Here’s more of the latest on this summer’s free-agents-to-be:
Tired of all the LeBron speculation yet? Don’t worry: You only have about a month and a half to go!
Here’s some more conjecture for you: Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine ranked the five most probable destinations for King James…and Chicago topped the list.
Said Broussard: “Of all the clubs with max cap space, the Bulls have the most talent to put around James. He’s never had a teammate the caliber of Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah is an amped-up, more skilled version of Anderson Varejao (not to mention one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the game). The positions are a bit different, but could that trio become reminiscent of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman? The Bulls also have other solid players who might be able to fetch another star-caliber talent in a sign-and-trade. The city of Chicago isn’t New York, but it’s not Cleveland either. The Chi would give LeBron a nice mix of big city excitement and suburban peace.”
Of course, Broussard also points out that signing with the Bulls could cost LeBron $30 million and would force him to play in Michael Jordan’s shadow. To that’s the downside.
By the way, LeBron’s agent, Maverick Carter, has put the kibosh on all those rumors about the King wanting (or demanding) to hand-pick his next coach. Said Carter: “All these rumors out there are absolutely untrue. LeBron just wants to win. He doesn’t want to handpick his next coach.”
Despite all the LeBron buzz, NBA GMs are also talking a lot about Bosh.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford: “The NBA GMs I spoke with are convinced that Bosh is the most likely top free agent to leave for another destination. They also believe the Raptors will be willing to do a sign-and-trade, potentially putting all 29 other teams in play for his services. That idea wasn’t disputed by two sources close to situation. They told me Thursday that Bosh’s agent has informed the Raptors that he has whittled his potential list down to five teams and has given the list to the Raptors. (See this Bosh news story, published earlier on Friday.) Bosh’s wish list, according to sources, includes the Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and New York Knicks, in no particular order.”
Despite the “in no particular order part, Ford went on to say: “One of the sources told ESPN.com that Bosh’s ultimate decision will likely be heavily influenced where LeBron decides to play: ‘If LeBron decides to go to either New York or Chicago, I think that’s where you’ll see Chris land. If LeBron stays in Cleveland, I think the process is more wide open.’”
Ford also said that Bosh would likely prefer a sign-and-trade scenario so he could get an extra year on his contract and larger year-to-year raises. The Bulls would probably be more than happy to do a sign-and-trade with Luol Deng and/or Kirk Hinrich — due mostly to their bloated contracts — but the Raptors would probably want a big man in return, say, Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah. Well, there’s no way they’re getting Noah. Deng and Gibson, perhaps?
I’ve made my feelings about Joe Cool pretty clear, but allow me to repeat myself: Don’t want him on the Bulls, no way, no how. Well, Brett LaGree of Hoopinion paints an ugly picture that has hardened my anti-Joe stance to “unbreakable.”
LaGree provides plenty of hard data to suggest that Johnson is — in essence — a player without great athleticism who relies primarily on difficult jump shots, rarely gets to the free throw line, and plays questionable defense. And despite being The Man in Atlanta, his production (though very good) has basically flatlined.
Said LaGree: “Johnson turns 29 this summer. He’s played 25,974 minutes in the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks have enjoyed the prime of his career. That prime may last another couple of years but Joe Johnson isn’t going to sign a two or three-year contract this summer. Some team is going to be on the hook for the next five or six years of Johnson’s career at the cost of at least $15 million per season. I think it’s unlikely Johnson gets any better* but how confident can one be that he’ll remain this good. … However one feels about the validity of Johnson’s current reputation, it’s difficult to see how he will maintain his established level of production into his mid-30s. Buyer beware.”
Even though the Suns are saying they will pay a hefty sum to re-sign him, ESPN’s Chad Ford quoted a source close to Stoudemire who says Amar’es days in Phoenix may be over: “I don’t think it’s going to happen,” a source close to Stoudemire told ESPN. “Amare feels like the organization disrespected him. Amare loves his teammates and has really enjoyed playing for the team these last few months, but he’s reluctant to commit to Phoenix long-term.”
As noted, Stoudemire is right below Joe Johnson on my “Buyer Beware” anti-wish list.