NBA’s free agency turned into a circus-like atmosphere last week. Trying to keep up with player transactions was frustrating and became difficult with all the what if’s, maybes, and unverified rumors. However, now that the hoopla has died down and the dust has settled, let’s take a look at some of the biggest moves and key acquisitions that occurred.
The craziest storyline by far was LeBron James’ return to Ohio! The impact of his Decision caught wind like an F5 tornado, and was so powerful that Las Vegas sports books quickly changed their odds of the Cavs winning the championship from 60-1 to 4-1. I’m still mad I didn’t put $100 on it when I had the chance! Seriously though, as much as I like the move, I don’t think the Cavs will have enough manpower to get all the way to the Finals just yet. Let’s not forget this team hasn’t made the playoffs since James left, and their horrific record is the reason why they’ve had three out of the last four #1 picks. Rumor has it the team will try and trade this year’s #1 pick, Andrew Wiggins, for Kevin Love. Unless they can pull off a deal of that magnitude, it may be a while before they’re able to build a viable roster around LeBron. James must have had similar thoughts, as he stated in his Sports Illustrated story that he’s “not promising a championship.” After leaving the Cavs to go get 2 rings with the Heat, I don’t think that’s the mentality Cleveland fans were looking for. Oh well, at least they won’t have to spend money on a new jersey, they can just wear their throwbacks… if they didn’t burn them already!
Despite losing their best player, Pat Riley stayed busy during free agency. In an attempt to retain at least 2 of the Big 3, the Heat re-signed Chris Bosh to a 5yr/$118M max contract. Dwyane Wade will also return to the Heat, which comes as no surprise considering the superstar has been with the team since his rookie season, and was the primary reason why the franchise won their first championship in 2006. Other players returning include Mario Chalmers & Chris Andersen who were both re-signed, while new additions Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, and Luol Deng will try to fill the void of losing the best player in the NBA. However, unless Wade & Bosh can pick up the slack, I can’t see the Heat getting out of the 2nd round of the playoffs.
At the start of free agency, Carmelo Anthony took a nationwide trip to visit with teams across the league. Turns out he just wanted to feel special for a week, as he ultimately agreed to sign a 5yr/$129M max deal with the Knicks. Luckily for the organization, somehow the Zen Master Phil Jackson was able to persuade Melo to stay for the rebuilding process. Even though Melo was the 2nd highest scorer in the league last season, the Knicks still failed to make the playoffs, which means they have a lot of work ahead of them! However, the team is hoping Derek Fisher will help turn things around as their new head coach. Although I don’t see them missing the playoffs again, I don’t think they’ll be going too deep in the brackets either.
Despite putting on their best dog and pony show, the Bulls were unable to land superstar Carmelo Anthony. However, Chicago was not left empty-handed as they ultimately landed veteran Pau Gasol from free agency. The new addition translated into the long-awaited amnesty of Carlos Boozer, who never quite lived up to his expectations. In any event, Pau looks to be a good fit for the Bulls, as he goes back to playing at his natural position of Power Forward. Despite not playing the entire season, last year the Lakers big man averaged 17 points & 10 rebounds in 60 games. If he can maintain that kind of production, the Bulls could be the new beast of the East.
Not making the playoffs last season was tough enough for Lakers fans to watch and at this point it’s obvious the Lakers are in a rebuilding process. With Steve Nash’s health in question, the Lakers traded for Jeremy Lin. That’s right, Linsanity is coming to the City of Angels (Possibly the worst “big name” acquisition of all time). The Lakers also decided to retain the services of Nick Young, as he agreed to stay with the squad in a 4yr/21.5M deal. Last season, “Swaggy P” was the team’s leading scorer and the organization is hoping he’ll alleviate some of the pressure on offense for Kobe Bryant next season. To help with the loss of Pau Gasol, the Lake Show drafted Kentucky big man Julius Randle and also re-signed Jordan Hill, who’s known for his hard work in the paint. Lastly, the Lakers decided to grab Carlos Boozer and pick up some of his tab after the Bulls amnestied the power forward due to lack of efficiency. Overall, the inability to attract big name free agents has fans upset and pointing the finger at Jim & Jeanie Buss as the source of the problem. With an exciting Clippers team making noise, it’ll be interesting to see what happens within upper management if the Lakers fails to make the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.
The NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs aren’t calling it quits just yet. First, Tim Duncan agreed to exercise his player option and stay with the team for what will be his 18th season. Next, Australian guard Patty Mills re-signed a 3yr deal with the team reportedly worth $12M. Finally, the organization agreed to terms with Gregg Popovich on a multi-year contract extension. Although I don’t see them going to the Finals 3 years in a row, the team is coming back in tact and you can never count out the Spurs with Timmy D and Pop at the helm!