The biggest story in the NBA the past two seasons has not been the Lakers wining back to back championships, heck the biggest story hasn’t even involved any games at all. No the biggest story has been the free agency class of 2010 and where guys like LeBron, Wade, and Chris Bosh would end up. Teams like the Knicks and the Heat have been dumping salary like crazy in hopes of signing not one but 2 or may be 3 of the biggest stars in the NBA. So now with free agency period starting less then a week away I thought it would be the perfect time to share my views on where the top max contract players should go, and where they most likely will go. (Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer)
I did D-Wade first because unlike the other big name free agents he has made it clear where he wants to be and that is in Miami. Wade loves living in Miami, he is the biggest sports star in one of the best cities in the US, he knows the ownership is loyal, stable, and committed to having a winning team focused on him. Even if LeBron decided to come Miami, the Heat would still be Wade’s team in the eyes of the fans and club management. Miami is also the place where Wade can get the most money, and unlike other states, Florida has no income tax. Wade has even begun to talk to other free agents to see if he can get them to Miami. So unless something crazy happens, Wade will be in a Heat uniform next year.
To the Chicago Bulls. Before the NBA draft I would have said New Jersey. I really do like the core group of players that New Jersey has, and truthfully they have a lot talent then there record showed last year. However I waited till after the NBA draft to see what moves would be made, and sure enough both Chicago and Miami made big moves to free up more cap space. Miami now potentially could sign 3 max contract deals if they can trade away Beasley, but more importantly Chicago has the cap space to sign 2 max contract guys. Chicago already has Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj
Gibson, and Luol Deng, but they can now add two of the best players in the NBA as well. This I believe makes it a great spot for James.
As for who should be that other max guy, I firmly believe the guy who should be with LeBron isnot Wade or Bosh or Amare, but rather Dirk Nowitzki. The two of them I think would make the ideal duo. The past few years the Cavs have been trying to find shooters to go around the perimeter for when Jmes drives to the whole, and Dirk, for being a 7-footer, has great jumper and is good from outside the arc. Dirk is also able to get his own shot, unlike everyone else James has played with, but maybe most importantly Dirk is also clutch. Dirk wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. This has been the one big knock on LeBron’s game and this past playoff series really magnified how LeBron actually seems to shy away and comes up small in the big moments. With Dirk at his side Lebron can do his 30 points 7 rebounds 6 assist games and then in the last two minutes when the game is on the line he can let Dirk run the show and have no problems.
To the New York Knicks. Look LeBron loves New York and MSG. In New York LeBron may only make a few more dollars in endorosments, but his face and his jersey will be everywhere in the city. He wants to be a global icon and New York is the place to do that in. If the Nets were moving
to Brooklyn next year then maybe there would be a shot of him going there, but Brooklyn is still two seasons away. He will not go back to Cleveland because try as hard as they did they had 7 years to get the players around him correct and they only seem to be regressing, plus they are getting to a point where it may now be too difficult to move some of they players they have signed for the next few season. The three other teams that have a chance to sign him to a max deal, Miami, Chicago and LA, are all places where he would be playing in someone else’s shadow. If he were to go to the LA Clippers he would be playing on the LA B-squad and have to share a building with Kobe Bryant. In Miami he would be playing on Dwyane Wade’s team, not Lebron and Wade’s team. Finally, Chicago is a place where he will be playing under the biggest shadow of them all in Michael Jordan. Sure he had been playing under Jordan’s shadow his entire career and has encourages the comparisons, but it would be something compleatly different if he was playing in a Bulls uniform in the house that Jordan built. In New York he does not have to play in any ones shaddow, New York’s glory days have long since past, and in New York it will be his team.
To the Miami Heat. If Chris wants to be teamed up with one of his friends and one of the best players in the NBA, then the Miami Heat are the only team right now that can just about guarantee that right now. Also it is a well known story that had the Toronto Raptors not taken Chris with the number 4 pick, then the Pat Riley would have Chris, not Wade, with the 5th pick. The Heat also play a slower half court style of offense which is very well suited for Bosh’s offensive game. Unless Bosh decides to wait until LeBron signs somewhere, then most of the teams out there with the money can’t offer him much more then what he is leaving in Toronto.
