The NBA Hang Over

After years of anticipation and several weeks of rumors, “reliably-sourced reports” and official signings, NBA free agency has quieted down. There was a flurry of NBA moves as most expected.

“The Decision” topped all NBA news as LeBron James found a way to meet the hype that many expected with his long awaited announcement. Rather than a team press conference where James held up a glossy black #6 Heat jersey for a ‘photo op’, James and his inner circle decided to orchestrate a public spectacle that left Cleveland fans (and the owner) feeling betrayed and the majority of NBA fans accepting a new, poorer public opinion of him. Instead of league-wide excitement of  a new, younger ‘Big Three’ in James, Wade and Bosh, the Miami Heat are being thought of as a basketball version of the Yankee Evil Empire. They will be loved by Miami fans and hated by the rest of the NBA. This will make for great basketball watching come this fall.

The day before “The Decison”, Wade and Bosh announced, in a slightly quieter manner, that they would join forces in Miami. Teams like Chicago, New York and New Jersey lost out on 2 prime free agents in one day and started scrambling for NBA left overs. Those teams held out some hope going into Friday’s LeBron announcement but were quickly disappointed in, what seems to be, a premeditated decision by 3 friends to win titles together. The choice by these 3 players quickly changed the NBA power rankings for the 2010-2011 season. Miami becomes the power team in the Eastern Conference but the Lakers remain the team to beat in the Western Conference. Other teams also made improvements that change the NBA landscape.

After LeBron-Gate, the Chicago Bulls acted quick in signing Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. They tried to sign restricted free agent J.J. Redick to an offer but it was matched by his current team, the Orlando Magic. Carlos Boozer is no Chris Bosh but has played in more playoff games and had comparable statistics over his career. He has had injury problems but, if he can stay healthy, will be a great asset to a team who has lacked a true, well-rounded inside presence since Elton Brand was traded to the Clippers. Korver gives Chicago an outside shooting presence but lacks the defensive skill of a well-rounded shooting guard. He’ll likely come off the bench while Brewer starts. The Bulls are much better off this year than last but will struggle to get past the second round of the playoffs with the Magic, Heat and Celtics as strong competition.

Aside from signing Amar’e Stoudemire, the New York Knicks mostly failed in free agency. The Knicks, more than any other team, were relying on James to come save the team. Management tanked the last 2+ seasons creating cap space all to sign a player that may never truly been in play. New York also traded away David Lee for additional role players and now will hope next year is the ‘Summer of Melo’.

If New York failed in free agency then New Jersey fell on its face. Spending $35 million on Travis Outlaw as your top free agent is nothing to be excited about. Especially when you have a boastful new billionaire owner and hopes of starting a winning trend in the years leading up to a potential move to Brooklyn (sorry Hoboken). The Nets to have a good, young inside-outside presence with Brook Lopez and Devin Harris but not much else to become a playoff team next year.

Dirk Nowitski, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Rudy Gay resigned with their current teams ensuring many of the same teams will make the playoffs next year. The Celtics are another year older but keep proving that, when healthy, they can still compete in the East. The Hawks will fall out of the top 4 in the East but should still be talented enough to make the playoffs and the Mavs always have a solid regular season record.

2010 Free Agents lived up to expectations and there will likely never be another one like it but I’m glad it’s over. Now we just have to wait 4+ months to start rooting against the Heat and cheering for the players our favorite teams acquired.

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