Tom Ziller, writing for FanHouse, names the eight teams that will have room to give a free agent max money. Here’s my quick breakdown of the pros and cons of each free-agent destination:
New York: The Knicks may have the cap space to sign two major free agents. They also play in the Mecca of basketball, and the chance of bringing basketball glory back to New York could be very tempting. Players also love playing for Mike D’Antoni. However, the Knicks have few young pieces and draft picks, and have been a mess for some time now. They’d need to perform some serious magic in the summer of 2010 to become a title contender.
New Jersey: The team may be moving to Brooklyn, and have a billionaire owner with money to burn. They have a good young center in Brook Lopez, and Devin Harris could return to his previous form. They also have a high pick in the upcoming draft, and have the best chance of winning the John Wall sweepstakes. On the con side, this is one of the worst teams in NBA history.
Chicago: The Bulls have cap space, a young star in Derrick Rose, and the legacy of Michael Jordan. They’ll likely make a concerted effort to get hometown product Dwyane Wade this summer, and could have a very good shot. The Bulls have been close to contending for a few years now. A superstar could return them to their former glory.
Sacramento: The Kings have a budding superstar of their own in Tyreke Evans. They also have young pieces like Omri Casspi, and now feature Carl Landry in their frontcourt. Additionally, the Kings have one of the league’s most passionate fanbases, not to mention a pair of billionaire owners. The major cons for the Kings are their small market and their lack of success in recent years.
Miami: The Heat have the best shot at keeping Wade, and could potentially add another big free agent to their nucleus. They don’t have much young talent or a high draft pick coming, however. Their market isn’t the best, but players do like playing in Miami.
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and a high pick coming in the draft. They also play in one of the best markets in the league, if not the best. However, they’re currently a mess, and historically one of the worst franchises ever. They’ve also got a ways to go until they’re the most popular team in their own arena. Their ownership situation could also be a concern for potential free agents wary of throwing their hat in with Donald Sterling.
Washington: The Wizards are having some serious problems. They’ll have a high draft pick, but have no core and the messy Gilbert Arenas situation hanging over the franchise.
Minnesota: The Wolves have Al Jefferson, and do have the rights to Ricky Rubio. Kevin Love is also blossoming into a very fine NBA player. The issue is that the Wolves could have trouble enticing players to come to Minnesota, and the team hasn’t been constructed with any clear plan in mind so far.
Those are the teams who will be bidding for the big free agents in the Summer of Doom. We’ll see which franchises end up getting the guys they want with their cap space.