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The Big Name Free Agents Are Almost Settled

With the news today that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will both sign in Miami, the big names in the big summer of 2010 are mostly settled.  Of the top ten free agents, we now know where seven of them are going:

  1. LeBron James - ?
  2. Dwyane Wade - Miami
  3. Chris Bosh - Miami
  4. Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas
  5. Amare Stoudemire - New York
  6. Joe Johnson - Atlanta
  7. Carlos Boozer - ?
  8. Rudy Gay - Memphis
  9. David Lee - ?
  10. Paul Pierce - Boston

And while we don't officially know where James will sign, it's looking more and more like it will be in Cleveland.

Ignoring that fairly obvious eventuality for the moment, the Wade/Bosh announcement today is a crack in the window of opportunity for the Clippers.  It would seem unlikely that James is heading to Miami, or Bosh and Wade wouldn't have gone out on their own to announce, clearly a last ditch ploy to try to lure LeBron to South Beach with them.  Chicago, New York and New Jersey are all less attractive options now, since he would have neither Wade nor Bosh with him.  The Clippers, the most complete roster, the place where he was going to have to fly solo regardless in terms of the signing, remains just as valid after Wade/Bosh as it was before Wade/Bosh.  To be clear, that's still not very valid, but it's still out there.

I'd say it's about 98% Cleveland, 1% Heat (where even with a sign and trade for Beasley, someone would have to take a pay cut), <1% Knick (where he'd at least join Stoudemire) and <1% Clippers at this point.

The other thing to note here is that only two players have changed teams so far.  That means that many of those teams that moved mountains to clear cap space will now be trying to win basketball games with cap space next season.  Well, not really.  They'll spend the money on someone.  But the Nets are sitting there with $31M in cap space, the Bulls with $30M, and they've likely got Carlos Boozer and David Lee as the 'big fish' to go after.  Not to mention that the Knicks, Clippers, Heat and Kings all still have a lot of dough to spend, and several other teams have more than the mid level exception.

So the salary inflation that we've already been seeing (Chris Duhon, 4/$15M, and I thought he was going to be the CHEAP point guard alternative this summer) will likely accelerate in the coming weeks.