Since it has been a pretty slow news week on the sports front I decided I would look at the potential NBA free agents this upcoming offseason. There certainly will be as much star power as we have ever seen available in the history of sports. While there are certainly some huge names there are also some lesser known players that could have a huge impact for a team next season. Of the potential free agents I think Kobe Bryant will exercise his player option for next year while Yao and Paul Pierce will not use their Early Termination Option and all three will remain with their current teams.
I will rank my top-5 today potential free agents and give you my odds for where they will end up with 6-10 coming on Monday.
1. LeBron James 6-8, 250lbs, 25 years old
2009-2010 Stats – 59games 29.9ppg 7.1rpg 8.5rpg 1.63spg
The prize jewel of the NBA will be up for grabs at the end of the season and he will create the most intense bidding war in the history of sports. LeBron is the best player in the NBA and has the ability to turn any team he decides to play for next year into an instant contender. With his growth on the court LeBron has also become an elite leader and a player that will make everyone around him better.
A lot of speculation has been brewing for the past few years that LeBron is going to make the jump to New York and the Knicks have been dumping salary to make room to add King James and another max player in their attempt to become relevant again. I think it will be tough for the hometown kid to leave Cleveland but the big lights of the Big Apple may be too much to pass up. Lurching in the shadows is Jigga and his Nets who would love to bring LeBron with them when they make the jump to Brooklyn.
2. Dwayne Wade 6-4, 220lbs, 28 years old
2009-2010 Stats – 55games 26.1ppg 4.6rpg 6.4apg 1.82spg
While there is no question King James is the marquee name, Dwayne Wade would be a hell of a consolation prize. Dwayne Wade has been super productive throughout his career and proved in 2006 that when paired with a dominant bigman in Shaq he can lead a team to the promise land. Wade is one of the hardest working players in the league and leaves everything out on the court. He is also a highly efficient offensive player and has the ability to create his own shot even when he is his teams only scoring option.
The Heat tried desperately to bring in a big name player to pair with Wade in an attempt to keep him on South Beach; unfortunately they didn’t accomplish their goal and I think Wade’s days with the Heat are numbered. Now the Heat could retain their star if they can bring in another max player, something they will have enough room to do. If LeBron doesn’t go to New York there may be a major push to bring in Wade but his hometown team the Chicago Bulls will also be putting on the full court press.
3. Chris Bosh 6-10, 230lbs, 25 years old
2009-2010 Stats – 53games 24.5ppg 11.4rpg 2.3apg 1.06bpg
Since being draft by the Raptors no player has been as underrated as Chris Bosh. Bosh really can do everything on the basketball court and his game continues to improve every year. People started to take notice as he broke out on the “Redeem Team” and really held his own on a team that was loaded from top to bottom. Bosh may be my favorite player on this list and a guy that could pair up with another star to create a dominant force in the league.
Bosh really needs to get out of Toronto if he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as the best big men in the NBA. I don’t see him resigning with Toronto but rather following another star player to create an instant contender. New York would look awfully formidable with either the combination of Bosh-Wade or Bosh-LeBron.
4. David Lee 6-9, 250lbs, 26 years old
2009-2010 Stats – 56games 20.3ppg 11.5rpg 3.5apg .45bpg
Perhaps the biggest mover this season has been David Lee, in his fourth season out of Florida Lee has become an absolute beast in the post. After making his first All star team Lee has become a little bit more well known in Middle America but he still is flying way under the radar. While other players will be bigger names will get a lot more face time when they make their free agent decision I think Lee could make a bigger impact on his eventual team than any of the players below him on this list. I see Lee being a 20-10 guy for the foreseeable future and a guy that could help lead a team deep into the playoffs if he is paired with a backcourt player to match his talent.
Lee is absolutely the wildcard of this group because it seems as if his current team has no desire to retain him….big mistake! Lee will probably be a player that lets the chips fall where they may this off season and then pick the best possible situation for him.
5. Amar’e Stoudemire 6-10, 249lbs, 27 years old
2009-2010 Stats – 59games 21.5ppg 8.7rpg 1.0apg 1.0bpg
Most people believe that Amar’e would be the big chip that would move before the trade deadline to keep either LeBron or D-Wade with their respective teams; unfortunately for both teams the move was never made. Amar’e is as explosive a post player as there is in the league and is a very talented offensive player. But the reason he is below Lee on this list is because he can become disinterested in playing defense. Another major question mark is what kind of hit his stats will take once he is separated from Steve “Modern Day Bob Cousy” Nash.
Stoudemire isn’t officially scheduled to be a free agent after this season but he does have his finger on an Early Termination Option that could make him an unrestricted free agent. If Stoudemire uses his ETO I don’t think the chances of him returning to the desert are very good but I think he may opt not to use this option and stay in Phoenix. Once Amar’e does hit the open market I think teams with a max contract to offer will be lined up to bring him in, but I really believe he will need to play with another star that can get him the ball for his contract not to be considered a mistake. This is going to sound funny but I think of all the max contract players that will potentially be available Amar’e has the biggest bust potential.
I think basically D-Wade is going to be matched up with either Lee, Stoudemire, or Bosh in South Beach or the Big Apple. As for LeBron he is on a pretty talented team in Cleveland and may opt to bring a championship to his hometown. No matter what this is going to be one hell of a fun offseason. See you Monday with 6-10.