I thought since there was just a great post on team needs, I would fill in the next piece with what can't be filled in with the draft. Another thing that should be interesting - I expect this draft and summer to be trade central, to free up cap space and restart franchises if they believe their star is not resigning.
Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Lakers
(Early Termination Option: owed $47.8 million thru 2011) -- It is obviously unlikely that KB24 would leave La-La Land, but stranger things have happened. (Like Kobe suddenly demanding a trade approximately 18 months ago…) And we know Kobe loves being the center of attention and the object of desire. Would it really shock anybody if he started batting his eyes at the Bulls or the Knicks? Especially if the Lakers get tripped up in the playoffs to finish off a disappointing postseason… The most likely scenario has him staying put after some harmless flirting. Either way, it would be interesting to see some drama unfold. As we saw with Baron Davis and Elton Brand last summer, shocking decisions can be made in the 11th hour.
Carlos Boozer - Utah Jazz
(Player Option: owed $12.6 million for 2009-2010 season) – After Kobe, Boozer is the best player available. Despite some durability concerns, every team in the league would love to add Boozer to their roster. He is still relatively young (27) and is a legit 20/10 threat every time he steps on the floor. And with the amount of coin he could collect by signing a long-term pact, it is all but certain that Boozer will opt out of the final year of his current contract. The only question is where Boozer will choose to spend the prime of his career. With Paul Millsap as a fall-back option, will the Jazz let him walk? The early rumors had Boozer landing South Beach (he owns a home in Miami), but with the HEAT trading for Jermaine O'Neal (owed $20 million in '09-'10), that seems far less likely. Detroit, on the other hand, seems like a very possible destination right now. Pistons GM Joe Dumars has be vigorously clearing cap space (i.e. the sole reason for the Billups/Iverson trade), and the Pistons have been struggling mightily; the franchise needs a fresh-faced resurgence. 5 years for $70 million (an Elton Brand-type deal), should get the job done…
Mehmet Okur – Utah Jazz
(Early Termination Option – owed $9 million for the 2009-2010 season) - It was considered somewhat of a gamble when the Jazz offered Okur a big contract after he served as a role player in Detroit during the early stages of his career, but that gamble has paid off handsomely for Utah as Okur has developed into a versatile and productive big man. With Boozer, Okur, Millsap, and Kyle Korver all possibly opting out of their contracts this summer, Utah will have some very tough financial decisions to make.
Shawn Marion – Toronto Raptors (Unrestricted):
A couple of seasons ago, Marion was considered one of the NBA's best all-around athletes. But, after the Matrix got his wish and was traded away from Steve Nash and Phoenix, his star has dimmed significantly. Marion will be 31 years of age at the start of the 2009-2010 season, and has averaged approximately 13 points and 8.5 rebounds in the 76 games he has played since he was traded. Those are hardly numbers to break the bank for. It will be very interesting to see what kind of offers he receives.
Ron Artest – Houston Rockets (Unrestricted):
Artest has had a relatively disappointing 2008-2009 campaign, but he remains one of the league's most ferocious defenders and is also an underrated offensive force. In addition, Ron-Ron has behaved himself in Houston and seems to have put the antics of his past behind him. He'll have plenty of suitors…
Lamar Odom – L.A. Lakers (Unrestricted):
Odom seemed to really find his niche towards the end of last season as the third option behind Kobe and Pau Gasol. But this year he has been bounced back and fourth between the bench and the starting lineup and Phil Jackson seems to have settled on Trevor Ariza as his current flavor of the month at small forward. Odom's future will likely depend on how the Lakers fare in the upcoming playoffs. If LA wins the title, they'll be more inclined to try and bring everybody back. If not, they won't be afraid to shake things up. And we know the Lakers don't want to exceed the tax-threshold and thus won't be willing to overpay for Odom
Hedo Turkoglu – Orlando Magic
(Early Termination Option: owed $7.4 million for the 2008-2009 season) - Hedo's only months away from becoming a free man. The writing was on the wall after Turkoglu's career season in '07-'08 netted him the league's Most Improved Player award. Just how good was Hedo last season? Let's put it this way – he was one of only five players in the NBA to average at least 19.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. The other four players were Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. Not bad company to keep… Hedo will opt out in hopes of cashing in. Will the Magic pay to keep this nucleus intact? We shall see. (This is an instance where Orlando overpaying for Rashard Lewis could really come back to bite them.)
Ben Gordon – Chicago Bulls (Unrestricted):
Gordon and the Bulls have been playing chicken for the last few years. It will all come to a head this summer. While he isn't a great defender and the Bulls haven't been very successful during his tenure in Chicago, Gordon is an incredibly gifted scorer that is essentially unstoppable when he gets it going.
