We’ve been hearing about the 2010 NBA Free Agent class for a couple of years now. It is a stellar crop of stars, headlined by Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. We are likely to be hammered with coverage and rumors surround them for a while to come before the free agent period finally launches in July. Here’s the ten best free agents and where they’re likely to wind up.
1. Lebron James
The Summer of Lebron started early with a 2nd straight early playoff exit. Lebron James is the most global icon the NBA has, regardless of a championship ring. The prospect of putting him in a market like New York has to excite the league. Lebron will make more money in Cleveland, but if he goes to a bigger market he’ll likely make that up and then some. Of course with a star like this, it doesn’t matter where he plays
Suitors: Cleveland, Chicago, New York, New Jersey. Every team with money will make a run at Lebron, but it seems that these are the big four finalists. Lebron will really consider Cleveland, but his frustrations there and their aging roster will lead him elsewhere. Chicago is appealing, with good young talent and midwest roots. The Brooklyn bound Nets will also be appealing to Lebron, but I don’t think he’ll resist Madison Square Garden. New York.
2. Dwayne Wade
Wade already has a championship, which he won in 2006. Miami has been ripped down and rebuilt since then. Wade has Pat Riley still running the Heat, so they are capable of getting back to that level. Miami could also lore another big star down south to play with Wade much the way Shaq did.
Suitors: Miami, Chicago. The Nets and Knicks will make a run if they don’t get Lebron, but there are two major teams gunning for Wade. Despite his hometown roots in Chicago, Wade stays. Miami.
3. Chris Bosh
Bosh is a major wildcard. Though he hasn’t ruled out Toronto, he’s as good as gone from there. The question is does Bosh want to be his own star, or would he want to play along Lebron or Wade in an effort to win a championship.
Suitors: Miami, New York, Chicago, LA Lakers, Toronto. This is the list Bosh has given as his potential teams. I think Bosh winds up joining Wade and making Miami stellar. Miami.
4. Amare Stoudemire
Amare found new life in Phoenix in the playoffs, but he remembers all those trade rumors over the past few seasons. Amare is a solid player who could be a great complement to another NBA star.
Suitors: Phoenix, New York, Miami, New Jersey. Stoudemire would love to play in Miami, and could wind up there if the Heat lose Wade or lose out on Bosh. But I think he goes with a team with young talent like Brook Lopez and the potential for a good player in the draft. There’s too much bad blood in Phoenix. New Jersey.
5. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk declared his intent to explore free agency after another crushing playoff elimination. Dallas has been among the great NBA teams the past decade, but have only one Finals appearance to show for it. It could be time for Dirk to see a change in scenery.
Suitors: Dallas, Phoenix, New York. Nowitzki’s options will depend on where the other falls. I think he stays put though. Dallas.
6. Joe Johnson
Johnson became a star in Atlanta, and they’d love to keep him. He’s be a perfect player to pair off somewhere with another great player.
Suitors: Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York. Johnson won’t be the primary target anywhere, but would be a decent second option. Chicago.
7. Carlos Boozer
Boozer has had an up and down tenure in Utah. But he’s still a great inside player and could be a key player for a team who is close to a title.
Suitors: New York, Chicago, Phoenix, New Jersey. Could Boozer rejoin Lebron in New York? I doubt it. I think he joins Steven Nash, especially if the Suns lose Amare. Phoenix.
8. Ray Allen
Allen is an aging player, and he isn’t likely to get a huge contract offer, especially for more than a couple of years. But he’s still a rifleman from 3 point land, and plays the game hard.
Suitors: Boston, Milwaukee. I think there’s next to no chance Allen leaves Boston. The only thing will be for how much and for how long. Boston.
9. David Lee
Lee is likely to be lost in the New York shuffle. They want Lebron and another max player, which Lee isn’t. That likely means his days in New York are done.
Suitors: Chicago, Oklahoma City. Lee could have other options depending on how the bigger free agents shake out. But ultimately I think he chooses Chicago, where he can help them make a run right away. Chicago.
10. Rudy Gay
Gay has been a forgotten figure in Memphis, but is still a good enough player to have an impact on another team. Gay seems unlikely to return to Memphis, and will seek greener pastures.
Suitors: LA Clippers, New York. Lebron gets his running mate, and the Knicks save some cash to improve other areas. New York.