- Will Tracy McGrady and/or Allen Iverson swallow his respective pride and accept a role as a sixth man?
These two combined to win five straight scoring titles from 2001-2005 and have combined for over 40,000 career points. Yet each has barely played over the last year and is seen as locker room "cancers" by some GMs and coaches. However, they can still help a team albeit not at their customary role. Iverson recently said he is willing to help a team "in any capacity that they feel that I can help" and I see a perfect situation for him in Charlotte with his old coach Larry Brown. They certainly need some help on offense and Iverson, with all his faults, can still put up double-digit points from off the bench. As for McGrady, well there is a sudden need for a small forward in northeast Ohio and wouldn’t it be ironic if McGrady replaced LeBron in Cleveland after so many thought that LeBron would be the one to replace T-Mac in New York?
- How quickly will the Hawks regret paying Joe Johnson $119 million?
The guy who got the biggest contract is the same guy who led his team to an 0-8 record in the second round of the playoffs. Among active players with at least 200 games played, Johnson ranks as tied for 85th in career player efficiency rating (PER), right in between Luol Deng and Richard Jefferson. He has never had a season with a PER of above 19.5 (20.0 is considered the benchmark for an All-Star) and will be 30 years old after the first year of the contract. But on the plus side, the 6-foot-8 Johnson had five more blocks last season than the 7-6 Yao Ming had ... Wait, what?
- How will Shaq react to a new team and a nearly $15 million pay cut?
Last year Shaq made $20 million and now he’ll have to settle for the mid-level Exception which is $5.8 million (and that’s assuming a team uses its entire MLE on him). The last time he made that little in a season, Penny Hardaway was his wingman on the ’96 Magic team. But, as the NBA player with the highest career earnings (over $290 million), I think he’ll survive. But which team will pony up the cash for Shaq? We know he’s going to play at least two more seasons so he can join the 30,000 career points club and we know he wants to go to a contender. Atlanta and San Antonio are the favorites now that Dallas traded for Tyson Chandler and both of those teams could use a center. While you would assume that the chance to go for a fifth ring would triumph over personal goals, we all know that Shaq is a different kind of fella so expect to see the Diesel in the ATL.
- Which power forward will have the biggest impact with his new team: Amare Stoudemire, David Lee, Carlos Boozer, or Al Jefferson?
Phoenix, New York, and Golden State all ranked in the top eight teams in terms of pace, so Stoudemire and Lee should be familiar with the style of play with their new teams. But Amare will quickly realize that Raymond Felton is no Steven Nash and he’s unlikely to get as many easy layups and dunks as he had in Phoenix. Lee could very well put up 24 points and 13 rebounds a game this season if Nellie plays him 40 minutes a game. The Warriors may only win 25 games and give up 115 points a game, but damn, they're going to have some good fantasy players next season.
Boozer provides something that the Bulls have lacked since Elton Brand: low-post scoring. He seems like the perfect fit, but you have to wonder how he will perform now that he got the fat contract he’s wanted for two years. Jefferson is likely to have the biggest drop-off and not just because he’ll be playing center until Mehmet Okur returns from his Achilles injury. Everyone knows Utah’s offense is predicated on the pick-and-roll, but Jefferson doesn’t have the outside shot that Okur, Boozer, Karl Malone, or even Paul Millsap have. He just seems like a poor fit within that scheme but I don’t think he’ll be screaming to go back to Minnesota anytime soon. I think that Boozer will be on the best team, Lee will put up the best stats, Jefferson will just be happy to be playing for a winner, and Stoudemire will be praying that CP3 and Carmelo have a New York State of Mind in the summer of 2011.
- Will the 76ers make a single free agency move?
Not only have they not made any moves as of July 14, but they haven’t even had any discussions with any free agents. They currently have 12 players under contract and will have to add at least one more player to comply with the league’s rule of a minimum of 13 players. But it looks like that 13th player will come from the team’s summer league roster, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you have actually seen him play in the team’s new system as opposed to a free agent that you have to "force" into playing a certain way. However, what the Sixers desperately need is a veteran backup point guard and the word "veteran" usually doesn’t coincide with "summer league player". At this point the best the team can do is the likes of Anthony Carter or Earl Watson, but even they could be gobbled up by a team like Miami if Philly doesn’t act soon.