Big men now dominate free agencyBy Chad Ford
Two weeks into the free agent negotiation period and the field (especially at the shooting guard position) has narrowed greatly.
As of Wednesday morning, 12 free agents had agreed to terms with teams.
Ray Allen, Sonics (5 years, $80 million)
Michael Redd, Bucks (6 years, $85-90 million)
Larry Hughes, Cavs (5 years, $65-70 million)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavs (5 years, $55-60 million)
Bobby Simmons, Bucks (5 years, $47 million)
Udonis Haslem, Heat (5 years, $32-34 million)
Dan Gadzuric, Bucks (6 years, 36 million)
Raja Bell, Suns (5 years, $20-25 million)
Brian Scalabrine, Celtics (5 years, 15 million)
Robert Horry, Spurs (terms undisclosed)
Chris Andersen, Hornets (terms undisclosed)
Bostjan Nachbar, Hornets (terms undisclosed)
Several others, including Joe Johnson (Hawks) and Cuttino Mobley (Clippers) appear to be close.
Several teams still have significant cap room to spend this summer. With a projected $49.5 million cap, the Hawks ($25 million), Bobcats ($20 million), Clippers ($16 million), Hornets ($14 million), Sonics ($12 million) and Wizards ($9 million) are all well under the cap. With nine days left until the player movement moratorium is lifted, here's Insider's updated look at the free-agent class of 2005.
Top 25 2005 Free Agents
1. Joe Johnson, G, Suns (R)
JohnsonThe skinny: The talk all week has been that Johnson is set to sign a max, five-year offer with the Hawks once the moratorium ends. There is equally loud talk that the Suns, who own his restricted free agency rights, will step up to the plate and match the offer, meaning Johnson will be back in a Suns uniform next season, albeit at a cost that far exceeds what the Suns wanted to pay for him. It doesn't hurt the Hawks to try anyway. Signing Johnson would put yet a fourth max player on the Suns' payroll, something the cost-conscious Robert Sarver doesn't want to do.
2. Samuel Dalembert, PF/C, 76ers (R)
DalembertThe skinny: Print reports that Dalembert and the Sixers have agreed to a six-year deal in excess of $70 million are untrue. The Sixers have been meeting with Dalembert's agent but have been unable to strike a deal. Philly apparently has drawn a line in the sand millions away from a max-type offer. Dalembert, who's had a rocky four years, with four different coaches in just the last two years, isn't impressed. The Hawks and Sonics are both big fans of Dalembert and have the money to offer big dollars. Other teams, like the Knicks, are willing to do sign-and-trades.
3. Tyson Chandler, PF/C, Bulls (R)
handlerThe skinny: Chandler is younger than Dalembert and has produced at about the same rate or better, especially when he's been healthy. He's a better rebounder than Dalembert and a superior overall defender. The fact that he's a legit 7-foot-2 and has a tremendous work ethic also helps his cause. But questions about his back and his lack of an offensive game have raised questions about his value in free agency. It's also widely believed that the Bulls will match any offer for him. He's a favorite of Chicago GM John Paxson and the Bulls know they can't afford to lose both Chandler and Eddy Curry this summer. If Paxson has to choose, Chandler is the guy. The problem for Chandler is getting a team such as Atlanta or Seattle to make a move for him. While those teams have shown polite interest, neither has been willing to offer the big deal it would take for Chicago to think twice. Meanwhile, Chandler continues to wait for the Bulls to make a big offer. He is hoping Dalembert will cut a lucrative deal, setting the market. As it stands right now, both remain in limbo. If the Bulls' offer does not rise significantly this summer, look for Chandler to sign his one-year tender offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
4. Eddy Curry, C, Bulls (R)
CurryThe skinny: Curry is the hardest free agent of the three to project. Offensively, he's light years ahead of both Dalembert and Chandler. But he's also the shortest of the group, a listless defender, and at best, an ordinary rebounder. That he's struggled with his weight over the years and a mysterious heart ailment recently hasn't helped his cause. Curry is still waiting for an offer from the Bulls. He's spent the past few weeks in Chicago, working out with Michael Jordan's former trainer, Tim Grover, to get back into playing shape. Of the other teams, the Hawks have shown the most interest in Curry and invited him to visit this week. However, Curry balked until he could get in better shape.While Paxson maintains that the team wants to re-sign Curry, the GMs Insider spoke with all believe the Bulls are posturing. The Bulls don't want him back if he's going to command a big salary and are hoping they can work out a sign-and-trade that gets them something back in return. The rumor has been that a Curry-for-Al Harrington swap might be the final resolution of the Eddy Curry era in Chicago.
5. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, PF, Blazers
Abdur-RahimThe skinny: Abdur-Rahim has received significant interest from the Nets, Kings, Clippers, Heat, Rockets and Bucks. His agent says he turned down a five-year, $47 million offer to play in Milwaukee. His first choice appears to be New Jersey. However, the Nets have been unable to work out a sign-and-trade with the Blazers, refusing to give up a first-round pick as part of any deal. The Kings met with Abdur-Rahim Tuesday, and according to sources, the Clippers have made him an offer. Of the teams still in the hunt for Abdur-Rahim, only the Clippers have more than the mid-level exception to offer. However, the Clippers are the only team pursuing him that can't offer him a starting position.
6. Stromile Swift, PF/C, Grizzlies
SwiftThe skinny: Swift took the Grizzlies' one-year tender offer last summer so he'd be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Grizzlies drafted Hakim Warrick in part because they know Swift is gone. He has never quite performed up to expectations in Memphis. Still, Swift has the athleticism, shot blocking and rebounding skills many teams covet. He might never be a great offensive player or a particularly smart player, but on an up-tempo team that likes to get out and run, he could be very, very good. The Knicks, Nets, Rockets and Hornets have shown the most interest in Swift. The Nets met with him Tuesday, as sign-and-trade negotiations with the Blazers on Abdur-Rahim have gone poorly. Swift would be an excellent fit in the Nets' system.
7. Kwame Brown, PF/C, Wizards (R)
BrownThe skinny: Despite all of Kwame's problems, as many as nine teams have expressed an interest in working out a sign-and-trade for him with the Wizards. The Wizards have made it clear they're willing to do something, and are even more motivated now that Hughes plans to sign with the Cavs. The Knicks and Lakers have been Brown's most aggressive pursuers. The Lakers appear to be the front-runners, offering a package that includes Caron Butler. The Knicks have offered Michael Sweetney, but the Wizards are after Quentin Richardson. The Raptors have also shown interest and could put together a sign-and-trade that sends Donyell Marshall and Mo Peterson to the Wizards. The Hawks and Pacers have also shown serious interest, though it appears just that, at this point.
8. Cuttino Mobley, SG, Kings
MobleyThe skinny: At first glance, Mobley's decision to opt out of his lucrative contract with the Kings looked ridiculous. There was seemingly no way Mobley was going to be able to earn the $6 million the Kings owed him. But the other free-agent shooting guards came off the board so fast, that no longer seems true. The Clippers have made a major play for Mobley. They've been talking about a contract in the $40 million-plus range. The Nuggets have also tried to get something done, though they've balked at sending Nene to the Kings in a sign-and-trade. If both of those options fall through, the Wizards have also shown major interest now that Larry Hughes is heading to Cleveland.
9. Marko Jaric, PG, Clippers (R)
JaricThe skinny: When Jaric has been healthy, he has looked solid. The pickings are slim at the point guard position, which should bode well for Jaric. A number of teams -- including the Nuggets, Celtics, Bulls, Lakers, Grizzlies, Heat, Wolves, Suns, Jazz and Raptors -- are interested, but none of them has more than the mid-level to make something happen. The Cavs have more to offer and are interested, but their first choice is Lithuania's Sarunas Jasikevicius. Don't be surprised if the Wizards step up soon as well. Jaric would be a nice fit in their backcourt alongside Gilbert Arenas. With Simmons bolting, Los Angeles is inclined to keep him anyway. Mike Dunleavy told Jaric in his exit interview that he'd have to accept Shaun Livingston would be the Clippers' full-time point guard and Jaric would spend most of his time at the two. That's something Jaric has bristled at in the past, but he has warmed to the idea, partly because he loves L.A. and partly because the Clippers appear to be on the verge of the playoffs.
