Archive for June, 2010

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, continuing with maybe the best pure scorer in Eastern Conference….

Dwyane Wade

The Basics: Shooting/Point Guard, 28 years old, 6’4, 220 lbs

The Numbers: 26.6 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.8 RPG (2010); 25.4 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.9 RPG (Career); 6 time All-Star, 2006 NBA Champion, 2009 Scoring Champion, 2 time All-NBA, 3 time All-Defensive Team

Summary: Dwyane Wade is in the top 3 players in the NBA. He is a dynamic scorer, defender and just about anything else you can be good at. He is one of the rare players who consistently plays his best basketball at the best moments. He scores mainly on penetration baskets to the rim and is the best finisher at the basket in the NBA. He has developed a mid range shot to accompany his finishing at the rim, but is not a good 3 point shooter. He gets to the free throw line consistently as a result of his style of play, although it does take a toll on him playing such a physical style, as he has never played a full season. Wade also is a highly active rebounder and passes in the style of a pure point guard. Essentially, he is two guards in one and lessens the need for a great point guard to accompany him.

Best suited for…..a team where he is in control. To maximize on his talents, Wade needs to have the ball in his hands most of the time. Due to the completeness of his game, this is not a problem necessarily. It does limit what type of player he can be paired with however. It is best for him to have players he can feed the ball too in between using his own scoring prowess, such as a post player or spot up shooters.

He's already the King of the South Beach sand castle, but its that enough?

Prime Candidates: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls

New York Knicks: They have both everything that Wade would need and everything he doesn’t all at once. On the court, they have the flexibility to sign Wade and another big name running mate (Bosh, James or Stoudemire) to usher in a new era with, while being able to re-sign incumbent All-Star David Lee and pair them all with the emerging Danillo Gallinari. Off the court, it’s in the media and marketing capital of the planet in New York City. However, it breaks down to chances of winning in the end and the Knicks can’t promise that. It would take a perfect storm to pull the Knicks into immediate contenders, and at this point in his career Wade has little need to be part of any rebuilding project.

New Jersey Nets: The Nets are looking to grow their program into a highlighted one in the league and adding Wade who definitely adds the immediate attention that they desire. However, that doesn’t necessarily add the desired immediate effect on the court. While they feature young building blocks in Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, and would give the complete keys to the car to Wade, they also are shooting for a playoff appearance within five years, not one. Wade is looking to secure an immediate shot back into the NBA Finals picture with this offseason and that’s not what he finds in Jersey.

Chicago Bulls: There are a lot of indicators that would make Chicago seem like the ideal place for him. The Bulls are already in the playoff picture, have another All-Star in tow already in Derrick Rose and it’s his hometown. However, Wade dispelled Chicago almost as soon as the season ended and it is a location where some of his personal issues surrounding his offseason divorce are based, so he may not want to deal with that full-time. Also, his style of play mirrors Rose’s and it may make for more on court difficulties than needed, especially when you can pick your destiny.

Miami Heat: Every indication puts Wade back on South Beach. For all intensive purposes, Wade seems to be second

For Wade, it's about luring the right piece to get him here again.

in control of the franchise after Pat Riley, and can use this free agent period to position him into a stronger position financially, strategically (such as luring Riley back to the sidelines) and teammate wise. He can keep his same niche and freedom on court in Miami, as the entire scheme revolves around his will, and can attract new pieces that fit into his desired look for a push back to the top of the East. He is already playing the role of lead ambassador for the Heat, so it seems unlikely to bolt after these efforts.

Wade is a unique talent who understand his position in this free agent bonanza well. The max contract is guaranteed, so it’s about aligning himself with the best talent he can in any situation he is in. While he still is playing second fiddle to LeBron in drawing power to attract future teammates, Wade is not far behind and has proven already that with the right cast he will take care of the winning in June. That is something that even LeBron cannot match.

Next: Carlos Boozer

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, continuing with a dynamic scorer that is a definite push to high scoring nights….

