NBA Free Agency 2010: When Will the Top Free Agents Win a Ring?

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2010

NBA Free Agency 2010: When Will the Top Free Agents Win a Ring?

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    MIAMI - JULY 09:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat talks during a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    The free agent frenzy in July shook the sporting world and provided a fascinating illustration of the growing relationship between athletes and the media.

    Now that the ballyhooed free agents have finally found homes, it's time to put the past behind us and look into the future.

    NBA teams certainly weren't afraid to spend in the offseason, and it remains to be seen how long it will take for myriad of investments to pay off.

    The Heat headline several NBA teams that appear to be on the brink of NBA Championships in the coming seasons. Elsewhere, teams like the Grizzlies and Nets have laid the groundwork for the future.

    Here's a look at when some of the the top teams and biggest players in free agency can expect to win an NBA title:

Golden State Warriors: David Lee, Dorell Wright, and Jannero Pargo

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 7: Head coach Don Nelson of Golden State Warriors in the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves during a basketball game at Target Center on April 7, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledge
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    It might be difficult to imagine a winner in Golden State anytime soon, but the Warriors made some interesting moves in the offseason.

    David Lee could put up ridiculous numbers in Don Nelson’s system, and the additions of Dorrell Wright, Jannero Pargo, and Jeremy Lin should make for continued success. Defense should be a struggle again, and the Warriors won’t show much improvement in the standings unless the new ownership group makes some sweeping changes in the organization.

    Forecast: Five years or more

Phoenix Suns: Charlie Frye and Hakim Warrick

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    PHOENIX - MAY 29:  Channing Frye #8 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a three-point basket against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 29, 2010 in
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Suns attempt to turn the page on Amar’e Stoudemire without completely eliminating the production from the power forward position.

    Statistically, Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick should be able to produce, but there is no question that neither player can impact the game like Stoudemire.

    It will be interesting to see if the Suns look to unload Jason Richardson next season, or even Steve Nash.

    Rebuilding mode is looming in Phoenix.

    Forecast: Three years or more

Houston Rockets: Brad Miller, Luis Scola, and Kyle Lowery

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    CHICAGO - MARCH 22: Luis Scola #4 of the Houston Rockets looks to pass under pressure from Brad Miller #52 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 22, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Rockets 98-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Rockets are evidently content to surround Yao Ming with a pair of plodders, albeit decent NBA players.

    Brad Miller and Luis Scola have similar styles and complimentary skills, which should allow the Rockets to get away with limiting Yao’s minutes.

    Lowery provides a capable backup to Aaron Brooks at the point.

    The Rockets have a nice roster, but probably won’t be good enough to seriously contend in the foreseeable future.

    Forecast: Three years or more

Milwaukee Bucks: John Salmons and Drew Gooden

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    MILWAUKEE - APRIL 30: John Salmons #15 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives around Mario West #6 of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at the Bradley Center on April 30, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Bucks weren’t afraid to spend money in the offseason.  It just might not make much of a difference in the long run.

    There is no question that Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings are good enough to be the cornerstones of a successful franchise.

    There is also no question that John Salmons and Drew Gooden are solid complimentary players.

    But the Bucks still need more pieces in order to compete with the NBA's best teams on a consistent basis.

    Forecast: Three years or more

New Jersey Nets: Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar, and Anthony Morrow

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    NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 13:  Travis Outlaw #25  of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball over Hilton Armstrong #12 of the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on November 13, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Nets spent big money to assemble a handful of role players. Now, they just need a superstar.

    Mikhail Prokhorov might have to wait a while before he has the weapons to market the Brooklyn Nets throughout the world.

    The Nets appear to have a bright future, especially if Derrick Favors develops into an All-Star.

    It might be a few years before the Nets are a legitimate playoff team.

    Forecast: Three years or more

San Antonio Spurs: Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner

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    SAN ANTONIO - MAY 09:  Forward Richard Jefferson #24 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 9, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Spurs would love to acquire a dynamic shooting guard like Jason Richardson, but for now, the team is continuing to keep the core intact.

    That means bringing back Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner.

    Jefferson is coming off a horrendous season, but still has enough left to resurrect his career. Most of his struggles last year appeared to be in his mental approach.

    Bonner is a steady shooter who will have a role in the Spurs' offense off the bench.

    The sun hasn't set just yet in San Antonio.

    Forecast: Two years

Orlando Magic: Quentin Richardson, J.J. Redick, and Chris Duhon

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 26:  J.J. Redick #7 of the Orlando Magic reacts after he made a 3-point shot in the first half against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 26, 2010 in Orland
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Magic lost Matt Barnes, but retained J.J. Redick and bolstered a thin bench with Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon.

    The relatively minor moves could pay dividends in the postseason, especially against the Celtics and Heat.

    Richardson is a capable defender able to try and match up with Paul Pierce and LeBron James. Duhon is likely to rediscover his defensive prowess and could bother Rajon Rondo.

    Redick's role as a spot up shooter has enormous value for the Magic.

    Forecast: Next year

Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay and Tony Allen

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 03:  Zach Randolph #50, Mike Conley #11, Marc Gasol #33 congratulate Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies after picking up a loose ball against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on March 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisian
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Grizzlies certainly showed Rudy Gay the money.

