NBA free agency started at midnight on July 1 and there has already been a lot of rumors and speculation surrounding it. Here are my top five NBA free agency storylines.
1. Will Dwight Howard get traded?
Howard has made it clear to everyone in the universe that he doesn’t want to play for the Orlando Magic anymore. He told Yahoo! Sports that “there’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I’ll play the season out and explore my free agency after that.”
Howard didn’t name the team, but reports specualte that it’s the Brooklyn Nets. It appears Howard is trying to whine his way to Brooklyn and is scared other teams will trade for him.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets are the other teams said to be interested. If I were either of those teams, I would stay way from Howard. If you’re the Lakers, why give up Bynum for a one-year rental in Howard? If you’re the Rockets, why would you give up all the young talent you have for a guy that said he won’t re-sign? I haven’t even mentioned how very immature Howard is. He asked for a trade after he accepted the one-year option. This is also the guy who got Stan Van Gundy fired in Orlando. If he wanted to leave Orlando so badly, he should have just become a free agent.
I don’t expect Howard to be traded unless it is to the Nets. I expect this saga to go on all summer long.
2. Will Deron Williams stay in Brooklyn or go home to Dallas?
Williams has narrowed his choices down to the Brooklyn Nets and the Dallas Mavericks. He is set to meet with them both Monday and will reportedly make his decision rather quickly.
The Nets can offer Williams a five-year deal worth nearly $100 million. The Mavericks can only offer him a four-year deal in the $75 million range. The Mavericks are hoping to sell Williams on the fact that he will be playing for his hometown team, as well as playing with former NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki.
I believe Williams will go to Dallas and team with Nowitzki to make another championship run. While it seems the Nets are trying to spend more money and attract free agents, the Mavs have already proven they can win a title and contend. Williams knows Mavs owner Mark Cuban will do everything in his power to keep the Mavs as contenders. It really could go 50-50, but I predict Williams will sign with the Mavs.
3. What team will Steve Nash play for in 2012-2013?
The Toronto Raptors have reportedly offered Nash a three-year, $36 million contract. Some people think this is a great fit considering Nash is from Canada, but I’m not one of them. Nash was with a struggling Phoenix Suns team that missed the playoffs last year and this would be a backwards move. Why would he go to a worse team than the Suns? Yes he is from Canada, but from British Columbia. I can’t see Nash going out playing for a losing team even if it is a team from Canada.
The Nets have said to be interested if Deron Williams does not re-sign with them. Also the Mavericks are interested, as well, if Williams doesn’t sign with them.
If I had to make a prediction, I would say Nash signs with the New York Knicks. They already have the pieces together and a point guard like Nash could make them a contender in the East. Nash’s former teammate Amar’e Stoudemire is there, so don’t discount that.
4. Will Ray Allen go to Miami?
Ever since the Miami Heat won the NBA title, the team has made Allen their number one target in free agency. Signing Allen would not only give the Heat more perimeter shooting, but it would also give them an excellent scorer off the bench. Signing Allen would almost certainly make the Heat the favorite to repeat if they aren’t already.
Allen could go back to Boston, where reports are they are willing to offer double what the Heat are offering. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Celtics are willing to give Allen $12 million over two years. That is the best offer Allen is going to find anywhere. The Heat reportedly could only offer Allen $3 million a year. The question is, does he think the Celtics have as good a shot at a title as the Heat.
The Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks and the Dallas Mavericks are all rumored to be interested in the free-agent guard as well. I believe Allen will go to the Miami Heat. It’s been clear from the beginning that both parties are interested.
A lot of Celtics fans say that Allen coming off the bench in Miami doesn’t make sense. It makes perfect sense to me because the Heat have a better shot at a title than the Celtics. Plus, it may be easier to come off the bench in Miami, where he would be backing up an all-star in Dwayne Wade, as opposed to a relatively unproven young player in Avery Bradley.
5. What moves, if any, will the Lakers make?
After the Lakers were eliminated in the second round by the Mavericks in the 2011 playoff, fans thought major changes were coming. The only major change the Lakers made was trading Lamar Odom.
Now, after a similar exit from the 2012 playoffs at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the fans are calling for major changes again. Problem is, they may not see many changes.
The Lakers have a lot of money tied up in players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace. They don’t have the cap space other teams have. If the Lakers were to make a major move, it would have to be by trade. So, to the fans that say sign Steve Nash or Deron Williams, it isn’t going to happen.
To the dismay of many Laker fans, the team appears to want to re-sign Ramon Sessions. Sessions averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists per game in the 23 games he played for the Lakers. Sessions struggled in the playoffs and many thought the Lakers would go in another direction at point guard.
Sessions opted out of his contract a year early and became a free agent on July 1. Many people didn’t understand why he did, but it makes perfect sense now. Sessions wants long-term security and the Lakers have cap problems and really can’t afford to pay for Nash or Williams. So, they may have to consider bringing Sessions back and giving him a longer contract.
If Sessions doesn’t re-sign, the Lakers could go after Jameer Nelson, who is an unrestricted free agent. Nelson isn’t a big time point guard, but, unlike Sessions, he has played in big-time playoff games.
I believe the Lakers will re-sign Sessions to a three-year deal. This was his first tour of duty in the playoffs. Maybe with a full season in L. A., Sessions will be used to the pressure that comes with being a Laker. The other question Lakers fans have on their minds is will Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum be traded? My guess is Gasol will be the one traded.
The Lakers’ front office wouldn’t trade Bynum for Carmelo Anthony or Dwight Howard last season and now that Bynum had an all-star season, I can’t see them doing it now. Bynum is still very young and has a world of potential. This was the first season Bynum stayed healthy and he proved he can be everything the front office believes he can be. Yes, he has maturity issues, but you don’t trade Bynum unless you get Howard and it appears Howard isn’t interested in Los Angeles.
Gasol is the player the Lakers should trade because they could possibly get a player like Josh Smith from Atlanta in return. The Lakers need some young and athletic talent and Smith is that. Gasol doesn’t fit the Mike Brown style of offense and could be used better elsewhere.
Other than Gasol being traded, I don’t expect the Lakers to make any major moves. They are already close to their salary cap number. With the new cap rules coming in 2013, I don’t expect them to spend a lot of money.
Lakers fans may have to face the fact that they won’t be a contender for a few years. As long as Kobe is there, they will have a shot, but I expect Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers to be contenders for years to come.