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Top NBA Free Agents Plan Summit

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 1, 2010 3:40PM

Like something of a cross between the Justice League and the Yalta Conference, the NBA's bumper crop of superstar free agents plan to convene a summit prior to the opening of the league's free agency signing period, which could have significant ramification on the future of the NBA's balance of power. For the past couple years, a number of teams (the Bulls included) have been maneuvering to clear salary cap space that would give them the flexibility to go after the historic 2010 free agent class that includes players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson.

Last week, Wade told the media he planned to pow wow with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson about their plans, which caused many Bulls fans to wince as he also questioned the Bulls' loyalty towards their past greats. Would Wade's attitude hold sway over the other superstars as they choose where to sign? And now the upcoming conclave is growing, as Amare Stoudemire invited himself to the table over the weekend: "I'm friends with LeBron, Dwyane, Chris [Bosh] -- all those guys are friends of mine. So I'm pretty sure they'll call me and we'll talk about a few things." How long before Dirk Nowitzki opts out of his deal and wants to join the party?

So what exactly will the players discuss when they convene their meeting? Will they try to collude and demand to be signed as package deals? Will they play around with the ESPN Trade Machine to figure out sign-and-trades that might allow them to team up someplace without cap room to sign two max contracts outright? The NBA said that Wade didn't violate the league's tampering rules by stating that the players would talk before July 1. But that doesn't mean the owners and league officials might not be crying foul should some unusual demands arise later this summer. As Bulls fans, we can only hope that Wade backs off his unfounded criticism of the Bulls organization. The Bulls did bring Pip back to finish out his career in Chicago and Jordan decided to buy into other teams because the Bulls weren't for sale. The Bulls have invested a great deal and deferred shorter term advancement to shoot for the stars this summer. If they come up empty handed, this post-MJ rebuilding era (already past the 10-year mark) could continue for much longer and have significant long term economic implications on the city.