Tuesday, December 12

The Nba Free-Agent Market: Hitch Your Dreams to a Star

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            Every NBA fan knows that this is the “most deeply and widely” talented free agent pool in the history of the free-agent era.

            LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay, Dirk Nowitzki and Joe Johnson top the list of talent with many more waiting in the wings.

            With so much talent to choose from, many teams have some thinking to do this summer.

            Only one team will land LeBron James – because there is only one LeBron. How will teams shop the market then, knowing that if they pursue only Wade and Wade decides to stay put in Miami, they will be left holding a bag of money with nothing and no one to show for it.

            What do you do if you are a team like the LA Clippers or the New Jersey Nets in desperate need of some off-season success? If you really, really need to land someone, is the best strategy going to be courting multiple stars in the hopes that at least one (if not two) will choose to accept your offer?

            Other teams, not in the same dire straights as the Clippers and Nets, have equally difficult free-agent challenges.

            The New York Knicks have a ghost roster with almost no one signed on beyond this season. It’s a big market team that has been disappointed by players with more potential than talent and has to be feeling stuck right now. On the one hand, a certified talent like LeBron James or Dwayne Wade could serve as a draw for more role players and a serious team could be constructed.

            On the other hand, if the Knicks don’t manage to sign one of those top two players, are they out of luck? They would be in the uncomfortable position of needing two big name free-agents to anchor a decent squad instead of one superstar. Chris Bosh has been a productive and successful in his career thus far– numbers-wise – but he has not been a proven winner.

            Signing Bosh, the Knicks would still want a team leader and a winner. Maybe the Joe Johnson-Chris Bosh combo would be a recipe for success…but it wouldn’t be terribly exciting.

            The Chicago Bulls, however, could sign a player like Chris Bosh or Joe Johnson and be satisfied with the acquisition. The Bulls are in a better position than the teams mentioned above. They have managed to squeeze into the playoffs in the East for the last several years. There is enough talent in Chicago to do that already.

            You say, “Well, it’s the eastern conference, big deal.”

            I would point out that the Nets and the Knicks are in the eastern conference as well and neither of those teams made the playoffs this year or last year.

            The Bulls have more talent, period. This makes their off-season potentially less critical than it will be for the Clippers, Nets, and Knicks, yet with so many superb players in the market this free-agent pool offers a rare opportunity for immediate (and big) improvement.

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