyane Wade is another guy, like Dirk, who has no reason to leave his team. But in Wade's case, Miami has the most cap space available to sign a couple of max contracts, and he needs to stay in Miami if he wants to win a championship again.
With Miami looking to bring in Bosh, Amar'e, and Shaq, Wade would make a fool of himself if he decided to sign with a team like New York or Chicago. As much as I hate to say this, Miami could possibly be a 60-win team in the Eastern Conference and competing with Chicago for tops in the East.
The picture should explain it all. LeBron looks sexy in a Bulls jersey. Well, maybe not sexy, but I like the look! LeBron is the next MJ, and the only way to live up to that hype is by playing for the Bulls and leading them to championships!
With a starting lineup of Rose, Johnson, LeBron, Deng, and Noah, the Bulls would be unstoppable. I don't even think my predictions for Miami could beat the Bulls. The number 6 will be retired in Chicago, as well as LeBron. I know it's a bold prediction, but he can't win championships with his teammates in Cleveland, and Chicago has so much more to offer to LeBron. I can not wait to buy my LeBron Bulls jersey here in about a month!