2010 NBA Free Agency: Top 5 Places for Dirk Nowitzki; Joining LeBron?
So now that the NBA Draft is well over, you probably thought the drama will take a break until July 1.
ESPN.com reported today that Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has opted out of the final year of his contract.
This move alters the entire landscape of free agency, as Nowitzki immediately becomes one of the best available players.
While some sources say the German stud is only opting out to add more years and money to his already gigantic contract, opting out allows him to be courted by all the same teams hopeful of signing the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
We all know the teams that are in play, but who has the best shot at catching a guy who averages 23 points and 8.5 boards per game?
Let’s find out!
5. New Jersey Nets
From Steve Nash to Jason Kidd, Nowitzki’s almost always had a top-tier point guard that can zip him the ball on that elbow he loves so much.
So why would he like the soon to be Brooklyn Nets?
Yes, the former Mavericks guard had a tough go in New Jersey this year, but who didn’t? He still managed to average nearly 17 points and seven dimes, both which would go up with Dirk on the floor.
But Dirk wants to win now. So how can they appease him?
With the Nets trading Yi Jianlian today to the Wizards, they have nearly enough space to sign a second max deal free agent. If you could add a Joe Johnson or a Rudy Gay to the Nets, doesn’t their lineup look good?
Harris, Courtney Lee, Gay or Johnson, Dirk and Brook Lopez could make a fearsome fivesome for the East, especially with rookie Derrick Favors as the sixth man.
With that kind of youth and talent, he could win titles for years to come.
4. New York Knicks
Just a short drive away from the Nets, the Knicks would also love to get Mr. Nowitzki. And with the huge amount of cap space, they can give him exactly what he wants.
You want to play with LeBron? We can make it happen.
You want to be an even greater international superstar? New York’s the right place.
If Dirk can realize that he must defer to an alpha dog to win, the Knicks might have the right tools to get him.
Signing James has been owner James Dolan’s No. 1 priority, and Nowitzki would have to accept being second fiddle.
Shouldn’t be too hard once he has some championship bling.
But another notable thing about New York is coach Mike D’Antoni. Dirk’s ability to play in transition and launch threes fits perfectly with D’Antoni’s speedy style, and if he can get a decent point guard onto the roster, they might be ready for contention.
Plus, the Knicks play no defense, which will work perfectly for the German.
3. Chicago Bulls
It might seem odd that this picture has nothing to do with the Bulls.
Well considering I think LeBron will be in Chicago shortly, this is a photo of Dirk’s possible new teammate torching him.
Chicago is another team that can sign two max guys, and since many reports hint at LeBron heading to Illinois, Nowitzki might want to head there as well.
But not just because of James. With Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, the Bulls are only one superstar away from contending for an NBA title.
Now imagine if they got two? They become a near lock for the Finals for a decade.
And Dirk fits in so nicely. He pushes Taj Gibson to the bench, gives Noah more space down low by stretching the floor and provides an outlet for Rose on the break.
Then you mix in LeBron, and this team has too many weapons to handle.
2. Dallas Mavericks
Nowitzki returning to Mark Cuban and Co. seems like the safe choice. But is it the right one?
Sure, Cubes has been extremely nice and helpful to his superstar, and the Mavs have a solid supporting cast.
But he still hasn’t won a title.
Most analysts think that Dirk opting out is a savvy play for more money from the Mavs. No reports have shown him having any intention of leaving, and there’s many good reasons why.
First, Cuban. He wants to win just as much as Dirk, and has the resources to get it done.
The trades to get Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood show that he is dedicated to putting forth a contender year after year.
If Nowitzki buys into that, then he’s definitely staying.
Second, and most important, Dallas and Nowitzki are tied at the hip. He’s played his entire career there, and doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who will abandon an entire city that has chanted his name for over a decade.
1. Miami Heat
…Or maybe he wants to win now.
And Miami is the place to do it.
The Heat have essentially cleared the books, with only three players left on their roster. They almost have enough money to sign three max contracts, which could give them a trio of All-Stars.
Wade, Nowitzki and someone like Amar’e?
Even if they can’t do that, they can still grab two max guys and have a bunch of money for role players.
For anyone who watched the NBA Finals and saw Derek Fisher and Ron Artest’s impact, you know how important the supporting cast can be.
However, the real reason Miami has an edge is because they have something the other teams don’t.
Riley’s charisma, cunning and knowledge of how to win are a mixture of success. He took a team that was a big underdog in the 2006 NBA Finals, and turned them into champions.
Riles also has that persuasive aura. It’s hard to deny his sweet-talking abilities, and if he can get a single meeting with Nowitzki, the other teams might be out of luck.
Riley knows what to say to make people believe they can win.
And Dirk wants to believe again.