10. Antoine Walker, F, Celtics
WalkerThe skinny: A number of teams have shown interest in Walker this summer, including the Kings, Rockets and Knicks. However, all three teams have only the mid-level to offer to Walker and he's obviously looking for more. The Sonics have also shown some interest in Walker and they have enough money under the cap to offer him a bigger deal. However, it's unclear how serious they are. The Celtics haven't made a big offer, so Walker's stuck. He can try to work out a sign-and-trade with Boston, but as of Tuesday, Celtics GM Danny Ainge said there had been no sign-and-trade negotiations.
11. Vladimir Radmanovic, F, Sonics (R)
RadmanovicThe skinny: With Ray Allen re-signed, the Soncis have made a push to bring back Radmanovic. He was the leading contender to win the Sixth Man Award before breaking his leg and missing the last six weeks of the season, was a critical component in the Sonics' unexpected run this year and has a lot of fans around the league. However, Radmanovic would like to get out of Seattle and move to a team willing to give him a starting role. At this point, the Hornets and Bobcats look like his best options. Then again, it's unclear whether either team is serious about spending money this summer. One other option is that the Sonics decide to sign a big man with the rest of the money under the cap. They've been pursuing Dalembert, Chandler and Walker. To do it, they'd have to renounce their free agents. If that happens, Radmanovic would become an unrestricted free agent and would be free to sign anywhere he chooses.
12. Antonio Daniels, PG, Sonics (PO)
DanielsThe skinny: Daniels was a contender for the Sixth Man Award and likely will try to bolt Seattle this summer looking for a starting gig. He has posted two solid seasons with the Sonics, is one of the best point guard defenders in the league and has improved his jump shot. He has become increasingly comfortable at the point guard position the past two seasons and should become a solid starter on a team such as the Cavs, Lakers or Rockets, who are looking for more size and leadership at the position.
13. Kyle Korver, SF, 76ers (R)
orverThe skinny: Korver has turned himself into one of the NBA's sweetest long-range shooters and should get a lot of attention from teams willing to use their mid-level exception. The Heat and Cavs have been especially interested. Both teams are desperate for a shooter, and after Johnson, he's the best one on the board. The Sixers want to keep him and can match any offer up to the mid-level. They're stuck, however, until they get things worked out with Dalembert first.
14. Earl Watson, PG, Grizzlies
WatsonThe skinny: Watson remains one of the most underrated point guards in the league and should generate significant interest this summer. He has played backup to Jason Williams most of his career, but his player efficiency ratings make him, at the very least, Williams' equal. He's one of the best defensive point guards in the league, and he keeps turnovers to a minimum. He won't score a lot of points with that faulty jumper, but he definitely can run a team. Teams like the Hawks, Bobcats, Bucks, Blazers, Cavs, Jazz, Rockets and Magic all have shown interest. Memphis won't be able to re-sign Watson unless Jerry West finds a taker for Jason Williams (who is being shopped hard by the Grizzlies). Given Watson's desire to be a starter, it's unlikely he would choose to re-up with Memphis unless Williams is traded.
15. Donyell Marshall, F, Raptors
MarshallThe skinny: Marshall became one of the most coveted guys on the trading block this past fall and likely will get a lot of interest (for the mid-level exception) from the same teams that pursued him then: the Bulls, Rockets and Heat. The Wizards and Nets have also shown interest in Marshall and there's been talk of a possible Kwame Brown for Marshall and Mo Peterson swap with the Wizards.
16. Sarunas Jasikevicius, PG, Maccabi Tel Aviv
The skinny: Jasikevicius is the best point guard playing in Europe and has led his team to three straight Euroleague Championships. The former Maryland star is an incredible passer, has deep range on his jumper, and plays with lots of emotion and grit. If he were more athletic, a better defender and four or five years younger (he's 29), he'd be near the top of the list. As it stands, he'd be a great mid-level pickup for a team trying to compete for a championship. A number of teams have shown interest, but the rumor is that the Cavs (who are trying to hook him back up with Zydrunas Ilgauskas) and the Pacers are leading the pack.
