Monday, July 1, 2013

Let Me Have the Frenzy, To Go

By Jonathan Lowe

I don't know if I've ever seen such a whirlwind of an NBA offseason. Granted, I haven't really been around for too many of them. But what has happened from the moment the Heat grabbed their second consecutive title until now, it seems we've had a headline a day (or close to it).

And here comes what could be the wildest roller coaster of the summer leaves the turnstile. At 12:01 AM ET Monday morning, the 2013 version of free agency will get underway. Over the few weeks, teams will try fill needs into systems and fitting contracts into soft caps. Of course, this isn't new. It goes on every year. And this year doesn't have as much anticipation as in previous summers.

But, even though the 2010 edition was much more star-driven, on the back end of a dizzying coaching carousel (that isn't over), a Celtic dismantling (that might not be over), and a confusing draft (which has yet to settle), this year's rendition might serve as the perfect amount of chaos to keep things in check.

The biggest player heading into free agency could have been Chris Paul, but the Clippers' acquisition of Doc Rivers appears to have put the point guard's mind at ease. Reports from Saturday night are keeping Paul in Los Angeles. Him staying means the largest puzzle piece to add, by far, is Dwight Howard.

I know. I know.

We're all sick of the Howard sweepstakes. We've been sick of it for more than a year. He should have had the perfect setup when he was traded to the Lakers. Guess even the mighty aura of the Purple and Gold can't escape the reality of the one-year rental. From all the indications, Howard's eyeing Texas as his next destination. This is where it gets interesting. What will the Rockets and Mavericks really do to try and land the presumed best center in the Association?

The itinerary of D12 may eventually hold the answer to the most powerful question of the offseason. However, it's not the only question that needs an answer by the time training camp rolls around.

Another thing I'd like to know concerns the team that ends up with the most change. The recent changes might have Boston "looking" more contrary to what they were this season. But the Celtics don't have free agents to give away (the only one is Chris Wilcox). As far as the leading candidate to see their players float away, that could be Atlanta. The Hawks get to deal with 7 unrestricted FAs (including Josh Smith, Kyle Korver, and Devin Harris), 2 restricted FAs, and a new head coach.

The Mavs offer the same number of "prospects" (7 UFAs and 2 RFA, even though Shawn Marion only triggers it through an early termination option). The good news, that's a nice bit of money coming off the books. Bad news ... that doesn't leave a lot of assets for the team to trade for Rajon Rondo.

A third team that might look fairly different next season will probably be the Jazz. The inner core of the team (Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap) is part of a package of 7 UFAs that could drastically alter the makeup of a team that thinks it has drafted its franchise point guard. How much of their playoff-ready roster is the front office willing to let go of? And which teams might benefit from an all-star caliber presence?

As always, the free agency period is a free-for-all that won't show its complete worth until we get into the next season. However, such a confounding offseason, to this point, should leave us with a lot to look forward to when the dollars start flying.

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