Got Hoops? Your Guide to the NBA Free Agency

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Kyle Anderson>Senior>Communication>Loyola University

If you ever come in contact with TV, newspapers or the internet, you just may have heard that NBA all-star Lebron James switched teams last week. You also may have heard that a few other free agent signings have taken place recently.  In case you’re behind on all the NBA craziness, here are some of the teams making deals.

The New York Knicks made the first big splash of free agency by signing former Sun player Amar’e Stoudemire.  The five-year, $99.7 million deal may seem risky for the recently injury-prone Stoudemire, but if Amar’e turns up his defensive game, the Knicks will certainly improve from last season.  With plenty of cap space left, time will tell who else the Knicks bring to New York.
“The Knicks will definitely be better this season, and if they can pull off a trade for Carmelo Anthony or possibly bring in Chris Paul through free agency in 2012, they can set themselves up as serious contenders for years,” Brian Hungarter, a law student from Villanova, says.
By signing the three biggest names in free agency this year,  the Miami Heat have placed themselves squarely under the microscope for years to come.  With Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Miami has become an immediate competitor for an NBA championship.  With the team’s core in place, it will be interesting to see what other players will join these three superstars, as the rest of their roster remains open.
The Chicago Bulls may not have won the Lebron sweepstakes, but they did reel in a big-name center in Carlos Boozer.  Having averaged 19.5 points and 11 rebounds per game last season, the Bulls big man joins an already strong team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng.  Additionally, Chicago has offered J.J. Redick a three-year, $20 million offer sheet that if Redick’s former team, the Orlando Magic, doesn’t match, will send the shooting guard to the Bulls.
“Obviously the Bulls lost out on Lebron, but Boozer complements Rose very well and makes Chicago a contender,” Josh Plummer, a senior from Stonehill College, says.  “J.J. Redick would give them a shooter they desperately need, and with Luol Deng still there, the Bulls have a solid starting five.”
One of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks, resigned star shooting guard Joe Johnson to a six-year, $119 million deal.  Johnson rejoins Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford on what’s sure to be a serious 2011 playoff contender.  The Johnson deal may have broken the bank for Atlanta, but clearly the Hawks wanted him back.
Speaking of playoffs, only six minutes away from being the 2010 NBA Champions, the Boston Celtics have quietly retooled for another postseason run.  By resigning Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Boston’s veteran core remains intact, and the addition of Jermaine O’Neal strengthens the Celtics’ frontcourt.  With Rajon Rondo emerging as an elite point guard, Boston should be in the mix late in the season, if all the veterans can remain healthy. 

 With most of the major free agents signed already, it’s still left to see where the majority of the role players will land.  Make sure to stay tuned every day, because as last week showed us, NBA teams are ready to spend.

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