Now that the NBA season is over, fans will wait in anticipation for the Free Agent market to open up so they can see if their teams are prepared to build or rebuild for success. While the 2012 class of FA’s doesn’t bring nearly the attention that the 2010 one did, (i.e. Lebron, Bosh, Wade, Stoudemire), there is still a ton of talent up for grabs. Every team in the NBA has a different need and this Free Agent class has a buffet of tasty options to fill those needs. From perennial all-star, Deron Williams, to surprising stand out big man, Roy Hibbert, there is no shortage of talent for teams to feast off of. I would like to say that these unrestricted Free Agents would do what was right and not sell out for the big bucks, but that’s unrealistic thinking nowadays. Here is a list of some of the big FA’s and where I think their best fits would be.
Deron Williams: Easily one of the best point guards in the NBA, there isn’t a team around that wouldn’t want Deron leading their attack. Unfortunately for 28 of those hopeful teams, Deron has already come out and said that he has narrowed his choices down to two. He will either be the face of the new Brooklyn Nets franchise, where is currently playing, or he will go back to his hometown of Dallas and join Dirk Nowitzki for what would be considered one of the best teams in the NBA. Williams has made it clear that he wants to play for the team with the best foundation for winning a championship now. “I want to go to a place where I feel like they will have a chance to build and build fast,” Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not really in the mood for being part of a rebuilding process. I’m getting older. I’m about to be 28. I want to win. I want to win now. Also, I want to live in a place where I want to live and my kids will enjoy living. That’s pretty much it.” I think that if he wants the best chance of winning then he better pack his bags and go home because Brooklyn will be a struggling franchise for years to come.
Roy Hibbert: There used to be a time where a team couldn’t succeed without a Center and the forefront of their team. Now there are teams that win Championships, i.e. The Miami Heat, without even playing a Center. The NBA is down to a handful of respectable Centers and Roy Hibbert is towards the top of that list. Luckily for the Indiana Pacers, Hibbert is a restricted Free Agent, meaning that they can match any offer that is made to him. With Marc Gasol in Memphis making close to $14 million next season, Hibbert will be looking for similar money based on their identical skill sets. While Hibbert fits in perfectly with young and talented Pacers, I feel he can benefit a lot more with a couple of other teams. If the Nets retain Deron Williams, which I don’t think they will, then Hibbert would be a great compliment for him. With the possible loss of Dwight, the Orlando Magic could be a nice fit for Hibbert as well.
Steve Nash: I saw this mock picture of Nash in a Knicks jersey so I had to use it. Nash has been the best point guard in the NBA over the past decade+. With two NBA MVP awards and an ability to pass a basketball through the tightest of situations, Nash has the skills to lead any team to a successful season. I can pretty much guarantee that Nash will leave the Phoenix Suns and his destination will be determined solely on whether he goes for the money or the ring. There are tons of teams in need of a point guard, but only a few teams that can afford to pay them a large salary. The Knicks are considered a possibility for Nash, but with a lot of monetary restrictions they might not be able to sign him. The Brooklyn Nets, (I know I have mentioned them a lot but they have the most money and space for Free Agents), if they lose Deron, will have a huge vacancy to fill and Nash would be perfect for that. There have also been rumors that the Heat might pursue Nash and if that actually goes through I will boycott this NBA season…not really but come on! Toronto is also a possible destination for Nash due solely to the fact that he is Canadian. This might be a biased statement, but I feel that Nash’s best option would be the Knicks due to the fact that if he went there he wouldn’t have to carry the whole load with Jeremy Lin most likely returning and I couldn’t think of a better mentor to learn under for Lin.
Kevin Garnett: This 36-year old future Hall of Famer would be a great fit for any team. Even in a year where people considered him to be washed up, Garnett was clearly the piece, outside of Rondo, that kept the veteran Celtics together. The Celtics were +267 with Garnett on the floor during the regular season compared to -101 with him on the bench. There is a huge possibility that KG can end up staying with Boston or there have even been rumors that he might retire. If neither of those things happen then I feel there are a couple of great fits for him. If the Lakers get rid of Pau Gasol, he is being heavily shopped, then they would have a void in the PF position and KG and his veteran leadership would be a great fit to help Kobe get his sixth ring. I also feel that the Denver Nuggets, with the possible loss of big man JaVale McGee, could be a good fit for KG. If Garnett decides to move his talents, it will most likely not be for the money because he had just come off making $22 million last season and has earned over $300 million during his 17 year career. KG will be looking for ring number two and if he feels that it is in reach then he is going to grab it.
