So, that's it I guess. On the eve of the day when teams can make signings official, Chris Bosh has finally answered the question as to his destination. Miami. First things first, I am disappointed. Say what you will about Bosh, whether he would've been worth max money or not, but ignoring everything else this next bit is undeniable. Toronto will have difficulty regrouping from losing a player like Bosh. A player that is capable of having an offense built off of him, and capable of getting to the free throw line at will, Bosh leaves a huge gap with this announcement.
However, not just from losing a player of his caliber, I'm disappointed that Bosh has basically gone back on his word. Claiming that wherever he went, he wanted to "win" and "be the man". As well as his overall demeanor during the whole ordeal. Don't get me wrong, I am not just spazzing out because Toronto lost a cornerstone. I don't mind that Bosh left (well I do, but you get what I mean), it's just how he went about it. But, that does not take away from the fact that Bosh is still first-class as a human being.
So obviously, the biggest question now is how exactly is Bosh leaving? Looking at Miami, it is very difficult to imagine that Colangelo went ahead with a sign-and-trade. Though that isn't to say it's outside of the realm of possibility. Of the scenarios thrown around, many are proposing Chalmers, Anthony, draft picks and a trade exception are coming back. Even then, I seriously doubt that happening. Would Miami really gut out their entire remaining roster? That leaves only Michael Beasley as the remaining member (including D-Wade of course). Let's not forget that this team will still need to fill out the other positions. Of course, a combo of Wade-Bosh should prove quite persuasive to free agents. However, that's something I'll address some other time.
Anyway, if you've been sleeping, here are some of the biggest signings said to have been confirmed so far (grabbed from here):
L.A. Lakers - Steve Blake; 4-yrs/16 million - Great deal for the Lakers. A vast improvement over Farmar (I think he's average at best). Blake is crafty, tough and fiery. This could be the steal of the summer. However, I will say that I am wondering how well he will work in L.A. Blake is a somewhat traditional point guard, in that he likes to handle the ball. I don't believe he's a great shooter (I haven't seen him play much), but he can hit the three. I imagine most of his time is going to come without Kobe on the floor. Otherwise, he may just be relegated to a spot up shooter.
Orlando Magic - Chris Duhon; 4-yrs/15 million - ...What? I do not see the rationale behind this signing at all. Say what you want about Jameer Nelson, but the fact is he is plain better than Duhon. I don't even know what to say about this one. Will Duhon even see more than twenty minutes a night? However, one thing I will say is that Duhon is at least more pass-oriented than Nelson.
Atlanta Hawks - Joe Johnson; 6-yrs/119 million - Uh...I'm not sure. This is the max, if I'm not mistaken. I don't have much to comment really. I think everyone knows what Joe Johnson can do. It will certainly help keep Atlanta relevant as one of the upper eastern conference teams, but it is still to be seen whether they can make anymore moves to get themselves to that next tier of play.
Milwaukee Bucks - John Salmons; 5-yrs/40 million - Not bad. If you remember the past season, trading for Salmons mid-season seemed to spark the Bucks. A tear that saw them reach the playoffs. I still find myself wondering just exactly how this Bucks team works. With Bogut, Jennings, Salmons, I always think to myself "how the fuck do they get enough touches to all three?" But hey, Scott Skiles made it work once, he can probably do it again. Regardless, Salmons will get his. He loves to shoot, and he's not shy. It'll be fun to see if the Bucks can make some noise this year. And keep Bogut healthy.
Boston Celtics - Paul Pierce; 4-yrs/61 million - Eh. Purely a smart business move by Pierce. He's getting pretty close to the point where his play is going to start deteriorating. The contract might start looking a bit nasty in the last year or so. It pretty much means at this point that Pierce is going to retire a Celtic, and have his jersey retired. But, Boston still needs to make more moves if they want to get themselves back to the finals. A feat that I find highly unlikely.
Memphis Grizzlies - Rudy Gay; 5-yrs/82 million - A pretty hefty contract. Who knows how this one's going to turn out. But, fact is, Gay (hehe, gay) is a dynamic player on the wing. He can jump with the best of them, and he's got a pretty solid mid-range jumper. The Grizzle made some noise last year, but missed the playoffs. I think Gay still has room to improve, but depending on moves by them (and others in the west) they'll have some trouble getting into the playoffs. But are capable of getting in.
Phoenix Suns - Hakim Warrick; 4-yrs/18 million - I imagine this was made in case Stoudemire was leaving. And with reports saying A'mare to the Knicks, this will certainly help numb the pain, but not much. Warrick is basically a lesser A'mare. He can jump out of the gym, and has power to his game, but he lacks a reliable jumper (which A'mare does have). Can they play him in the pick/roll? I doubt it. They can try, but it won't be near as effective. Phoenix needs to make more moves. They don't have a reliable big man (offensively) anymore, I'd be very surprised if this team doesn't drop off in the wins significantly.
Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki; 4-yrs/80 million - I believe Dirk could've pushed for more money, but he took a (relatively speaking) pay cut. So, you really can't find anything wrong with this. A little older, Dirk can still light it up and win games. As always, watch for the Mavericks to look for more signings and deals.
Miwaukee Bucks - Drew Gooden; 5-yrs/32 million - A bit iffy. This is probably to cover for Bogut should he get injured in the season. Gooden's bounced around quite a bit, but he can easily get you 10 points and 8 boards a game off the bench. He'll be a very good backup for the Bucks and possibly a bit overpaid. But again, the value is in the fact that they now have a contingency should Bogut go down.
Toronto Raptors - Amir Johnson; 5-yrs/34 million - Once again, a bit iffy. Compared with Drew Gooden however, you can't argue against this. Johnson is better than Gooden and is still improving. More valuable still now that Bosh is gone. Is he ready to be a starter and possibly log 30 minutes a night? I don't think so. We'll have to see how this one plays out.
Phoenix Suns - Channing Frye; 5-yrs/30 million - Um. What? Just because of this, there is no way you can ever argue against Amir's contract. Frye is a product of his team. He is a sub-par defender, average rebounder, poor shot blocker, and just not dynamic or energetic. A spot up shooter is about all he has going for him, which is what Phoenix likes. Overpaid? Very. But hey, he works in Phoenix.
NY Knicks - A'mare Stoudemire; 5-yrs/100 million - Way too early to evaluate this. The Knicks have yet to make more moves. It very much depends on how they can fill out their roster. But at face value, it's not a bad contract. Fact is, he plays with power and can jump over defenders. He can get you boards on both ends of the floor, and he's quicker than most at his position. Can he play as well without a dynamic guard (he's player with a good Marbury, and MVP Nash), who knows. Again, need to see the moves that the Knicks make.
Anyway, for Miami and the Knicks, their biggest problem is filling out their rosters. Possible agents that they are both looking at would have to include:
Raymond Felton - A sturdy and steady guard. Not outstanding, but he can hit the open shot and defends his position. Though that's not to say he's the Bruce Bowen of point guard defenders.
Jannero Pargo - A bit small, but is excellent at driving for layups. He's steady with the ball, but offense won't exactly be lacking for Miami or NY so he could be passed.
Luke Ridnour - Very good backup guard. He puts effort into defense, and he has a solid jumper. Won't complain about lack of touches. The type of player that could push a good team into a great team. Though I think Milwaukee must be pushing to get him back into a Bucks uniform.
Ray Allen - A big name to chase, he'll command a hefty salary. But, seeing how well he's worked with Pierce and Garnett, I wouldn't be surprised to see him sign with NY or Miami now. Fact is, he is still lights out. Perhaps a bit streakier than in his prime though. Bit of a gamble if you give him a big salary.
Tony Allen - Boston fans know what this guy is about. He's hustle and energy. Can defend guards and even 3's. And defends them well. Will be extremely valuable to a team where the offense has already been dictated (E.g. Bosh/Wade). Though has been hit with injuries in his career a few times already. A gamble worth taking.
Ronnie Brewer (Restricted) - Energetic. A bit slow for a 2-guard, a bit small for a 3. But he makes up for it with hustle. Memphis has a lot of money committed already, it won't be hard to pry him away. Very valuable off the bench.
JJ Reddick (Restricted) - Showing signs of improvement and actually getting play time, Reddick has turned a few heads as he's shown that his sharp-shooting in Duke wasn't a coincidence. Still a liability on defense, he can make defenses pay for helping off of him. Will spread the floor for others with his shot. Useful, if put in the right situation.
Antoine Wright - Puts effort into defense. He should be available for cheap. Makes some stupid decisions on offence, and thinks he's a good shooter (he's average). Get him into a system where you don't have to worry about the ball traveling to him too often, and you'll have a solid addition to a contender. Won't do much for you if you're just trying to get into the playoffs.
Mike Miller - As versatile as they come. He can shoot from anywhere, and is a solid 3-point shooter. I'm not sure who will be interested (he's not a good defender), but he can make an impact.
Matt Barnes - Tough, energetic and probably abrasive as well to the opponent. Valuable player to any team off the bench.
Josh Howard - Forgotten in Washington and coming off a season ending surgery, Howard could be obtained for cheap. Let's not forget that this is a dynamic player, capable of easily putting up 18 points and 10 boards without breaking a blunt. A big gamble, but if you get him for cheap, why not?
There's a couple I've neglected to mention. Look for Miami to shop Beasley around now that Bosh is there (though I don't think anybody wants him). If Beasley is gone, watch for Haslem to return. He would make a great backup for Bosh. The pool for centers is very shallow, and rather devoid of talent. Miami should be pursuing a defensive center quite aggressively in the coming weeks.