Slim pickings for teams wanting to change
By Chad Ford
Well it's here. Finally. Sort of. At least we think it is.
First the player movement moratorium (when free agents are free to actually sign deals) was supposed to be July 14. Then it was pushed back to July 22. Then to July 28. Then indefinitely.
Now the word around the league is that the moment of truth has finally arrived. Free agents will be free to sign Tuesday. In theory, at least.
That's great news for the 37 free agents who have already come to terms with teams. It's also fantastic for teams like the Nets, Rockets, Cavs and Lakers who have scored significant offseason additions this summer.
But it's bad news for several teams that still have significant cap room to spend this summer. With a projected $49.5 million cap, the Hawks ($23.5 million), Bobcats ($18 million), Hornets ($11 million), Clippers ($10 million), and Sonics ($10 million) still have money under the cap to burn.
Thirteen other teams -- the Bulls, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Lakers, Grizzlies, Heat, Timberwolves, Sixers, Kings, Raptors and Jazz -- still have their full $5 million midlevel exceptions available. And a number of other teams still have partial mid-level exceptions available.
Another 13 teams -- the Bulls, Nuggets, Rockets, Pacers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Raptors, Jazz and Wizards -- can still use their $1.7 million exception.
In other words, there's a lot of free-agent money left to be had, but not a lot of free agents worth spending it on.
The Hawks are expected to use a big chunk of their cap room on Joe Johnson. However, if the Suns match the offer, they could be shut out for the second straight year. Other bad teams like the Hornets, Bobcats, Jazz and Blazers also have little to show this summer.
Still hoping that your team will make a major addition before the season starts?
Here's a look at who's out there on the free-agent and trade markets.
VIA FREE AGENCY
Tyson Chandler, PF/C, Bulls
Chandler should have an offer by now. He's got the same upside as Samuel Dalembert, and is younger and 3 inches taller. The Hawks or Hornets should take the gamble. What do they have to lose? As it stands, the Bulls are willing to give him Dalembert-type money to stay. He wants more. He probably won't get it unless he gets an offer sheet somewhere else. Of course, if he does, the word inside the Bulls' offices is that they'll match anyway.
Eddy Curry, C, Bulls
Having one bad heart is tough enough. But two? Curry's medical tests (and his uninsurable contract) aren't the only things scaring teams off. Teams worry whether he'll get in great shape or work hard once he has a fat, long-term contract in his hands. Hawks GM Billy Knight might gamble if he can't find anyone else to take his money, but right now it looks like he's the only one. Look for the Bulls to either re-sign Curry at a bargain price or for him to take the one-year tender and become an unrestricted free agent next year.
Antoine Walker, F, Celtics
It looks like the Celtics aren't going to make a strong bid to re-sign Walker -- despite the euphoria he created in his return to Boston. He's had a number of teams interested in signing him with their mid-level exceptions, but Walker wants more. The Heat, Kings and Sixers all have interest, but so far none of them has put together a sign-and-trade package that Danny Ainge is willing to swallow. Walker was in Miami Thursday, so things may be heating up there.
Marko Jaric, PG, Clippers
GMs love big point guards, and Jaric, who stands 6-foot-7, is as big as they come. When Jaric was healthy last season, he was pretty good. He started the season averaging 12.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game, while shooting 44 percent on 3s. He ended the season with similar numbers. In between, injuries slowed him down to a crawl. If he can stay healthy, he could be a real steal in the free-agent market. But he's going to have to work out a sign-and-trade to get out of L.A. The Nuggets, Cavs and Timberwolves have shown the most interest. Can anyone make a deal with the Clippers?
Vladimir Radmanovic, F, Sonics
Radmanovic is a 6-10 athletic forward who can run the floor and stroke it from 3. He was the leading contender to win the Sixth Man Award before breaking his leg and missing the last six weeks of the season. He was a critical component in the Sonics' unexpected run this year, and has a lot of fans around the league. So why can't he get any love? Radmanovic wants starter's money (a starting salary at $8 million-$9 million per year) and a starting role in Seattle. That's too much for them (or anyone else right now) to swallow. An up-tempo team that gets up and down the floor could be a great fit for him.
