Ranking The NBA Free Agency Teams
As NBA free agency fast approaches, this week’s HOOPSWORLD poll asked readers to tell us which team has the most at stake
in the lockout-shortened free agency period. Rumors are already flying, and December 9th is expected to be a very busy day
for teams looking to fill out their rosters.
The choices for this week’s poll were as follows:
1 – Houston Rockets
2 – Denver Nuggets
3 – New Jersey Nets
4 – New York Knicks
5 – New Orleans Hornets
6 – Indiana Pacers
7 – Orlando Magic (via exception)
8 – Miami HEAT (via exception)
9 – Chicago Bulls (via exception)
And so, without further ado, here is how HOOPSWORLD readers ranked these teams:
9 – The New Orleans Hornets are facing a dire time in their history, having to choose whether or not to trade Chris Paul before his agent forces him out of town. David West could be gone, as well, though the Hornets do have significant cap space to make some major plays in free agency. The Hornets came in ninth with just 3% of the vote.
8 – The Indiana Pacers are one of the teams with the most cap space entering free agency, and they are more than willing to cash it in. Their ideal scenario would be to sign both Marc Gasol and Jamal Crawford or Shane Battier and call it a day. It remains to be seen if they are able to get anywhere close to that goal, as the Grizzlies are now expected to re-sign Gasol and Crawford and Battier are in great demand around the NBA. The Pacers grabbed 6% of our vote.
7 – Likewise, the Denver Nuggets have the cap space to be major players in free agency, and the defection of three of last year’s rotation players to China makes this offseason even more crucial for Denver. They are expected to re-sign Nene, but will still have multiple spots to fill. They also expect to bring back coveted shooting guard Arron Afflalo. The Nuggets edged the Pacers by just under 50 votes, good for 7% in our poll.
6 – Just above the Nuggets in our poll is another team teeming with cap space. The New Jersey Nets have plenty at stake as they look to construct a team that might inspire Deron Williams to commit long-term. They’ve been talking to all the key free agent in their effort to do just that, yet the Nets come in with just 8% of the vote.
5 – Squeaking in just above the Nets are the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami HEAT. The HEAT have talked to a number of the big free agents in this class, including those they can’t remotely afford – like Nene. With Miami spending the bulk of their money on three players – Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh – they almost have to count on older veterans looking for a title as a means of improvement. The HEAT get 9% of the vote.
4 – A mere percentage point above the HEAT we have their primary Eastern Conference rivals: the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are widely believed to be a shooting guard away from a title, and they have had some level of discussion about Jason Richardson, Arron Afflalo and perhaps even former Bull Jamal Crawford, though all are believed to be out of Chicago’s price range as they sit above the salary cap. Chicago breaks double-digits with 10% of the vote.
3 – Three teams garnered the bulk of the votes in this week’s poll despite the large number of teams included in the field. The first of those is the Orlando Magic. The Magic, like the Nets, are desperately in need of a way to keep their superstar in town, but unlike the Nets the Magic have traded themselves into a situation where it seems virtually assured that Dwight Howard will be gone. There are even rumors suggesting that Howard might be dealt before the start of the 2011-12 NBA season. With so much hanging in the balance, the Magic get 18% of the vote.
2 – The New York Knicks made a big splash last season, adding both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to the mix. Now they’re looking to add Chris Paul, but they cashed in all of their best assets in the deal with Denver that got them Anthony. The Knicks are more desperately in need of a starting center, though they have little cap space to enable them to get one. Jeff Foster is high on their list, but that’s assuming he doesn’t opt to retire. Needing another significant piece to contend, the Knicks get 19% of the vote and land in second.
1 – Just one team remains, and it may be the team with the most at stake in free agency. The Houston Rockets have been a playoff bubble team while waiting for All-Star center Yao Ming to get healthy, and now that he has retired the Rockets are left with no starting center on the roster. The Rockets have cap space, but have had very little success in luring key free agents to town. If they strike out again they will be left with Hasheem Thabeet in the middle on opening night . . .which would leave Rockets fans feeling very grinchy, indeed. The Rockets grab our top spot with 20% of the vote.
Be sure and check the HOOPSWORLD main page for this week’s poll, and tune in next Saturday for results and analysis.