With most if not all the best of the NBA free agents now either having stayed or gone to new teams, here’s a new at my five biggest wins of the 2010 free agency period thus far.
1] Miami Heat – Does this need any reasoning at all?
It all started with re-signing Dwayne Wade and getting Chris Bosh, which then led to LeBron James deciding to leave the Cleveland Cavs for not only less $$$, but a chance to finally win a Championship ring.
What people forget is Heat GM Pat Riley has been cutting as much salary as possible over the last couple of years in order to get the two biggest fish in the free agency pool. He’s definitely achieved that. He’s also filled out the rest of the roster with decent enough talent. Re-signing Haslem, getting Mike Miller, Zydrunas Illgauskas, Jamaal Magloire and Juwan Howard… amongst others.
2] Milwaukee Bucks – A team that has mostly gone unnoticed is the Bucks.
They were disappointed to end their season by being knocked out in the 1st Round of the Playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks last season, and thus have really made some fantastic additions to edge closer to the powers in the East.
Not only have they re-signed John Salmons who was fantastic for them after he was traded from the Bulls, they’ve managed to net Corey Maggette from the Warriors and Drew Gooden. Jerry Stackhouse also returns and will add a bit off the bench. Add to that their two stars Andrew Bogut (coming off an injury that had him miss the post season) and Brandon Jennings, and not only is this a good team… it’s a deep and dangerous team come playoff time.
3] LA Lakers – Most people will be thinking “What are the Lakers doing on the list?” but mark my words, their job has been totally unnoticed by most: and it’s been very good. Not only have they addressed the PG position by getting Steve Blake, they’ve also added SF Matt Barnes from Orlando and Theo Ratliff, thus adding depth to the bench, plus their loaded starting five.
They’ve topped up exceptionally well.
4] Chicago Bulls – Like the Bucks, the Bulls have done pretty damn well in the free agency market.
Having missed out on the big four of James, Wade, Bosh and Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer was the next best thing and he and Joakim Noah will form a very strong front court. They’ve also added shooters Kyle Korver (Ashton Kutcher), Ronnie Brewer and Kurt Thomas. With possibly and in all likelihood Tracy McGrady to come, the Bulls will be with the Bucks trying to get amongst the big three of Boston, Orlando and Miami in the East.
5] Houston Rockets – For the Rockets it’s been more about who they’ve re-signed rather than who they’ve picked up. In Kyle Lowry they’ve got one of the best back-up PG’s in the NBA and in Luis Scola, he’s a double-double machine most nights. Add to that a refreshed Yao Ming who missed the entire 2009/10 season yet the Rockets still finished above .500 and back-up C Brad Miller and this is a team that like the Bucks in the East, has fantastic depth at every position. Will probably be one of two to three teams that can realistically challenge the Lakers in the West this season, along with the Blazers and Thunder.