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Monday, June 30, 2014

Let the summer fun begin

Tom King

It’s almost here.

That mystical, magical date in sports: July 1. ...

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It’s almost here.

That mystical, magical date in sports: July 1.

It seems to rule the NBA and the NHL completely. Tuesday will be the day free agents can be signed, sealed and delivered to their new teams.

The winter sports take the first day of the first full summer month and hold it, and several teams and general managers, hostage.

What will Carmelo Anthony do? What “Decision” will LeBron James make, along with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh? Will they interrupt their summer barbecues or island vacations to ruin or enhance a fan’s day?

There have been some big signings over the years on this day. The Bruins, for example, swooped right in and inked Zdeno Chara. This year, they will have to decide what to do with Jerome Iginla.

Iginla and the B’s are in a predicament. With the salary cap at $69 million, Boston may have to make room to extend Iginla even one year – which is all he would likely get – according to reports. Making room might mean trading a valuable defenseman such as Johnny Boychuk. In these eyes, as good a fit as Iginla was as a top line forward (30 goals, 31 assists), the Bruins’ success starts and ends on the back end.

Iginla could talk with teams over the weekend but can’t sign on the dotted line until Tuesday, that magical day.

It’s not a very big year for free agency in hockey, so there probably won’t be a ton of news.

In fact, the forward and future Hall of Famer is probably the biggest name out there, along with Thomas Vanek, who we all know spent the latter part of the season and playoffs with the Montreal Canadiens.

There will probably be some interest in centermen Paul Statsny (Colorado, 60 points, young at 28) and veteran Brad Richards, whom the Rangers had to amnesty to make room to sign all of their other free agents.

But it would be a shame if the Bruins lose Iginla because of salary cap issues. He fits this team like a glove.

In basketball, the lack of trades on draft night leads one to wonder what will happen starting Tuesday. James will likely stay with the Miami Heat, don’t you think? The collective opt out of the Miami Big Three likely means negotiating down to add more players.

The team that could make the biggest splash would be Houston, which grabbed Dwight Howard last summer, but Howard took his sweet time getting there (big surprise). This time, they could clear out cap space by trading Jeremy Lin, and yes, perhaps even James Harden, and make a big splash by getting Anthony and one other player (doubtful about LeBron). Watch out for the Rockets; they could break the hearts of Knicks fans such as myself.

Things happen beginning Tuesday. Right now, NHL general managers are scrambling to make salary moves/room as the cap came in about $2 million to $3 million less than anticipated.

You’ll remember this time last year there was a big buzz around here with the winter teams. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli didn’t even take the Fourth of July off as he dealt away young scorer (and would-be party animal) Tyler Seguin.

The next day the Celtics introduced Brad Stevens as their new head coach. What holiday weekend?

But there likely won’t be any big news coming from Danny Ainge on July 1 or the few days to follow. They’re certainly not signing anyone, and, while you never know, it seems the Celtics are resigned to going with the kids. It’s pretty clear Tuesday won’t be a Green Day.

But you know what it will be? A U.S. World Cup soccer day, the Americans vs. Belgium at 4 p.m.

See, one way or another, July 1 is now always a big day on the sports calendar.

Tom King can be reached at
594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).