Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let the Free Agent Frenzy Begin

NBA Free Agency has officially begun. July 1st, 2010 marks the beginning of the greatest single free agent class any sport has ever seen. It has been hyped for years, LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, all top tier NBA talents, and their all free to sign with whatever team can afford them. Buckle up people, it's gonna be a wild ride.

The world is hoping, however, that the class lives up to all of the hype that surrounds it. Sports outlets have had relentless coverage of the 2010 free agent class for the last two years, and if more players decide to stay with their original teams than sign with different one's, this will be a very disappointing summer.

With so many big time players able to sign with any team, FTS is going to try and sort it all out. It starts and ends with LeBron, once he signs, the rest will fall into place. Expect big things.

1.LeBron James
Possible Destinations: Cleveland, New York, New Jersey, Miami, Chicago, Dallas

Word has it that LeBron would like to play for a former NBA player as his coach. Cleveland announced the hiring of Byron Scott, New York has Mike D'antoni who played professionally overseas, New Jersey hired Avery Johnson and if LeBron is to go to Miami, Pat Riley will captain that ship. Like I said before, it all starts and ends with Lebron, once he signs everyone else will fall into place.

I have heard reports that, as of now, Cleveland has the upper hand because of the ties that LeBron has to the city. LeBron has already tried his luck in Cleveland to no avail, and I don't see them being able to add another marquee free agent to their squad.

Chicago has a roster that with LeBron and another big name player can compete for a championship right away. Chicago hired Tom Thibodeau as their coach, he is known as a hard nosed, defensive minded guy who expects a lot out his players; I don't see LeBron liking that coaching style. The Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has never paid the luxury tax, what makes you think he will now?

New York is a very intriguing option. The city gives LeBron the biggest stage to promote his game, as well as his personal image. Mike D'antoni is a players coach who runs a system that LeBron would thrive in. Again, the key will be the ability of NY lure another guy like a Bosh, Stoudemire or Boozer to pair with LeBron.

New Jersey is also another intriguing destination for LeBron. The Nets new owner Mikhail Prokhorov has very deep pockets, and he is not afraid of the luxury tax. New Jersey also has two players, Devin Harris and Brook Lopez, who are young, talented, and would be great compliments to LeBron. The Nets also have enough cap flexibility to sign a guy like Bosh, Stoudemire or Boozer to team with LeBron, which is a huge factor in the decision making process for LeBron. The Jay-Z factor also exists, we have all seen LeBron getting cozy with Jay-Z on the court after games, and with the rapper being a partial owner of the Nets and a move to Brooklyn in the works, this sounds like a nice place to play if you're LeBron James.

I don't see LeBron signing with Dallas, Mark Cuban just threw their name out there for his own amusement. A lot of things would have to happen for James to go to the Mavs, and I don't think LeBron wants to try and compete with Kobe on a regular basis on the west coast.

A ton of things would have to happen for LeBron to sign with Miami as well. There has been talk of a new "big 3" down in South Beach, but it is very unlikely that will happen. Miami would have to talk Toronto into a sign and trade of Bosh for Beasley, then they would have to convince LeBron, Wade and Bosh to each take 16 million, instead of max money. I don't think the ego's of those three players would allow that to happen, but if anyone can make it happen, it's Pat Riley.

Prediction: I think the decision for LeBron comes down to two teams, New York and New Jersey, and LeBron will sign with New Jersey, there are too many good things going on there to pass it up.

2. Dwayne Wade

Possible Destinations: Miami, Chicago,

To be honest, D-Wade is not going anywhere. His meeting with Chicago this morning was merely a ploy to disrupt the flow of the Bulls in the free agent market. Wade and Miami go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. Wade is Pat Riley's top recruiter and there is no way Riley let's Wade walk without a fight.

Prediction: D-Wade stays home in South Beach

3. Joe Johnson

Possible Destinations: Atlanta, New York, New Jersey

Reports have it that Atlanta has offered Johnson a six year deal worth 120 million. No way Johnson passes that up. He won't meet with any other teams and will accept that offer.

Prediction: Atlanta

4. Chris Bosh

Possible Destinations: Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Houston, New York, New Jersey

I think Bosh's time in Toronto has come to an end. Their attempt last season at putting together a serviceable roster by signing Hedo Turkoglu was an utter failure, and that was the straw the broke Toronto's back. Bosh will not be returning to Toronto.

Miami is a definite possibility for Bosh, but it would likely take a sign and trade to make it happen. I think Bosh likes the idea of playing alongside D-Wade in South Beach, but does pat Riley see Bosh as a max player? I don't think so.

Chicago presents another good option for Bosh. The Bulls are already a playoff team who could only get better by adding Chris Bosh. Their roster is very good and Bosh would be a perfect fit, allowing Joakim Noah to move the the 5 where he would be more comfortable. I doubt that the Bulls will get LeBron or Wade which will make them push even harder to get Bosh.

