With the silly season now in full swing, we only thought it fair to share our opinions on what could be the most exciting, entertaining, league-changing off season, ever! Today alone I read that these NBA “reporters” have learnt Lebron and Bosh are definitely going to Chicago. Then I read Lebron and Bosh are definitely joining Wade in Miami. Then I read Bosh is definitely going to NJ if Lebron splits without him. The Knicks are meeting with Wade. Wade denies planning a meeting with the Knicks. Lebron’s friends don’t want any part with New York. But sources indicate all of those close to him believe NY is where he wants to be.

Who to believe?
What to believe?
Why should we believe?

The truth is, no one knows the truth. Only the players. And that’s the fun part of free agency. Right now, we are all correct. All the crappy reporters are confident. All the GM’s are confident. I’m surely confident.

Today it is our bliss. In a week, things may not be so rosey (Derrick Rose pun unintended). So instead of the usual, “my sources indicate that…” type of free agency report, let’s look at this thing from a different perspective.

WELCOME TO FREE AGENCY FLIGHTS
“In 2010 you will have the flight of your life!”

Hot Destination #1
Miami – “Beach, Bikinis and Ball”

Price Includes:
- Twin share with D Wade most likely available
- An easy town to recruit more FA’s due to beaches, babes and the lifestyle of Miami
- Pat Riley’s guidance and leadership

Price excludes:
- Passionate fans
- The chance to bring a ring to a championship starved town (2006 champs)
- A highly respected NBA coach
- A team (roster currently consists of 2 players)

Travellers Beware of:
- Pat Riley’s next eventual power play
- You may run into Tim Hardaway and get locked into conversation
- Michael Beasley drooling on you as he sleeps through his career
- Sell outs were hard to come by even when the Heat were champions!

Who this deal applies to:

- Dwayne Wade, Amare Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Tracey McGrady, Joe Johnson

Hot Destination #2
Chicago – “Carry on tradition”


Price includes:
- Big market to play in
- Michael Jordan’s tradition
- Tour driver who will direct your trip – Derrick Rose
- Tour guide who will do all the talking – Joakim Noah
- 100 ESPN writers the chance to say ‘I told you so’
- A playoff tested “core” (see below), including an epic battle with the C’s

Price excludes:
- A head coach with any head coaching experience in Tom Thibodeau
- Any players who can consistently knock down a jump shot
- The bright lights associated with NY or LA

Travellers Beware of:
- MJ Dynasty comparisons haunting you in your sleep
- Being chocked by management (and his name is not even Latrell!)
- Walking by Michael’s statue every morning
- Joakim Noah accidentally smoking you
- A tight-ass owner who is scared to pay top dollar for the club (if they took advantage of MJ and Pip, can you really feel secure in your future there?)
- The fact that the ‘talented core’ we refer to is Rose and Noah, with Deng and Gibson as bonuses.

Who this deal applies to:
- LeBron James, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson

Hot Destination #3
New York – “S.O.S”


Price includes:
- Player favourite and Olympic assistant coach Mike D’Antoni and his freewheeling, entertaining, stat-inflating style of basketball
- Possibly the biggest market for sports in America (closely followed by LA and Chicago)
- The chance to revive the most dysfunctional franchise in the league and win the first championship for them in 4 decades
- Respected management in the form of Donny Walsh
- Tour security guard Danilo Gallinari who will do all shooting that is required of him
- Open bank courtesy of James Dolan
- Passionate fans who managed to sell out games staring Marbury, Fred Jones and Malik Rose.

Price excludes:
- Winning culture
- Low expectations
- Positive reviews from any NBA media (TNT crew for starters)
- An experienced core who are playoff tested
- A core group, full stop!

Travellers Beware of:
- The over-the-top press contingent
- Aftermath of Isiah Era still lingering
- Passionate New York fans
- The possibility of Al Harrington re-signing

Who this deal applies to:
- LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudamire, David Lee, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, Kyle Korver, Ray Allen

Hot Destination #4
Brooklyn, via New Jersey – Fancy some Russian Roulette?