    By giving the promising youngster a max deal, the Grizz kept a talented roster intact.

    The signing of Tony Allen should help Memphis on the defensive side of the ball and provides depth in the backcourt.

    Sam Young and rookie Xavier Henry should also be key contributors off the bench.

    Quietly, the Grizzlies have assembled enough talent to make the playoffs for years to come. An NBA title isn’t likely in the foreseeable future, but Memphis is clearly headed in the right direction.

    Forecast: Three years or more

Boston Celtics: The Nucleus and Jermaine O'Neal

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals gainst the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    It’s not time to break up the nucleus quite yet.

    The Celtics re-signed Ray Allen and Nate Robinson and replaced Rasheed Wallace with Jermaine O’Neal.

    Boston’s bench loses Tony Allen but retains Marquis Daniels, who can still contribute when healthy.

    Speaking of health concerns, Jermaine O’Neal’s aching knees should be able to hold up if his minutes are limited. But without Kendrick Perkins, O’Neal might wear down after playing big minutes early in the season.

    Boston is in a good position to win an NBA title next year.

    Forecast: Year One

Los Angeles Lakers: Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Theo Ratliff

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    DALLAS - JANUARY 30:  Guard Steve Blake #2 of the Portland Trail Blazers takes a shot against Jose Juan Barea #11 of the Dallas Mavericks on January 30, 2010 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Lakers upgraded what was a fairly weak bench by bringing in three veterans.

    Steve Blake will have the biggest role of the three by spelling Derek Fisher. Blake’s style of play is conducive to succeeding in the triangle offense.

    Barnes was brought in to provide insurance for Ron Artest and conceivably help defend the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    Ratliff’s role will probably be minimal, although he is a slight upgrade from fan-favorite D.J. Mbenga and could contribute if Andrew Bynum isn’t able to stay healthy.

    Forecast: Year One

Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 18:  Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Miami Heat at Philips Arena on November 18, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It’s not always all about the money, but it is for Joe Johnson and the Hawks.

    Johnson’s max deal solidified the Hawks place in the Eastern Conference playoffs for years to come, but handcuffed the franchise in the process.

    The Hawks aren’t likely to be big spenders in the next few years.

    Unless Josh Smith shows increased effort and dramatic improvement, the Hawks will be mired in mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

    Forecast: Five years or more

Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood

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    DALLAS - MAY 11:  Forward Dirk Nowtizki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after scoring to take a two-point lead against the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Quietly, Mark Cuban has assembled a pretty decent roster in Dallas. Now, the Mavericks appear equipped to challenge any and all comers.

    The Lakers, as presently constructed, might only have a couple years left, and the same goes for the Mavericks.

    That places a premium on winning, and winning right now.

    By re-signing with Dallas for less money, Nowitzki showed both loyalty and a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of his team.

    There is no question Dirk wants to get back to the NBA Finals. Don’t be surprised if it happens.

    Forecast: Two years

New York Knicks: Amare' Stoudemire and Raymond Felton

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    NEW YORK - JANUARY 25:  Amare Stoudemire #32 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball during the game against the New York Knicks on January 25, 2005 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  The Suns won 133-118.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknow
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The biggest factor in forecasting the Knicks' future is still well off to the west.

    Depending on what happens with Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks could contend in 2011-2012 or could be stuck in NBA hell for the foreseeable future.

    The Knicks could easily be a playoff team next season and for years to come. That doesn’t mean they will get close to a title.

    Amar'e Stoudemire makes the Knicks a threat, assuming of course that he brings it every night. Raymond Felton should flourish in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

    But the Knicks clearly need more to compete with the beasts of the NBA, as in Anthony and maybe even Chris Paul.

    Three years or more

Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver

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    SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 10:  Carlos Boozer #5 of the Utah Jazz shoots against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2010 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USE
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Bulls have a lot going for them, but there are still questions.

    It appears that Chicago has to either win now, before the Heat begin to jell, or wait a couple seasons for Derrick Rose to get better and Dwyane Wade to begin his descent.

    Despite missing out on the biggest names in free agency, the Bulls filled needs with an all-star caliber inside scorer and two shooting guards with contrasting skills.

    Unlike some of the other NBA teams with new looks, the Bulls shouldn’t have any problems finding chemistry and cohesion next season.

    There just might not be enough talent to get the job done.

    Forecast: Three years or more

Miami Heat: The Big Three and the Crowd

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    MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6, of the Miami Heat smiles during a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Finally, here it is.

    The talented triumvirate and solid supporting cast will undoubtedly storm through the regular season with only a few bumps in the road.

    Things should get interesting in the playoffs.

    The pressure to win will rise considerably, which should make for interesting theater. It might also bring the Heat’s run to a premature end.

    The Celtics are aging, but not done yet. The Bulls and Magic are capable of challenging the Heat.

    If Miami survives against its Eastern Conference foes, a star-studded struggle against the Lakers would create one of the best NBA Finals matchups ever.

    The Lakers have a clear edge in experience and aren’t likely to panic in crunch time. Much like the Celtics, the Lakers are aging but are far from finished.

    Even if the Heat fail to win it all next season, the future is still ridiculously bright on South Beach.

    Forecast: Two years