Yes tonight at midnight in theory it could all come to an end. After 2 years of hype and build up from the folks at ESPN. The 2010 Free Agency Market opens for business. In the true spirit of overkill that we have come to expect/mock ESPN for.... they are ready. A Lebron tracker page on their website complete with count down clock to free agency. What you are still not impressed? Or there is more people. How about the game that is sweeping the nation, the NBA Free Agent Slot Machine. Spin the slots and send LBJ,D-Wade, CB4, Joe Johnson, Dirk and 3 others to possible destinations. Fun for the whole family. This along with all the great ESPN Insider info that is so good you have to pay for it. So what if Jalen Rose was wrong about his guarantee that LBJ and Bosh would be Knicks. They have your money regardless of if they were right or wrong. Not to mention the info will make it's way to Real G.M and other media soon enough right or wrong.
I may have to eat my own bit of crow if LBJ, Wade and Bosh end up in Miami. When a writer, who's name escapes me, from ESPN suggested it was possible that all 3 guys could end up playing for the Knicks. I believe that I responded that he was pretty much insane to think that could happen. Well he was wrong about New York but there seems to be a decent chance it could happen in Miami. The 3 superstars have apparently met and it seems that James is the one that is sitting on the fence according to the speculation.
It all leads you to wonder is all of this good for the NBA as a whole. It would appear the NBA tampering rules are now more guidelines then reality. Players conspiring which has never been illegal has now become public and broadcast everywhere from social media to CNN. When the dust clears from all of this about the only thing I am confident of is that David Stern will still be NBA Commissioner. If he is not happy with how this all plays out, he will be able to do something about it fairly soon. After the summer of free agency in 2010, we will gather again next summer for the summer of the CBA. Stern and the owners including the ones that this free agency will not benefit (Which will be many) will be looking to fix this. Things were already looking looking dark in terms of the CBA and this free agency period is not helping matters. When players can impact on how the league is shaped and not owners. Is it any surprise that owners don't like that?
At the front of that list should they not save Lebron you can expect to be Cleveland. You could make the argument that if not for Lebron the Cavs franchise may be gone. The Cavs were is sorry shape when the magic ping pong balls fell and they were given their king.Should they lose him does the franchise just fall right back to that abyss it was in? Which in case you forget was one of the worst franchises in the league that could not draw flies to their games. That is a problem in a number of markets these days. What is the message to those markets from this free agency? Stern created a CBA that was designed to prevent the NBA from going the way Major League Baseball has. Giving home teams that advantage of being able to pay the most and the longest contract was suppose to help teams keep their stars. However if the 3 biggest players in this free agency all thumb their nose at that. What does that say to fans of those small market teams? It is one thing if teams fail from their own stupidity like the Knicks did under Thomas or the Clippers have done since leaving Buffalo. However to have not at least in theory a level playing field is not good.
This is not to mention the Raptors who although having the money to compete, they still face a lot of the issues they have since the franchise was born. The fact we still hear on a routine basis players mention taxes as an issue in playing in Toronto. While no we still don't get ESPN, we do have Sportscentre not Sportscenter. The fact the Raptors still have to deal with these things is both frustrating and surprising given the world we live in. Toronto while loved as a road destination by almost everyone in the NBA, coming to play,stay and live is a different matter for some.
Bryan Colangelo has taken a lot of heat of late with all that has gone wrong. However while the results have not been successful the basic plan was an interesting way to find a loop hole. His approach to trying to use Toronto's appeal to European players was a great idea in theory. Over time it has been proven to be unsuccessful. Bargnani, Turkoglu, Calderon, Garbajosa, Nesterovic and others have had varying amounts of successes and failures. The one point that is a red flag to this European loop hole is international play. The Raptors have learned this over and over. The worst example in the injury of Jorge Garbajosa and his playing for Spain far to soon. Which would end his career in the NBA. Jose Calderon would be injured in playing for Spain. While most recently Hedo Turkoglu came into camp burnt out from playing for Turkey in the summer. He would go on to have a terrible season that was injury filled.
The advantage to having American based players is the odds they will play for Team USA are slim. Even if they do as in the cases of Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, the amount of time they have to play in games is far less than a Hedo has to play for Turkey, or Jose for Spain. That is another issue that David Stern needs to address. While the NBA grows and becomes more global in scope, having all of these players suited up for their countries in the summer, and then play a NBA season is burning the candle at both ends. Just like it would be difficult for hockey players in this country to say no to playing for their country. The same is true for these Euro players to say no to their countries. The NBA eventually has to find a way to say no for them.
But that is more of a side issue. The point is in theory the idea was a pretty good one despite the fact it failed. The NBA is on the verge of a free agency that will have a far greater impact then just where James, Wade, Bosh and others play. This is by all accounts, a game changer for the league going forward. The fallout maybe as much drama as the 2 year build up to July 1st 2010.