17. Damon Stoudamire, PG, Blazers
The skinny: He had another up-and-down season for the Blazers, and his run in Portland is likely at an end. Still, Stoudamire would be a great mid-level pickup for a team that needs a solid backup combo guard who can shoot the ball.
18. Gary Payton, PG, Celtics
The skinny: It has become evident that the Celtics are unlikely to bring back Payton next season. He still has some juice in the tank and would be a solid addition to a team that needs some veteran help at the point. Don't be surprised if the Sonics make a run at him should they decide to spend some money this summer and re-sign their free agents. The Wolves and the Heat also are options for Payton.
19. Jerome James, C, Sonics
The skinny: After James played terribly all season, it looked as though his run in the NBA was in jeopardy. However, a solid postseason in which he averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game really resurrected his stock. No one will break the bank for James, but a veteran team in desperate need of some size (such as the Knicks or Grizzlies) might spend up to the mid-level exception and give him another chance.
20. Dan Dickau, PG, Hornets
The skinny: With Chris Paul headed to New Orleans, Dickau has to search for a new home. Dickau was unexpectedly solid for the Hornets this season, averaging 13.3 ppg and 5.2 apg.
21. Arvydas Macijauskas, SG, TAU Vitoria
The skinny: Macijauskas is the best shooter in Europe right now and has drawn interest from several teams looking for deep shooting, most notably the Mavs and Pacers.
22. Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks (R)
The skinny: Now that the Bucks have drafted Andrew Bogut and come to terms with Dan Gadzuric, it's very possible that Pachulia is now free to play for another team. The Nuggets, Pacers, Raptors and Magic have all shown interest.
23. Ronald Murray, G, Sonics (R)
The skinny: The minute the Sonics re-signed Allen, Murray's phone started ringing. A number of teams looking for a combo guard have been high on Murray since his breakout performance at the start of the 2003-04 season. The Wizards, Nuggets and Clippers are at the top of the list.
24. Reggie Evans, PF, Sonics (R)
The skinny: For a team looking for rebounding help, Evans is the man. His rebounds per minute were the best in the league last season. If only his offense and his defense were at the same level.
25. Keyon Dooling, G, Heat
The skinny: Dooling is an unrestricted free agent and with news that the Heat have agreed to terms with Haslem, it's unlikely they'll be able to pay him to stay. The Nets have shown the most interest in Dooling. They've been looking for a combo guard that can allow them to rest Jason Kidd more during the season.
Best of the rest
Player/Team Option: Bonzi Wells, SG, Grizzlies (TO); Nick Van Exel, PG, Blazers (TO)
Unrestricted: Latrell Sprewell, SG, Timberwolves; Jeff McInnis, PG, Cavs; Darius Songaila, F, Kings; Dale Davis, C, Pacers; Kerry Kittles, SG, Clippers; Robert Traylor, PF/C, Cavs; Glenn Robinson, SF, Spurs; Jahidi White, C, Bobcats; Bo Outlaw, F, Grizzlies; Ervin Johnson, C, Timberwolves; Mark Madsen, F, Timberwolves; Tyronn Lue, PG, Rockets; Darrell Armstrong, PG, Mavericks; Clifford Robinson, F, Nets; Greg Buckner, G, Nuggets
Restricted: Gerald Wallace, G/F, Bobcats; Luke Walton, F, Lakers; Jason Kapono, F, Bobcats; Willie Green, G, Sixers; Matt Bonner, F, Raptors; Steve Blake, PG, Wizards
European Free Agents: Maceo Baston, PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Anthony Parker, SG/SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Travis Hansen, SG/SF, TAU Vitoria; Nikola Vujcic, C, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Jose Manuel Calderon, PG, Tau Vitoria; Dimitris Diamantidis, PG, Panathinaikos; Dimos Dikoudis, SF, CSKA Moscow
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.