Earl Watson, PG, Grizzlies
Watson isn't a big name, but his numbers were pretty close to Jason Williams' in every category but the scoring department last season. He pushes the ball up the floor, plays great defense and plays a little bigger than he looks. He's ideally suited as a top-notch backup, but on a team like the Knicks, who will now be looking for a point guard who "plays the right way," he could be a fit. Then again, if the Grizzlies find a way to trade Williams, look for Watson to end up right back in Memphis.
Gary Payton, PG, Celtics
Payton is no longer a superstar, but people forget that Payton averaged 6.1 assists per game for the Celtics last season and shot 46 percent from the field. Given the dearth of point guards out there and the money they're making, that's not too shabby. The Lakers are a possible destination, though his first go-around with Phil Jackson was a little shaky. A better destination? Seattle. The team needs someone to back up Luke Ridnour. But more importantly, they need the sense of identity they've lacked since Payton was running the show.
Latrell Sprewell, SG, Timberwolves
Maybe Latrell's going to have a problem feeding his family after all. After turning down a three-year, $21 million dollar extension offer with the Wolves last fall, Spree is finding out the market isn't as hot as he thought it would be for a soon-to-be 35-year-old shooting guard with pigtails. Still, who can deny that Spree still has some juice left in the tank. He finished strong, scoring 14.3 points per game and shooting 44 percent from the arc in April. He's no longer a go-to guy, but he still can be a lethal option off the bench.
Damon Stoudamire, PG, Blazers
Stoudamire has been flirting with both the Rockets and the Cavs, but hasn't been able to get a deal done. The latest looks like he's leaning toward signing a deal with the Grizzlies.
Jason Williams, PG, Grizzlies
The word from a source inside the Grizzlies is that Williams has a number of suitors -- including the Celtics, Heat and Knicks. With Larry Brown taking over in New York, you can scratch the Knicks from the list. The Celtics need a point guard who can push the ball. Williams will deliver that along with a lot of attitude and some volatile chemistry. A deal of Mark Blount and Marcus Banks for Williams works under the cap. The Heat offer wouldn't be as lucrative for the Grizzlies. To make a deal work, Memphis would have to send Williams and Lorenzen Wright (also on the block) for Eddie Jones. Yikes.
Jamal Crawford, G, Knicks
We know that with Brown running the show in New York things are going to have to change. Stephon Marbury is the obvious choice, but he won't be the first to go. Brown will try to move him to the two and prove to the world that he can make Marbury a winner. Crawford, he has very little use for. He's a skinny, no defense, jump-shooting guard with a selfish streak. Don't be surprised if he ends up in Cleveland or Portland.
Jamaal Magloire, C, Hornets
The one legit center on the market should be getting more suitors. The Hornets are resigned to move him and thought they had a deal done with the Raptors before the draft. The trick is getting another center (preferably one who wants to play in New Orleans) or an All-Star caliber player in return. The Hawks, Lakers, Nuggets, Pacers, Grizzlies and Raptors have shown the most interest.
Nene, PF, Nuggets
The Nuggets won't give Nene away. However, if they could land a top-flight two guard and a reliable backup center that could play heavy minutes whenever Marcus Camby goes down, they might be open to it. A trade for Desmond Mason, coupled with the signing of a free-agent center like Zaza Pachulia might do the trick.
Al Harrington, F, Hawks
With Marvin Williams and Josh Smith both playing the same position, it makes sense for the Hawks to shop Harrington. With that said, the rumor the Pistons offered Darko Milicic for Harrington was greatly exaggerated according to sources on both teams.