Price includes:
- Derrick Favors
- Young team ready to develop (Lopez, Harris)
- Chance to play in Brooklyn
- The return of “the mouth”, Avery Johnson
- Chance to break the heart of every Knick fan

Travellers Beware of:
- Long layover in Newark before reaching Brooklyn
- The Nets have always been the ugly sister to the Knicks, regardless of the win-loss column
- Jason Kidd’s ex-wife sitting courtside still throwing death stares at Net players and officials

Who this deal applies to:
- Shaquille O’Neil, Amar’e Stoudamire, Al Harrington, David Lee, Chris Bosh, Lebron James

Travellers of note and their likely city of choice in 2010-2011

Lebron James
In my opinion there will be only 2 options, Cleveland or New York. He has been sleeping with the Cavs for so long that it makes sense to stay in his comfort zone and enjoy the same perks. He has however, been flirting with Lady New York for some time now. It is clear he fancies her and often dreams of her. If he is going to leave his current wife, I just don’t see him doing it with some other fling that walked by him at a party (Chicago, Miami, I’m talking about you). If he leaves, he is seeking out his dream date, and he’s gonna wine and dine her to the max (and for it!).

I feel his ego is too large to follow on in MJ’s footsteps in Chicago, and joining Wade’s team in Miami is going to feel like he’s essentially saying, “I couldn’t do it at Cleveland, D-Wade can I join the team and culture you have focused on you?” He craves the alpha dog status, and it won’t necessarily be his if he goes down South. Just staying in Cleveland means things will remain, and Lebron’s popularity will steadily grow as normal. But leaving and signing with New York would mean a dramatic shift for the NBA, a massive personal move for Lebron, his jersey becoming more commonly sold than any other NBA product and media attention Lady GaGa wouldn’t dare dream of.

Rumours have floated recently that Shaq would even follow him. Can you imagine the recruiting pitch Shaq and Lebron could put on for perspective free agents over the years, the squad would be filled out with Grant Hill type vets every year. Guys like Amare and Bosh would automatically shut down personal beefs with coaching staff or players (read: Shaq) and make this something very special. Lebron has a lot of pressure on him, and his mouthpieces Carter and WWW are not making things easier for him. Most NBA columnists believe for LBJ to be most successful he needs two things: A big man, and a shooter. Chicago have a big man, no shooter. Miami have neither of excellent standard. New York have a shooter, no big man. Whatever his decision, it will have massive implications on the rest of the league, and my happiness in life. Azza, get that $100 ready, coz I have a good feeling about this!
Tizzle Prediction: New York Knicks

Dwyane Wade
Seems the most loyal player out of this FA group and therefore more settled to stay in Miami. He has never shown any love or respect to New York, so for Wade I believe it comes down to a 90% chance he’ll stay put, 10% chance he forms a lethal back court with D Rose. He has plenty of reason to join forces elsewhere, but continues to openly refer to Miami as his team and by all accounts wants to recruit a superstar to join him. Lebron and Bosh graciously tip toe around the topic, whereas Wade states his desire is to remain with the Heat. He would most certainly have a better chance of success in Chicago, unless he connects up with an effective big man (No, not you J.O). Honestly who has he been playing with the last few years? With Pat Riley lurking, and the pressure of a championship already gone, I see D Wade sitting back and enjoying the sun for many years to come. Reports have surfaced that CB4 is a lock to join him, which would make Miami one hot ball club. Miami can’t afford 3 maxes like some reports claim. They still want to sign Haslem, and have a roster to fill out so if these guys all wanna get paid, only one will be able to join Wade.
Tizzle Prediction: Miami Heat

