Tonight is one of my favorite non-basketball, NBA events of the year: the draft lottery! I can't wait to see which team will luck out (and go bananas) or to see which team that thought it would be drafting #1 will instead get stuck with Jordan Hill.
Before the lotto mania, I thought I'd drop one more edition of the Offseason Guide. We earlier discussed the relative market value of Okur, Boozer, and Korver as well as the teams that have money to pay them this offseason. Now, let's discuss the last factor in the opt-out decision: What if I wait until 2010.
THE GOOD NEWS: The good news for free agents in 2010 is that teams will have room under the salary cap to make moves in free agency. A bunch of squads will be well under the cap, including the Cavaliers, Knicks, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Grizzlies, Heat, T-Wolves, Nets, Thunder, Trailblazers, and Spurs. Some of those teams will make a run at a franchise player like Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Dirk, or Yao. But some of those teams will strikeout. That means that a lot of teams will need to make a splash and have the salary cap room to do it. Could be a good spot to be in for a free agent.
THE BAD NEWS: While the salary cap will allow teams to spend, the economy might not. And the real issue looming for free agents next summer is the likelihood of an impending lockout and a new collective bargaining agreement. In a nutshell, the owners are going to want to lower maximum salaries and length of contracts, while the players are likely to accede to the owner's wishes because the economy is a bitch. That means that a free agent max deal in 2009 might be larger than a max deal in 2010: about 20-30 million dollars larger. That kind of money buys a lot of happiness.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN: If you can get good money in 2009 take it; you might not be able to in 2010, either because of the economy or the new collective bargaining agreement. So, if Boozer can get a team to bite, or can get the Jazz to extend, he'll do it. That's a big IF. But, I think that this is the one reason Okur or Boozer might think about taking a risk and opting out in 2009.