Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Impressive 2010 NBA Free Agent List

As you might have heard by now the year 2010 is going to be a BIG year in the NBA.  An impressive list of amazing free agents will hit the market, on top of that list is superstar LeBron James.  The list is huge and ensures us that after 2010 the league will be completely revamped and the power battle between East and West will be unknown.

According to John Paulsen of The Score Report, here is a list and some criticism of the top ten FA's and some other "notable" FA's.    The NBA seems to be getting younger and more talented with time; after the criticism regarding the "one and done" rule, it might only be getting younger.  Look at the ages of each of these athletes....

 LeBron James, SF (26 years-old)

James is the golden boy of this free agent class and is the player that every franchise would love to land in two years. In 2010, he will have just turned 26 and whatever team is lucky enough to sign him will – barring injury – enjoy four or five years of the best basketball of his career. Given the Nets’ problems with moving to Brooklyn, I’d give the Knicks the best odds of landing him. LeBron has stated that his top priority is to become a “global icon” and playing in Manhattan would serve that purpose. New York has the projected cap space to two top players on this list, which might be enough incentive to keep LeBron from looking elsewhere. Plus, he’s familiar with Mike D’Antoni (via the duo’s work with Team USA) and the Knicks’ up-tempo system would be a near-perfect fit for LeBron’s skill set. The Nets may be able to offer a better supporting cast (led by Devin Harris), but right now the Knicks seem like the most likely landing spot. The Cavs may be able to retain him if they’re able to make another Finals appearance or two over the next two seasons. I think Team LeBron will pretty much make up their minds this summer, but it would be hard for him to leave Cleveland if they make the Finals in 2010. If LeBron’s #1 goal is to win as many NBA titles as possible, then the best fit may be the Portland Trailblazers, who have a great core of young, inexpensive players that would provide James with a terrific supporting cast.
Note: Player option (PO)

2. Dwyane Wade, SG (28)
Wade is two years older than James, but is almost as effective when healthy. In fact, staying healthy is his biggest problem. In five-plus seasons, he has missed more than 22% of his team’s games. He isn’t a great three-point shooter, but he’s a terrific all-around scorer and gets to the line as well as anyone in the NBA. Like LeBron, he’ll be seeking a max contract, but since he’s older, he won’t be as good of a value as his counterpart. I wouldn’t rule out a LeBron-Wade combo with the Knicks or another team, but it’s more likely that a team will be successful in pairing LeBron with a big man, like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire. There’s a good chance that Wade will stay put in Miami since he already has his ring and the Heat can offer the most money. (This is especially true if Miami is able to land Carlos Boozer in the summer of 2009.) Besides, there are worse things in life than being a multi-millionaire living in South Beach.
Note: PO

3. Chris Bosh, FC (26)
Simply stated – Chris Bosh is one of the best young big men in the NBA. He has averaged at least 22.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over the last four seasons and is a versatile power forward that could play center in some systems, which has everyone talking about a possible LeBron-Bosh combo in New York. This would be an ideal situation and as long as the Knicks watch their payroll, they should have plenty of room to sign both players. If the Cavs are careful, they too would have the cap space to re-sign LeBron and poach Bosh from the Raptors. If the Nets are able to unload Vince Carter, they would also be a major player in this game as well.
Note: PO

4. Amare Stoudemire, FC (28)
Stoudemire is a little bigger and stronger than Bosh, but their numbers are almost identical. Stoudemire is two years older and doesn’t seem to be as good of a defender, but he boasts a much higher FG%. He’s at his best when he’s catching a pass from Steve Nash off of the duo’s patented pick-and-roll. If the Knicks are able to woo LeBron but are unable for some reason to get Bosh, Stoudemire would be the next best choice. He’s obviously a great fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system – he averaged 26 points and 9 rebounds in the 2004-05 season – so it’s a logical pairing.
Note: Early Termination Option (ETO)

5. Joe Johnson, SG (29)
The Hawks raised some eyebrows when they traded future Most Improved Player Boris Diaw and two first round draft picks to the Suns for Joe Johnson. Once Diaw won the MIP, it looked like the Suns got the better end of the deal. But with Johnson turning into a 23-point, five-assist, four-rebound kind of player, it sure looks like the Hawks were the ones to benefit most from the trade. It’s likely that Atlanta will do everything possible to retain him, as he’s the biggest reason the team made its return to the playoffs last season. Given his age, scoring ability, versatility and three-point accuracy (39%), he will be highly valued in the summer of 2010.

