Trying to grade the NFL draft right after it is an effort in futility. The NBA draft is even worse because we have so much less information about the players. I won’t try to do that. Instead let’s look at 2010 free agency because that is where the rubber of the NBA ball meets the court.
There are 3 premiere UFAs in the 2010 free agent class. Those are 1. LeBron James SF (26 years old), 2. Dwyane Wade, SG (28) and 3. 3. Chris Bosh, FC (26). That is it.
There are 3 blue chip UFAs including 4. Joe Johnson, SG (29 a late bloomer that has really come on in Atlanta) 5. Amare Stoudemire, FC (28 but injury prone and not much of a defender) 6. Dirk Nowitzki, PF (a very old 32).
Then there is the rest who are at best a “Pippen” that requires a Jordan to get you a championship.
There is no question that the first 3 deserve the max contract of about 16.6 mil over what ever length of time you can sign the guy for. In the second group Johnson deserves the max but I would not give the other 2 max deals for more than 3 years. There is a really good chance they won’t be productive after that.
Here is the problem: There are 9 teams that have been working feverishly to create cap room to sign UFAs this year. They have traded away good players and virtually decimated their rosters to take their shot at a FA home run. Here is the list as of draft night:
New York 35
New Jersey 27
LA Clippers 18
Oklahoma City 12
Miami is trying to get into position to sign 2 max plus keep Wade. Who says you can’t buy an NBA title? The list above does not include Cleveland that is trying their best to keep LeBron.
That adds up to a total of 206M. But at best there are only 99.6M worth of max contract UFAs and that includes a couple of marginal max guys. The teams listed have all had trouble filling their arena with their 09-10 rosters. Those teams that don’t get one or more of the top 3 are going to struggle even more in 2010-11 because they will be left with guys that no one else wanted.
Suppose LeBron and Bosh go to one team and the others sign elsewhere. That leaves 4 teams and 105.4 M without a dance partner. What will happen is that some of the “Pippen” guys will get max 7 year contracts that will allow their new team to save a little face. But those guaranteed contracts will hang around the necks of the GMs like a C4 explosive collar. It is just a matter of time before those teams will have to blow the team and the organization up and start over.
The job security of an NBA GM makes Greece Bonds look solid. The Trail Blazers fired GM Kevin Pritchard effective at the end of Thursday’s NBA Draft because he took Ohio State C Greg Oden with the first pick in the 2007 draft. Oden who had injury problems at OSU in his 1 season there has played only 81 games since he was drafted. But there were at least 20 other GMs that would have taken Oden if they won the lottery.
Just to add one more uncertainty to the mix, the current NBA CBA expires after the 2010-2011 season unless the league exercises its option to extend it through the 2011-12 year.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on
and edits .