Let's take a look at the possible FA scenarios over the next 3 weeks.
The ultimate goal here is to be as objective as possible, and see where Amare is most likely to end up. I should probably add links to articles that state rumors of what teams want who, and where players want to go, but that's all speculation that's barely for credible than my own.
Let's get started.
A basic ranking of the biggest free agents:
- LeBron James (SG/SF)
- Dwyane Wade (SG)
- Chris Bosh (PF)
- Dirk Nowitzki* (PF)
- Amare Stoudemire (PF)
- Joe Johnson (SG)
- Carlos Boozer (PF)
- David Lee (PF/C)
After that, the quality of players goes way down to Ray Allen-like level. Complimentary, not people you build the entire team around anymore or ever. Even David Lee fits that description, but I've got him listed because he's young and ready to go to a new team.
So who's got money to spend?
Best I can tell:
- Can sign 2 MAX free agents: New York Knicks, Miami Heat
- Can sign 1 MAX free agent + lesser: Chicago, LA Clippers, NJ Nets, Minnesota, Washington, Sacramento
- "Almost" MAX available: OKC
Other teams could probably make it happen via trades/salary dumps and renouncing some guys, but these are the clear teams with money to spend. But we narrow that list down a bit, for various reasons.
Those who won't spend the money, unless its a perfect signing: OKC.
Those who won't convince a MAX guy to sign with them, unless a player is desperate to make MAX money on a perennial losing team: Washington, Sacramento, Minnesota.
That leaves the Knicks (2 slots), HEAT (2 slots), NJ Nets, Chicago and LA Clippers
(I include the Nets due to their new Russian owner and the Clippers due to their talent)
That's 7 slots available for MAX money, and only 2 players who really, really deserve it.
Scenario 1: Knicks sign Lebron and Bosh, HEAT get Wade and Stoudemire
This is NY's dream scenario, and forces Miami to go to Plan B (their favorite PF is Bosh). Chicago, NJ and LA Clippers are left out in the cold. Chicago and LA Clippers don't HAVE to spend their money on a MAX guy now. They will tread amongst the lesser players to fill in their team. But NJ Nets are desperate to make a splash, so they sign Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer to a MAX deal.
Phoenix Suns: without Amare, they have $10 million to spend on a PF outright (more if they trade away LB for nothing) and can offer a good PF a great chance at a long playoff run. 2 of Lee/JJ/Boozer are available for less than MAX, and Dirk is still out there. The Suns won't sign JJ for several reasons (JRich, Sarver). Here, the Suns can get Lee/Boozer for less than MAX, or Dirk at MAX (less LB) to replace Amare.
Scenario 2: LeBron with Cavs or Bulls, HEAT get Bosh to team with Wade, Knicks settle for JJ and Boozer/Lee
This is the Knicks worst nightmare. If they can't get LeBron, and Wade talks Bosh into signing with him (Miami's #1 choice at PF), the Knicks are screwed. They won't sign Amare, i don't think, because D'Antoni really doesn't want him and Boozer and Lee are both comparable. So they settle for Joe Johnson and Boozer or Lee (prob not at max for at least 1 of them). At this point, the Nets are likely to offer Amare a MAX deal to make a big Prokhorof splash. Again the Bulls (if they didn't get LeBron) bow out of MAX bidding, as do the Clips.
Phoenix Suns: again without Amare, they've got $10 mill to spend. Now the Knicks, stinging from losing out on LeBron, realize they can't win anything with JJ and Lee/Boozer and NOTHING else. They acquire LB from the Suns for some of their remaining cap space + a future pick or something invaluable. Suns now have more than $10 million to offer Lee/Boozer who hasn't been signed yet or they make a run at Dirk.
Ok, I'm out of time this morning. There's a lot more scenarios to consider. But as you see, there are more PFs out there than teams willing to spend MAX money. I think Amare is gone unless the Suns offer MAX. But if the Suns think Boozer/Lee are comparable at less money, or that Dirk is a real possibility, then I understand letting Amare go.
Let's discuss. What do you think?