Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NBA Free Agency Predicition Bananza Extraordinaire Post!

It's here! It's finally here! Two years after the New York Knicks started removing their trash, NBA 2010 Free Agency is finally here! So to celebrate, here's an unofficial, un-researched (well maybe a little...maybe), biased and not sourced guide to where the big fishes are going to land this summer. So, grab a drink, relax, stay in your PJs and let's get this started!

(Editor's note: I am so psyched for tonight. The last time I was this excited for midnight was for the The Dark Knight showing. I'll probably be up all night, with a gallon of Mountain Dew, a box of Teddy Grahams and my laptop out until this sucker plays itself out.)

FREE AGENT #1: LeBron James - Small forward. 2009-2010 stats: 29.7 ppg., 7.3 rpg., 8,6 apg., 50.3 FG%, 33 3P%

Lowdown: The big one. He's the King. The greatest basketball player on the world. The most talented basketball player of all time. He has everything he needs...except the want to? I don't understand LeBron at all. I want to go into his head 'Inception-Style' and figure out what he's thinking. I really don't know. What were those last three games against the Celtics in the playoffs? What was that all about? He's never won a Finals game (granted in one trip) and LeBron has been the center of the basketball universe since 2003. Except he hasn't won anything since high school. He's been the regular season King for two years straight with nothing to show for it. I would like to say what drives LeBron, or what motivates him, but I really have no earthly idea.

Looking for: Power? Wealth? Global awareness? Like I said above I honestly have no idea, and I'm not sure I can put 'championship' here anymore. LeBron switches personas faster then Jim Carey in 'Me, Myself and Irene.' Is he going to be "New York-Business Suit" LeBron? Or "Akron-Ohio-Savior" LeBron? I don't know.

Ends up in: Cleveland. I know, I'm in the minority here by a lot. Why would he want to go back to Cleveland? A team that considers Delonte West one of its four best players? Seriously? Honestly, if LeBron has any heart in him, he will stay in Cleveland. If he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as MJ, he'll stay. Can you imagine? LeBron stays in Cleveland to save pro-basketball in the state of Ohio. The Akron native. The basketball savior returns to deliver one of the most tortured franchises (and towns) a championship. A franchise that has been cursed and demoralized since none other then Jordan himself did them in. If he pulls it off, it will be nothing short of legendary.

Or he'll go to Chicago, win a championship and be regarded as "The Second Best Basketball Player in Chicago." I don't think he can live with that.

FREE AGENT #2: Dwyane Wade - Shooting guard. 2009-2010 stats: 26.6 ppg., 4.8 rpg., 6.5 apg., 47.6 FG%., 30 3P%

Lowdown: After the 2006 Finals, I read a story in the paper questioning if Wade was the next heir to Jordan, not LeBron. It was quite a convincing argument and you can't fault it: Wade single-handily won an title against a far superior team. It was by far the closest we've been to an MJ like performance since...well...MJ himself. Injuries derailed his next few seasons and it looked like the Heat were sitting pretty after a miraculous turnaround in the 2008-2009 season when they went from one of the worst teams ever (15-67) to a playoff team (43-39). They had the number two overall pick Michael Beasley coming into his sophomore season after a good rookie year, and a young point guard in Mario Chalmers that looked to be serviceable league player. But '09-10 was anything what some anticipated. Beasley went nuts, Wade looked tired and Chalmers lost his starting role. The team was actually better (47-35) but lots of that was due to a weak conference and Wade's continued brilliance. All the salary cap moves of 2007 finally caught up with the team in the playoffs where the Miami Wade's lost to the Celtics in five games. Wade put up other-worldly numbers but his team, quite frankly, is poop. There's nothing worse after you've been called poop, trust me. That doesn't diminish that Wade is the best two-guard in the league this side of Kobe (and probably better) and he will instantly turn whatever team he lands on into a title contender...except the Heat, unless Wade lures the others to come play with him. Oh, and this is my favorite non-Maverick NBA moment ever.

Looking for: More. More championships, better legacy, more money, more respect. Wade tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of a championship in 2006, and you can tell by the way he plays he only wants more. He isn't looking to be considered the greatest of all time, or the best sports businessman (See: James, LeBron) but he is looking for more success to slowly crawl from under Carmelo, Kobe and James' shadow, which for some reason, in public perception, he seems to be.

