The battlefield is still cooling off for the NBA ever since the great migration in the 2010 offseason, where Lebron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami. That summer reshaped the NBA for better or worse, and we are possibly one year away from the start of another NBA all out war.
This offseason however is 2013, a full year and some away from the date of July 1, 2014. July of 2013 is much closer, but with the exception of a few solid contracts and decisions, GMs will be playing it cool this offseason, because they know what could be in waiting a year from now. You can refer to my article on this offseason and more, but I don’t think anyone will be spending big money because of the limitless possibilities of next season. These are just a few of the names that are available a year from now.
2014 unrestricted free agents
If Kobe is back and healthy by the time he is a free agent this time next season, it remains to be seen whether he plays again or not, but even if he doesn’t this list of unrestricted free agents if full of big name talent that can still help a team to a title. There are other guys as well but these are the cream of the crop when it comes to players who control every bit of their fate a year from now. This however is just the surface.
The restricted free agent pool brings about even more interesting scenarios for teams. Teams holding a RFA have the chance to match any offer sheet he would get. It depends on the team and the player if a match happens or not, but either way a lot of these guys will garner plenty of attention.
2014 restricted free agents
Greg Monroe (Pistons)
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento)
Paul George (Pacers)
John Wall (Washington)
Eric Bledsoe (Clippers)
Derrick Favors (Utah)
Larry Sanders (Milwaukee)
Greivis Vasquez (New Orleans)
Evan Turner (Philadelphia)
Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento)
Ed Davis (Memphis)
Lance Stephenson (Pacers)
Gordon Hayward (Utah)
The plot thickens. A lot of these guys there is no way they leave their current team. I think we can put George, Monroe, Cousins and Wall all on that list. All four of their teams should have plenty of money to offer them a max or near-max salary.
After those four anything goes with the rest of them. Bledsoe is almost certainly going to get traded from the Clippers before he reaches RFA status, but whomever the Clippers trade him to will just have to deal with him getting offer sheets as well. The Bucks might not want to keep Sanders for the money he will want and any of the rest of them could sign a new deal and not get matched. They just add to the already talented free agent pool, but it gets better.
There are several players that could choose to not exercise their player option for 2014 and become a free agent like the rest of these guys. Some are likely to opt in and stay another year, but others could see the balance of power shifting and want to jump on board.
2014 Player options
If things go downhill in Memphis I could see Z-bo adding his name to what could be a stellar class of free agents by forgoing his $16.5 million in the final year of his deal. Duncan would either retire or stay with San Antonio so I doubt it, but the interesting one is Gay.
Gay was traded to Toronto and I could easily see him wanting to get out of a bad situation in Toronto and going for a new contract with greener pastures. He would be giving up $19 million in the final year of his deal, so at what point does winning trump money? I wish I had the luxury to decide that….
However for one last time the plot takes an unexpected turn. There are still some marquee names that could become free agents in 2014, and it would blow up the entire NBA world as we know it. All of these guys could opt out of their current contracts and immediately become free agents. Some would be crazy to do it, but others could do it easily and not lose a thing expect their current team.
2014 Early termination options
These guys would put the sprinkles on the already stellar free agent cake. Now we have to be realistic in this, so some of these guys are wishful thinking.
Wade would be clinically insane to opt out because of his obvious health issues. He would be giving up $41 million over the final two years of his contract. Bosh has a slightly overvalued contract as well, but him staying all depends on Lebron.
LeBron James could easily jump ship after next season. Think about it. The Heat are almost certainly going to win another title this season, and if for some horrific awful reason he ends up winning three in a row and reaches the offseason of 2014, he could easily opt out and try to go win elsewhere, maybe even with less help so he can silence the short list of critics he has left. Where ever he does end up, he can turn any team into the NBA odds favorite for the title.
It remains to be seen what will happen this season let alone next, but things are shaping up for what could be a huge power-shifting offseason in the NBA. Carmelo Anthony could easily opt out and try to escape the scrutiny in New York, which he thought he wanted, but Bargnani and Stoudemire would have to be insane to opt out. However, who cares about those guys if Lebron, Carmelo and all the other guys mentioned are up for grabs to the highest bidder?It all starts with Lebron. Everyone will be watching what he does, and then after him it’s Carmelo and all the way down the line. If James opts out, it could set off a domino affect the NBA hasn’t seen in the last four years, and the 2014 offseason could be bigger than 2010 if the right names are in the free agency pool.