The calm before the storm

Tonight really kicks off the start of what has been built up to be nothing short of a true “silly season” in the NBA. We’ve already seen the “:LeBron sweepstakes and US tour”, the turnover in Cleveland’s front office, the (unofficial) courtship by the Bulls of Phil Jackson and the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Cavs and Heat being mentioned as potential destinations for LeBron James – he being the so-called domino that would determine where fellow free agents Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer (not to mention Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki – all of whom are presumed to stay put except for maybe Allen) end up.

And with the free agent period due to start in a week, the “where will they go” stories will certainly be plentiful. But one thing that is getting a lot LESS exposure is the 2011 free agent class – one that may not have the biggest of the big names, but certainly Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker, David West and Kevin Durant are substantial prizes for whatever team can sign or resign them.

One of the biggest mistakes that a team can do (and I fully expect the Knicks to do this as they have proven to be so adept as screwing up over the past decade, making it all but impossible for a fan like myself to stay excited) is spend money just because they have it. On this end, only Wade and Bosh are the game changers, while Boozer, Johnson and Stoudemire are excellent players but aren’t the number one player on a championship team. If the Knicks let David Lee go (one of the most underrated great players in the NBA), only to sign Stoudemire and Johnson (or even Bosh and Johnson), that could be a huge mistake. Why not sign Bosh, keep Lee, trade for a Tony Parker and make a run next year at one of the other big name FAs? But this is the Knicks we are talking about.


I still think that LeBron and Wade stay put. Even though there are compelling arguments for LeBron to go to the Bulls, I’m not sure why he would want to forego all of the millions and the adulation of his hometown to live in the constant shadow of Michael Jordan – a city where “only” 3 titles would be a failure. What makes more sense, and of course the front office upheaval throws a bit of a wrench into this, would be for LeBron to resign with Cleveland, let their 7 unrestricted free agents walk next year and either sign Tony Parker (if he isn’t traded before then) or another point guard to take some pressure off, and get another big man (who isn’t as slow as Shaq) up front. Bonus read: Simmons on LeBron’s decision of “winning, loyalty or immortality”.

Over all, a team like the Nets may be in the best position long term, although the Bulls have tons of cap room and a great core. With Brook Lopez as a budding superstar, a new owner, the third pick tonight, a new arena and gobs of cap money as well, why not take this 2-year approach and put together a deep and stacked team?

My guess, the Knicks crap out with 2 more max deals that don’t make sense (unless Bosh is one of them), LeBron and Wade stay put. Just because there is money to burn doesn’t mean it all has to be spend this year. A bad contract can set back a team for years (just see the Knicks once again). But then again, this is why it will be the NBA’s silly season.

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9 Comments

  1. Matt Browner Hamlin
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Eh, I’m not too excited about the NBA draft. I know how it goes every year: Some college kids get drafted, some Europeans get drafted and in the end the Knicks have made all the worst moves possible.

  2. Adam Lambert
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    same here re: the draft – especially given how the Knicks flame out every year on their pick.

    But with the draft day deals, we’ll be hearing all about FAs, which is usually way more interesting. This year it’s a bit of a mix, already a bit burnt on all of the talk since its been going on for a year already, but it will be exciting when the chips start to fall….

  3. EZ Leban
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Expect a lot of trades tonight that could change the landscape of free agency. If the Bulls can move Hinrich and the 17th pick for cap space, they could join the Knicks and Heat as having enough space for 2 maximum contract players, and would still have Rose, Noah, Deng and Gibson as a core to join.

    Also, the Rockets, Blazers and Lakers are in great shape to do sing and trades as they have chips to trade back and all 3 are in the West. It would be hard to imagine the Cavs accomodating LeBron with a sign and trade to the Bulls or any other Eastern conference team

    The top 3 are worth max contracts and Amare in the right spot could be worth it, but the rest of the players will end up being cap albatrosses.

    As for the draft, if the Knicks had a pick I am sure they would spend it on a Frenchman with a bad back.

  4. Adam Lambert
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    ok, Leban – so the Bulls traded Heinrich and the 17th pick.

    What’s their next move? Do you think LeBron goes to Chicago (try to be objective, Mr. Bull)?

    If not him, then who?

  5. Posted June 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Carmelo Anthony will never see free agency; the Nuggets will make locking him up their first priority.

    Adam, to answer your question, I see LeBron ending up playing for one of three teams: Chicago, New York, or New Jersey, but I’d put Chicago at or near the top of my list of likely destinations, simply because they’re much closer to being an elite team than the Nets or the Knicks.

    • EZ Leban
      Posted June 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      With the recent announcement that LeBron is not traveling to see any teams which I think means he is really serious about chasing titles instead of fame. That being said I think his choices come down to Chicago and Miami. Those two and the Knicks and Nets can put LeBron with another key free agent, but Miami can add a 3rd and Chicago already has an All Star on the roster and several other solid pieces. The Knicks and Nets have a ways to go. So for this year, I think it comes down to Chicago and Miami with Cleveland as a wild card. Wherever he goes it would not surprise me if he only signed a 3 year deal to force teams to spend and improve to keep him, but the lack of a collective bargaining agreement could prevent that. So barring a sign and trade, I think it comes down to the Bulls and Miami

  6. EZ Leban
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    And yes I found it funny that the Bulls went and drafted a French player (even though it was for Washington) after my Freddy Weis dig

  7. Harry Waisbren
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I love that my Milwaukee Bucks were able to benefit off the Lebron sweepstakes through the John Salmons trade, but now I am absolutely petrified that a division rival could pick up Lebron+Bosh/Amare/Boozer/etc.

    Hoping it’s not just cognitive dissonance, but I’m not thinking Lebron ends up in Chicago (or as we refer to these lovely bandwagoner fans in Wisconsin, FIBS, i.e. F****ing Illinois B*stards).

    I see the Nets new Billionaire Russian owner with mob ties making him an offer he just can’t refuse through the prospects for international marketing.

  8. Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been watching this team since the days of Walt and Willis and have lived through some earlier bad times, but nothing like the Isaiah years and nothing with the kind of longterm impact.

    The Knicks’ roster is pretty much a mess, with two good, young and flawed wings, an overweight and overpaid center who hasn’t been on the court in most fans’ memories, a couple of interesting unknowns in the backcourt and their best player an unrestricted free agent. The Garden remains an attraction, but the bush-league management of the last decade has left this team in serious trouble.

    The most embarrassing thing, however, was the city’s hokey come-to-NY video, which made the city look like the lamest of semipro backwaters.

    In the end, Lebron is staying in Cleveland because leaving would damage his legacy.

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