Ends up in: Dallas! Seriously! What? Biased? Yep. Far-fetched? Nope. It may sound positively insane but Dallas is honestly the perfect fit for Wade if he is looking for more titles sans Chicago. Perhaps Wade will be feeling in the goodness of his heart to not want to leave Miami (if he does) high and dry and at least let the Heat get compensated by a sign-and-trade with Dallas. And all the sources that say all the big free agents want to become a big super team? Don't buy it. You mean to tell me LeBron and Wade are going to be able to coexist on the same team? Who takes the last shot? Who gets onto the team in the locker room? It's just too much for both of them to be able to coexist, let alone a third superstar joining them as well. That's why Dallas is so perfect. Dirk is the ultimate team player, a guy who is known for letting his court actions speak louder than his locker room speeches. Dirk will gladly let Wade run the show on the court when need be and take the last shots if he has to. You won't hear him complain at all. I'm sure he'll be thrilled. A Dirk and Wade pick-and-roll will be come the most unstoppable play in the history of basketball. Dallas needs a big time two-guard to get to the hole. Makes sense, if Wade is up for it.

If not, he'll go to Chicago. Under some stipulations: 1.) If he's the big cheese (I.E. No LeBron...maybe Bosh) 2.) He really wants to leave Miami, which actually doesn't sound etched in stone.

FREE AGENT #3: Chris Bosh - Power Forward. 2009-2010 stats: 24 ppg., 10.8 rpg., 2.4 apg., 0.97 bpg., 51.8 FG%

(Editor's note: There are some seriously crappy pictures of Chris Bosh on Google. All of them are either him getting fouled or some lame dunk. Nothing wide either, all vertical. Bah. This is what you get.)

Lowdown: There are many who say Bosh is deserving enough to be number two on this list, or heck maybe even the 1-B to LeBron's 1-A. But I don't see it. Sure, anyone would kill to have this power forward who runs gracefully in transition, has increased his range and offensive skill set (He's gone from a traditional back to the basket scorer to a combination of that and a Dirk-Lite mid-range game with pull-ups and fade-a-ways.) and is only 26 years old about to enter the official NBA prime (27-30). So why do I peg him a notch down? Well there are two parts to the game and defense is not part of Bosh's. Sure he rebounds well but are you looking at those block numbers? Less then one per game? BELCH.

Looking for: Fame. Pure and simple. Bosh has been nothing but a shadow to the 2003 draft class of LeBron, Wade and 'Mellow. Playing on a mediocre team will do that to you. Playing on a mediocre team outside the U.S. will especially do that to you. There's not doubt in my mind that Bosh is leaving. It's almost a done deal. Even his G.M. doesn't think he's staying.

Ends up in: Chicago. It's a perfect fit. Bosh has already stated he doesn't want to move from his natural four position to center. And he wants to be the star attraction wherever he goes. With Noah in place at the center spot that isn't a problem. And while Derrick Rose has all the makings of a 'face of the franchise guy', Bosh will step into that spotlight immediately. If he's really that insecure then he'll likely end up in New York (if they fail to get LeBron, which they will) or Miami (if Wade leaves).

FREE AGENT #4: Amare Stoudemire - Center/Power forward. 2009-2010 stats: 23.1 ppg., 8.9 rpg., 1 apg., 1 bpg., 55.7 FG%

Lowdown: Stoudemire went from the Sun's scapegoat to savior over the course of a season. Plenty of props to Amare for handling the entire trade deadline rumors very well. It clearly affected his game. After the All-Star break Amare posted a 26.3 ppg average for the first 18 games and continued at or a little below that pace to finish the year. We all know his strengths:Athletic, dunking, acting, wearing glasses and snow caps. Unfortunately those block and rebound numbers have never looked good. And he's kind of a diva. Sorta.

Looking for: Peace. I think Amare just wants to go to a team that actually wants him and wants to build around him. While always putting up All-Star numbers, Amare was always part of trade rumors year in and year out with the financial drought Suns organization. After all this drama, I'm sure he just wants to go to a team that won't jerk him around. Championship? That'll be a nice plus.

Ends up in: New York. No matter what you hear, LeBron isn't going to the Knicks. So the Knicks need something else. Stoudemire will fit the bill. And he'll be reunited with Mike D'antoni. And he has shooters on the wings to clear space. Only iffy part will be David Lee. Amare has been sort of the lone gunslinger in the paint. The only time he had to share the paint (Shaq) he put up some of his worse numbers. Amare needs his fellow 'post' player to be a big that stretches the floor like Channing Fyre did. So if Stoudemire comes in, expect Lee to be on his way out...unless he wants to go back to the bench.

