We all know there is money to be had this free agency period. However, among all the rumors of who is going where and which team will start or keep a dynasty, I personally believe it is the lack of movement from the top stars that is going to get max deals for some players that do not deserve them.
I believe the consensus is that the top nine free agents are (in no order):
After those nine though, there is a massive drop-off. Rudy Gay? Louis Scola? Brendan Haywood? J.J. Redick?
Nine top-flight free agents is a massive amount for one off-season; since several teams have the room for not only one, but two max contracts, one of the big players in free agency will get shut out and start reaching.
Look at the same list written above with my predictions as to what teams they will go to:
David Lee—NEW YORK
Yup, I think six of the top nine free agents will stay with their former teams.
Now the Bulls, Cavaliers, Knicks, Nets, and Heat are in play for three guys. Five teams, three free agents. Sounds a lot like all the other free agency periods now, doesn't it?
I'm not going to speculate on where the other three names on the list end up... I'm tired of reading the rumors with absolutely no credible sources attached to them. However, with that many teams having money, and so few marquee free agents left on the board after several of the top guys re-sign with their former teams, money is going to be thrown around to players that don't deserve it.
If the Knicks end up with David Lee and nobody else of significance, it's a bad off-season.
Same with the Bulls and the Nets.
Let's look at the Nets for example. Mikhail Prokhorov, their new owner, has the money to spend and wants to make a splash. LeBron and Bosh are off the board, and the other six guys re-sign with their own team.
That means Carlos Boozer is going to get a max contract in New Jersey, although nothing in his history suggests he is worthy of being among the highest paid players in the NBA.
Guess what else? Richard Jefferson may look intelligent for opting out of his deal ($15 million guaranteed) because a team like the Knicks still has seats to sell and money to spend.
Of course, all of this is speculation. However, some lesser free agents will get far above market value this off-season, and one team is going to completely strike out in free agency.
Sorry, Knicks fans.