NBA: Off-Season Madness
The lockout has officially ended which has brought forth a hastened free agent period as the new season will begin on Christmas Day. I think we can all agree that we are happy to see the NBA return as things were not looking good there for awhile. Now this free agent class isn't anything close to what last year's class was but this class does have something that can make good teams better, good big men. Having good big men can be the difference in winning a championship and losing a championship, case and point the Miami versus Dallas series. Tyson Chandler stood out above all the other big men on Miami's side and provided quite the defensive presence. Not only are there free agents to be had but some big names are likely to be moved before the season begins, most notably Chris Paul who was very close to being traded to the Lakers. Dwight Howard could also be moved before the season starts, but I find it much more likely he gets moved closer to the trade deadline so that the Magic get the best package available.
Top 5 Free Agents
1. Nene, C -
Nene is a very skilled big man who can score in the post, rebound, and block shots. He has good size for a center as he stands at 6'11" and 250 pounds. Nene is also coming off of a career year in a tumultuous season where the Melo drama reigned supreme. He shot the highest percentage in his career, while averaging 14.5 points per game, 7.6 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal a game. He will definetly get plenty of phone calls from good teams and will have his choice. The Nuggets for one can offer him the most amount of money, which gives them the edge but he is also getting wooed by the likes of the Warriors, Clippers, Wizards and the Nets. It is even possible that the Miami Heat could send a package of players for Nene in a sign and trade deal, but that seems very unlikely now that Miami signed Eddy Curry and Shane Battier.
LIKELY LANDING SPOT - DENVER
2. Tyson Chandler, C -
Aside from Dirk Nowitzki's heroics throughout the playoffs, Chandler was the unsung hero of the Mavericks championship run last season. No one can forget how great of a leader Chandler was for the Mavericks. Nowitzki frequently compared Chandler to Kevin Garnett's impact on the Celtics when he first went there. Chandler is a skilled big man on the defensive side of the ball and on the offensive side he will still produce for you with offensive rebounds and put backs. He is the kind of player that you will never need to run a play for and he will not complain, he will simply outplay whoever he is playing against.
It has been reported on ESPN that the Knicks and Tyson Chandler are close to a deal but it seems that the Knicks need to free up some cap space before officially signing him to a deal. The Knicks will free up cap space by likely trading away Chauncey Billups, which may come off as a surprise but it just goes to show how much confidence the Knicks have in Toney Douglas.
LIKELY HEADED TO - KNICKS
3. David West, F -
It is relatively unknown as to what could happen with David West due to his unfortunate injury in the playoff series against the Lakers last season. West is a talented post defended and score with some of the best big men even though he is undersized against most of the big men in the league. It is doubtful that the Hornets will retain Chris Paul, so they will not need to feel obligated to hold on to West to keep Paul happy. West had a very productive season last year as he averaged 18 points a game and 8 rebounds. If the Nuggets lose Nene, expect them to push hard for West. Sacramento, New Jersey and Indiana could also inquire about his services.
LIKELY HEADED TO - INDIANA
4. Marc Gasol, C -
If Marc Gasol was not a restricted free agent, then he would for sure be the number one overall free agent. He may not be as skilled offensively as his older brother, but he makes up for it with his toughness. He and Zach Randolph teamed up to form one of the best rebounding duos of the league. Considering the playoff run that the Grizzlies are coming off of it is highly unlikely that they would let Gasol walk, plus any offer that Gasol receives the Grizzlies can match even if it means going into their luxury tax. The tough thing for the Grizzlies going from here on out is how much money they will have invested in Gasol, Michael Conley, and Rudy Gay. It would not be shocking to see them try to shop around Rudy Gay.
LIKELY HEADED TO - MEMPHIS
5. Thaddeus Young, F -
The versatile swing player has been a great scorer off the bench for the Sixers and even though he is a restricted free agent it would not surprise anyone if a team were to overreach for him. Young has plenty of potential as he has all the makings of a great player in the league. He has great size for defending the opposing teams best player, but his ball skills need to improve so he can stay on the floor longer. To frequently as a Sixer, he would be played as a power forward relying on his speed and athleticism to beat his man. If he were to develop his ball handling it would swing him to his more natural position as a small forward.
LIKELY HEADED TO - PHILADELPHIA
Chris Paul, G -
Everyone would agree that Chris Paul is the most likely player to get traded before the season begins. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see the Hornets retaining him and having the CP3 drama play out over the course of the season the way it did in Denver with Carmelo Anthony. Paul was almost dealt to the Lakers yesterday for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom but it fell through as the owners decided it was not the best deal for the Hornets. Chris Paul has voiced his frustation with this, as has Lamar Odom so it is likely that this trade could be revisited in some way to where the Hornets get some better players then just Kevin Martin (shooter), Luis Scola (good player but old), Goran Dragic (project player), and Lamar Odom (we've seen his best years). The Hornets could do better.
LIKELY HEADED TO - LOS ANGELES (LAKERS OR CLIPPERS)
Dwight Howard, C -
Dwight Howard is the best big man in the league, and just like with Shaquille O'Neal, the Magic will not be able to keep him in Orlando. Some speculate whether or not he will go to the Lakers, but I doubt it. The Lakers first target is Chris Paul and by the time they are done trading to get him, the Lakers won't have any pieces to accommodate the Magic in a trade. Dwight Howard, only hours after the Chris Paul trade fell through, went and asked the Magic to send him to the Nets. The Nets have apparently offered young center Brook Lopez and two first rounders for Howard which is a very nice deal for the Magic. For one, it's better than letting Howard walk and two it nets them a center that they can count on and two high first round picks. Howard will have a great time playing alongside Deron Williams.
LIKELY HEADED TO - NEW JERSEY (BROOKLYN)