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Where Were You The Day The NBA Landscape Changed?

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Whenever transcendent moments happen in life, you always look back and say to yourself: "I remember that day. I was _____."

When Michael Jackson died last year, I was eating an Oreo cookie. Mid-dunk, I saw the bold red 'Breaking News' font that just about every news agency uses online. When it was revealed that Pamela Anderson had a sex tape, I was frantically searching online despite the fact that my parents checked my browser history at the time. I just didn't care.

In 24 hours, I'll most likely be at work -- despite all my urges to take a half day -- with my cell phone on waiting text messages and Twitter updates with a general theme: "NBA Player X signs with Team A."

When some of these players sign with teams, I want to be able to look back on July 1, 2010 -- the beginning of the most ballyhooed free agency period in professional sports (...yes, I used the word ballyhooed in a sentence) -- and say simply that I called it.

Everyone and their pets are trying to predict where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and (now) Dirk Nowitzki are going to sign. Of course, I have my own theories. I apologize in advance for making sense in some of these, but I just can't help myself.

Keep in mind, I (much like everyone else) am only concerned about the guys everyone's talking about. If you want to know where Tyson Chandler is going to end up, you can find that out, but if you're one of those fans on 'Amir Johnson watch 2010,' you're in the wrong place.

Another thing to note is that I'm assuming everyone exercises their early termination. Anyone with one of those can't call their agent fast enough, anyway. Last, but not least, I think signing two or three max guys is a bit foolish. Yeah, you've got two or three of the best guys in the league, but who else. With that in mind, I only see one team that logically should do it. Now that's out of the way, let's get started.

LeBron James -- remains with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The King of Cleveland should stay that way since he can hand pick his coach and general manager. Byron Scott and Kevin Pritchard, come on down. After that, it's just a matter of getting the right people around LeBron James. A 300 pound roadblock and a guy who has too much in common with Gilbert Arenas is not what they should have in mind.

Dump Shaq and get more athletic. I get the Shaq for Howard argument, but there's a better way to do it: like Boston's way (bodies for Howard & athletic guys for the shooters). Enter Tyson Chandler and Mike Miller. All Chandler does is block shots and grab rebounds. Perfect. All Mike Miller does is shoot 40% from 3PT and be surprisingly nimble on the wing. Perfect. Done and done. If that doesn't work, Antawn Jameson's contract ends at the end of next season... Perfect.

Dwyane Wade -- resigns with the Miami Heat. There's something lovely about being the guy that everyone wants to play with. LeBron wants to play with him. Bosh wants to play with him. Wade is like the kid in the neighborhood that always gets picked first. He already has a ring, and he knows how to get there if last year is any indication. The fact that Miami made the playoffs is still baffling.

Miami has a max contract to give away after giving Wade one, and this is the only team where two max guys makes any sense. Add Carlos Boozer to the corpse of Jermaine O'Neal in the front court. Use what's left to pry Raymond Felton from Larry Brown's fingers, move Michael Beasley to small forward (where he may be more productive) and watch the wins pile up.

Chris Bosh -- signs with the Chicago Bulls. The rumor is that wherever LeBron goes, Bosh is sure to follow like Mary's little lamb, but hear the following analogies:

  • Magic Johnson/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • John Stockton/Karl Malone
  • Steve Nash/Amare Stoudemire
  • Mark Jackson/Rik Smits

Okay, maybe not the last one, but there's a point. Take an all-world point guard, give him a big man and build around it. A Chris Bosh/Derrick Rose union instantly makes the Bulls major players in the East with Rose/Deng/Bosh/Noah as the starting five. Problem: They don't have a shooting guard. Solution: Use that money you were going to spend on another max guy to get Ray Allen. The Finals performance may scare you away, but he's still Jesus Shuttlesworth. He's still the guy who can rattle off 20-25 ppg. If you don't want to overpay for Ray Allen, Randy Foye is a younger do-able substitute.

Amare Stoudemire -- signs with the New Jersey Nets. Okay, before everyone's jaw drops simultaneously, hear the plan. Remember the reason for Chris Bosh joining Chicago and Derrick Rose? Same rule applies here to adding Amare Stoudemire to a team that has a top-10 point guard in Devin Harris. Add Brook Lopez and an emerging young shooting guard in Courtney Lee. Chris Douglas-Roberts becomes the guy in the starting five that just plays lock down defense, and suddenly, you've got a 35-40 win team for the 'Mad Russian.'

If the Nets really wanna take a giant leap, see if Paul Pierce wants to join in on the action. Pierce won't command the ball like a Rudy Gay or a Joe Johnson, but he does bring a winning attitude to a team who, quite frankly, didn't do a lot of it last year. The Nets probably don't want to be the Detroit Lions of the NBA for consecutive years, so changing the culture of the team is necessary.

Joe Johnson -- signs with the New York Knicks. Basically Johnson goes to the Knicks because New York will probably miss out on everyone else. Why, you ask? Because with the exception of Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks have nothing to build around. Johnson will join David Lee and invest in Kevlar because when the Knicks panic due to their fans making like it was Los Angeles in 1993... Gilbert Arenas will come to the Garden. The best the Knicks could possibly hope for is a Johnson/Rudy Gay/David Lee combo with Chris Duhon running the point and the decaying talent of Eddy Curry at center.

When 12:01 a.m. hits on Thursday, July 1, there should be a trumpet playing like it's the beginning of a horserace, and like a horserace, it's going to be exciting for a good period of time. In the end, there's going to be those who win, those who show and those who just flat out lose.

Needless to say, it's going to be fun to see which NBA horse ends up in the winner's circle.

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