Chris Bosh
And the award for Free Agent most desperate to leave, goes to… Chris Bosh!! Removing all references to the Toronto Raptors from his Twitter account was music to my ears, but probably not the Toronto fans. Bosh has basically been playing ball out on the back court of the stadium that nobody realises is actually there, you know the one I’m talking about. The only problem I have is that there is a high chance he will go for a S&T. Bosh would be the perfect partner for Lebron, so this really is an uncanny opportunity for him to be available this off-season. The question is, where could they hook up? Next season the options for Bosh seem to be NY, Miami, Chicago, or long shot options in moving to Dallas (S&T) or joining the NBA’s best up and coming team The Thunder (S&T). Houston and Toronto remain in play, however unlikely. If he were to re-up in Toronto, Vince Carter and the rest of the NBA would label that the worst decision ever (just squeaking ahead of Sprewell attempting to feed his family by leaving $21M on the table). Bosh will be a superb Robin, to one of the Batman’s (Lebron or Wade). Hopefully he realises he will achieve more as a Robin than attempting to act as a Batman for too much longer, and join forces to turn the Knicks or Heat into finals contenders in 2010. People have claimed lately he and Lebron could join forces in Chicago (some idiot reports say it’s a done-deal) but Bosh is unlikely to go there if Lebron doesn’t. Bosh is the more attractive add on piece, so I believe Lebron will recruit him harder than the actual teams.
Tizzle Prediction: New York Knicks

Joe Johnson
A lot of talk has Joe Johnson being a very valuable chip in the Lebron sweepstake, so his impending decision will have a lot of meaning in it. The Knicks will be meeting with him on midnight supposedly to offer him a deal, before going to meet with the King. Joe’s playoffs were very forgettable, but the fact remains he is one of the top 5 free agents, and he will add a great piece to whichever team takes him. I see him, like Bosh, very ready to take on a new team and challenge. Joe will not be able to turn a team around on his own, so will have a lot of good reason to help in the recruiting pitch for fellow FA’s. Johnson gushes openly about Mike D’s offensive wizardry, and the feeling seems to be mutual. I know I’ve already told you I think Bosh and Bron will come to NY, but I’m no ESPN analyst with insider knowledge, so my prediction for JJ will void both of the previous guesses from coming true.
Tizzle Prediction: New York Knicks

Amare Stoudamire
Obviously things will be changing in Phoenix with Kerr stepping down, and in case you missed the last three seasons of NBA basketball and trade related rumours, Amare and the Suns have always been dancing around in circles, subtly watching the other partners they’d wish they could dance with. He has some health issues next to his name now, but the second half of last season was breathtaking, and he remains the second best big man option going into free agency. I strongly believe he will play with Lebron or Wade, depending on who Bosh signs with. Amare seemed to flourish when he was able to play the 4 last season, so it is important teams can have a decent big ready to go. Rumours have stated Stoudamire and Tony Parker have discussed playing in NY together, but my prediction today is the same as the moment Phoenix were knocked off. This decision will be about money first, winning second.
Tizzle Prediction: Miami Heat

Carlos Boozer
Wouldn’t it be great if he and Lebron somehow reunited? Cavs fans would enter a deep depression if it happened anywhere other than Ohio. Boozer has been a beast these past few years, and it seems his run in Utah is over. I think the options for Booze come down to Chicago or NJ, but to play it safely Utah still have an edge. The thought of riding it out and staying in the “norm” scares a lot of these guys, I really think the chance to gain extra attention through a team swap will have a significant impact this year and the power shift may be incredible. Boozer is a versatile big man who will give a guy like Derrick Rose, Joe Johnson, Devin Harris or Dwyane Wade a terrific partner in the pick n’ roll.
Tizzle Prediction: Chicago Bulls

I’m not going to go into all of the other guys but I think the fact everyone is claiming this and that about Miami and Chicago and no one is talking about New York is a bit odd. Surely they can’t strike out?! As a Knick fan I have endured some tough basketball times, but never have we had hope like this in the past decade. This is really amazing.

Chicago, Miami, and New York have the edge over all teams, purely based on the cap. New Jersey and Chicago have the edge over all teams, purely based on rosters. New York have the edge, purely based on coach/GM combo. And I could keep going…

Stay tuned, because we are all in for a real treat of theatrics and league altering maneuvers in the next two weeks.

Now just buckle up and enjoy the flight.


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