At midnight tonight, the NBA free agency period officially begins and the eyes of the basketball world will inevitably shift to New York to see which players will be joining the Knicks and soon to be Brooklyn Nets for the near future. The Nets and their new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who have the first scheduled meeting tomorrow with LeBron James, will undoubtedly be pushing the fact that the team has hired a brash new, but historically successful coach (Avery Johnson), is moving to Brooklyn in a few years to play in a brand new arena (Barclays Center) for what they imagine will be a rabid fan base, will be moving to a relatively new arena (Prudential Center) in Newark until then, and finally the fact that coupled with the owner’s appeal, LeBron can become the first ever global superstar athlete.
Meanwhile, the Knicks who undoubtedly covet LeBron, have been tied to second-tier options like Phoenix’ Amare Stoudemire and Atlanta’s Joe Johnson, which may or may not be a smokescreen for an all out full court press to bring James to New York City. Obviously, owner Jim Dolan, GM Donnie Walsh, and coach Mike D’Antoni are going to sell the appeal of playing in the greatest city in the world, endless marketing and endorsement possibilities, and restoring a once legendary franchise back to greatness. But even if the Knicks and Nets do fail to land James (And sources claim Miami, Chicago, or remaining in Cleveland as likely possibilities), the NBA’s free agent class is clearly the most top heavy it’s ever been, an encouraging sign for fans of both teams. Other than King James, Miami’s Dwayne Wade and Toronto’s Chris Bosh are the next best available options, with Johnson and Stoudemire joining the likes of Boston’s Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (who opted out of his contract to become a free agent just yesterday), Dallas’ Dirk Nowitski, Utah’s Carlos Boozer, and the Knicks’ David Lee. Not to mention the fact that the Nuggets may now be looking to deal Carmelo Anthony, who is in the last year of his current contract and has thus far refused to accept a reported 3 year, $65 million extension from the team. Clearly, most of these are big name players and some are more attractive than others, but the landscape of the NBA is about to change dramatically as these players begin to find new homes.
Only time will tell if the “handshake deal” that was struck between James, Wade, and Bosh to play together will come to fruition. But with all three wanting max contracts, it’s hard to believe any team will be able to pull off such a deal, especially considering that Wade clearly wants to stay in Miami. However it has been said that James and Knicks’ coach D’Antoni had a tremendous rapport when the two were together for the 2008 Olympic Games, so you never know. Regardless of what happens, it will be an exciting time for Knicks and Net fans, unless of course they only manage to land Carlos Boozer and re-sign David Lee. Then it would just plain suck.
1) LeBron James & Carlos Boozer sign with Chicago
2) Dwayne Wade & Chris Bosh sign with Miami
3) Amare Stoudemire & Joe Johnson sign with the Knicks
4) Paul Pierce re-signs with Boston
5) Ray Allen signs with San Antonio
6) Dirk Nowitski signs with New Jersey
7) David Lee signs with Sacramento
Check Back to See How We Did!
- Jane Van Arsdale