To the Miami Heat. I really do not see him going to the Nets, Bulls or Clippers, and the Lakers trading for him is just a pipe dream. There is a very good chance that I am wrong here. Everything comes down to what LeBron does, and Bosh has even mentioned that he would be willing to wait and see what James will do. Plus so many people are just taking for granted that where ever James goes Bosh will follow that it is hard not to believe that there is some truth to it. Still I am going to say Miami because if Wade really does want to stay in Miami and makes that commitment to them, then the Heat can focus their recruiting efforts on Bosh right away as opposed to every other team who are going to be focused of James.
To the New York Knicks. I will be compleatly honest, I am a Miami Heat fan and I really do not believe that that he would be a good fit down here so I am making this pick out of hope. For everyone who has Chris Bosh on there wish list, Amare’s name is listed as there backup plan. If coach D’antoni has any say in player personnel, then chances are he will push to get Stoudemire, who played so well for him in his years in Phoenix. Chicago and Miami will also make strong pushes for Amare if they are unsuccessful in getting Chris Bosh but I still believe Amare would prefer New York, especially he can team up with LeBron or Joe Johnson.
To the New York Knicks. One thing about Joe is that the guy does love to shoot and that is why reuniting him with coach D’antoni in NYC makes a lot of sense. D’antoni has a very uptempo system which he wants his players to get a shot off in the first 8 seconds of the shot clock, this means a lot of jumpers and a lot of 3’s of which Joe shoots fairly well. Plus with the Knicks he will also have Danilo Gallinari, a good 3-point shooting SF, to play with, which could be able to keep extra defenders off of him. Plus if Amare does decide to go to the Knicks, Joe and Amare could be a very good one two punch. While they may not work as a very good pick a role combo, they could play a good two man game in a corner where either Amare could kick it out to Joe for a 3 or Joe could dish it down low for Amare depending on how defenses play them. The only issue here is it is unclear what kind of relationship Joe has with Coach D’antoni after Johnson forced his way out of Phoenix because he was dissatisfied with how he was being used.
To the New Jersey Nets. I have no real inside knowlege but I think that as soon as it becomes aprent that LeBron is not going to New Jersey the Nets are going to focus on Joe. The Nets, despite there poor record in the 09-10 season, actually do have so pretty good players. Devin Harris and Brooke Lopez are both very good, Courtney Lee and Yi Jianlian are decent role players, and number 3 draft
pick Derrick Favors has a lot of promise. Also going in the Nets favor is that they do have a great head coach in Avery Johnson. What the team really does need is a good outside threat and that is exsactly what Joe Johnson is, and after this years playoff some began to doubt whether or not Joe Johnson is worthy of a max contract, so if some are hesitant to give him that much money the Nets, like New York and Miami, need to make a big splash in free agency to keep there fans happy.
I feel as though I need to mention Boozer because he could very well be a max contract guy, but I have no clue where he will end up. The thing with Boozer is that this off season he is not going to be any ones top choice. No he is going to be a guy who will get offers from teams who failed to sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire, and will need to sign some top free agent to settle down there fan base. Boozer if he got his way would end up in Miami, and if Miami is able to sign 3 max contract guys it could happen. However for most teams they maybe better off going after David Lee who put up better numbers last year, is two years younger, and will also cost 1 to 3 million less a year. I know personally as a Heat fan, if the Heat are unable to sign either Lebron, Bosh or Stoudemire I would prefer that they take the money that they would have spent on 1 of those guys and get Rudy Gay and David Lee over offering a max deal to Boozer. Pretty much he should and will go to the Heat if the Heat want him, but if they don’t it is just a matter of who is willing to give him a max deal.
THE BEST OF THE REST:
R. Felton______J. Salmons____R. Gay________D. Lee_________Y. Ming
N. Robinson___R. Allen_______P. Pierce_______L. Scola_______B. Haywood
J. Farmar_____M. Miller______J. Howard______U. Haslem_____S. O’Neal
S. Blake______A. Morrow_____R. Jefferson____T. Thomas_____Z. Ilgauskas
K. Lowry_____W. Mathews____T. Outlaw______A. Harrington___J. O’Neal