What makes a MAX player? Is it the potential to win or championships won? Is it the millions they are worth or the millions they will make you? These are the questions running through my mind as Thursday approaches. Technically, players and teams have to wait until this Thursday to 'officially' make any deals to give time for the free agency moratorium to pass and for the salary cap for next season to be set. How is it fair that players who are clearly not worth the money they are paid get to even think they are allowed to ask for max money like Lebron James or Chris Bosh. I think it's funny how this free agency free-for-all seems to have media coverage focus on a few key players: Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and of course, Lebron James. Kobe Bryant could be streaking down the streets of Los Angeles and no one would even hear about it because of all the frenzy. Aside from the image I just put in your head, Kobe Bryant is the one true max player that looks the best in the midst of all this mess. He has what Stoudemire, Bosh, Wade and Lebron want - championships won and MVP accolades. Unfortunately for them and the teams who sign them, they will only be defined by the number of championships lost not won. But it is fun to watch the chase so let's talk about the big four as of late and what certain teams need to do to land them.
#1 - Hire help.
The New York Knicks have tentatively passed this one with flying colours. On Monday, the Knicks said they intend to sign Amar'e Stoudemire to a max deal worth nearly $100 million over five years on Thursday. His agent Happy Walters is saying the deal will be official on Thursday but Knicks fans are already getting excited. According to Stoudemire himself, he is looking forward to recruiting Dwayne Wade or Lebron James and rebuilding the Knicks as the team they once were. He's not bitter the Phoenix Suns couldn't give him the max money he craved but is happy to take it from the Knicks. But David Lee might not be so happy. With the Knicks freeing up cap space to land 2 possible big names, how does that keep Lee in New York? Look for further trades this summer.
#2 - Make them feel at home.
Stay with me on this one. Dwayne Wade has a youth basketball camp starting up and a news conference was postponed since those surrounding Wade felt the focus would be on free agency instead of the youth camp. Dwayne Wade is a free agent for the first time and I bet is really torn between Miami and somewhere else. He's been in discussions with the Knicks, the Nets and most often, the Chicago Bulls. This is where I think it gets interesting. Both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are represented by agent Henry Thomas and photos have been posted of Wade and Bosh dining together. Chicago-based Henry Thomas says deciding on where to go from here has been a tough decision and tougher than originally thought. So it seems like the best option for Wade and Bosh at the moment is Chicago. They would both feel at home. I would be happy for Bosh in this scenario since I think he's been getting the but end of many a cold shoulder. So no matter what you think of his tweets or his decision making methods, he's got a lot of heart and talent. And if his heart is somewhere other than Toronto, let his home be where his heart is.
#3 - They can't live without you as much as you can't live without them.
The best example of this point is the City of Cleveland pre-Lebron James. Before Lebron's arrival it was like pulling teeth to get fans in the stands at a Cavs game, much less spend their time and money downtown. With Lebron in town, bars and restaurants are booming and everyone is happy. So since they have made this pitch before and were successful, let's not count them out just yet. Lebron is no spring chicken. He sees Kobe Bryant and his championship rings with the only NBA organization he's ever played with. He remembers how Kobe once had his doubts about the purple and gold and remained true to the team which drafted him. Lebron wants this, too. He's a good kid and good for the City of Cleveland but for him to realistically stay there they have to give him more than Byron Scott. Don't get me wrong, Byron Scott is experienced at winning championships, something Lebron is aspiring to, but the Cavs still need help.
#4 - You have deep pockets and #5 - You are serious about winning a championship.
These two go hand in hand. Let's face it. If the Los Angeles Clippers all of a sudden won the lottery, they still wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of landing a Bosh, Wade or Lebron. So you can have all the money in the world but if you are not serious about catching the NBA's top prize, talk to the hand. Think about it from a personal perspective. Are you going to leave a job where you are comfortable and happy just to go somewhere else where you are comfortable and maybe-kinda-sorta be happy? That next opportunity needs to breath new life and opportunity and money certainly helps with that.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Tune into the DNB on Thrusday when we will be discussing Character Driven on the life and purpose of Derrick Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers. A really different read than anything discussed so far. Happy reading and see you Thursday.