After years of waiting, the 2010 summer of free agency is officially underway.
In 2008 the New York Knicks fired Isiah Thomas and began preparing for the offseason...of 2010. The reason why: Lebron James. James and some of the NBA's best players are free agents this offseason and teams have been working hard to free up spending money. Turns out it does not take that long to prepare for one offseason because the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Nets, and Chicago Bulls all also cleared up cap space to go after the most coveted free agents.
Now that the 2010 offseason is here, free agents will have big decisions to make. These choices could affect the balance of power in the NBA for years to come. This is where the top players will land, according to Dikembe's Finger.
Lebron James: He is the most important domino and he knows it. His decision won't be made in haste but also will not be dragged on. LBJ will get offers to play with his pal Dwyane Wade in Miami, the other L.A. team in the Clippers, the up-and-coming Nets, the Knicks, and the Bulls. The lure of the bright lights in the big city and possibly joining a "Dream Team" will be difficult to turn down but James will once again be wearing a Cavaliers uniform. At some point, he will realize he does not want to leave his hometown team.
Dwyane Wade: He will likely entertain offers from the Clippers, Bulls, and Mavericks but there is little doubt Wade will be leaving the Heat. Instead of worrying about a team, he will focus on pitching the Heat to some of the top free agents in hopes of landing some help in South Beach.
Chris Bosh: There have been farfetched ideas about Bosh joining the Los Angeles Lakers or Dallas Mavericks. The Houston Rockets might have the pieces to offer the Toronto Raptors in a sign-and-trade deal but they do not have a superstar player. Bosh seems comfortable being a sidekick so he will latch on as one. Wade is his friend and shares the same agent so expect Bosh to leave Toronto for the warm beaches of Miami.
Amare Stoudemire: It seems that his time in Phoenix is over, which is probably not a good idea for his career. However, his next move is intriguing. Of the free agents, he seems most likely to agree to a sign-and-trade deal. That could land him in Cleveland as Lebron's new sidekick. The Nets will also make a hard run at Stoudemire. Predicting his next team is difficult but the Knicks would be a logical choice as they have plenty of cap room and Mike D'Antoni, Amare's old coach in Phoenix.
Joe Johnson: The Atlanta Hawks are a team that needs to make a change. The roster currently assembled will not advance further than it already has. Johnson will get a maximum offer and probably stay with the Hawks. However, he got his point across. Coach Mike Woodson is gone and expect forwards Marvin Williams or Josh Smith to be used as trade bait to get a true big man.
Carlos Boozer: Not too long ago it seemed that Boozer would eventually become a member of the Heat. Now, his playing future is in question. He will get plenty of attention from the Knicks, Nets, and Bulls. Where he goes depends on the decision of fellow free agent Chris Bosh. An interesting rumor has popped up recently that the Orlando Magic would like to acquire him via a sign-and-trade deal with the Utah Jazz. This would be a great move for all parties but is complicated. The best guess is that he ends up with the Nets.
Every free agent's decision will be based on the decisions of others. It all starts with Lebron James. His decision will be the real start of free agency. Dikembe's Finger will have more free agent coverage as the offseason plays out.