by: Kristian Winfield
NBA Free Agency 2010 has been, by far, the most interesting offseason this decade. Teams like Miami, Chicago, New York, and even New Jersey had cleared cap space in hopes of signing a superstar, but not every team got what they wanted:
Miami: The Heat were the most successful team this offseason thanks to the uncanny marketing skills of Dwyane Wade, who convinced both Chris Bosh and LeBron James to come to the Heat for less money than other teams were offering. Bosh and James both signed 6-year/$110 million contracts, while Wade signed a 6-year/$107.5 million contract. The Heat also re-signed Udonis Haslem to a five-year contract, and have signed Zydrunas “Big Z” Ilgallskus to the veteran’s minimum contract: 2 years/ $1.3 million. Though Miami had to get rid of Michael Beasley, they will sign their 3 rookies in DaSean Butler, Jarvis Varnado, and Dexter Pittman. The Heat still have PG Mario Chalmers under contract, effectively putting 10 players on their roster. With more talk about signing Brad Miller, the Heat are looking like surefire contenders this year.
Chicago: The Bulls, too, freed up cap space in hopes of signing Wade or LeBron, but they both committed to Miami, the Bulls decided to sign Boozer to a 5-year/$80 million contract. With him in the front court alongside Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, the Bulls are looking to turn the heat up in the East. The Bulls also traded guard Kirk Hinrich to the Wizards for essentially nothing, receiving the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko who won’t be in the NBA for another 2 years. The Bulls are also looking to sign J.J. Redick, but they will need much more help filling up 5 more spots in their roster
New York: The Knicks also made a strong acquisition this free agency by signing forward Amar’e Stoudemire to a league maximum, 5-year/ $100 million contract. This deal was made to entice LeBron James to come to play for the Knicks, but Wade and Bosh in Miami was a bit more attractive. Along with Stoudemire, the Knicks have also signed PG Raymond Felton to a 3-year/$25 million contract, and have traded PF David Lee to the Golden State Warriors for G Kelenna Azubuike, F Anthony Randolph, and F Ronny Turiaf. The Knicks are definitely playoff contenders this year, but for them to make a championship run, they need another dominant scorer. Stoudemire had Nash to set him up, and though the Knicks signed Felton; he is no Steve Nash. A scorer like Allen Iverson, who is still available in the market, would do the Knicks much good in their championship efforts this year.
Utah: The Jazz lost a lot this offseason, losing both Carlos Boozer and Wesley Matthews to the free agency. They have done an excellent job of replacing Boozer by trading C Kosta Koufos and two future first-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for big time center Al Jefferson. Though Al Jefferson is not as much of a defensive presence as Boozer, he will get you 20 points and 10 rebounds, filling a big gap in the Jazz’s scheme. They will sign rookie Gordon Hayward out of Butler, but they will still need to replace the energy and intensity that Wes Matthews brought to the floor.
Phoenix: The Suns had been trying to move Stoudemire since midway through last season. But now that their wish was granted, Phoenix was having trouble filling the gap. Stoudemire was a defensive presence as well as a monster on offense. He averaged 23.1 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game on the season. The Suns did a decent job replacing him, trading combo guard Leandro Barbosa for the Raptors’ Hedo Turkoglu, and trading their 2012 second round pick for Josh Childress. Phoenix will still need to sign a big man to replace the rebounds and blocks that Stoudemire brought to the team, but they did a good job otherwise.
AND LAST WITH THE LEAST
New Jersey: The Nets lost out yet again, failing to sign any superstars in the free agency. They did manage to sign Travis Outlaw to an excessive 5-year/$35 million contract, and trade a 2011 second round pick for G Anthony Morrow, but other than that, they haven’t gotten anything great. They did sign G Jordan Farmar to a three-year deal, but their biggest acquisition this year has to be their rookie PF Derrick Favors. The Nets still have a long way to go before they return to playoff contention, but they are slowly moving in the right direction.
Obviously, the Heat have made the biggest gains this offseason, signing three members of Team USA in Bosh, Wade, and James, but the Knicks have made footsteps in the right direction signing Stoudemire, and the Bulls have followed suit in signing Boozer. The East has become very interesting, Orlando, Boston, Miami, and Atlanta being the definite front-runners, and Cleveland, New York, Milwaukee, Charlotte, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington all fighting for the last four spots. This is definitely the year to tune in to the NBA.