After all the speculation and hype, at 12:01 ET the much heralded 2010 NBA free agent period begins.
The best free agent class in NBA history and perhaps the best free agent class in any sport, can begin talking to teams. This 2010 NBA free agent class could change the NBA landscape for the next seven to eight years. And besides a possible Phil Jackson retirement, this free agent class could be the biggest obstacle to Kobe Bryant’s second three-peat bid.
That is, if two or more free agents decide to go to the same place. It will be interesting to see if any of these players will take less money for a chance to build a super team.
Now let's look at the biggest names in this free agent class:
The biggest player in this free agent class is LeBron James, an out of this world talent who has not won an NBA Championship and has only played in one Finals (in which his team was swept by the San Antonio Spurs).
That does not mean LeBron is not a great player, but he has not brought a championship to his beloved home state of Ohio. Now James could leave the Cavaliers without that championship.
James is not the only huge name in this free agent class. Dwyane Wade is one of two big named free agents with an NBA championship.
Bosh seems certain to leave his current team, the Toronto Raptors. He has stated that his future is connected to LeBron, and that where the King signs will dictate will he ultimately signs.
Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, David Lee, and Rudy Gay could all end up being wild cards if they are willing to play for less than max money. The top three tier players of Bosh, Wade, and LeBron will more than likely get max money, but the stars above could give teams a possibility to win a championship if they will take less money.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, and Carlos Boozer will also be major players in the free agency period. One thing that could keep teams from jumping all over Stoudemire and Boozer is that they both have been injury prone.
Other players entering the twilight of their careers could also influence who goes where when the July 1 free agent period starts—players like Ray Allen and Shaquille O'Neal,
There is no telling how many stars, role players, emerging stars, and aging stars could move with the sign and trade option out there for a number of teams. Still, several teams have been getting ready for the 2010 free agent period for a while now.
Here is a look at the teams with the most cap space to make noise in this huge free agent class:
The Heat have been one of the biggest news-makers over the last month with stories coming out almost daily about Wade, Bosh, and LeBron all playing there. There are two ways Miami could sign all three stars.
The first would be getting one or more of the three to take less money so they call could play together. The second would be that the Heat sign two of the three, then find some team to take on Michael Beasley's and Mario Chalmers' contracts.
More than likely, Miami will have to settle for Wade and one of the other free agents. Stranger things could happen, but before July ends the Heat could be a contender again.
The one team that has been preparing for the 2010 free agent period for two years has been the New York Knicks, specifically in hopes of signing James. The Knicks have told their fans that this offseason was why they had to suffer horrible teams.
It looks like all that maneuvering could be for naught since most experts think New York is out of the question if LeBron wants to win a championship quickly. The Knicks also have to find a way to sign the current face of their franchise David Lee.
Other than Miami, the Chicago Bulls have been the other destination for LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh. The Bulls can get the money to sign to max players if they can find some team to take Luol Deng's massive contract.
One thing hurting the Bulls is that if they sign one of the big three agents is that free agent will have to live in the shadow of Chicago legend Michael Jordan.
If one of the big free agents does go to the Bulls, that team has the pieces in place to be a contender.
New Jersey is hoping that the Russian Mark Cuban, Mikhail Prokhorov, lures free agents to the Nets. While the Nets do not have the money to sign two max free agents (unless one takes less money), they do have a move to Brooklyn and a new arena to look forward too.
Also, do not count out the power of Jay-Z to help sell free agents on the Nets. This team might not be in the mix for the big three free agents, but others could look to New Jersey as a destination.
The Clippers have enough money to sign a max contract free agent, but with their history of losing and owner Donald Sterling, who would want to go there?
The Kings would have to move the contract of Omri Casspi to get enough money to sign one free agent to a max contract. Milwaukee can get the money for one max free agent if they rid of Carlos Delfino.
One of the most interesting teams at the start of free agency would be the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards just drafted John Wall with the No. 1 pick, and if they could convince another team to sign and trade for troubled star Gilbert Arenas it would make the Wizards a team to watch in the 2010-11 season.
The 2010 NBA free agent class could have us talking for years about who made the best/worst move from their current team, or it could end up being much ado about nothing. It all will depend on who leaves their current team for the chance to win a championship or will they stay at home for more money.
Everyone seems to have a prediction for the top 10 free agents in this class. Here are my predictions for the top 10 free agents.
10. Rudy Gay: Los Angeles Clippers - The Clippers have money and someone has to go there.
9. David Lee: New York Knicks - New York has to sign Lee if they cannot get LeBron
8. Carlos Boozer: New Jersey Nets - Prokhorov gets a big name but not one of the biggest
7. Amare Stoudemire: Phoenix Suns - The NBA’s biggest love/hate relationship continues
6. Paul Pierce: Boston Celtics - Doc Rivers coming back for 2010-11 keeps him in Boston.
5. Dirk Nowitzki: Dallas Mavericks - Never a chance he would leave Dallas.
4. Joe Johnson: Chicago Bulls - Bulls get one major player, but not two.
3. Chris Bosh: Miami Heat - Heat become instant contenders after signing Bosh.
2. Dwayne Wade: Miami Heat - Stays with Miami after Bosh signs.
1. LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers - LeBron realizes home is where the heart is, and his heart is in Ohio.