Well it is the start of December and Baseball is about to kick off the winter meetings, but it is the front offices in the NBA that will probably see the most action this offseason. As the shock of the unsuspecting NBA lockout wears off after coming to a close not so long ago, announcing that they will kick off the NBA season on Christmas Day, Free Agency will be the primary topic of discussion for analysts in the coming weeks. There are many issues still yet to be solved here as the NBA is still without a collective bargaining agreement and teams are still dealing with injuries and situations with players that left to play overseas and need to come back (ala Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets).
Speaking of the Nets, that is where we will start off. The Nets are going to look to acquire a big man to play alongside their crafty point guard, Illinois product Deron Williams, and they are in luck. Why you ask? Not only can the Nets pursue the best Center in the league in Dwight Howard whose contract expires in 2012 but there is also a fantastic crop of Free Agent Centers on the market this year and we know that owner Mikhail Prokhorov is not afraid to throw money around for an eligible perennial all-star. The free agent list is topped of with Marc Gasol, Nene, and Tyson Chandler just to name a few. Although it is likely that Gasol and Chandler will stay with their respective teams (Memphis & Dallas) there are also 2nd tier centers available throughout the league including Samuel Dalembert, DeAndre Jordan, Brendan Haywood, Chris Kaman, Josh McRoberts and Andris Biedrins. Teams in the market for a quality big man will be Indiana, Houston, and Golden State as all three of those teams will need to make big acquisitions to match the league’s newly implemented salary cap floor that it established to end the lockout.
Another notable big name center whose name has been thrown around is Greg Oden. The Miami Heat are showing interest in the former Ohio St. stand out as well as his hometown Indiana Pacers. The former no. 1 draft pick taken by the Blazers over Kevin Durant has 1 year and 8.9 million remaining on his contract but is looking for a new home and amid the injury bug he got bit by in Portland it might not be such a bad idea.
The big story is to watch for is what happens with Howard and Chris Paul. Paul has made it clear that he wants to join Carmelo and Amar’e in New York, will it happen? Also, both of the LA teams, the Lakers and Clippers, have shown interest in acquiring the two players either through trade or next year in free agency. Will they stay with their home teams? Will Paul join Howard in Orlando? Will they find a new destination between now and the beginning of the season or just wait their turn the following year in free agency?
Other notable free agents on the market include players like Thaddeus Young, Brandon Roy, Jason Richardson, and Shane Battier. Will the Bulls make a move here? There has been talk about Richardson or even Roy joining forcers with D Rose, Noah, Boozer and Co. but will the Bulls pull the trigger? Sometimes I think these rumors have about as much life as the rumors of Donovan McNabb or Brett Favre coming to the Bears does. It should be a fun couple of weeks coming up in Basketball as teams jockey for position in this 66 game shortened season.
Stay tuned to WONC Sports and Jackman Sports for all of your updates. Go Bulls!
-Thomas “Grandpa Keebs” Kuebel