by Naledi Semela with The Arkitekt’s Perspective
As we await the blockbuster trade, whether it involves three or four or thirty teams, to land Dwight Howard in Brooklyn with the new Nets, we can look at what had gone on so far in NBA free agency, and it’s been a counterintuitive trend. What we saw in the most important summer perhaps in NBA free agent history in 2010 was the top players, the guys in their athletic primes, pick their teams and sign their max deals. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer to name a few. After that was taken care of, you saw the guys in their twilight go in after to fill the rest of those teams’ cap space. Mike Miller, Juwan Howard, etc.
This off season has taken a different shape. Other than Deron Williams, none of the young max level free agents know for sure where they’re playing in October. And the guy who’s not exactly a free agent but is kind of in that 2011 Carmelodrama state of flux, Orlando Magic franchise center Dwight Howard, remains in limbo. In the meantime, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Ray Allen have changed addresses. Even Marcus Camby signed. It’s been a long time since the 1994 Draft, or the 1996 one. And yet, in each case, the teams really feel that they have improved their rosters bringing in the veteran leaders. Kobe looks to be a little happier, as do Carmelo, LeBron, and Paul Pierce for the quiet signings.
Have teams finally said enough is enough with the diva young superstars taking everyone’s time and attention while they enjoy being wooed by every team with cap space? I doubt it. The CBA hasn’t changed much except the distribution of wealth between players and owners. Role players like Jeremy Lin and maybe-stars like Eric Gordon will still be way overpaid in 2013 and for the next five years or so. Teams continue to pay players who can’t stay healthy; see Amar’e in New York and the return of Brandon Roy in Minnesota(?!).
The top story lines at the beginning of the season will likely be the two largest markets in New York and Los Angeles deciding which of their two teams is better. The playoffs could feature an interesting Hall Way series in Staples Center and in the East we could see a subway series in basketball. Jay-Z will try to recruit jaded Knicks fans to the Barclay’s Center and Spike Lee will guilt them into staying orange and true blue. After all that is over, I predict a finals rematch of Heat-Thunder and all this other noise will play second fiddle to the new Bird-Magic of our time in LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. So as soon as Dwight gets his trade, we can coast through the summer with baseball and the Olympics and get ready for some football! I hope.