Wally Szczerbiak and Sam Cassell, Timberwolves
The Wolves have to do something and it centers around finding new homes for Cassell and possibly Szczerbiak. They've tried to use both as trade bait with the Clippers for Jaric, but the Clippers aren't biting. There was also talk earlier in the summer of a Cassell for Jason Williams swap, but that too has fallen apart.
Drew Gooden, F, Cavs
Now that the Cavs have Donyell Marshall (along with second-year power forward Anderson Varejao), the need to keep Gooden has lessened. For a guy that put up pretty impressive numbers, especially on the boards, his stock is pretty low. Scouts say that a lack of basketball IQ and off-the-court issues are scaring teams away. Still, for a young team in need of a rebounder, Gooden could be a big bargain.
Michael Finley, G, Mavs
The Mavs have a problem. Now that word is out that Finley's on the Mavs' amnesty list, teams are no longer willing to trade an asset to get him. They'd much prefer not to swallow the $51 million left on his contract and get him for the veteran's minimum. The Mavs can talk all they want about trading him, but unless they take back an awful contract in return, it doesn't look like it will happen.
Free Agents Off the Market
Ray Allen, Sonics (5 years, $80-85 million)
Michael Redd, Bucks (6 years, $85-90 million)
Larry Hughes, Cavs (5 years, $60-65 million)
Samuel Dalembert, Sixers (6 years, $60-70 million)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavs (5 years, $55-60 million)
Bobby Simmons, Bucks (5 years, $47 million)
Cuttino Mobley, Clippers (5 years, $42 million)
Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Nets (6 years, $37-38 million)
Udonis Haslem, Heat (5 years, $30-32 million)
Dan Gadzuric, Bucks (6 years, $36 million)
Stromile Swift, Rockets (5 years, $28-29 million)
Antonio Daniels, Wizards (5 years, $28-29 million)
Jerome James, Knicks (5 years, $28-29 million)
Kyle Korver, Sixers (6 years, $25-27 million)
Kwame Brown, Lakers (3 years, $22-24 million)
Donyell Marshall, Cavs (4 years, $20-21 million)
Raja Bell, Suns (5 years, $20-25 million)
Willie Green, Sixers (6 years, $19-20 million)
Brian Scalabrine, Celtics (5 years, $15 million)
Sarunas Jasikevicius, Pacers (3 years, $12 million)
Keyon Dooling, Magic (3 years, $10 million)
Fabricio Oberto, Spurs (3 years, $7.5-9 million)
Jeff McInnis, Nets (2 years, $7 million)
Juan Dixon, Blazers (3 years, $8 million)
Mark Madsen, Timberwolves (5 years, salary undisclosed)
Arvydas Macijauskas, Hornets (3 years, salary undisclosed)
Robert Horry, Spurs (3 years, salary undisclosed)
Clifford Robinson, Nets (terms undisclosed)
Luke Walton, Lakers (terms undisclosed
Chris Andersen, Hornets (terms undisclosed)
Bostjan Nachbar, Hornets (terms undisclosed)
Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Timberwolves (terms undisclosed)
LaRon Profit, Traded to Lakers (3 years, $2.7-2.8 million -- only the first year is guaranteed)
Eddie Basden, Bulls (partially guaranteed multi-year contract)
Lucas Tischer, Suns (1 year plus team option, $1.1 million -- first year is partially guaranteed)
Matt Walsh, Heat (2 years, $1.1 million -- first year is partially guaranteed)
Dwayne Jones, Timberwolves (2 years, $1.1 million)
Players Traded this Summer
Chucky Atkins, Wizards
Curtis Borchardt, Grizzlies
Caron Butler, Wizards
Bobby Jackson, Grizzlies
Raul Lopez, Grizzlies
Greg Ostertag, Jazz
Quentin Richardson, Knicks
Kirk Snyder, Grizzlies
Kurt Thomas, Suns
Jake Voskuhl, Bobcats
Bonzi Wells, Kings