NBA Free Agency: First to Blink

In the NHL, tons of moves have happened in free agency.  The NBA has the opposite situation.  So far, the only guys switching teams have been Darren Collison to Sacramento, Spencer Hawes to the Clippers, and Chris Kaman to Portland.  Kyle Lowry resigning in Toronto was big news, but, after that, the biggest player transaction might have actually been Avery Bradley resigning with the Celtics.

But we all know there’s a good reason for the lack of significant moves, and that’s because some incredibly significant ones are about to drop.  There are probably &*$%($%*$ teams waiting to see what LeBron does, because they think they have a 0.5% chance of getting him, or at least a player of his caliber: Miami, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Golden State, Chicago, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and Atlanta probably think they’re all worthy of their 0.5% clip, even if that’s not true with one or some of them.  (It’s definitely not true with Atlanta.  No chance that LeBron goes back to GM Danny Ferry after how bad of a job that Ferry did for LeBron in Cleveland, even if he is better with the Hawks now.  Atlanta really would make sense with a top 4 of LBJ, Horford, Millsap, and Teague in the Eastern Conference, but I don’t see how James trusts Ferry again.)

Whether or not those teams have a realistic chance at LeBron, it’s hard to blame them for holding out for that sliver of hope at the best player since Jordan.  It’s a chance they’ll never have again, and it’s not like these teams are missing anything by waiting for LBJ — nobody else is doing anything either.

Before I touch on Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, the 2 guys other than LeBron who might actually be able to make the other dominoes fall, I wanna touch on a team that we haven’t heard LBJ considering, but we also haven’t heard many talking heads speculate about this place either, which surprised me.  You would think more people would be talking about the Portland Trail Blazers as a great match for LeBron.  Damian Lillard is gonna be a superstar, and he’s an unselfish ball handler who can also get his own shot.  LaMarcus Aldridge already is a superstar, and he’d be the best low post threat that James has ever played with.  The Blazers would have to figure out a way to get rid of either Nicolas Batum, with about 2 years, $23 million left, or Robin Lopez, with 1 year, $5 million left, because there’s no room for LeBron, Batum, Aldridge, and Lopez in the over 6’8″ club.  The Blazers couldn’t do it without a sign-and-trade from the Heat, so Wesley Matthews might have to be in the deal just to get Miami to do it.  But even worst case scenario, if Portland trades Matthews, Batum (a little worse for Rip City to give up), Thomas Robinson/C.J. McCollumn, and 57 draft picks for LeBron, that’s still a team with James, Lillard, Aldridge as the core, and then a drop off to Lopez, Joel Freeland (underrated backup rebounder) and then all of the guys that would come to play with LeBron.  They wouldn’t have more than $3-$4 million in cap space at that point, but they could also trade Dorrell Wright’s expiring deal, maybe Freeland’s, and then McCollum and Meyers Leonard for another asset or 2.  That team might play in the West, but witha  good enough 4th and 5th best players, this team would work.

As for Carmelo, I’m really surprised that he’s strongly considering the Lakers now.  Play in Kobe’s shadow for a 35 win team in the West?  I don’t judge a person, including a pro athlete, for having different priorities than me, but it would be clear that Carmelo’s top priority isn’t winning if he makes that choice.

Chicago would certainly be interesting, but I’m kind of down on that choice for Carmelo.  They’ve already lost Deng, and they would probably have to trade Jimmy Butler and maybe even Taj Gibson to get Carmelo, so that means that Joakim Noah would be the only great defender left on the Bulls with Tom Thibodeau, who loves defense and then some.  Might not be as good of a fit as people think.

(In other news, there’s no reason for the Bulls to not amnesty Carlos Boozer.  If they don’t use him in a sign and trade, he needs to be gone. Thanks.)

I have the same concerns about Carmelo in Houston.  Even if Dwight Howard plays great defense, James Harden doesn’t.  Two wingmen who are bad defenders just seems risky.  That being said, because the max contracts in the NBA are low enough that it suppresses what a superstar could make, the deal would still be worth it for Houston or Chicago to make for Carmelo.

Shit is gonna drop this week.  But we’ve been waiting through a boring period to get there.

As for predictions? LeBron stays, Carmelo stays in NYC because of Phil Jackson, even if the Knicks aren’t the best fit for him, Bosh and Wade decide to stay in Miami, and everything stays the same.  Just not enough reasons for these guys to leave

 

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