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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Class of 2013: NBA Free Agents 

Basketball junkies, we know you are jonesing, our friends from the Eastside Perspective give you a head start on the class of 2013: NBA Free Agents...

by: Alex Young

If you followed the NBA at all last summer, you learned that Dwight Howard did not want to play in Orlando. This was hard for new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan as Dwight was the centerpiece of the team. However, Howard is not the first time a superstar has held a team in suspense with his impending free agency. In past years, we saw players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams torment their respective teams’ fan bases by refusing to sign extensions.

So what should a GM do? Should he let the season play out and hope that the player re-signs with them? Should he trade the player and get as much as he can before he ends up with nothing? Should he trade for more talent in order to appease the player? The answer varies with each case, and will be on the minds of fans and management this season.

Here is a list of top players that are on the verge of going into free agency and what would be in the best interest of their current team:

Chris Paul
: Many Clippers fans were alarmed at the news that Chris Paul turned down a three-year/$60 million dollar contract extension during the summer. While this may signify that Paul wants to leave, Paul stands to make a five-year/$105 million maximum contract should he let his current deal expire. Clearly, it is in Chris Paul’s best interests to at least test the waters of free agency. Chris Paul also has brought the drama before, having pushed his way out of New Orleans before last season. The Clippers are wondering if the rejected extension is merely a business maneuver or a sign of things to come.

What the Clippers should do: The Clippers have to have a big season in order to keep their star point guard interested. That may be difficult considering that Blake Griffin just had knee surgery. The team might have to make a trade for some more talent to show that they are more committed to having Chris Paul than their competition - suitors such as the Knicks and the Hawks.


James Harden: Oklahoma City may have too much talent. While many would consider this a first-world problem, it becomes an issue when you have to pay all of that talent. Between Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Harden, they have four players who are worthy of huge contracts in the NBA. The Thunder have already locked up Durant and Westbrook for the long term and just signed Serge Ibaka to a four-year/$48 million extension. James Harden may have to be left out if the Thunder wish to keep at or below the $58 million salary cap. Also, Harden has a chance to be a star on another team instead of taking his bench role on OKC.

What the Thunder should do: GM Sam Presti needs to convince Harden to give up money for winning. Presti could try to trade Harden for draft picks and players, yet that would disrupt the chemistry of a team that is already on the brink of winning a title. The Thunder are no longer playing to win in the future, they are playing to win now. For that reason, it may be worth it to keep Harden for the year, even if the Thunder fear that he may leave.


Andrew Bynum:
The second prize of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes came in Andrew Bynum going to the 76ers. Like Paul, Bynum can make more money over a longer period of time should he choose to become a free agent. When he was introduced by the 76ers, Bynum seemed pleased by the fans cheering his name and stated that he might sign long-term with the team. Bynum also has the chance to be a franchise player instead of being overshadowed by Kobe in L.A.

So why would the 76ers be nervous? First, Andrew Bynum has always been somewhat hard to deal with, read: he has issues. He has checked out of games with the Lakers and it is hard to tell what Bynum’s intentions really are. Second, fans in Philadelphia are merciless. They have done everything from throwing batteries at games to booing Santa Claus. If Bynum is not giving full effort, the fans will certainly let him know. If Andrew Bynum does not want to take criticism, he has the option of leaving.

What the Sixers should do: There is more evidence that points to Andrew Bynum staying than leaving in Philadelphia. If the Sixers are willing to deal with him, then they can probably re-sign Bynum without too much drama.


While you may not get to witness a soap opera like the Dwight Howard saga any time soon, the 2013 class of free agents will bring its fair share of tension to their fans’ lives.

Will these teams be able to keep their stars? Only time will tell...

Read more great sports and music articles from the Eastside Perspective here.

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