FREE AGENT #5: Dirk Nowitzki - Power forward. 2009-2010 stats: 25 ppg., 7.7 rbp., 2.7 apg., 48.1 FG%, 42.1 3P%

Lowdown: Yes. We all know. Dirk is pissed. He's always pissed. And rightfully so. The one man who put Dallas Basketball on the map (besides Mark Cuban), Dirk has had nothing but really mediocre to above-average teammates that at times formed awesome teams due to chemistry (which has a little something to do with Dirk's teammate-ability). He's opted-out, but looks to be coming back anyways. He's one of the more under appreciated superstars this league has ever seen. A future HOFer that has always put the team before himself.

Looking for: Help. And a championship. Nothing drives Dirk more then his quest for the elusive first title and he's going to need more firepower then an aging point guard (Jason Kidd), an out of position small forward (Caron Butler), and a declining two-guard in a point guards body (Jason Terry). Dirk just wants to have another solid All-Star mate - preferably a slashing, attacking, take control of the game two guard. (Here's a hint. Starts with a D, ends with a Wyane Wade).

Ends up in: Dallas. Has to. No questions. If he ends up anywhere else I no longer will be primarily rooting for this franchise.

FREE AGENT #6: Joe Johnson - Shooting guard. 2009-2010 stats: 21.3 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 4.6 apg., 45.8 FG%, 36.9 3P%

Lowdown: After spending the opening parts of his career running and gunning with Steve Nash in the desert, Johnson decided he was too cool for school and bolted for browner, muddier pastures so he could be 'The Guy.' He's been the guy alright...on a lot of bad, overrated Atlanta Hawks teams. He's been able to flourish offensively and establish himself as an all around two guard with a great mid-range game. But his playoff performances the last two seasons have been absolutely dreadful to say the least. They proved that Johnson will probably never, ever be the number one option of a playoff team, but could he be the number two or three on a championship team? Definitely. His stock is low, but only some teams are going to be left out in the free agency cold and sign Johnson to a max deal.

Looking for: Repentance? Did these Atlanta years humble Johnson into knowing where his talent ceiling is and now he wants to go join another superstar as a number two option/sidekick? Maybe. Or maybe he's just selfish and just hates life and can't stand staying with one team if he gets criticized. Who knows. But he does seem like a good team player and want a ring, so have a ball with that max deal, Joey.

Ends up in: New York. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh won't touch New York with a 10 foot poll because of how stinko the roster is, no matter how awesome NYC is. But the Knicks aren't going down without a fight and Johnson and Stoudemire will probably tag team up. If that happens, it wouldn't be a bad situation at all. Sure LeBron has been hyped, but getting two really good players as opposed to one awesome one evens itself out, right?

FREE AGENT #7: Carlos Boozer - Power forward. 2009-2010 stats: 19.5 ppg., 11.2 rbg., 3.2 apg., 56.2 FG%

Lowdown: After bolting Cleveland (and LeBron) for Utah, Boozer has been one of the steadiest big men in the Association. He's a rebounding monster and makes up for his relatively short height with a nice little dose of athleticism, a lot of tenacity and a good noggin (Duke baby!). And of course it helps that you have Deron Williams as your point guard. This combo has been Stockton-Malone 2.0, and almost every bit as good (except for, ya know, the two locks in the HOF). But a messy couple of trade deadlines, Boozer's flip-flopping approach to opting out and Utah's frugal financial situation means he's a pretty hot commodity for those teams that miss on Stoudemire but want something a little more All-Star-y than David Lee.

Looking for: Money and a good team. Boozer hasn't really come off as a jerk to me, but the man does want his max contract. Not sure if he'll get one, but you never know. He does want to win and he isn't going to just ship himself to some crappy team. Boozer definitely wants to have his cake and eat it to. (Worst expression of all time IMO)

Ends up in: New Jersey. New Jersey is going to be left out in the cold to the superstars/MVPs in this free agency summer, but they'll still come away with something because A.) They have an awesome owner. And B.) They actually have a nice little nucleus (Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors). While Boozer will seem like an odd fit with Favors just drafted third overall, I actually think this could be a positive as Favors gets to come off the bench and refine his actual basketball skills. Favors is a monster athletically, but the guy doesn't know his pivot foot from a turkey leg and could learn a thing or 100 from Boozers nice post game.

Well, there you have it! That's about all the major free agents out there. What? David Lee? Rudy Gay? Ugh, you guys are picky. OK, Lee goes Houston because Daryl Morey loves to collect power forwards like Jon Gruden loves to collect quarterbacks. And Rudy Gay goes to New Jersey because Memphis is cheap and Nets will offer him the best deal and situation. (Editor's note: Can you imagine that seven man rotation with Gay and Boozer? That's a starting lineup of Harris-Lee-Gay-Boozer-Lopez with Terrance Williams and Derrick Favors being the first two guys off the bench. Scary.)

Now get out of here. I need to go change into my Batman PJs.

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