NBA Free Agents 2011: Teams Better off Saving Money for 2012 Class
The NBA lockout has put a damper on everyone's lives. They need to hurry up and settle all their money woes because I am seriously tired of all these sob stories regarding how NBA players don’t have any money and are moving back to their parents.
Hopefully, we can have a season sometime this year.
There are a lot of teams who have cap space to make a splash in free agency, but might want to reconsider, as this 2011 free agent class is one of the weakest in recent memory.
The current proposal is to have the same salary cap this year and increase it next year. There is also the amnesty clause where teams can cut players for luxury tax relief and salary cap breaks. This means that players such as Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas and other worthless, high-paid players can be cut.
So as the players and owners duke it out, I am going to take a look at some teams that are better off saving there money for next year's superstar free-agent class.
Despite all the distraction of relocation for the Sacramento Kings, this team is primed to make a leap with their young talent just as the Thunder and Grizzlies have in recent years.
The nucleus of Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, “The Jimmer”, Marcus Thornton and J.J. Hickson looks like a good one on the rise. I do not believe that Evans nor Jimmer are point guards in the league, and so I feel as though they need a true floor leader soon. Another pressing position is small forward, where the incumbent Francisco Garcia has failed to secure the job, and Donte Greene will never live up to his potential.
The Kings had an opportunity to draft Brandon Knight, but a draft day blunder left them with a serviceable sixth man in Jimmer Fredette. There are point guards on this free-agent market such as Rodney Stuckey, J.J. Barea and Aaron Brooks, but they all play too similar to the guards that the Kings already have. They have the opportunity to shell out a lot of money to the point guards in next year's free-agent market as they are far below the cap.
Small forward options such as Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Kirilenko are all viable options, but are all on the decline, and contenders will shell out more than what these players are worth to try and contend this year. The draft will likely have potential stars at the small forward position with Harrison Barnes leading the class. The Kings should wait for a small forward in the draft—it will save them money and get them a potential star at the position.
This Kings team is up and coming with loads of potential, and simply needs to continue the rebuilding phase and spend money on the better free agent class in 2012.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers biggest contracts are the expiring contract of Chris Kaman and one to a very capable point guard in Mo Williams. The two can still play and bring leadership to this young team on the rise.
The Clippers will also have to hand out some extensions to their rising stars in Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan. Their biggest need is at small forward, but they hope that Al-Farouq Aminu can live up to his potential and be their future small forward. He has loads of potential, but plays too much like a tweener.
As this team is primed to make a playoff push, they will being looking for someone to fill the position. There are serviceable small forwards in this free agent market, such as Caron Butler, Prince and Battier, but these players are looking to sign with championship contenders. The Clippers are still a few years away from contending. If the Clippers want these guys, then they will have to overspend to get them.
The Clippers should give Aminu another year to develop and see if he can live up to his potential rather than overspending. If Aminu doesn’t do well this year, then they should fill the position in next year's free agency.
Let’s face it, the Denver Nuggets are in complete rebuilding mode. The Carmelo Anthony trade put this team in disarray, and left them with no star or identity.
Nene Hilario, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin were all key players to this team, and are unrestricted free agents. The problem with these guys is that they want more than they are worth. It would make sense for the Nuggets to not resign these guys. Martin does not need to be on this team as it is rebuilding, Smith is a virus and Nene is going to command too much money.
Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler are restricted free agents and the Nuggets definitely want these guys back. Afflalo has been a player that has been improving every season, and they will have to match any offer that he receives, but the price will not be too steep.
Chandler is a player that has so much potential with his size, strength, athleticism and a great array of skill sets. He should be the main priority for this team to sign this year. The problem with Chandler is that he is currently playing in China and the Nuggets will have to wait to until the end of their season for him to return.
The amnesty clause will also help this team’s cap space. They will likely use it on Al Harrington and his $16.5 million guaranteed. The Harrington experiment has been a total bust, and the Nuggets cannot wait to get rid of him.
This team is begging for a new superstar, and there isn’t one to be had in this year's free agent crop. Coach Karl seems to believe that Danillo Gallinari is the next Dirk on this team, but I believe he can be a nice deep threat and third option on this team. The Nuggets should look for their star in the next draft, and try to sign one of the top free agents.
The Nuggets are set to make a big splash in next year's free agent class, and will need to hold off this year in order to do so.
The Indiana Pacers have done well in recent years in stocking up on young talent. They have a solid center in Roy Hibbert, and a player, in Paul George, who has the makings of a star and potentially supplanting Danny Granger as the face of the franchise.
If the Pacers do decide to not trade Granger, then they can play George at guard and keep Granger at small forward. The jury is still also out on Darren Collison, who had an average season last year. The Pacers will give Collison another season as the floor general, but he will have to keep looking over his shoulder because newly acquired George Hill is ready to take the job over.
This teams most pressing need is power forward.
Putting a legitimate power forward alongside Hibbert will elevate his game immensely. Tyler Hansbrough has been serviceable, but should be put on the bench as an energy guy.
The Pacers have the cash to spend this off-season, but who would they consider signing? Kris Humphries? Or maybe David West, who is coming off a knee injury and just turned 31 years old. West opted out of the final year of his deal to cash in on his last big contract of his career, and will likely be overpaid.
Neither of these players have the potential to take this team to the next level, and so the Pacers should save their money for next year. They should continue to develop their young talent, and try sign one of the big free agents in next years free agent frenzy.
New Jersey Nets
The New Jersey Nets struck out in the 2010 free agency, but rolled the dice mid-way through the season to snag an All-NBA point guard in Deron Williams. Williams has one more year on his contract and has yet to sign an extension. I would assume that he would play through his contract to test free agency or possibly lure some top tier players such as Dwight Howard, just as Dwyane Wade did last year.
Trading for Williams could have possibly been the best thing to ever happen to this franchise. They also have a budding star in Brooke Lopez, and the move to Brooklyn will help the marketability of this franchise immensely.
This year's free agents will not make this team any better. In order to compete against Miami, Boston and the rest of the East, this team will need to add another superstar. Holding off and saving money for one more year will allow this team to get that player to take them to the next level. This team is one star away from being where it wants to be.
This is a team with loads of potential, and they have a player who is capable of reaching the potential of Derrick Rose in John Wall. Wall looked more like a pass-first point guard in his first season as a Wizard, which bodes well for all the other players on this team who have loads of potential.
The Wizards hold the key to one of the worst contracts in the NBA in Rashard Lewis, but they can rid themselves of it with the amnesty clause that is set to be initiated this year. As Lewis comes off the books, the Wizards top priority will be to resign Nick Young, who as emerged as a strong scoring option.
This team is waiting for Andray Blatche and Javale McGee to mature, and they are hoping that it will happen soon. If these guys do mature, then the teams only question mark will be the small forward position. This was addressed through the draft by picking up the athletic Jan Vesely and the defensive-minded Chris Singleton. They have two viable options at this position, but it will be a wait and see to see who will be the starter.
With Lewis set to leave and the free agent market being weak, this team needs to hold off. If the Wizards big men do not mature and pan out, then they should look for one in free agency next year. This team has loads of potential at every position, and should look to develop all these players.