Amar’e Stoudemire

The Basics: Power Forward, 27 years old, 6’10, 250 lbs

The Numbers: 23.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1 BPG (2010); 21.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG (Career); 5 time All-Star, 2003 Rookie of the year

At 6'10, few players possess Stoudemire's athletic or scoring abilities.

Summary: Stoudemire is one of the most front court scorers in basketball. He has developed a different attack since he returned from micro-fracture knee surgery a few years back. Before the injury, he lived above the rim and was one of the premier high-flying big men in the NBA. Now he has regained most of that ability again, but has retained expanded his game with an improved shot he used while rehabbed. He makes usage of most short face up penetration moves and second chance points, but has some post moves to add in as well. While blocking some shots, Stoudemire is a sub par defender and other forwards and centers can take advantage of this as well. He will rebound consistently, but huge rebounding nights are also much rarer than big scoring nights.

Best suited for…..a fast moving, motion based team. For his entire career, Stoudemire has played in an offensive scheme where the mission has been to outscore the opponent and do it quickly. To maximize on Stoudemire’s main ability to get to the basket, his next destination should have the ability to do this. He also is very effective in the pick and roll, and capitalizes on easy baskets that way by using his still considerable athletic ability to out jump the transitioning defense off the pick. It is critical that there are other defenders available along the frontline as well, because he usually tries put up more points than his matchup over stopping them on defense.

Prime Candidates: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns

Miami Heat: This situation works if Miami adds more interior presence. The Heat already has a player that is similar to Stoudemire’s makeup in Michael Beasley in their frontcourt already. This could be a defensive nightmare, but the Heat could score 100 plus nightly (and may need to). It would make them a formidable matchup on offense for any team in the NBA when matched nightly with Dwyane Wade and Beasley, but they would have to make more additions to make this pairing work. Stoudemire is from the Florida area and this could be his preferred endpoint and if Miami misses out on Chris Bosh, he would be neck and neck with Carlos Boozer to join Wade.

New York Knicks: The Knicks present a familiar situation for Stoudemire, as Mike D’Antoni knows how to best utilize his talents, due to their time in Phoenix together. New York is essentially rebuilding their entire structure and could start with adding him to the mix. If David Lee is added to the mix again, his energy and rebounding prowess would offset Stoudemire well, but neither is equipped to play center full-time on defense and that could hold back the Knicks as well. He wouldn’t be the one pick fix, but could play a big role if other moves are made around him.

New Jersey Nets: New Jersey would be a place where he could definitely find a fit. They need more of a scoring punch and are looking to let recently drafted power forward Derrick Favors start on the bench and grow. With new owner Mikhail Prokhovov’s pledge to be in the Playoffs within five years, he may be willing to spend more to continue to make splashes to reach that goal before that deadline, which could land Stoudemire’s services quickly. Similar to the Bulls pieces, Brook Lopez and Devin Harris can run the floor and create the openings Stoudemire needs to operate.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are a great matchup for Stoudemire, with an on-court few pieces that would allow him to truly play his game. Derrick Rose is a high energy guard that is emerging as a premier guard and Joakim Noah is a rebounding and shot blocking machine. The issue here would be new coach Tom Thibodeau, who is an advocate of using defense to create offense. It would serve the Bulls to consider the matchup, as they have no interior scoring presence currently and he would be an automatic fix that could push the team past the first round of the Playoffs finally.

Once the smoke clears, Amar'e will be able to name his price.

Phoenix Suns: A return to the incumbent is not out of the question. The Suns have a solid core that made a deep playoff run and already are familiar to him. They can bring him back into the fold financially, but there could be a movement to change the structure of the Suns and prepare for the end of the Steve Nash era, which is approaching soon, so a rebuilding effort may be underway there soon. Also, the Suns have entertained seemingly yearly offers to move Stoudemire, and that may be enough of an ego bruise for him to not look back to Phoenix, unless nothing else materializes.

Mr. Stoudemire could stand to benefit more from waiting than any other player in the pool. Many more teams will be willing to pay a max contract to Stoudemire and ignore his one-dimensional attack once the top-tier power forward Chris Bosh is committed somewhere. He will immediately upgrade the potency of any team’s scoring punch and could be the go-to scorer most teams in the market lack.

