With the free agent signing period starting in six and a half hours, I am going to try to predict where many of these guys will be playing next season. As impressive as that might be, there’s no way in hell I’m even going to begin predicting the money they make. Well, here goes nothing.
Brevin Knight: A surprising waive by the Bobcats, Knight should be a well sought after free agent to help stabilize someone’s backcourt. As I expressed before, I would love to have Brevin Knight on the Celtics, but I just don’t see it happening unless they tell him they will acquire someone like Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol or Marcus Camby. Miami would be a good spot for him, but they may not have the money to sign him. The Spurs could pick him up to play instead of Jacque Vaughn, but that’s probably highly unlikely. My official prediction of where he goes: Cleveland Cavaliers. Knight and Gibson would man the point position with Hughes, Lebron, Gooden and Big Z rounding out the starters.
Steve Blake: Blake will be a much more hot commodity than Knight as he is much younger and more durable. This is a player that a team looking to grow and has money to spend will look to snag. With Maurice Williams gone, the Bucks could be in the running as they didn’t replace him in the draft. Blake has already been traded once from the Bucks, so maybe he won’t go back there. Denver would certainly like to have him back and I’m sure Blake would love to dish the rock to Iverson and Melo for the next few years of his career. The Clippers could definitely use a point guard as Livingston’s career is still in question and Sam Cassell can no longer be trusted to play for 60 games, let alone 82. Ultimately, I think Blake ends up staying in Denver.
Chauncey Billups: One of the biggest names looking for a new home, he’s had his run with Detroit and I wouldn’t put it past him to pack his bags. Billups is looking to get paid and Orlando has got the money to make it happen. They’re top choices are Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, but I think that Billups might have to be their man. I can see Chauncey leaving Detroit and starting in sunny Orlando.
Matt Barnes: Barnes made a name for himself in the playoffs this past season. A journeyman for the first four years of his career, it’s a good possibility that he could up and move yet again. Although the Warriors traded Jason Richardson, Barnes is a greedy player so he may just go to the highest bidder. I think teams like Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio could use his services, but Dallas may be the only one of those teams with money to spend. Ultimately, I think Barnes is back in the bay and continues launching threes for the Warriors.
Vince Carter: As he just opted out of his contract, the word for a couple months has been he would be going to Orlando. Reports are surfacing that he is nearing a four year, $60 million deal with the New Jersey, so the Nets should be in great shape next year.
Mikki Moore: Without much starting experience, the Nenad Krstic injury was a blessing in disguise as it allowed Moore to show the league that he can be an effective big man in this league. Although he won’t be garnering any big deals like most bigs receive, he should get a hefty salary increase and end up with the Nets for a couple more years.
Grant Hill: Now that his monstrous contract is over, Hill is going to be a top free agent for any team looking to add a great role player to a championship caliber team. Teams like Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Detroit and Miami would all love his services. Going back to Detroit would be quite a scene, but I think he wants to win a title and will ultimately go to San Antonio to give that bench even more depth.
Jamaal Magloire: I know what you’re saying to yourself: “The Big Cat is not a top name to discuss.” I think he’s a great pickup for any team at a good price. He gives you a solid big man in the middle who can play some D, grab boards and block a shot or two a game. I would love to see the Celtics pursue him if they don’t make another big splash. Doesn’t look like his services will be needed in Portland though, so he’ll be on the road again. The Lakers could use a veteran center, too, but to predict where Magloire will land is basically impossible. If I had to guess, I’ll go out on a limb and say that Washington picks him up, but your guess is as good as mine.
Rashard Lewis: After opting out of his former contract, Lewis is going to get some big bucks this off-season. It originally didn’t look like he would be going back to Seattle, but with Ray Allen in Boston, perhaps Sam Presti experiments with a Durant/Rashard/Jeff Green trio. That could be a matchup nightmare. Orlando and New York were two teams looking for his services, but I see him ultimately staying in Seattle.
Well, there it is, my quick predictions on where these guys will go. When we wake up in the morning, or even a leaked deal to SportsCenter tonight, we will know exactly where these guys are playing next season.