Houston is Bosh's hometown, and he has said that he would love to play in front of his friends and family. Houston has some decent pieces with Yao, Ariza and Aaron Brooks, but it seems like Bosh wants to team up with another superstar to form a tandem. Houston only has enough cap space to offer Bosh a little less than the max, so I think he ends up elsewhere.

New York seems like too big of a stage, without enough guaranteed big time pieces. Rumors are Bosh is making a documentary based on the free agent process, so maybe the Big Apple is the right place for him.

I haven't heard much talk about Bosh to New Jersey, but if LeBron goes there, like I predicted, and Miami can't get a sign and trade together to get Bosh, he may just go join Jay-Z and Prokhorov in New Jersey.

Prediction: I think Bosh ends up in Miami

5. Carlos Boozer

Possible Destinations: Utah, Miami, Chicago, New York

Boozer will not return to Utah for two reasons: 1. He doesn't want to go back to Utah, 2. Utah has Paul Millsap, who if given big minutes, can produce just as well as Boozer. Utah undoubtedly appreciates the contributions that Boozer has made to their team, but it is time for these two to part ways.

Boozer lives in Miami in the offseason, and loves the idea of playing alongside D-Wade in South Beach. If Miami can't land the ultimate trio, look for Boozer to be their backup plan.

Chicago seems like the perfect fit for Boozer. There are very good pieces already in place, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, add Boozer to that squad and the Bulls are a force in the East. I think the Bulls miss out on the top four free agents this summer, and end up making a big push for Boozer.

New York is definitely too big of a market for Boozer. Carlos is a very low key, hard working guy who doesn't like to draw a lot of attention to himself, and he will have a tough time avoiding that in NY. If a bigger name free agent signs with the Knicks, and takes the spotlight off of C
Boozer, look for him to follow suit.

Prediction: Boozer to Chicago

6. Dirk Nowitzki

Possible Destinations: Dallas, New York

I think Dirk's decision to opt out of his contract to explore free agency was just that, an exploration. Dirk saw a bunch of other superstars getting the chance to weigh their options, and he wanted to do the same. At the end of the day, Dirk is a Maverick.

Prediction: Dirk returns to the Mavs

7. Amar'e Stoudemire

Possible Destinations: Phoenix, New York, New Jersey, Miami, Chicago, Cleveland

Like Boozer in Utah, Stoudemire's time in Phoenix needs to come to an end. The Suns have tried tirelessly to trade Stoudemire, but never got a deal done. I think Amar'e has those scenario's in the back of his mind and will use them as motivation to leave.

New York is a good possibility for Amar'e. They have tons of cap space, enough for two max free agents, and the big market that Stoudemire is dying to play in. Look for Stoudemire to wait and see where LeBron and Wade sign, and if one of them makes NY home, so will Amar'e

I like New Jersey for Amar'e as well. Like NY, they have tons of cap space, and a new owner with very deep pockets. What sets NJ apart from NY is the talent that they already possess in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. The move to Brooklyn in a couple of years adds some additional intrigue for potential free agents. Look for the LeBron, Amar'e combo that we wanted to see in Cleveland, happen in New Jersey.

Miami presents a good option for Stoudemire, but it seems like the Heat have their radar focused on LeBron and Bosh which may insult Amar'e a bit. There was a lot of talk during the last two trade deadlines about sending Amar'e to Miami, but I think the Heat get Bosh and Stoudemire goes elsewhere.

I don't see Amar'e in Chicago, it just doesn't seem like the right fit to me. With Chicago hiring Tom Thibodeau as their new coach, he will be looking for a bug guy who can play defense and who can rebound, two things that Amar'e struggles to do. Amar'e to Chicago is an oxymoron, they hire a defensive coach and bring in a guy who can't play defense, doesn't make sense.

Cleveland has been making a push to try and get LeBron back, and that's why they are throwing out names of guys who they are interested in speaking with, and that includes Amar'e. Unfortunately for the Cavs, if LeBron doesn't come back, then no one is coming.

Prediction: Amar'e teams up with LeBron in New Jersey

8. David Lee

Possible Destinations: New York, Chicago

David Lee is a perfect fit in NY, and I don't see him going anywhere. I think NY misses out on all of the top tier free agents because they don't have enough talent to surround two max free agents, and they just have bad luck.

Prediction: Lee stays in NY

9. Paul Pierce

Possible Destinations: Boston

Pierce did the same thing Nowitzki did, he just wanted to weigh his options and restructure his deal. Pierce and the Celtics already have the framework set on a deal, and it's come down to agreeing on terms. If Doc Rivers had not returned, the Celtics may have lost Pierce.

Prediciton: Pierce stays in Boston.

10. Ray Allen

Possible Destinations: Boston, New York

I think Allen will stay in Boston and make one more run at winning a second championship. Ray is comfortable in Boston, and comfortable with his roll on the team.

NY gives him an interesting option, though. They can offer him more money than Boston can, and they have a system that will greatly benefit his game. Ray would be the feature player on a not-so-great team, but money talks.

Prediction: Ray gives it one more go in Boston.

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