By Matt Serocki
In case you haven’t heard, LeBron James hits the free agent market this summer.
James has the potential to stay with Cleveland or jump ship to another franchise/city so he can win a title. As things sit, his best option would appear to be staying with the Cavs. They did have the league’s best record this season and have made the NBA Finals with James.
On the other hand, if he wants to make more money than half the league’s players ever will (and he’s a pro athlete, so that’s a likelihood), then he will be playing in a new state next year.
Although James is the biggest star free agent this summer, he is not alone in terms of talented players with expiring contracts that could instantly improve a team. Here are some more big-name free agents whose names we will most certainly hear this summer. A few players on the list will become free agents if they decide to opt out of the final year of their contracts.
Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat– It’s seemed like an eternity has passed since Wade and the Diesel (Shaquille O’Neal) won a title way back in 2006. The Heat backed their way into the playoffs this year and haven’t been anything close to competitive. Wade does have a decent supporting cast (Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Jermaine O’Neal), but Haslem and O’Neal are free agents also. Wade would instantly upgrade any team he signs with.
Chris Bosh, PF, Toronto Raptors – Bosh has all but assured the NBA faithful that he’s played his last game for the Raptors. Who can blame him? He’s on a weak team in a country where the NBA isn’t the top sport. Bosh is an athletic big man in the mold of Kevin Garnett that could be the missing piece for a team in need of a strong low-post presence.
Joe Johnson, SG, Atlanta Hawks – Johnson is the best player in the NBA that your mother has never heard of. Atlanta can thank it’s resurgence over the past few years to Johnson. Now that his contract is up, he could become a dangerous addition to any new team that doesn’t sign Wade or LeBron.
Tracy McGrady, SG, New York Knicks – My how the mighty have fallen. Even though he was injured, McGrady still garnered enough votes to get a starting nod for the West in this season’s All-Star Game. After suffering through a few ailments as of late, he’s now with the Knicks, one of the main teams looking to land a big star this summer. McGrady is still one of the better players in the league when healthy, but his best days are behind him.
Amar’e Stoudemire, PF, Phoenix Suns – Trade rumors flew around left and right this season when it came to Stoudemire. Ultimately, he’s landed himself in the Western Conference Finals with the Suns. He’s been linked to Miami, New Jersey and New York during the season and with the conclusion of this season, he is likely to opt out of his contract in order to cash in.
Paul Pierce, SF, Boston Celtics – Like Stoudemire, Pierce has the option of opting out of the final year of his contract, although his team has a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Pierce has only known Celtic green during his playing days, but anything is possible when it comes to “the Truth.”
Yao Ming, C, Houston Rockets – Yao has caught the injury bug over his last two seasons. Although he hasn’t led Houston to the promised land yet, they are a notably worse team without him. Whatever Yao decides to do will have a nation of fans following his every move.
Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks – Many people thought that then head coach Don Nelson was crazy when he wanted to draft Nowitzki. Dirk has proven Nelson right at every turn, racking up several all-star appearances in addition to an NBA Finals appearance. If he departs Dallas, the Mavericks will lose a major piece of their franchise. Mark Cuban should shell out the money for Nowitzki, but he’s not the only one in the NBA with cash.
Ray Allen, SG, Boston Celtics – Allen may be at the tail end of his career, but he is a threat to go off on any given night. He’s a shooter’s shooter, one who excels on the catch-and-shoot moves all over the court a la Reggie Miller. Allen’s age might put him out of Boston, but the gas in his tank hasn’t rotted yet.
Carlos Boozer, PF, Utah Jazz – Teams looking to upgrade at the four or five spot who miss out on Bosh or Stoudemire will make a run at Boozer. He’s a rangy, physical big man who has an endless motor. Utah is starting to head into the upper echelon of the league, and losing out on Boozer will knock them back down to the middle of the pack.
Below is a list of many free agents that will be available this summer.
OTHER FREE AGENTS
Tony Allen, G/F, Boston; Marquis Daniels, G, Boston; Michael Finley, G/F, Boston; Nate Robinson, G, Boston; Stephen Jackson, G/F, Charlotte; Brad Miller, C, Chicago; Shaquille O’Neal, C, Cleveland; Brendan Haywood, C, Dallas; Rip Hamilton, G, Detroit; Drew Gooden, F/C, Los Angeles Clippers; Ronnie Brewer, G/F, Memphis; Rudy Gay, F, Memphis; Jermaine O’Neal, PF/C, Miami Heat; Udonis Haslem, PF, Miami Heat; David Lee, F, New York; Michael Redd, G, Milwaukee; John Salmons, G, Milwaukee; Channing Frye, C, Phoenix; Richard Jefferson, F, San Antonio; Mike Miller, G/F, Washington; Josh Howard, G/F, Washington
Matt Serocki is a Blogger for Boston Sports U18. He is also a Sports Correspondent for The MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.