Moratorium likely will last until Monday or Tuesday

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NBA pushed back the free agency signing date again Monday, forcing dozens of players to wait another several days before they can begin signing contracts.

The moratorium on signings was supposed to end Thursday at 6 p.m., but now will likely last until Monday or Tuesday.

"The NBA is continuing to make progress with the players' association toward finalizing the collective bargaining agreement, and both sides are optimistic that the agreement will be signed by the end of the week," league spokesman Tim Frank said. "Once the agreement is completed, the league and the union will take 48-72 hours to educate teams and players as to the details of the agreement, after which player signings will begin."

Originally, the moratorium was due to expire last Friday. It was delayed to allow attorneys for the league and union to finish drafting a written version of the new six-year collective bargaining agreement.

Teams have been negotiating with free agents throughout July, and many of the most prominent players have already reached tentative agreements on new contracts.

Among those still on the market are Miami guard Damon Jones, Los Angeles Clippers guard Marko Jaric, Portland guard Damon Stoudamire, Minnesota's Latrell Sprewell and Atlanta's Tyronn Lue.

Among players planning to change teams, guard Larry Hughes is moving from Washington to Cleveland, forward Donyell Marshall from Toronto to the Cavs, center Jerome James from the SuperSonics to the Knicks, guard Antonio Daniels from Seattle to Washington, forward Stromile Swift from Memphis to Houston, swingman Bobby Simmons from the Clippers to the Bucks and guard Keyon Dooling from Miami to Orlando.

Also, former overall No. 1 draft pick Kwame Brown will be dealt from Washington to the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal for Caron Butler, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim will go from Portland to New Jersey in another sign-and-trade.

Two of the teams with the most available salary cap space, Atlanta and New Orleans, have been unable to secure any prized free agents. The Hawks have reportedly made a $70 million, five-year offer to the Suns' Joe Johnson, which Phoenix would be able to match.

Under one provision of the new collective bargaining agreement, teams will have a one-time chance ending in October to waive a player under contract and be relieved of any luxury tax liability for that player. Waiving Michael Finley could save Dallas at least $51 million in luxury tax payments, and the Mavs would be barred from re-signing him until his contract expires after the 2007-08 season.

The New York Knicks are considering using the so-called "amnesty clause" to rid themselves of injury-plagued guard Allan Houston, who is due to earn about $40 million -- which would be subject to the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax -- over the next two seasons, and there has been speculation that the Lakers might do the same with Brian Grant, who is owed nearly $30 million over the next two seasons.