Much has been reported on the stellar free agency class of 2010 and of the love-fest that the New York Knicks have for Lebron James.
However, as the summer of 2009 draws to a close, it would appear that Dwayne Wade and not James would head the class as the most likely to move.
In the first of a six part series, we will begin by taking an in-depth look at the Atlantic Division to determine which team has a legitimate chance of landing Wade.
First, let us establish some basic parameters that are necessary to separate fantasy from fiction when it comes to determining his next destination.
For example, he would look great playing opposite Chris Paul, but given the fact that the New Orleans Hornets have committed $70 million to 10 players for the 2010-11 season, and Wade stands to make an annual salary of $20 million with his next contract, it’s pure fantasy to think he would ever suit up next to CP3.
Instead, we need to look realistically at each potential team to determine the genuine suitors from the imposter's.
The following three key parameters must be present in the ideal team: 1) Must have cap space; 2) should already have real talent on the team and; 3) should be capable of contending with Wade on board.
Boston would give D-Wade the best opportunity at competing for a title in the 2010-11 season, but they are already close to the cap with $54 million distributed among seven players.
Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo would surely command a minimum of $10 million more between them. Before Celtics fans can begin dreaming about Dwayne Wade suiting up in Celtic green, the owner will need to shell out close to $90 million to fill out a roster that includes Wade and the current cast of Celtics.
In this economy, that’s highly unlikely.
Philidelphia tied their cap flexibility up with the Elton Brand trade, and demonstrated their unwillingness to stray into luxury tax territory by stonewalling their most productive point guard Andre Miller, this summer, thus forcing him to sign with the Portland Trailblazers.
We should expect their tight-fisted approach to continue for several more years.
New York is in shambles.
Even if they were able to lure James and Wade to the big apple, their roster would be filled with nothing but substandard role players at every other position. It’s hard imagining the Knicks as contenders even with Wade aboard.
Expect the Raptors to stand pat especially if they are able to resign Bosh.
New Jersey Nets is the most realistic suitor in the Atlantic Division.
New Jersey should enter the 2010 free agency summer with tons of cap space and an abundance of young talent.
Committed Salary for 2010-11 = $17.8 million.
With $40 million in cap space, it should be relatively easy for New Jersey to sign not one, but two marquee players.
Talent = (Standout) = Harris and Lopez; Others = Boone, Dooling, Douglas-Roberts, Jialian, Najera, Sean and Terrence Williams.
Contend – With Wade onboard, this team could easily compete for the No. 4 seed in the East, as Harris and Wade would be an unstoppable backcourt combination.
Offer – If the Nets were to offer Dwayne Wade $20 million a year, they would still have close to $20 million under the cap to sign another impact player like Amare Stoudemire, who has a standing offer just under $18 million on the table from Pheonix in 2010.