Paul Millsap – Utah Jazz (Restricted):
After Carlos Boozer was sidelined by a knee injury earlier this season, Millsap exploded onto the scene. After being inserted into the starting lineup, Millsap improbably produced 19 consecutive double-doubles. For the month of December, he averaged 18.6 points (on 59% shooting from the floor) and 11.5 rebounds. At just 24 years of age, he will be a hot commodity.
The Aging Superstars
It will be fascinating to see what kind of offers these former greats, on the downslopes of their legendary careers, receive. One thing is for certain – these guys are in for huge pay cuts…
Allen Iverson – Detroit Pistons (Unrestricted):
His health is a major concern, and it appears the years of battle in the trenches may have finally caught up to AI. The last few months in Detroit have been a blemish on his incredible résumé. Since the Billups/Iverson trade was completed, the Pistons have plummeted in the East, while the Nuggets have played brilliantly under Chauncey's stewardship. If Iverson ever accepted the role of a 6th man on a very good team, that might suit him perfectly. He could come off the bench and provide energy and instant scoring. Also, playing limited minutes might help preserve his health. Just thinking out loud here - what if he signed with the Orlando Magic for a portion of the mid-level exception. He would see major minutes backing up both guard spots… However, Iverson may still view himself as a luminary and will be looking to start and star wherever he lands.
Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns:
(Team Option: owed $13.1 million for the 2009-2010 season)
Under normal circumstances, a team wouldn't ever consider choosing to cut ties with a great PG just two seasons removed from a back-to-back MVP awards. But times they are a' changing … Suns owner Robert Sarver's various business ventures have been hemorrhaging money and the Suns are going to miss the playoffs this season, which means no added postseason ticket revenue. However, Nash is a huge fan favorite in the Valley of the Sun, and Sarver needs to sell season tickets for next season, so expect PHX to hold onto Nash and possibly trade him next February.
Rasheed Wallace – Detroit Pistons (Unrestricted): Yes, he racks up technicals, but even at his advanced age, he also piles up points, rebounds, assists, etc. For years, 'Sheed was one of the most underrated players in the NBA.
Jason Kidd – Dallas Mavericks (Unrestricted): For much of his prime, he was the best point guard on planet Earth. Now, after being humbled by the NBA's new elite playmakers, he is hoping to prove he still has enough gas left in the tank
Andre Miller – Philadelphia 76ers (Unrestricted): Steady, if unspectacular, Miller is a reliable point guard in a league that values a dependable leader.
Anderson Varejao – Cleveland Cavs (Player Option): The guys who do the dirty work rarely get appropriate credit or recognition; but those close to Cleveland know how important Andy is to the Cavs' success. However, the last time he attempted to negotiate a contract with Danny Ferry, things got ugly. Will LeBron lobby to make sure one of his best rebounders and defenders is kept in Cleveland?
Drew Gooden – San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted): A power forward who can bang, board, and score on the box. He'll go fishing for a mid-level deal.
Mike Bibby – Atlanta Hawks (Unrestricted) – Once considered an elite PG, Bibby has been up and down the last few seasons. But with Acie Law not developing as hoped, losing Bibby would be a tough blow for Atlanta. The Hawks also have to make a decision on Marvin Williams this summer, as well as making sure they save enough money to re-sign Joe Johnson in 2010…
Trevor Ariza – Los Angeles Lakers (Unrestricted): Ariza has blossomed in LA this season, as he has seen his playing time and production spike. If the Lakers let Odom walk, they'll likely make a strong play to keep Ariza in town for a chunk of their mid-level exception.
Best of the Rest: Anthony Parker; Ramon Sessions (restricted); Jamario Moon (restricted); Marcin Gortat (restricted) Chris Wilcox; Glen Davis (restricted); Leon Powe (restricted) ; Eddie House (PO); Sean May (restricted); Mikki Moore; Wally Szczerbiak; Brandon Bass; Gerald Green; Jeff Foster; Chris Anderson; Dahntay Jones; Flip Murray; Ricky Davis (PO); Walter Hermann; Marcus Williams; Sheldon Williams; Luther Head (restricted); Stephon Marbury; Kwame Brown (PO); Von Wafer; Chris Mihm; Matt Barnes; Channing Frye (restricted); Grant Hill; Desmond Mason; Robert Swift; Zaza Pachulia; Tyron Lue; Brevin Knight; Ronnie Price; Juan Dixon; Kyle Korver (ETO); Marquis Daniels (Team Option)
Rooey and Sheltwon did most of this and its good stuff to go along with this...
Nice article, but it was written before the playoffs which makes it a bit stale.