Next: Dwyane Wade

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, continuing with player that could push his new mates to the next level, if the puzzle is just right….

Joe Johnson

The Basics: Small Forward/Shooting Guard, 29 years old, 6’7, 240 lbs

The Numbers: 21.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.3 RPG (2010); 17.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.2 RPG (Career); 4 time All-Star

Johnson is an aggressive finisher that can contribute at two spots equally.

Best Suited For….a team with other athletic options. Johnson has always been a great option on teams that have other athletic forwards to play off of, starting with Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion with the Suns, followed by Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams in Atlanta. Johnson is not what you would consider a player that can carry a franchise by himself, but with a supporting cast he can push a team to quick success. This allows for him to play his more individual based game still, while having other options.

Prime Candidates: New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks

Cases

New York Knicks: With the Knicks rebuilding efforts and young core, Johnson could step in immediately and make his own niche. It would help by re-signing David Lee or adding Stoudemire to the mix to shared the lead role with Johnson, as he won’t turn the tides for the Knicks by himself. Danillo Gallinari is emerging as a shooting threat and Mike D’Antoni’s scheme is one that will lend itself to his style of play. But without another addition to join him it would be pointless for him to go there, because he won’t lift them to the next level himself. It’s worthwhile noting that Johnson’s representation has floated he may be willing to play for less to join the Knicks as well.

Chicago Bulls: Chicago seems to be in play for everyone out there this offseason, but Johnson doesn’t fit well into what they currently have there, as both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are the same style of player. A better long-range shooter would be the best non LeBron or Wade perimeter addition for the Bulls. However, Johnson would add experience to a Chicago backcourt that has been depleted with the exits of Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich in the last few years. Joe would be a definite worthwhile pursuit if they miss out on the whole Chris Bosh, James and Wade race. 

New Jersey Nets: The Nets are going to be active this offseason in every area as well and have a lot of the pieces thatwould be the best for Johnson to pair with. Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors are athletic post players that can score and rebound. Devin Harris is a great shooter and playmaker. Also they are currently moving out more contracts to be in the position to add more frontline talent, which could be Stoudemire, Lee, or Carlos Boozer. The addition of Johnson alone could push the New Jersey to the brink of immediate playoff contention in the changing landscape of the East.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards are in a full rebuilding mode and it started with selecting John Wall with the first pick in last week’s draft. Johnson may not be ideal for the team with Gilbert Arenas in mix still, at an uncertain position. However, if they unload his contract, Johnson would be a versatile and experienced hand that could help to be a sure option for Wall to gain his confidence with.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Clips are being floated around as players that are looking to make an addition to an emerging core. This would be a good fit for Johnson to go into, as he would have each type of player that brings out the best in him. The Clippers feature a strong scoring backcourt with Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, a frontline that features All-Star Chris Kaman and is adding Blake Griffin and Al-Farouq Aminu to its mix. Johnson could play his isolation office on the wing and push the Clippers (of all teams) into the consistent playoff picture in the West. Whether the Clippers are overall buyers, or just in the LeBron market (as they have been interested in) remains to be seen, but Johnson would make great sense (not one of the Clips strong suits).

Atlanta Hawks: Johnson didn’t leave the Hawks under ideal circumstances. He had some harsh words for the fan base on the way out and the Hawks are looking to make small, but big changes to their structure and Johnson is part of that change. While the money is there to give him a slight raise if they decided to, it’s not comparable to the potentially max contract that Johnson is seeking, and they most likely will use their funds toward reshaping the current roster, post-Johnson.

Johnson helped push Atlanta and Phoenix to new levels during his tenures.

Johnson is in a unique position amongst the more notable free agents, where he fits in several scenarios and does it as a stand-alone player. While he can write his own ticket, he won’t be able to turn around most of the teams in the free agent market by himself. He is a reliable and balanced contributor, but the team that selects him will need to be ready to make moves towards the top quickly, as he is turning 30 soon and could be headed for a decline, yet not an immediate one.