NBA teams have spent the last couple of years clearing up cap space for the summer of 2010. That year, some of the top players will be free agents and can go anywhere they want. It is what teams like the Knicks and Nets have been waiting for.
Too bad it may not happen they way they wished.
The top prize will be LeBron James. Knicks and Nets fans have been salivating over the possibilities of King James in their unis in one year. Well, reports are that he told Trevor Ariza that he's going to stay in Cleveland past next year. That must have felt like a punch to the gut for fans in New York.
Next up is Dwyane Wade who said he'd stay in Miami if they showed him that they were going to attempt to be a title contender. While Miami hasn't done much this offseason, they could be a major player in 2010. In the aging East, that could put them back up there.
Yao Ming could be available ... but who would want him? Most likely he will be coming off a season of no basketball due to a broken foot. A broken foot that is just one on a list of lower body problems that Yao has faced in his career. Does anyone want to mortgage their future on a chance? It all may be moot because Yao would be stupid to opt out of his contract that year.
So would Dirk Nowitzki. He can be a free agent in 2010 if he opts out, but he probably won't since he'd be due $21M that coming season. Mark Cuban loves him and will gladly overpay for his services.
Chris Paul will probably sign an extention at some point soon and he'll probably be off the market.
Amare Stoudamire? He scares a lot of teams because people think he's a "system player". Still, if the Knicks can't get anything else done then they Mike D'Antoni may try to bring in Amare. He could be joined by teammate Steve Nash.
Chris Bosh could be the biggest name out there. Too bad that he's coming off a less than stellar season. All signs point to him wanting out of Toronto ... but that could change if Hedo Turkoglu can help get them back into the postseason.
Shaq? That will be the most interesting of all the free agents since he (a) is at the end of his career and (b) wants to win a title right now! But Shaq also likes getting his cheddar, so it will be interesting to see what offers are out there and from whom. And we'll get to hear those "Shaq back to LA" rumors again.
Ray Allen? Manu Ginobili? Rip Hamilton? Those guys best days will be behind them and all of them would probably stay with their organizations. Allen and Manu are on franchises that have outstanding chances at a title. Rip's Pistons have rebuilt.
Now you are looking at Michael Redd, Marcus Camby, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal and Carlos Boozer. Most can probably help a team get over the hump but who (aside from Johnson) really deserves the big, big money?