Out with the Old in with the New: It’s hard to believe, but in just two years time the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and many more long-time NBA veterans, will all be gone from the game. Yes, some of the leagues brightest stars will soon burn out by way of retirement.
This means the NBA’s landscape will look a bit different moving forward, and just as Doc Rivers was the first domino to fall in the C’s rebuilding scheme, so to is Dwight Howard’s decision this Friday for re-shaping the scene of league. For now, it’s still unclear exactly how the league will look moving forward. However, next year’s NBA off-season will provide all the answers to the burning questions from basketball fans everywhere.
It’s July 1st, 2014…and NBA superstars, stars, and role players alike hit up the free agency market harder than little kids do the local ice cream truck in the summer time. General Managers salivate of these sultry stars, the way a wild animal would over a piece of fresh meat. All at once these players leave their teams faster than horses out of the gates at the Kentucky Derby; for bigger endorsement deals, fatter contracts, and the chance to win a championship.
Sounds like an absolute free-for-all brawl between any and every team with a winner takes all result, right? Not exactly.
Yes, the free-agent-frenzy that will be the summer of 2014 will be an exciting one. However, most of those role players will be re-signed before they ever have a chance to change teams, and some of those stars will continue to shine above the skylines of their respective cities. Nevertheless, there will still be more than a few big names that could send shockwaves down the spine of the new look NBA. Here’s a list of some of the free agents who could shake things up during the summer of 2014:
(Note this is NOT a complete list of the 2014 NBA free agents. Also these scenarios are solely based on what if scenarios, NOT actual salary cap or contract numbers. Furthermore, some of the veterans mentioned in the opening of this post are also free agents and will be accounted for in the following fictitious rosters)
Future Free Agents:
Point Guards Shooting Guards
Kyrie Irving Dwyane Wade
John Wall Thabo Sefolosha
Eric Bledsoe Klay Thompson
Damian Lillard Iman Shumpert
Small Forwards Power Forwards
LeBron James Amar’e Stoudemire
Carmelo Anthony Zach Randolph
Danny Granger Dirk Nowitzki
Kawhi Leonard Pau Gasol
It was hard to determine an appropriate amount of team rosters to re-arrange for this post, but I settled on six. The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers will all likely have both the cap space and room on their rosters to make major moves. Let’s take a look at what some of their lineups could look like starting with the Heat:
The Heat Re-Sign Everyone Heat Re-Sign Big 3 + Kyrie Irving
PG Mario Chalmers PG Kyrie Irving
SG Dwyane Wade SG Dwyane Wade
SF LeBron James SF LeBron James
PF Udonis Haslem PF Udonis Haslem
C Chris Bosh C Chris Bosh
As you can see there isn’t really much that the Heat absolutely needs. However, if they could steal Irving away from Cleveland (oh how Dan Gilberts blood would boil) that’s about as good as it gets in South Beach.
San Antonio Spurs
Big 3 Stay On + Leonard Big 3 Retire, Sign Z-Bo, Leonard, Lillard
SG Danny Green/ Manu Ginobli SG Danny Green
SF Kawhi Leonard SF Kawhi Leonard
PF Tim Duncan PF Zach Randolph
C Tiago Splitter C Tiago Splitter
While it will be sad to see the trio of Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli go, the Spurs will have to invest during the summer of 2014 if they wish to stay competitive in the west. Landing the likes of Z-Bo and Lillard, plus resigning Leonard would be a great start.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Re-Sign Sefolosha Stay Put Sign Thompson to Switch it Up
PG Russell Westbrook PG Russell Westbrook
SG Thabo Sefolosha SG Klay Thompson
SF Kevin Durant SF Kevin Durant
PF Serge Ilbaka PF Serge Ilbaka
C Kendric Perkins C Kendrick Perkins
Like the Heat, the Thunder don’t need to tinker too much with their roster. However, OKC may choose to move Perkins and opt for other players or draft picks to help sure up what should be a very bright future. A Perkins trade could lead to the Thunder being bold and shifting Ilbaka to center and signing Dirk Nowitzki to give them a seasoned vet to go along with great young talent. However, I foresee Dirk retiring in Dallas at the end of the day.
Los Angeles Clippers
Stay Put, Add Role Players Go Crazy Add Anthony, Bledsoe
PG Chris Paul PG Chris Paul
SG J.J. Redick SG Eric Bledsoe
SF Matt Barnes SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Blake Griffin PF Blake Griffin
C DeAndre Jordan C DeAndre Jordan
The Los Angeles Clippers are a few pieces away from having a title team on their hands. Maybe they add the likes of Anderson Varejao or a Danny Granger as I doubt Anthony will be willing to pack up and head west. It may, however, not be a bad idea to bring back Bledsoe if they can.
New York Knicks
Keep Melo/Amar’e, Add Irving Keep Melo/Amar’e/Shumpert Add Wall
PG Kyrie Irving PG John Wall
SG Pablo Prigioni SG Iman Shumpert
SF Carmelo Anthony SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Amar’e Stoudemire PF Amar’e Stoudemire
C Tyson Chandler C Tyson Chandler
For the New York Knicks, keeping Melo and Amar’e while adding either Irving or Wall would give them something they haven’t had in quite some time, a “true” point guard. Of course whether or not they would have the cap space to land all of the above.
Los Angeles Lakers
Keep Kobe, Pau, Howard Add Bledsoe Keep Kobe, Pau, Add Bledsoe, Cousins
PG Eric Bledsoe PG Eric Bledsoe
SG Kobe Bryant SG Kobe Bryant
SF Metta World Peace SF Metta World Peace
PF Pau Gasol PF Pau Gasol
C Dwight Howard C DeMarcus Cousins
The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to lose D12 by this Friday, and will be lucky to squeeze another season out of Bryant after next year is through. However, LA may be able to add a few key players next off-season in the form of Bledsoe and Cousins if they are available. If nothing else the Lakers could rebuild around those two and role players.
Final Thoughts: Of course all of this is just a rough idea of the change to come in the NBA. Nevertheless, a new era of basketball is upon us, and whatever happens, it’s going to be big.