NBA Free Agent Predictions
NBA Free Agency starts tonight at 12:01 and while much of the hype is surrounding LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, there are plenty of big name and significant contributors that are on the market. While none of them can officially sign until July 8th and there probably won’t be any major signings right away, now is a good time to officially start looking at where some of the big names might end up:
The Big Three: I think Wade and Bosh will be in Miami and James will head to Chicago. Miami might clear the room for three max/close to max guys, but I don’t see James going there. Bosh makes good sense for them, and a nice compliment for Wade. James isn’t a perfect fit for Chicago since Luol Deng plays the same position and is eating up salary cap, but I’m sure they could find a way to make it work. Also in Chicago, James would have the elite point guard that has eluded him in Derrick Rose, and the Bulls already have some size in Noah and Gibson. While the Bulls can’t get another max guy, I’d expect them to go after either David Lee or Boozer with the rest of their money (and just pray none of their guards get hurt).
Heading Back Home: Dirk Nowitzki, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce: These might not be the only free agents to return to their own team (and I fully expect Dwayne Wade to be in this group) but all of these guys are very likely to return to their former team. While Nowitzki and Pierce could get good money on the open market, they are both older and have had success where they are at.
The BIG MEN: While Bosh will get the hype there are a few other big men on the open market. David Lee and Amare Stoudemire are PF/C’s that can fit into about any team. While the Knicks should try to retain Lee, I think they will focus on the bigger fish and miss out on their own top free agent. I see Lee going to either the Nets or the Bulls, I think both teams will court him as the compliment to James/ Joe Johnson. The Heat could get into the mix because they will have money to spend even after keeping Wade and bringing in Bosh, but will likely target a true center like Brendan Haywood. Stoudemire is tougher since his max contract is more expensive than most, and while he shouldn’t get a max deal I’m guessing someone will give it to him, and my guess would be the New York Knicks. Next up, I see Boozer going to where ever Lee doesn’t land, I think the Nets might be a better fit since he is older and they just drafted Favors.
The Wings: Wade and James get all the hype, but there might be another max guy who is a wing in Joe Johnson. Johnson is still one of the best scorers in the the NBA and should be highly recruited on the open market. I will expect there to be a bidding war between the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets for his services. Both teams will be looking for a max guy and desperately want to make a splash. As shocking as it is, I really think Johnson might choose the Nets, they have a better established point guard and one of the best young centers in the league, if they do manage to sign Boozer to go along with Favors then the Nets have a good quality team, that Johnson could really push them to the playoffs. Rudy Gay is an interesting case, the Grizzlies are saying they will match any offer but that could just be lip service. The Knicks and the Clippers could be coming hard after Gay and I don’t know if Memphis will offer the maximum. I could see the Clippers end up winning that battle, they are a great talented team with a good bit of depth. Gay would be the perfect fit out in LA and would help make the Clippers relevant.