The LeBron James Fallout

Steve O Speak

While the big story of the day might be LeBron James joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, this decision set into motion a multitude of additional moves that can impact the futures of a half a dozen teams.

Nets: The New Jersey Nets announced yesterday that they agreed to terms with small forward Travis Outlaw to a 5-year $35 million deal. Outlaw is about the best consolation prize for New Jersey left on the open market. While I don’t mind the money or the years too much, I think the Nets are reeling here. This was supposed to be the offseason that set them up for the future, but instead of landing John Wall and LeBron James the Nets ended up with Derrick Favors and Travis Outlaw….ouch. The Nets missed out on all the top guys and now have over $20 million to spend and no one really worth giving it to. While New Jersey will be better this upcoming season, these 2nd and 3rd tier free agents won’t be the supporting cast needed to get them to the next level.

Clippers: Like the Nets, the Clippers have known for a couple of days now that James would not be in their lineup next season. Los Angeles looks like they will be spreading out the LeBron money to multiple free agents, which probably is the best move for them. First up it appears that they have reached agreements with G Randy Foye and SF Ryan Gomes. Foye is a solid combo guard, and another good insurance policy if Baron Davis gets injured. Also if rookie Eric Bledsoe develops quickly, then Davis could find is way on to the trade block, and Foye would be a nice back-up. Gomes should get some serious time at the Clippers biggest need, small forward. His signing will allow them to bring along rookie Al-Farouq Aminu a little more slowly. Now the Clippers will need to find a couple of big men to back up their starters, but Los Angeles should be a decent contender next season without LeBron.

Knicks: New York actually made a pretty good move here by swinging a sign and trade deal with the Golden State Warriors, sending David Lee for PF Anthony Randolph, F/C Ronny Turiaf, and G/F Kelenna Azubuike. Randolph is the prize for the Knicks, as he is a long athletic PF (from the Warriors shocking…) who should fit into the system of Mike D’Antoni pretty well. Azubuike has been fairly effective when he has gotten minutes and been healthy, and should be a nice player off the bench. Turiaf won’t ever be a starter but he is a decent backup big man. And he will help defend and rebound against power centers in the league. Given the fact that Lee could have gone to any number of teams and the Knicks would have gotten nothing in return I’d say they did a good job. Also, while some may question not going the free agent route, Randolph is a better value (by far) than anything on the open market. And Turiaf isn’t as bad of a contract that most people would assume. I think he will give some valuable minutes, and while he had a bit of a down year, he has been a solid backup center for his career. And his contract is only good for two more years, so the Knicks aren’t taking a huge financial commitment. Azubuike on the other hand is a free agent after this year, giving New York even more cap space (or expiring deals for a trade). New York is in a good position with this deal, and made the most they could after striking out with Wade, James, and Joe Johnson in free agency.

Now it will be interesting to see what the other two James suitors do now that he is in Miami, but both Chicago and the Cavs won’t be able to replace the production that James could have brought to their teams easily.

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