Believer it or not, but a large portion of the NBA fan base is as excited for the offseason as they are for the current playoffs.
This may sound bizarre to some, but the summer of 2010 has the potential to give some of bottom dwellers of the league new hope. Why? Two words – LeBron James.
Arguably the NBA’s best player is able to shop the free agent market this summer. It may sound ridiculous to get so excited for one player, but when you compare King James’ numbers at the age of 23 to that of someone who once went by the nickname “His Airness,” you’re bound to raise some interesting discussions. Compare the numbers…
At the age of 23, Michael Jordan had scored 5,762 points (connecting on a total of 24 three-pointers), grabbed 1,028 rebounds, and dished out 911 assists in his career to that point.
He had won a total of one playoff game, never advancing past the first round.
At the completion of LeBron’s age 23 season, James had tallied 10,689 points (including 510 three-pointers made), hauled in 2,694 rebounds, and racked up 2,572 assists.
He had 26 career playoff wins under his belt and had already carried his team to an NBA Finals appearance.
They call him the King because no one has had near as much success in his first few seasons as LeBron James.
Despite all the hype for LeBron, a plethora of other top NBA free agents will or may become available this offseason. You can break down the top NBA free agents into a few different categories.
First off, you can begin with the stars whose contracts expire following the 2009-10 season. The list includes such top NBA free agents as:
Johnson, Ginobili, and David Lee are especially intriguing since they are all underrated contributors and each likely to play somewhere else next season.
Next, there are a ton of superstars that are signed thru 2011, but have the opportunity to “opt out” in 2010 if they so choose. This top NBA free agent list includes the aforementioned LeBron James.
LeBron James (Player Option – owed 17.2 million in 10/11)
Dwyane Wade (Player Option – owed 17.0 million in 10/11)
Chris Bosh (Player Option – owed 17.1 million in 10/11)
Amare Stoudemire (Early Termination Option – owed 17.7 million in 10/11)
Dirk Nowitzki (Early Termination Option – owed $21.5 million in 10/11)
Paul Pierce (Player Option – owed $21.5 million in 10/11)
Kobe Bryant (Player Option – owed $24.8 million in 10/11)
Yao Ming (Early Termination Option – owed 17.7 million in 10/11)
Mike Redd (Early Termination Option – owed $18.3 million in 10/11)
Kobe, Nowitzki, Yao, and Michael Redd are likely not to opt out. However, it’s been widely believed for awhile now that LeBron, Wade, and Chris Bosh will all test the market. Stoudemire is another likely candidate.
If these four do indeed “opt out,” the 2010 summer will present four bona fide superstars with a possible new home.
A select few members from the 2006 NBA Draft Class will also be “restricted free agents” this summer, meaning that other franchises can offer a contract to the player, but the current franchise may “match” and retain the player for the said price.
This list includes players like Rudy Gay, Tyrus Thomas, J.J. Redick, Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, and Ronnie Brewer.
Last but not least, there are several players who are what some may describe as “second tier free agents.” This list includes proven veterans and valuable role players such as Josh Howard (team option), Allen Iverson, Jermaine O’Neal, Brendan Haywood, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Kyle Korver, Travis Outlaw, Channing Frye, and Derek Fisher.