LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson -- three of the NBA's biggest free agent names this offseason -- are all inconveniently (for everyone involved except Celtics fans) sidelined from actual basketball, but that doesn't mean rampant speculation about where they'll land next year hasn't, at times, overshadowed the NBA playoffs.
And that's not likely to slow any time soon, especially if those three guys are going to use all their free time, as Wade implied to the Trib, to "sit down" and talk with each other about the various choices available to them in the coming summer.
"(Free agency) has been three years coming," Wade said. "We've discussed it prematurely, at different times. (But) you don't know what guys are thinking and where they're going. I think we'll all sit down, and before one of us makes a decision, all of us will have spoken to each other and (listened to the) thinking.Now, the esteemed Kurt Helin at PBT referred to this as "a different kind of tampering" -- to me, it's just smart business. Typically in free agency, the teams, who have all the available money, hold the cards, even if players get to choose where they're headed.
"A lot of decisions (will be based on) what other players are willing to do and what other guys want to do. So it's not just a 'me' situation here. We all have to look and see what each other is thinking."
This summer is different -- the stench of desperation wafting out of most major metropolitan areas has flipped the "hand" over to individual power brokers like 'Bron and D-Wade; no one's making a move on anything else -- excepting maybe an attempt to entice one of the big dogs with a second-fiddle-signing -- until they decide what they're doing.
And they know that, which is precisely why they're willing to communicate with each other (either personally or through their agents) to best figure out how to approach a landscape that will change quickly and often during the summer.
None of the looming free agents can absolutely know where they'll end up (only Ziller and Shoals do, obviously). But they do know that they want to go somewhere where they can a) win, b) play for a coach who will win, and c) get paid. Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson, when they sign in NYC together, probably won't get to do all three, but certainly everyone's allowed to dream.
And unless David Stern starts fining players big chunks of cheese for continuing to communicate with each other and/or letting the media know that they'll be working in tandem to guarantee they make the most money, it seems pretty unlikely that he can actually stop them.
Which means that the likelihood of a "power couple" (Wade + Bron, Bron + Bosh, Bosh + Wade, etc.) forming in the NBA is increasingly likely. Which is a terrifyingly awesome notion. Unless your team doesn't land a pair once the inmates get finished running the asylum. Then it's just terrifying.