Barack Obama is government official. The Beatles were an okay band. Michael Jordan was a solid basketball player.
All of these gross exaggerations are equal to saying that the upcoming NBA offseason is highly anticipated. Its reaching a Y2K level of speculations and rumor for the services of some of these elite players. There’s calls of insider trading, scandal & loyalty questioning. It’s got all the elements of both a spectacular ongoing sports story….and an afternoon trash soap opera. All at once.
So here are the lead (and a few supporting) actors in the summer’s big melodrama. And the roles they are rumored to be casted for. I’ll chime in with where I see them landing based on current vibe and information.
1. LeBron James-CLE-Top Options: CLE, NY, CHI, WSH, NJ: The lead actor of them all. The 25-year-old lifelong phenom, once again pushing the levels of his hype to new levels. Not that he doesn’t deserve the look. It’s not
often that a 2-time MVP goes into the open market, potentially to land elsewhere. It’s rare that one player can change everything about the team he goes to, but this is one time he is available. And I have no doubts he will raise the level of drama around these proceedings to a National Security Level of notice. It’s hard to say where this ends up with all of places his name ends (recent rumors have him going to Rays of Mars City, MARS), but the events leading up to this will be something impossible to miss. MY Prediction: CHICAGO…..and/or MARS
2. Dwyane Wade-MIA-Top Options: MIA, NY, CHI, WSH: Another top 5 overall talent hitting the market at an optimal time. D Wade already has reached the summit of the NBA and is prime position to align himself with another asset to make a strong run for another. He has not made it easy on the Heat to get a grasp on his intentions and seems to be very open to the market. However, it makes little sense for him to leave his current situation & is not the same long-term investment as LBJ, due to being slightly older. All the same, he is in his prime now and will definitely add another premier player to Miami, just by saying he’s staying. MY PREDICTION: MIAMI
3. Chris Bosh-TOR-Top Options: TOR, LAL, CHI, MIA, NY: Despite the depth available at power forward in this free agent class, Bosh is head and shoulders above the others and will be the primary secondary focus of free agent class. There is no doubt he won’t be back in T-Dot, but he has actually constructed his own wish list of suitors and it is rumored he will not sign until James’ does, in hopes of following him. This would create a super tandem and change any team’s entire face immediately. However, if James holds loyal to Cleveland, do look for Bosh to immediately join Wade’s efforts in where he lands. He’s the ultimate complimentary piece in this entire scene. MY PREDICTION: CHICAGO
4. Dirk Nowitzki-DAL-Top Options: DAL, PHO, NY, MIA: Dirk is an interesting entry into this race. He isn’t as widely discussed as many, due to the general feel that he is entering to gauge his interest in the process moreso than an actual attempt to move on. Dirk is getting older (32) and could generally be looking to see if a better opportunity to reach the summit is available, but unless something rash happens, I look to see the greatest player in the history of the franchise to stay home. MY PREDICTION: DALLAS
5. Joe Johnson-ATL-Top Options: CHI, NY, WSH, MIA, PHO: Joe Johnson plays an interesting role in these proceedings. He’s a high level talent that has absolutely no chance of going back to his previous squad. Due to this he could end up being the surprise running mate with either James or Wade. There are several scenarios that support him joining either one. His process will be an interesting one to watch, as he could also be lured by several teams that miss out on either of the top dogs. I see this scenario being more likely and for him to be the odd man out of the “Pair with a Superstar” race. MY PREDICTION: NEW YORK
6. Amare Stoudemire-PHO-Top Options: PHO, MIA, NY, CHI, NJ: Amare is a wild card here. He’s already top option on a very good team with a group of established stars, but he could opt to go big here & pair with one other top-tier player. Amare is not as versatile as Bosh, so he’s not an automatic fit with just any other player. What he is, however, is a big time scorer that becomes an automatic gun for the next suitor. He fits in for this role virtually anywhere and could opt to be the top gun by himself, just in another city. At any rate, I see Phoenix as minor player here, as he has been floated for years and should take this opportunity to move himself. MY PREDICTION: MIAMI
7. Carlos Boozer-UTH-Top Options: UTH, MIA, NY, DET, WSH: Boozer has been floated to everywhere that has needed a complimentary big for years now. This seems to be the year that he moves on to other pastures. A variety of issues (not the least of which being injuries and Paul Milsap) will keep him from going back to Utah. Look for Boozer to help add toughness and consistent scoring threat back to the East. MY PREDICTION: WASHINGTON
8. Rudy Gay-MEM-Top Options: MEM (R), NY, LAC, NJ, WSH: Gay is the only true sprinting, athletic small forward in this class and would be an instant fit for many teams in need of a slashing scorer. Several teams could be in place to offer him big money to switch over. The only question is if they will go high enough for Memphis to wave him off. He is also the only truly restricted free agent in this class and I see that making it very difficult for him to switch squads this year. I see the Grizz coming off of what it takes to retain his services. MY PREDICTION: MEMPHIS
9. David Lee-NY-Top Options: NY, CHI, OKC, DET, NJ: He made huge strides forward this year in his consistency and production and showed himself to one of the best interior threats in the league. Lee will be directly affected by the Knicks forays and waiting game with all of the top talents available. This may not be the best policy with a sleeper of a talent (despite his All-Star status) and could allow other teams to make the necessary moves for his services. However, New York still offers the best scenario for him, especially if adds one the other premier talents, as he could match up inside with any of the other bigs out there. MY PREDICTION: NEW YORK
10. Ray Allen-BOS-Top Options: BOS, DET, NY, NJ, CLE: Ray is slowing down some due to age, but he is nowhere close to “3 point specialist only” status. He is still capable of being productive as a secondary scorer and he will not cost as much as some of the other options. It seems hard to imagine Jesus Shuttlesworth moving on at this point from the spot Boston has carved out for him and they can afford to retain him. MY PREDICTION: BOSTON
– Others –
11. Josh Howard-WSH (SF)
12. John Salmons-MIL (SG)
13. Luis Scola-HOU (PF)
14. Josh Childress-Greece (SG)
15. Shaquille O’Neal-CLE (C)