Revisiting my NBA free agency predictions

July 09, 2010 - Miami, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02243342 LeBron James (L) joins with Miami Heat Dwayne Wade (C) for a laugh as Chris Bosh tries out his Spanish while they greet fans during NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines arena in Miami, Florida, USA, 09 July 2010. The Miami Heat reached an agreement with LeBron James to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, and sign with the Miami Heat.

Now that the top 10 NBA free agents have made up their minds, let’s check in with my list of ‘sure-to-be-wrong’ predictions and see how I fared.

1. Dwyane Wade will re-sign with the Heat.
Check.

2. Chris Bosh will also sign with Miami.
Check.

3. LeBron and Carlos Boozer will sign with Chicago.
I didn’t think that LeBron would join what many consider to be ‘Wade’s Team’ and the Bulls gave him the next-best chance to win a championship, especially if Boozer landed there as well. The Bulls were wise to grab Boozer, who is a very nice fit alongside Joakim Noah.

4. Joe Johnson will sign with the Clippers.
I bought into the report that Johnson was in L.A. leading up to free agency and that he had a good relationship with the Clippers’ GM. The Hawks shocked the league when they offered him a six-year max contract and methinks they’ll be regretting it in 2-3 years. Who would have thought that when everything was said and done, that Joe Johnson would get the biggest contract of this free agent class?

5. Stoudemire will land in the Big Apple.
…”the Knicks will be sure to throw gobs of money to save face after pretty much striking out on the other top free agents.” Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened, though the Knicks were proactive and signed Stoudemire before being shunned by LeBron and Wade. And Amare was happy to lap up the dough after the Suns wanted to negotiate a deal that included incentives related to his health.

6. The Knicks will re-sign David Lee.
Donnie Walsh elected to conserve most of his cap space so that the Knicks can be a player in next summer’s free agency, plus the Lee-for-Randolph trade gives the Knicks a good (and cheap) up-and-coming power forward to replace Lee.

7. The Knicks will trade Eddy Curry for Gilbert Arenas.
This could still happen, but it looks like it won’t, at least not now. The Lee trade signals that the Knicks are going to be careful with their cap space, and trading for Arenas would be a huge risk.

8. The Grizzlies will match a max offer for Rudy Gay.
Technically, this prediction wasn’t correct. The Grizzlies once again raised eyebrows around the league by signing Gay to a max contract without letting the market set his price.

9. Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce re-sign with the Mavs and C’s, respectively.
There were pundits out there that actually thought that Pierce could land with the Nets and that Nowitzki would join LeBron in Chicago, but Boston and Dallas made sure these players stayed put.

Overall, I didn’t do too badly, did I?

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Grizzles, Gay agree to five-year extension

Panic has set in in Memphis, as the Grizzlies have agreed to a five-year extension for Rudy Gay without letting the restricted free agent test the market.

The Memphis Grizzlies and restricted free-agent Rudy Gay have agreed in principle on a five-year contract, The Commercial Appeal has learned.

NBA sources indicated that Gay will sign the deal on or soon after July 8 when teams are allowed to finalize contracts.

Gay’s starting salary will be the maximum allowed a player with his experience – projected to be roughly $13.3 million – according to sources.

I highlighted the key part in bold. The Grizzlies waited all this time, said over and over that they’d match any offer he received, and then they turned around and gave him a max deal before he had a chance to sign an offer sheet.

Why not let Gay go out and negotiate a deal and then match it? Why agree to pay him the max when there’s no proof that he’d get a max offer?

Yes, he was likely to get a big offer, and perhaps the Grizzlies just wanted to be proactive and keep one of their star players happy. But by making this deal, they may have cost themselves millions of dollars. Rudy Gay is no ‘max’ player, at least not at this stage of his career.

But he’s about to make max money.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

T-Wolves target Gay, Lee

Per the Pioneer Press

Gay and Lee will make visits this week to the Twin Cities to see what the Wolves have to offer, which includes about $20 million in salary cap space. Gay will arrive today and stay through the middle of Friday, followed by an all-day visit Saturday with Lee, according to Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn.

“Those are the only two people I anticipated calling today,” Kahn said in a conference call late Wednesday after free agency began at 11:01 p.m. “That doesn’t mean that we may not ask others to come in, but they clearly were the two players I felt we wanted to meet and wanted to get to know better and have an opportunity to have a dialogue with.”

Kahn apparently thinks that Lee can play with Kevin Love, which is not unlike trying to play Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn together. Rudy Gay and Wes Johnson are also a curious fit. But Kahn has proven that he is a curious general manager.

One thing is for certain — the T-Wolves’ cap space (~$20 million) won’t be enough to sign both players, so they would have to work out a sign-and-trade with the Knicks or Grizzlies.

