All the Miami Heat haters, and there are a lot of them, are getting over the immediate heartache of the finals and settling into the long off season with the realization that going into next season, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and company are clearly the favorites going in. Looking forward to the draft, there is no real elite talent. There are a lot of free agents of elite quality, but even the best players are unlikely to be able to will a new team to the championship in their first year. The Heat proved that as well.
The big free agent out there is Chris Paul, who many expect to stay with the Clippers. The Clippers have been talking big trades and their coaching job is available.
The other big free agent is obviously Dwight Howard, though at this point his bloated ego and inability to build chemistry with the a veteran Laker squad last years should be a turnoff. There is talk of him joining Chris Paul to form a dynamic duo type of presence, but no team with Howard is going to win a title next year (unless he goes to Miami haha).
Miami is probably going to get better. They are going to take a flier on Greg Oden, who at 25 years old would be the best center the team has had in 3 years now despite his history of injuries. You can expect the savvy Pat Riley to add another piece or two that will help. It would not surprise me if a solid mid tier free agent like a JR Smith winds up signing with the Heat as well.
Chicago will have Derrick Rose back, but it is hard for him to recoup the buzz he had as a league MVP after taking the year off. Until he proves different, his mindset and motivations are suspect. The Pacers could lose David West, who was a key player for them as they provided Miami with a solid foe in the East.
Out East a lot will depend on the Lakers. If they do not have Dwight Howard back, and they are starting the season without Kobe Bryant (Kobe is unlikely to go all Derrick Rose and be out all season) they are going to probably be out of the picture. What they can hope for is that Howard returns and leads the team, and with Kobe aboard in March they can push to make a serious run. But that is a lot of if’s and people should have learned by now that depending on Dwight Howard to lead is a poor idea.
The Spurs could conceivably muster one more run, but it is unlikely that they will go as far as they did this year.
The Western team most likely to face the Heat in the finals next season is the Oklahoma City Thunder. They were not improved by the deal that shipped away James Harden, and they will have to revamp their bench scoring yet again as guard Kevin Martin comes off the books. There usually is nothing but praise for their front office, but they are going to have to pull of a miracle in the off season if they are going to improve.
And the Heat have already beaten them handily in a finals. Get used to it, because Lebron said something about seven championships or something like that – and he is not even half way there.