Part two of this free agency primer focuses on the bigger NBA picture, but with an eye toward the Wizards. Click here for part one, a look at 10 free agents for Washington.
Stop me if you heard this before, but the West is the stronger and deeper of the two conferences. On the surface, this isn't about to change. What could alter the competitive balance? Some of the top free agents switching sides. Every All-Star believes their presence can tip the scales regardless of the tricky path, but everyone noticed the defending champion San Antonio Spurs not even making it out of the first round of the playoffs even though they might have been no less than the second best team in the West. Then again, in this LeBron James era of joining other stars, those other stars are mostly in the West.
Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge tops the list of the free agents likely to change teams. According to reports, the power forward is scheduled to meet with seven teams starting with Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Of the seven, the only two in the East are the Toronto Raptors (huh) and the New York Knicks, who have the only Thursday meeting set with Aldridge.
On the other hand, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler are probably the top two free agents in the East with a chance to change teams. The Cavs and Bulls would remain formidable even if they lost these All-Stars, but not as much.
Four teams are reportedly in play for Los Angeles Clippers' shot blocking center DeAndre Jordan. Three are in the West (Just assume the Knicks are in play for every notable free agent option). The Wizards are not involved, but they're certainly paying attention because of the Paul Pierce situation. They're also surely interested in where Aldridge, Love, Butler, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Paul Millsap and others land.
We all agree nobody really focuses on divisions much anymore, but the Hawks, Heat, Hornets and Magic are the teams the Wizards face the most. Atlanta dominated the entire conference last season, but now must work on keeping starting forwards Millsap an DeMarre Carroll. Miami has a chance for true contention if they keep free agents Wade and Dragic, Chris Bosh returns in good health and center Hassan Whiteside maintains control over his emotions and attitude.
Charlotte overhauled its roster by shipping out Lance Stephenson and bringing in Nicolas Batum plus rookie Frank Kaminsky. Maybe all the changes puts them back into the playoff picture, a picture Orlando's always promising roster might finally, finally enter this season. The Magic drafted shooting threat Mario Hezonja, but could lose restricted free agent forward Tobias Harris.
MORE WIZARDS: Free agency primer: 10 names to watch for the Wizards