By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network.com) - Is that Bill Shakespeare over there?
No, it's just LeBron James. Who knew The King was such a wordsmith? Here's an excerpt from his recent entry in Sports Illustrated.
"In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home."
That gave me goose bumps. But even before LeBron penned a 950-word essay announcing his return to Cleveland, the NBA's tectonic shift was already in motion. Plenty of stars found new homes this offseason and now it's up to us as fantasy owners to decide whose stock went up and whose went down. Let's look at some of the offseason's biggest winners and losers.
Chris Bosh, F/C, Miami Heat
Bosh, the only player in this column who did not change teams, may have scored the offseason's biggest victory. Bosh got a massive raise (five years, $118 million) and now he should be Miami's go-to scorer. Certainly he'll draw more defenders without LeBron but increased volume should propel Bosh to the upper echelon of fantasy big men. Plus, without James clogging the paint, Bosh won't have to settle for threes as often (career-high 218 attempts last season). That could lead to a higher field goal percentage.
Pau Gasol, F/C, Chicago Bulls
Signing with Chicago might give Gasol a better chance to win a ring but it won't help his fantasy prospects. The Lakers were so talent-starved that Gasol ended up taking 14.8 shots per game last season, his most since 2006 with Memphis. With Derrick Rose as the offensive focal point, that won't be the case for Gasol in 2015. On top of that, he has to worry about Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer cutting into his minutes at power forward. For fantasy purposes, he would have been a much better fit in New York or OKC.
Spencer Hawes, F/C, Los Angeles Clippers
Hawes enjoyed a breakout year in 2014, scoring a career-high 13.2 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting. But that was in Cleveland where Hawes didn't have much competition for playing time. Obviously things are going to be different in L.A. where DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin averaged a combined 70.8 minutes per game last season. At least Hawes will finally get to play for a contender after making the playoffs just twice in his first seven seasons.
LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
In 294 games with the Big Three, James averaged 18.2 shots per game. In 548 games as a Cavalier playing with Mo Williams and other rotating cast members, James put up 20.8 field goal attempts per game.
The logic is simple: the more LeBron shoots, the more he scores. Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins both have more to offer than Mo Williams but this isn't a Big Three. The Cavs are LeBron's team. Expect James to compete for the scoring title just like he did in the old days.
Jeremy Lin, G, Los Angeles Lakers
The bad news is that Lin just went from one of the best teams in the Western Conference to one of the worst. The good news is Kendall Marshall and 40-year- old Steve Nash are the Lakers' other two point guards. Even if Lin plays a modest 30 minutes a game he should get more shot opportunities than he did in Houston. Plus, he's coming off the best three-point shooting season of his career (35.8 percent on 229 attempts).
Chandler Parsons, F, Dallas Mavericks
Houston was practically a perfect fit for Parsons but playing in Dallas has its benefits too. He'll be assuming essentially the same role he had in Houston, starting at the three alongside a high-volume shooting guard (Monta Ellis) and a strong defensive big man in Tyson Chandler. The Mavs won't run the floor the way Houston did but Parsons should still get plenty of looks from three-point range, which was his sweet spot last season (37 percent on 351 attempts). With Vince Carter (signed with Memphis) and Shawn Marion (still a free agent) out of the picture, Parsons won't have much competition for playing time at small forward.
Paul Pierce, F, Washington Wizards
Pierce seemed like a lock to sign with the Clippers but instead chose a two- year agreement with the up and coming Wizards. For fantasy purposes, it's a good spot for him. He's already penciled in as Washington's starting small forward, a huge relief after Pierce played out of position at the four last year. With Joe Johnson and Deron Williams dominating most of Brooklyn's touches, Pierce set a new career-low by averaging only 9.5 field goal attempts per game in 2014. He won't have that trouble in Washington with pass-first John Wall running the point (second in the league with 8.8 apg last season).
Isaiah Thomas, G, Phoenix Suns
The Kings never gave Thomas the credit he deserved. With that said, it's going to be difficult for Thomas to shine in Phoenix where the Suns already have a pair of star point guards in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. To make matters worse, the Suns picked up another point guard, Tyler Ennis, in last month's draft. Why Phoenix felt it needed another floor general is beyond me, but it certainly won't help Thomas' fantasy value.
Shakespeare made a valid point in Hamlet when he wrote, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in it." Free agency is a wild, frantic mess but it usually works out in the end, doesn't it? Just ask Cleveland.
07/14 16:52:25 ET