Someone is going to get very overpaid in this summer’s free agent market.
Not LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh — those are guys who deserve max contracts (which will be about $16 million the first year, depending on factors with the salary cap not yet determined). And they will have choices on where they want to play because at least eight teams spent the last few weeks clearing out all sports of cap space so they could offer a max contract this summer.
But there are not eight free agents this summer worthy of max money, and that’s where the problem lies. There are eight fan bases that have high hopes and expectations — and eight general managers feeling enormous pressure to make something happen.
Let’s play a hypothetical: LeBron decides to re-sign with Cleveland this summer to start, then Chris Bosh decides he wants to play with Derek Rose in Chicago and takes their max-salary slot. Then Dwyane Wade decides to stay in Miami after the Heat finally swing an Amare Stoudemire trade.
What is Donnie Walsh going to do in New York? What is Mike Dunleavy going to do with the Clippers? Rod Thorn with the Nets? They will all be under pressure, and so they will get in a bidding war over the second tier of players. Suddenly everybody wants Joe Johnson and he is being offered a max or near max deal. Same with Rudy Gay. Both very good players that can be good fits with others around them. Neither max players.
A smart general manager may try to hold on to that space until the following free agent class the next summer, which is deep as well. Plus, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming the financial rules for teams is changing, some may want to wait.
But that is a hard sell to fans, that you just gutted their team for cap space and now you are going to sit on it for a year. There will be an outcry.
Which means someone is going to get very overpaid this summer.
Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likely” LeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.
Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.
Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.
LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.
But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.
When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).
This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.
During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.
But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.
NBC Sports Washington:
I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.
The double technical foul called seems about fair.
The NBA trade deadline got moved up this season to Feb. 8 so the league can avoid the spectacle of DeMarcus Cousins being traded during the All-Star Game and then doing an uncomfortable press interview afterward where he had to be told of the situation.
That means we are less than two months away from the trade deadline, and in this PBT Extra I look at the big names that could be on the market.
The Clippers seem likely to move DeAndre Jordan, the only questions are where and what will they get back? But three other teams have big decisions to make about their stars: Oklahoma City with Paul George, New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins, and Memphis with Marc Gasol. Right now none of those guys are on the market, but that could change.