Will he leave? Will they leave? Those are the questions NBA teams are asking as the much-anticipated summer of 2010 draws near. A crop of mouth-watering free agents will be available to teams who want to spend big bucks.
Some of these players have an option to leave if they want. Others have an early termination clause in their contract. And the vast majority have no contract whatsoever and are looking to cash in this summer.
The impressive list looks to be the biggest change in the league since 1996 when a multitude of players switched jerseys with the biggest impact being the earth-shattering move of Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Only King James can have as huge an impact as Shaq’s departure from Orlando. Make no mistake, if James leaves, the Cavaliers will never be the same again. The Orlando Magic, although an NBA powerhouse right now, have missed Shaq greatly.
He has won four championships with two different teams (Los Angeles and Miami). Could James do the same? Possibly. The New York Knicks have the money to spend and they have been eyeing James for years.
But would James leave the Cavaliers if they win a championship this year? The Knicks are an atrocious team. They have been an NBA joke for quite some time. However, their situation might change as they can also sign another huge free agent.
The Knicks could be championship contenders overnight with the addition of James and someone else. The Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets have enough cap space as well, but this will probably come down to Cleveland and New York.
Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
David Lee, New York Knicks
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
These players can carry teams and all of them, with the exception of Nowitzki, will probably leave. Lee is the least high profile out of this bunch, but he’s got plenty of game.
The other players, however, if teamed with James will make their franchise an instant championship contender for years to come. Wade and Stoudemire are the most coveted on this list. Bosh is on a team going nowhere and Johnson has already left a solid situation before (Phoenix) for more cash.
You’re The Man … Kind Of
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
Tracy McGrady, New York Knicks
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
This is an interesting group. These players are either older or are known to get injured frequently. McGrady has no shot of returning to the Knicks and he won’t come close to the fat contract he received from the Houston Rockets in 2004 (McGrady’s salary for this year is almost $23 million.
Pierce and Yao have options to leave. Boozer is a force in the paint averaging close to 20 points and more than 11 rebounds per game. Will Utah open up its pockets or will some other team nab Boozer?
Iverson is a huge unknown. He can score with ease and maybe help a contending team, but his off-court problems and questionable leadership will be a hard sell.
Championship Piece To The Puzzle
Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
Tyson Chandler, Charlotte Bobcats
Brad Miller, Chicago Bulls
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers
Shaquille O’Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers
Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks
Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
Jermaine O’Neal, Miami Heat
Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
Peja Stojakovic, New Orleans Hornets
Al Harrington, New York Knicks
Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns
Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns
Marcus Camby, Portland Trailblazers
Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz
Mike Miller, Washington Wizards
For a team on the cusp of a championship, these are the players that will get them over the top. There’s something for everyone: scorers, starting big men, veteran players with championships already, older big men who may be quality back-ups, spot-up shooters.
The Celtics’ Allen is the best player on this list (16 points a game, championship experience, deadly three-point accuracy). He can probably still score more than 20 points per game for a poor team, but on a contender, he could be the second or third scorer. Hill, Redd, Harrington, Miller and Jefferson fit that mold as well.
Shaq is the most decorated player on this list, but he has a ton of mileage. But he is a seven footer with championship experience, what team doesn’t want that? Camby is a great shot blocker and Haywood is the skilled center Dallas has been missing for years.
With all these big-name players available, the NBA will look dramatically different than it does right now. The regular season is over, get ready for a serious makeover with new elite teams, perhaps, in the works.
That’s right, my head is spinning right round… and I love it (cue up Flo Rida!)
Ron Artest to Los Angeles, Gilbert Arenas to Houston, Rasheed to Boston, Hedo to
Portland Toronto, Hossa to Chicago (that’s going to be an incredible team), Gaborik to the Rangers, Gomez and Cammalleri to the Habs! Wow!!!
Like I said, my head is spinning.
But where are the Devils, Kings and Sharks?
And how about the Suns and Hornets?
More to come as more deals unfold!