Next basketball offseason has historic implications

James and Wade will be the two biggest prizes next offseason. (AP Photo)
James and Wade will be the two biggest prizes next offseason. (AP Photo)

The summer of 2010 is not just going to be about driving to the Jersey Shore or playing the slots in Atlantic City.

The summer of 2010 may be showcasing the greatest free agent class that the sports world has ever seen.

Headlining the group will be Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward LeBron James. The superstar is a native of Ohio, but James has made it known that he would like to win a championship. The Cavaliers have brought in numerous players to try to appease the man known as “The King.”

The newest Cavalier acquisition, Shaquille O’Neal, a 7’11’’ center who has won four championships in his career brings experience. O’Neal has made his intentions for Cleveland clear; “Win a ring for The King.”

However, if O’Neal’s efforts fall short and the Cavaliers’ front office does not prove to LeBron that a championship is near, The King may be searching for a new palace.

Possible destinations include the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets. Knick fans have not been shy about demonstrating their desire to land James. Most notable of this group is director/actor Spike Lee.

Not to be outdone by the Knicks, the Nets are also pushing for James with a star of their own. Rapper Jay-Z has a close relationship with James and has not kept it a secret that he would love to have James in Nets blue and red.

Every team in the league will have an interest in the 26-year-old if he hits the market and many teams have already begun to clear cap space to open up room for James or one of his star free-agent mates.

cheapseatsWhatever teams do not land James will be fortunate to have a strong collection of backup plans.

The rest of the potential free agents will be left with many different choices as the summer approaches. Some of them are unrestricted free agents, some have player options and some have early termination options.

Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili, Tracy McGrady and Joe Johnson lead the charge of unrestricted free agents in the 2010 class. Allen, Ginobili and McGrady may have their best years behind them, but they still provide veteran and playoff experience. On the other hand, Johnson hasn’t even turned 30 yet and this may be the prime of his career.

Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are the biggest names beside James of the 2010 class and both have player options. This option will allow them to choose returning to the cities they’ve played with since 2003, or move on to teams with a better chance at claiming the championship. Similar to Wade and Bosh, a core of players have early termination options that would allow them to leave in 2010. The early termination option, which is similar to the player option, allows the player to end his contract at the season’s end or keep his current deal.

These players include Paul Pierce, Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Michael Redd, Amare Stoudemire, and Richard Jefferson.

Although most of these players will probably return to their old squads, their options to leave makes this class loaded with talent.

Some of these potential free agents may be more attractive than others in this group, but they all could provide a big splash for anyone willing to put out top dollar.

In an era where switching teams and making splashes have become common, the 2010 free agents class may cause a tsunami in the basketball world.