What’s the Legacy of the 2014 Free Agent Class?
About a week into the frenzy of free agency, there seems to be a general feel of the unknown that comes with each signing and each trade. Many are asking themselves what exactly this means for the big picture of the league. Just 12 months ago, the summer of 2014 was pegged to be a true monumental time in NBA history with the importation and the swapping of the leagues super start and essentially their future. Now, with the draft seeming a bit over-hyped compared to last year’s talk, the free agency season could very well be following suit. Now as we head into the crucial week of the summer, a week when many top stars are expected to make their decisions, we evaluate how the league landscape will look in a few days when all the dust has settled and if this free agent class will be all hype or truly monumental.
1) How will the big market be affected?
Like any type of business, big markets for the NBA are intrigue to their success. One of the most intriguing parts of this year’s free agency is that the league’s biggest markets also happen to be the most active teams for new players. The New York Knicks, LA Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat are not only teams with a decent amount of cap space, but they also have been linked to some of the biggest names in the game (such as Carmelo Anthony joining the Bulls or Pau Gasol heading to Miami). When the dust has settled however, I fully expect the biggest of this years’ crop to stay at bay and resign with their teams (so yes I am predicting LeBron stays with my Miami and the same for Carmelo in New York). However, if one of those two superstars does indeed change teams, all bets are off. We could see the super teams of the league no longer be in the smaller markets as the trend has been in the past few seasons (OKC, San Antonio and Indiana) but rather restoring the big markets to the spotlight. I certainly wouldn’t hurt the league if this happened, this past season was the first ever that the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks all failed to reach the playoffs, not exactly idea for the big markets.
2) Is trading for superstars off the table now?
Going back to be article of how to fix the Lakers, I presented the idea of the T’Wolves trading Kevin Love while they can still get something back for him. Although the Lakers seem to be trending in a different direction now and are determined to land Carmelo Anthony or simply surround Kobe with over paid but effective players ( a page right out of the Mavericks’ plan), the T’Wolves are still listening to Love offers. The biggest contender to land him would be the Cavs or Celtics thus far, but with both those teams not exactly championship ready, it’s difficult to guarantee he’d resign next summer. Which begs the question, are stars just not being traded this off season when so many of these trades make sense? It certainly seems odd given that most stars on teams are typically traded and not necessarily signed in free agency, could this be the start of a new way of summer business in the league?
3) So where do we stand with Carmelo and LeBron?
Although it’s the boring answer, Carmelo seems to be leaning toward staying with Knicks after he made the rounds or meetings and sat down with about 5 teams (NYK, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Lakers). The truth is Carmelo isn’t about to leave 25 million on the table and have to move his family and leave the biggest market for a team that is unknown to him. If I had to pick one however, I’d say he would go to the Lakers, the brand fits, he’s close friends with Kobe and he can probably get to choose his new coach. As for LeBron, there are increasing rumors he might go back to the Cavs but I just don’t see him leaving the “Miami Mafia” (Riley, Wade, Spolstra and Mickey Arison). I expect him to sign a 2 or 3 year deal for the max and have opt out options after every year, so if the Heat come up short again, he could opt out and start this whole frenzy again next year.