To kick off NBA free agency, here's a 2 by 4 to let you know what's going to happen - and what isn't.
In case you didn't already have enough reasons to hate China, the Chinese Basketball Association is trying to block players including JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Wilson Chandler from ditching their Chinese contracts and returning to the NBA. What good would an NBA season be without JR Smith? Come on China, do the right thing. To the blog!
2 Free Agents That Will Definitely Change Teams
Without a doubt, returning to Dallas gives him the best chance to win a title - but he's already done that, and other teams have a TON more money that they can and will throw his way. Minnesota and Sacramento would like to get him in their frontcourts to complement their young power forwards. New Jersey (assuming they don't make a trade for Dwight Howard) wants to replace or reduce the role of Brook Lopez because he's kind of a bitch. My money is on Chandler ending up in the City of Brotherly Love with the 76ers. Looking forward, they share a division with the Celtics, Nets, Knicks, and Raptors; the Celtics only have one more year before Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett retire. Granted the Knicks are going to be good, but in 2-3 years the Sixers should be winning 70-80% of their division games. Tyson would give them a starting rotation of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala (until they finally get rid of him, then Monta Ellis takes this spot), Elton Brand, and Chandler. Not a bad team, considering their bench is much more talented than most people give them credit for. Chandler is currently 29 years old, and that roster would give him a good chance to win another title down the road - and fill up his bank account in the process.
The Rockets are going to aim for a guy like Tyson Chandler, but really I think they'll settle for anybody that isn't Yao. Last season he played 5 games. 5. They paid him almost $18 million. $18 million. Doesn't seem like a very good return on the investment, especially when you find out that his minutes were split between Chuck Hayes (career: 4 points and 6 rebounds per game), Brad Miller (still plays basketball?), and Hasheem Thabeet (still plays basketball?). Maybe they don't bring anyone in and they let Hayes and (oh goodness, sorry Houston fans) Thabeet take on more significant roles. But (Asian history joke coming, look out) the Ming Dynasty is over in Texas. (Goes to Wikipedia) Well damn, they were replaced by the Qing Dynasty when they lost power in China. Can't make that funny or relevant to the NBA.
2 Free Agents That Will Definitely NOT Change Teams
Greg Oden, Portland
I know he hasn't played enough to really make an impact over his four NBA seasons, but Greg Oden would still be able to snatch a $9 million extension for this season. I can't see many other teams matching that offer because of Oden's injury-proneness, and if they offer him more money then Portland gets the opportunity to match the counteroffer and retain him. But if he can stick out (most of) the 66-game season and perform as well - or even close to as well - as he can, he'll be able to get Chris Kaman ($11.8 million) or even Andrew Bynum ($13.7 million) money. Who will give him that kind of money, it's hard to say - and it all hinges on the health of his knees over the next 6 months. But for this season, expect to see Oden in a Rip City jersey.
JJ Barea, Dallas
Like Chandler, Barea just played a fairly major role on a team that won the championship. Unlike Chandler, Barea made under $2 million last year (Chandler made $12.6). Personally, I think Barea is more famous for killing the Heat, getting decked by Andrew Bynum, and being Puerto Rican than being great at basketball. Is he good? Obviously. Jasons Terry and Kidd each have a year left and it's costing Mark Cuban more than $21 million combined. Throw in Dirk, Brendan Haywood, and Shawn Marion and that makes $56. The luxury tax cap is $70 million. Not that Mark Cuban has ever cared about spending more money than he has to on his basketball team, but there isn't a whole lot of room for him to give Barea the money that he deserves (at least according to JJ and a lot of the public) and also sign a team so he has more than six players. You know what? He's definitely changing teams. Hola, Miami.
2 Teams That Are Going To Make A Splash
Everyone knows the situation: the Heat have a great shooting guard, 3/4 of a great small forward, and Chris Bosh. The formula was to match these three up with a team of distributing point guards, talented shooters and wing players, and rebounding centers. Last season, the second half of the formula was Eddie House, Mike Miller, and Joel Anthony - not exactly going to get the job done. Look for them to make it a second straight offseason of making moves: Shane Battier would give them a third solid defender, Tracy McGrady could be a formerly athletic ball-handler with good court vision - and since he knows he's past his prime, he probably wouldn't make demands for touches on offense. Tayshaun Prince fits the same kind of mold as McGrady, but he's notsomuch a point guard as a wing/forward. Kwame Brown or Joel Pryzbilla could come in and play center - keep in mind that all Miami really wants from the center position is rebounding and defense. I hope they have no other options and are forced to sign Delonte West. Because.... you know. I've said it before and I stick by it (less than a week later, with no big news released) that the Miami Heat are going to figure it out this season.
Los Angeles Lakers
Mike Brown coached the Cavaliers when they had Lebron James and a bunch of guys they found outside the stadium. That team's success showed that Brown can work with what he has. So they Lakers don't necessarily have to make a move - but they probably will make several. Their current roster is extremely Hollywood - Lamar "Married To An Ogre" Kardashian, Metta "Ron Artest" World Peace, Bynum, and Kobe. Look for them to go after a new point guard and a new center - but at least one of them will probably be via trade (Dwight Howard is basically a lock to end up in LA). Looking at the names on the list of available free agents, they'll probably end up trading for a Derek Fisher upgrade too. So maybe they won't make a splash in free agency, but they will definitely make a splash somehow. Even if it's just Lamar making a sex tape to add some publicity to his new family's name.
2 Players That Are Definitely Getting Amnesty Clause'd
One of the facets of the new CBA is the introduction of the Amnesty Clause: teams can cut a player (still pay him as his contract specifies) and remove his salary from the salary cap and luxury tax numbers. Essentially, this allows teams a do-over on their most ridiculous, unwarranted, bogus contracts. Granted, they still have to actually pay the guys, and the NBA is currently losing money, but it doesn't handcuff teams based on the ignorant actions of their past management (but to be honest, a lot of it is still the current management).
Baron Davis, Cleveland
This should not come as a surprise. With the addition of phenom Kyrie Irving, Davis' $29 million dollars over the next two years is not worth it at all. You may or may not be surprised to read that Davis averaged 13 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds last year. Hardly worth the money. But hey Baron, if it's any consolation, you can fade into oblivion with $25 million in checks over the next two years to sit around and get fat.
Travis Outlaw, New Jersey
I am a fan of the NBA. I have never heard of Travis Outlaw other than the news that he signed a five-year, $35 million dollar deal last summer and it didn't make sense. His stat line from last season is even worse than Baron's: 9 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds. Seven million dollars. I get the feeling that Mikhail Prokhorov won't bat an eye at paying him to go away; no other teams are going to trade for his contract and having Outlaw away from the Nets may help them to forget that they ever signed him. Good to see that a man who didn't go to college gets to hang out on a yacht with (girls who I would imagine are) smokeshows for the next four years. Life isn't fair. Oh wait, this is his girlfriend? Maybe it's a little fair.