Free Agency Frenzy
You can’t always get what you want.
by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
The only thing we know in the days leading up to free agency is that we don’t know anything! Different media outlets quote anonymous NBA executives and sources providing “inside” information on the destinations of the offseason’s most sought after names. I hear LeBron James and Chris Bosh are a done deal to Chicago, then James and Bosh are heading to Miami to team with Dwyane Wade (now that would certainly be a big three). Who knows, perhaps it’s the same source throwing everyone off!
Joe Johnson’s name has also bounced around the United States from New York, to Dallas, to Los Angeles and then back to Atlanta. It is incredible how lopsided toward the seller this NBA market is. Teams are fighting over who they can give max contracts to–and to those elite players, it is expected. It is truly a testament to the play of James, Wade, Bosh and several others when nearly every team in the League will offer you a max contract at the drop of a dime.
While most players will get the money they seek, a few teams stand to be disappointed. As Mark Cuban said to me right after the trade deadline, a team can have money to spend, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the players will come. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote about the Knicks in March:
For the Knicks, the only way to combat the years of hemorrhaging money was to swing the pendulum in the complete opposite direction. The team would be rebuilt from ground up.
The only problem with this method is that to rebuild, you need a foundation to build around. Danilo Gallinari shows spurts of being a great shooter, but he is not a player who is going intrigue the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The Knicks have not been discreet about their plans for the offseason. They have put all their eggs in one basket, hoping that LeBron is attracted to the bright lights and (what seems distant now) history of MSG…LeBron is a global icon without the help of a New York address. New York needs LeBron way more than LeBron needs New York. And everyone knows it…the Knicks will be left in a position where they are likely forced to overspend on the available free agents. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said the team plans to match offers for restricted free agent Rudy Gay. And free agents like Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh will have to determine which suitor gives them the best chance of winning.
So the Knicks have pushed all their chips in before the game even starts. All that’s left to do is wait.
While a team like Chicago has a nice core of players to build around (especially a point guard in Derrick Rose and center in Joakim Noah), many of these teams are literally starting from scratch. It may be hard to convince one or two superstars that you will have the resources to contend for a title.
And while teams are focusing on cap space for maximum contracts, they may want to consider what players will give maximum returns for the money. These teams should consider David Lee, Ray Allen, restricted free agent Luis Scola, and Carlos Boozer as players who can come in and immediately make an impact.
As teams are sure to find out, you can’t always get what you want, so hopefully they will find a way to get what they need. Otherwise, there’s always 2011!