Nine sure-to-be wrong NBA free agency predictions

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James reacts to a play against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter in Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts, in this May 13, 2010 file photo. July 1, 2010 marks the opening day of the free-agent signing period amid intense media speculation about whether James, the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the past two seasons, will remain at Cleveland. REUTERS/Adam Hunger/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Here’s where I stop ruminating about rumors and pose a few predictions about what will happen in the NBA over the next couple of weeks. Let’s start with a near-sure thing and work our way around the league.

1. Dwyane Wade will re-sign with the Heat.
He has said all along that Miami is where he wants to be, and even if he strikes out on getting LeBron and/or Chris Bosh to join him, he won’t have a tough time recruiting a couple of other high-priced free agents to join him. Whether it’s Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay, someone will want to play in sunny South Florida with a Top 5 player who has already proven he can take over an NBA Finals.

2. Chris Bosh will also sign with Miami.
I thought the Bulls might have inside track on Bosh, but if we’re to believe Dan LeBatard, a deal is already in place that would bring Bosh to Miami. Even if LeBron doesn’t join them, Bosh and Wade will make an excellent one-two punch.

3. LeBron and Carlos Boozer will sign with Chicago.
It’s the reunion that no one was expecting. I have no earthly idea what LeBron is going to do, but he says that winning is the most important thing, so if that’s true, he’ll either sign with the Bulls or join Wade and Bosh in Miami. With his ego, I think he’d rather play in Chicago in the shadow of Michael Jordan’s legacy than join ‘Wade’s team’ in South Florida. But who really knows? (Remember, I said these were sure-to-be-wrong predictions.) As for Boozer, if the Bulls strike out on Bosh, he’s the next-best fit at the four. The Bulls could take advantage of his strengths (low-post scoring, rebounding) while Joakim Noah could hide his weaknesses (post defense).

4. Joe Johnson will sign with the Clippers.
Think about it Knick fans — would you want to play under the NY microscope after the city missed out on the big-name free agents? Expectations are so high in the Big Apple and Johnson is a quiet guy that has proven in Atlanta that he doesn’t deal well with critical fans. He’s reportedly close with Clipper GM Neil Olshey and would be a nice fit there since he can play small forward alongside Eric Gordon on the wing.

5. Stoudemire will land in the Big Apple.
I almost wrote “land in New Jersey” but I didn’t want to send any Knick fans off the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge. If predictions #1-#4 come to fruition, the Knicks won’t be a very attractive place to play, but Stoudemire thrived under Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix and the Knicks will be sure to throw gobs of money to save face after pretty much striking out on the other top free agents. D’Antoni can run Stoudemire at the five and…

6. The Knicks will re-sign David Lee…
…to play the four. They’ll be defensively challenged, but that’s life. Then…

7. The Knicks will trade Eddy Curry for Gilbert Arenas…
…which will make them even more defensively challenged, but again, that’s life. At least the Knicks will be fun to watch.

8. The Grizzlies will match a max offer for Rudy Gay.
The Nets (and maybe the T-Wolves) will make a strong run at Rudy Gay, but the Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley has said all along that he’ll match any offer Gay gets in free agency.

9. Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce re-sign with the Mavs and C’s, respectively.
These guys aren’t going anywhere.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 NBA Free Agency: What are they worth? (#6-#10)

In the first installment of this series, I covered the biggest names in this summer’s free agency bonanza, and it wasn’t too tough to try to peg down each player’s value. Now I’ll move onto #6 to #10 in my free agency rankings, and things get a little tougher.

Keep in mind that the “value” below each player’s blurb represents my prediction of what they’ll eventually sign for, not what I think they’re actually worth. But there’s a saying — something’s only worth what someone will pay for it — so there’s that.

Anyway, let’s jump right in:

6. Joe Johnson, SG
Age: 29
PER: 19.33
Comparables: Brandon Roy ($13.5 M), Andre Iguodala ($12.3 M), Kevin Martin ($10.6 M)

Johnson didn’t help himself much with a pretty miserable series against the Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. I’m sure he’s looking for a max deal, and whatever team gives him one may regret it in a year or two. He’s already 29, and while he’d definitely be a good #2 for the next 2-3 years, he’s not a “max” player. He’s definitely going to benefit from all the cap space that’s available. Remember, my estimated value is what someone is willing to pay him, not necessarily what he’s worth.
Value: $17.0-$17.5 M per year (over five years)

7. Carlos Boozer, PF
Age: 28
PER: 21.42
Comparables: Amare Stoudemire ($17.7 M), Zach Randolph ($17.3 M), Josh Smith ($11.6 M), David West ($9.0 M), LaMarcus Aldridge ($10.7 M)

I have Boozer ranked ahead of Lee because he’s a slightly better player…when he’s healthy. He missed 45 games during the 2008-07 season and another 80 games from 2004-2006, so clearly he’s an injury risk. He is no doubt looking for a max or near-max deal, but with his durability issues and his reputation for being a less than stellar defender, he may find the going a bit tough in free agency. Still, there is sooooo much cap space out there that it’s hard to see him signing a deal for much less than the max.
Value: $14.0-$15.0 M per year (over five years)

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