6. Paul Pierce, SG (33)
If Pierce were younger in the summer of 2010, he ‘d be a lot higher on this list. Realistically, he’s unlikely to be available because the last year of his deal is worth $21.5 million. He’ll probably stick in Boston since Kevin Garnett is signed through 2011-12.
Note: PO

7. Manu Ginobili, SG (32)
Ginobili has a reputation for being injury-prone, but he has played in 86% of his team’s regular season games in six-plus years. He’s a terrific three-point shooter (40%) and a crafty scorer (15.6 ppg) and passer (3.6 apg). Those numbers are a little low since he’s coming off a foot injury. In 2007-08, he averaged 19.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists. The Spurs have done a great job over the years of re-signing their stars, but if Ginobili becomes available in the summer of 2010, more than a few teams will be interested in signing him to a three-year contract.

8. Dirk Nowitzki, PF (31)
Nowitzki’s reputation has taken a bit of a dip over the last couple of seasons, but he’s still averaging 25.5 points and 9.1 rebounds this year. In two years, he won’t be able to carry a (good) team anymore, but he’ll be very capable of being someone’s sidekick. Even with all that’s gone on with the Mavericks over the last two seasons, it’s going to be tough for Dirk to turn down the $21.5 million that the Mavs owe him for the 2010-11 season. Also, it’s important to note that Nowitzki will turn 32 on 7/6/10.
Note: ETO

9. Yao Ming, C (29)
Yao is a 22/10 guy, but his biggest problem is staying healthy. After playing in all but two games of his first three seasons, Yao has missed almost a third of his team’s games. Some are questioning whether or not Yao’s big frame is built for the long haul. This makes him a dicey investment for a team trying to win a championship. Yao would have to terminate a contract that would pay him $17.7 million for the 2010-11 season. It’s doubtful that he’ll find that kind of money on the open market.
Note: ETO

10. Tracy McGrady, SG (31)
T-Mac is one of the league’s most talented and versatile players, but he has two serious issues: staying healthy and an apparent inability to win in the postseason. In the three seasons spanning from 2005-2008, he has missed a quarter of the Rockets’ games. Given his age and health concerns, I think teams will view him as a poor man’s Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson. If he continues to struggle with his knees and back, he could be passed (value-wise) by Richard Jefferson, Michael Redd or Josh Howard.

Other notable names:

Richard Jefferson, SF (30)
Jefferson would have to opt-out of the final year of his deal ($15.0 million) to become a free agent.

Michael Redd, SG (30)
Redd has a ETO, and is unikely to exercise it due to the value of the final year of his contract ($18.3 million).

T.J. Ford, PG (27)
Ford has a player option for the 2010-11 season (at the tune of $8.5 million) and if he’s able to stay healthy over the next two seasons, there will be a team or two willing to lock him up to a long-term deal.

Josh Howard, SF (30)
The Mavs have a team option for the 2010-11 season, and given Howard’s off-the-court antics, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be a Maverick for long.

Tyson Chandler, C (28)
Chandler has a player option for the 2010-11 season worth $12.8 million. If he keeps improving, he might be able to command more on the open market.

Mike Miller, GF (30)
Miller is a quality shooter that is floundering on a bad team right now. At 30, he should still have a few good years of accurate shooting left in his career.

Steve Nash, PG (36)
Nash’s numbers are already taking a dip, but even at 36, he’d be able to lead a playoff team if he is in the right situation. The Suns actually have a team option for next season ($13.1 million) that they could potentially pass on, but chances are they’ll keep him for another season.

Ray Allen, SG (34)
Ray Ray turns 35 in late July, but he’ll be able to shoot the ball until he’s 50.

Significant restricted free agents: Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Ronnie Brewer, Jordan Farmar, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Carl Landry, Randy Foye, Tyrus Thomas, Josh Boone, Thabo Sefolosha, Adam Morrison

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