A Game of Musical Chairs – 2016 Free Agency Analysis
The offseason heading into the 2016-2017 NBA season has become a tumult of musical chairs as veteran stars and road players play a game of chicken with teams feverishly battling to secure the best lineups and backcourts following the draft. Some insiders have said that the stars are cheating for titles, leaving behind their longtime team for greener pastures elsewhere. Who got the best deal? Who’s missing out and who just got played?
Dwayne Wade & Rajon Rondo – Chicago Bulls
*Photo via Youtube.com
He led the Miami Heat to their first championship in franchise history in 2006 and later played a pivotal role as a key member of the Redeem Team, winning Olympic Gold for the United States in 2008 in Beijing, China. After the Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh trio combined to net the Heat back-to-back NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013 the team’s postseason prowess has largely cooled off. The 34-year-old Chicago native has at best another two seasons left before he becomes more of a locker room fixture and less of a dominant high flying facial stuffer, so it would make sense that he’d look to make a move to position himself for a chance at one more ring but is Chicago the right move?
Well, it’s not a guaranteed ticket to lifting the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy. It’s no secret that the Bulls are in a transitional phase and according to ESPN staff writer Nick Friedell, Gar Forman wasn’t looking for a quick fix but to piece together what he described as a younger and more athletic squad. Before landing Wade the basketball executive told the media that the team was, “retooling, not rebuilding.” Whether you are frank and call it rebuilding or you’d rather sugar coat the obvious and call it retooling the Bulls are not clear postseason contenders unless more chess like jockeying occurs over the summer months.
The Bulls traded away Jose Calderon and Mike Dunleavy to acquire the Marquette star who was taken fifth by the Heat 13 years ago. Gorman knows that luring Wade to Chicago wouldn’t miraculously propel the team to Michael Jordan era greatness but he’s hoping his presence could attract key players to agree to sign with the Midwestern team.
And what about Rajon Rondo? The stealth point guard became famous for his defense splitting fast breaks while playing for the Boston Celtics in their championship run and hasn’t quite created the same fervor on the offensive end since winning an NBA championship in 2008. Rondo’s impact for the Bulls will depend on Rondo; in short the 30-year-old point guard is capable of sparking offenses, causing confusion for opposing defenses and being a playmaker, but it’s just a matter of which Rondo shows up. In short, the Bulls are stronger but also older and I don’t expect Rondo and Wade to remain in the league longer than another three or four years. The appeal of this deal may be a short lived boon.
Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah & Brandon Jennings – New York Knicks
*Photo via Youtube.com
The New York Knicks have struggled to stay competitive in what most basketball fans would call the easier of the two conferences. After missing the postseason yet again, star player Carmelo Anthony reportedly applied pressure to team president Phil Jackson to recruit better talent to the Gotham. Jackson, who's coached both the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers to championships, manufactured a blockbuster deal that brought Derrick Rose to the east coast. The triangle offense has fallen far short of being an offensive weapon without high caliber players surrounding franchise standout Carmelo Anthony on the floor. Could the trade for Rose and the acquisition of Noah and Jennings in free agency be the personnel boost Anthony needs to win this season?
Well, while Jackson has brokered a progressive push in the post season to bolster Anthony. The new additions are far from a guarantee that the all-star will hoist a trophy in the near future. According to the team’s official webpage, the acquisition of Rose and Noah was a play to add complementary players to Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis for next season. Rose has been an injury prone liability thus far in his career and his health could be a pitfall that handicaps the Knicks the same way it burdened the Bulls. Cause for concern? Absolutely but the coaching staff at Madison Square Garden has already drank the Kool Aid Jackson’s serving, “As a coaching staff, we are all excited to fill our roster with this caliber of player,” Knicks Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Hornacek eloquently articulated what die-hard Knick fans have grown to expect from the fledgling franchise; the team is feverishly throwing together stat sheet stuffers and not giving much thought to team chemistry, the compatibility of incoming player’s style or the morale of the team. Noah was limited in his play last season due to a shoulder injury and Jennings, while a consistent player is not a stand out by any means so while their names will sell jerseys, they won’t necessarily keep the Knicks out in front offensively. Defensively the Knicks have been weakened by the departure of center Robin Lopez and unless they rely solely on zone defenses playing man-to-man for 48 minutes will be a tall order for this team.
Marreese Speights – Los Angeles Clippers
*Photo via BR
According to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Marreese Speights will join the Los Angeles Clippers next season. Speights, affectionately known as “Mo Buckets,” is a forceful big man whose solid 256-pound frame kept opposing offensive opportunists at bay in the paint as a member of the 2014-2015 Golden State Warrior championship winning team. The 28-year-old Florida native provided a much needed spark to Steve Kerr’s ball club both offensively and defensively, making him a key player in their backcourt.
After being underutilized in the decisive Game 7 this year, Speights has opted to sign a one-year deal with the archrival of his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers. Speights’ size at 6’10 will be a valuable backup to Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin in the post, providing the club with more versatility, especially from an offensive standpoint; defenders have to respect Speight’s outside shooting ability and will inevitably be lured away from the paint. According to Jesse Borek’s article on Today’s Fastbreak on the Speights’ decision this past Friday, Speights took an impressive 62 long range shots this past season, making 24 of them. Big men aren’t usually associated with being sharp-shooting three-point specialists and Speights seems comfortable bucking that trend.