Hello there, and happy Monday to you all. Whilst the hype machine that is constantly and irrevocably following Lebron James has shaken the basketball landscape and thereby obscured everything else, I decided to hide mine eyes from the horrible spectacle of an NBA finals without my Mavvy Mavs, and instead concentrate on something more palatable...
Making a list! And checking it repeatedly!
OK, maybe in this case not much backtracking is needed. But either way... I digress. One of the things I really like about the association is its knack for getting all of its dealings done within as compressed a period as possible. It's the only sport I can bring to mind in which some of the off season dealings are conducted in the middle of the playoffs. Yes, draft lottery, we're looking your way and hope to raise enough protest to force your dismissal sometime very soon. The draft itself is conducted less than two weeks after the final trophy presentation; which from one end of the spectrum gives the coaching staff and front office limited time to scout players; but from another end allows the league to maintain some attention directly following their last game. Free agent negotiations begin a mere pittance later, on July the first (Although signings are not official until eleven days later).
So what I've done here is gone through all the lists; examined all the players who may or may not be technically restricted or free to negotiate with teams other than their current franchise within a certain period of time allowing that a lucrative financial deal is on the table. I've ranked them in order of significance; the higher the player's quality, the more prominently he will feature onto the top of the list.
#1: Chauncey Billups,31,PG,Det. This is a sticky situation that I could see developing several different ways. First, the situation:
Billups has an option for the coming year at a meager 6-7 million; he will obviously decline this. However, most hold strongly to the belief that the Pistons will retain their point guard, signing him to a nice long offer sheet worthy of his contribution to the franchise. However... I have a slight hunch that the unceremonious beating Det was handed by the fledgling Cavs squad may complicate matters.
As things stand, only five teams are under the cap: the hapless Hawks, the New Orleanhoma Hornets, da Bulls, the fierce but unenviable felines from Charlotte, and the far more dangerous Raptors from the country up north. I personally don't think any of these would display significant interest in signing Billups for 13-14 million a year outright. So what seems likely is either the Pistons resigning him for that sum, or... outside chance...
the Pistons decide that their horrible conference final is a herald of things to come and blow the whole thing sky-high; in doing so, deal Billups for whatever they can get. As I said, It's an outside chance. But a possibilty nonetheless, especially considering that teams even better than them (Phoenix, for instance) have vowed to make major changes.
#2: Vince Carter,30,SG,NJ. Vince can't share. Vince doesn't care. Vince is quickly losing hair. But regardless of these faults, Carter remains a dynamic scorer who could be potentially attractive to many teams in need of that player they believe to be the missing link. Personally, I think he'd be making a mistake by opting out of the 16 million dollars he's owed this season. But Obviously, It's his prerogative. Not mine. A is the situation with Billups, however, he is not a young player. While not necessarily in decline, he's reached his upside already. None of the four aforementioned teams with cap space should go after him; the Raptors would make slight sense if not for the fact that he began his career there and demanded a trade. My prediction? He gets a three or four year extension for fourteen million or so to stay in Jersey. (As with Billups, there is an outside chance of a sign and trade, however unlikely).
That does it for the top two, more to come tomorrow!