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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding Homes for 2011-2012 Free Agent Game-Breakers

As the NBA lockout continues to loom over the heads of basketball fans like a Saturday morning tequila hangover, the anticipation of a potential season keeps us optimists speculating. I for one, am excited to see the array of transactions that are inevitably going to take place in a post, "The Decision," basketball world. Seeing players find new homes and how these players effect the dynamic of a team, for better or for worse, is to me one of the most intriguing things about NBA basketball. Look at how the NBA has shaped around the movement of LeBron and Bosh to Miami. As you can imagine, while the days of the lockout have contined to pass, my imagination has been running wild. Many game-breaking type of players are up for grabs in this year's free agent market, here's where I believe these game-breaking guys are going to take their proverbial talents next season.

Jason Richardson, SG Orlando Magic:

2011-2012 Team: Chicago Bulls

J-Rich has established himself as a reputable and memorable player in NBA basketball. Nobody will forgot his performances in dunk contests he competed in, he was key in the Golden State Warriors magical run in the 2007 Playoffs, and he's a team player any team would love starting on their squad. Richardson can provide the most help to Chicago, whose only weak link last season was at the 2 spot, juggling between aging Keith Bogans and Ronnie "What's Offense?" Brewer. Not that these guys aren't good players in their own right, but in the end, the scoring load was too much for MVP Derrick Rose down the stretch. Many speculate the Bulls will trade for Memphis sharpshooter O.J Mayo, but I think they have too many options in the Free Agent market to give up any essential pieces already in place. Richardson, though aging, has a few good years left and makes this team an even more legitimate contender for the Title.

Andrei Kirilenko, SF Utah Jazz

2011-2012 Team: New Jersey Nets

When healthy, Kirilenko provides some of the best defense at 3 position in the NBA. The Jazz seem to be moving in a new direction and are going to cut ties with AK47, thus ending the Williams-Kirilenko-Boozer era. Kirlenko is a savvy vet that could help an array of teams on both ends of the floor. Rumor had it, that when star guard Deron Williams was shipped to the New Jersey Nets, Nets owner/gazillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov tried to get the Jazz to include fellow Russian and friend, Andrei Kirilenko, in the deal. Kirilenko won't head overseas like many have speculated, because he is now an American citizen and seems to want maintain his comfortable lifestyle in the States. He'll head to the Nets to reunite with former Jazz teammate Deron Williams and try to spy on corporate elites on Wall Street for Russia with fellow spy Prokhorov begin the new era for a struggling New Jersey Nets franchise.

Nene Hilario, PF/C Denver Nuggets:

2011-2012 Team: New Orleans Hornets

Nene reportedly opted out of his player option with the Denver Nuggets, and now that Carmelo has skipped town, the Nuggets are a whole new team and Nene will look to part with the new kids on the block. In an attempt to keep superstar Chris Paul in the Big Easy, New Orleans will go get Nene and will concoct a frontcourt that Paul will be more than happy to play with for some time, Nene and Emeka Okafor. This signing might keep Chris Paul from joining the speculative big three in New York. This frontcourt makes the Hornets competative against any Western Conference team, especially the huge frontcourt of the Los Angeles Lakers.

J.R. Smith, SG Denver Nuggets:

2011-2012 Team: New Jersey Nets

This is the season where the Nets will start to flex their new Russian fortune. Deron Williams is in his contract season next year, and to stay competitive in a newly forming point guard league, the Nets know they need to try to entice him to stick around. The Nets are thin at pretty much every position besides Point Guard and Center. But with J.R. smith out of Carmelo Anthony's shadow in Denver he's going to want to prove that he is a star, and he is guarenteed a starting role with this squad. The Nets can offer J.R. an overpaying contract, and it also doesn't hurt that he is a New Jersey native. J.R.'s jaw-dropping plays will make Nets' Co-Owner Jay-Z change his famous line to, "if Jeezy's payin' LeBron, I'm paying J.R. Smith."

Tyson Chandler, C Dallas Mavericks:

2011-2012 Team: Dallas Mavericks

Chandler works hard, plays D and likes to win. 2010-2011 NBA Champs, Need I say more?

Rip Hamilton, SG Detroit Pistons:

2011-2012 Team: Utah Jazz

Rip had a huge falling out with the Pistons' front office and coaching staff last season. His time in Detroit is over and everybody knows it. The question is, "does Rip still have it?" As we know, he can be a big time player when he actually cares, but his age does raise some questions. I think that teams will figure it's worth a roll of the dice on the masked avenger. It makes sense for Rip and the Jazz. The Jazz are very young across the board and are weak at the 2, Rip provides veteran experience and toughness as well as scoring at shooting guard. The Jazz will also have some cash to spend as the max contract of Andre Kirilenko, 16 Million, is now off of their backs. The Jazz now have the talent to be a solid team in the West in the next 4 or 5 years and if Rip thinks he will stay in the NBA that long, he could be a perfect part of the equation.

Jamal Crawford SG, Atlanta Hawks:

2011-2012 Team: Atlanta Hawks

The 11-year vet has found a nice little niche in the ATL. He's found playing time, personal accolades and most importantly, success. The Hawks have been consistently playoff contenders since the Joe Johnson-Josh Smith-Jamal Crawford era. Crawford is no spring chicken. His situation is optimal in Atlanta for a few more years, if he is willing to take a cut in salary to bring in some younger talent as Josh Smith looks to be headed towards a trade. Crawford is likely to stay with the Hawks if a reasonable salary can be agreed upon. If Crawford can't be financially appeased by the Hawks, I would speculate he would join Steve Nash in Phoenix as Vince Carter is probably departing.

Tayshaun Prince, SF Detroit Pistons:

2011-2012 Team: Los Angeles Clippers

The latest/hottest rumor is that Prince will head to D-Town and help bolster the defense of the reigning champs. While I can see this as a realistic scenario, my inclination is to have Prince head back to his hometown of LA. Prince is Straight Outta' Compton and I would imagine jump at the oppurtunity of playing for some hometown fans. The Clips don't see either Jamario Moon or Ryan Gomes as their SF of the future and I think the intriguing lineup of: PG Mo Williams, SG Eric Gordon, SF Tayshaun Prince, PF Blake Griffin, C Chris Kaman/DeAndre Jordan, is going to be too good for Prince to pass up. The long versatile player is going to have a homecoming comprable to Kanye (is it blasphemous to have NWA and Kanye West in the same article blurb?). If prince heads back to LA, look for the Clips to be playoff contenders next season, you heard it here first.

Court Adjourned.

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