Lou Williams: If it wasn’t for James Harden then Lou Williams would have been the sixth man of the year. Lou provided instant offense and has an aggressiveness that brings fans to their feet. Williams is one of the major reasons that the Sixers were able to upset the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. There are plenty of teams that are in need of a prolific scorer and Lou can fill that role perfectly. Philadelphia will do whatever they can to keep him around, but with his value skyrocketing over the past season, Lou might find some reasons to play elsewhere…millions of reasons. With Derrick Rose most likely missing some of next season due to injury, Chicago might be a great fit for Lou to fill in that point guard roll. If Deron doesn’t end up in Dallas then the Mavericks might search for a Lou type player as well. In my opinion, I think the Portland Trailblazers would be the best option for Williams so he can join forces with Lamarcus Aldridge and become a force in the Western Conference.Even though he isn’t a FA, Dwight Howard most definitely will be traded sooner than later, and the Free Agent market might get shook up. Rumors put Dwight in Brooklyn or even Los Angeles and if that happens then the flood gates will open and players will be moving at a rapid pace. With Free Agents like OJ Mayo (restricted); George Hill (unrestricted); Jason Kidd (unrestricted); Ray Allen (unrestricted); Jeremy Lin (restricted); Ryan Anderson (restricted); Carl Landry (unrestricted); Kris Humphries (unrestricted); Andre Miller (unrestricted) and many more, there are plenty of compliments to a teams superstar. Let’s just hope that they don’t all bring their talents to South Beach because it would be nice to see a competitive season next year.
Maybe Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics finally read our website because when we did our Eastern Conference Finals preview, we stated that outside of coaching, the Celtics had one huge advantage over the Heat. That advantage is named Kevin Garnett. Boston went to him early and often with the games results speaking for themselves. The Celtics went on to beat the Miami Heat in Boston last night 101-91, led by Kevin Garnett’s 24 points and 11 rebounds on 10-16 shooting.
After getting fouled hard, Garnett laid on his back waiting for his teammates to help him get up. Instead, Garnett rolled over onto his stomach and began doing push-ups on his knuckles.
“I’m getting crap about my form, but I want people to know it’s because it was on my knuckles,” Garnett joked in the locker room after leading Boston to victory. “That’s old school. My uncle taught me to do push-ups on my knuckles. That’s some Army-Navy stuff.”
It’s easy to joke around when you win big the way Boston did last night, but the fact is that they are down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series and Miami is not a team who loses often. Rondo had another impressive game with 21 points and 10 assists, while Boston’s bench did something they were yet to do this series…show up! Role players Marquis Daniels and Keyon Dooling scored a combined 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting, but it wasn’t their points that Boston needed. These two athletes provided constant pressure on Dwayne Wade and Lebron James and really were the difference makers in the game. Boston looked great last night but they need to play with a level of consistency if they have any hopes of making this a series. First, they have to focus on winning Sunday in Boston.
In 2008, the Boston Celtics put together an incredible team with 3 future Hall of Famers to win the Championship. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen played their hearts out while they all tried to win their first ring. When Garnett and Allen signed with the Celtics in the off-season there were a lot of expectations placed on their team to win it all, which is never a good thing…ask Miami. What people didn’t talk about was this young and athletic point guard from Kentucky that was helping lead the Celtics to their first title since Larry Bird brought their last one home in 1986. (If it wasn’t for Bill Buckner, 1986 would have been a perfect year for the city of Boston.)
The biggest stigma placed on Boston in that 2008 season was their supposed lack of a point guard. Little did everyone know that they were sitting on a goldmine. Rajon Rondo quickly quieted all the skeptics with his fearless driving to the hole and smooth, precision passing. Fast-forward over 4 years later and now the stigma has been placed on “The Old Big 3,” while Rondo is now considered the team’s sole savior. In 2008, if Allen, Pierce and Garnett shot a pathetic 16 of 42 from the field and combined for a dismal 44 points, I can guarantee that they would not have won a playoff game. Well, that is exactly what happened last night in Boston’s 85-75 game 7 win against the offensively challenged Philadelphia 76ers. There was one reason and one reason alone that Boston won last night’s series clinching game, and his name is Rajon Rondo. Rondo posted a triple-double for his third time in this seasons playoffs and his eighth ever in the post-season. These playoff triple-doubles put Rondo in an incredibly elite class of players, tied with Oscar Robertson and trailing only players that you might have heard of like Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, Larry Bird and Wilt Chamberlain for most ever.
As the 21st pick of the NBA draft in 2006 by the Phoenix Suns, there were not many expectations that came with Rajon Rondo into the league. Phoenix actually shipped him to Boston for a protected future top 10 pick. Turns out that wasn’t the best move. Rondo has quickly established himself as a premier PG and is arguably the best passer in the game. His next match-up against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals is going to be a HUGE stage for him to prove his prowess.
Although I hate all things Boston, especially the Celtics, I think I hate “Team Flop-a-Lot,” a.k.a Miami Heat, much more. I would like to see the veterans on Boston pull out a win in this series, but my professional opinion is that Miami will win this series in 6. You can read about why in my Eastern Conference Finals preview article tomorrow.