Nets unwilling to break bank for Martin

WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Kenyon Martin
Nets
Nets
Nuggets
Sixers
Hawks Jul. 6 - The price is set at $85 million over six years and Martin will begin this week to see which team will make the initial offer and if the Nets will match it. Future Nets owner Bruce Ratner has given orders to his people to make Martin their top priority but stopped short of saying that they would sign him at maximum dollars, the Bergen County Record reports. The danger for the Nets is the three teams pursuing Martin (the Nuggets, Jazz and Hawks) all have enough cap space to sign Martin without having to make any sign and trade moves with the Nets.
"Both he and his agent have stated publicly and privately they're looking for a max-out contract. That's what they're looking for and the market place will determine what it is," said Nets CEO Rod Thorn. "Then we'll go from there. Everything is speculation until you see what happens. I don't want to speculate about it. When we get it, if we get it, we'll go from there."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Manu Ginobili
Spurs
Spurs
Nuggets
Suns Jul. 6 - Less than a week into free agency, Ginobili has already visited the Nuggets and Jazz, and his agent will speak with the Hawks this week. "He wants to make up his mind," agent Herb Rudoy told the Rocky Mountain News. "He wants to get this moving."
According to the San Antonio Express News, the free agent swingman told Spur officials this weekend that he would like to remain in San Antonio if they would give him a deal making him an important part of the franchise for years to come. Ginobili's market value may come in the offer from another team.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Mehmet Okur
Pistons
Pistons
Jazz Jul. 6 - The Pistons are on the clock and have until July 24 to decide if they will match Utah's offer of $50 million over five years for Okur's services. Jazz senior vice president Kevin O'Connor and Okur's agent Marc Fleisher confirmed that both sides have come to an agreement and should the Pistons choose not to match the offer, Okur will become a member of the Jazz. The Pistons are expected to offer Rasheed Wallace a contract beginning at $10 million per season which would keep them from offering such a deal to Okur.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Adonal Foyle
Warriors
Warriors? Jul. 6 - Accordingo to The Contra Costa Times, Foyle has reached an agreement with the Warriors on a five-year deal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it is believed that Foyle will be getting a raise from the $17 million he made over the last four years. "I'm really excited," Foyle said. "I'm looking forward to great things from the Warriors in the next five years." Foyle was also being recruited by the Celtics and Magic.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Mark Blount
Celtics
Celtics
Sixers
Heat Jul. 6 - Blount lives in Florida. He plays golf in Florida. Now, the Miami Heat are hoping that he wants to play for a team from the state. "It'd be interesting," Blount said in the Palm Beach Post. "They had a good year. I'm sure I could help them and they could help me."
The Sixers have only their midlevel exception to offer Blount, but they're throwing it all at him and hoping that it is enough. Team president Billy King has already made the offer to Blount's agent Mark Bartelstein and is awaiting an answer, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. "We've been talking since the first day," Bartelstein said. "I don't think much has changed. Mark has had a good relationship with Jim O'Brien, but until both sides agree, it's irrelevant. We're talking. For now, let's leave it at that."

Blount hasn't yet opted out of his contract with the Celtics that paid him $950,000, a bargain for centers these days, but is already talking about a new lucrative deal. "It would be definitely a good team and definitely a good contract," he said. "If I can't get both we'll see what happens."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Greg Ostertag
Jazz
Jazz
Mavericks
Suns
Bucks
Raptors Jul. 5 - Often during his career with the Jazz, head coach Jerry Sloan didn't know whether to slap Ostertag or hug him. Now that the center is a free agent, things haven't changed much. "Given his druthers," Jazz owner Larry H. Miller told the Deseret News, "(Jazz coach) Jerry (Sloan) definitely would want to have Greg back." The problem stems from Sloan's love of Ostertag as a person and hate he has for him as a player. "It doesn't surprise me," Miller said, "because I think Jerry really likes Greg. And that makes Jerry's frustration all the greater. I think Jerry has a very strong affinity for Greg -- and just wishes he could transfer some of his own intensity to Greg. But he just can't do it."
As a result, the Jazz are still one of the teams pursuing the center, but at a much lower price than the $8.6 million he was making per season. "Though we've had our ups and downs, and we've knocked heads once or twice, Jerry's a great guy," Ostertag said. "Don't get me wrong. At times he didn't agree with the stuff I was doing out there, and at times I didn't agree with the stuff he was doing. But I think that's with any coach-player relationship. Outside of that, he's a great guy. That's one relationship I hope will last forever, until one of us goes on."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Avery Johnson
Warriors
Mavericks
Spurs
Hornets Jul. 5 - The desire to sign Johnson, a 39-year-old point guard, has as much to do with ability to coach in the future as it does to play in the present. Currently, the Mavs have a $1.1 million offer on the table, but Johnson is holding out for $1.6 million.
"I'm looking for an opportunity where I can be stable for the next five-to-seven years in some capacity," Johnson told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "I want to at least have the power to work with a coaching staff." The Mavs may be willing to up that offer with Steve Nash already gone and two point guards with a combined one year of experience left on the roster.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Vince Carter
Raptors
? Jul. 2 - Carter doesn't like the Raptors' new general manager (Rob Babcock). He doesn't like their lottery pick (Rafael Arajuo) and, according to ESPN's David Aldridge, wants out of the city as soon as possible. The Raptors, however, seem to be in denial, and have not granted Carter permission to seek a trade.
"I really don't know anything about that (report)," general manager Rob Babcock told the Toronto Star. "I don't know where that came from. I had a good conversation with Vince and nothing's led me to believe that's changed. Until he comes in and tells me he wants something, that's what I'm going to go on."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Steve Nash
Mavericks
Suns Jul. 2 - Nash reached a verbal agreement on Thursday to sign with the Phoenix Suns. As first reported by ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Thursday afternoon, Nash agreed to a six-year package worth more than $65 million -- with the sixth season partially guaranteed and the Suns holding a team option for the full amount in Year 6.
According to sources, the Suns' offer was nearly $20 miller richer than Dallas'. Although Mavs owner Mark Cuban did not want to lose Nash, he was reluctant to give the 30-year-old Nash more than a four-year guaranteed contract.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Marcus Camby
Nuggets
Nuggets Jul. 2 - Reports in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News indicate Camby has agreed to terms with the team on a new contract that will run either five or six years.
"I'm extremely happy that this appears to have worked out," Camby said in a statement issued by agent Rick Kaplan. "I've said all along that Denver was my first choice. And I'm glad that Kiki (Vandweghe) and (owner Stan) Kroenke were able to make it happen."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jamal Crawford
Bulls
Bulls
Knicks Jul. 2 - The Knicks may be talking the loudest about Crawford, but it's still the Bulls who can put up the most money. "We made several preliminary phone calls, and Aaron [Goodwin] was one of the first persons we contacted," general manager John Paxson told the Daily Southtown. "The first thing we have to do is figure out the landscape, so it's early in the game. But we want Jamal to know we want to keep him here. We've invested a lot of time in him."
Goodwin mentioned that the Bulls also called him prior to Chicago's selection of point guard Ben Gordon. "It was a sign of respect," said Goodwin. "They said they wanted a three-guard offense. At the end of the day, talk is cheap. We'll see if it's just grandstanding. If Chicago decides not to be a player, then the doors are open."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Ray Allen
Sonics
Sonics Jul. 2 - While there have been reports the Sonics are shopping Allen, his agent claims he is working on a contract extension with the team, and the team denies it is seeking a trade.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Quentin Richardson
Clippers
Clippers
Nuggets Jul. 2 - Richardson isn't waiting around for the Clippers to decide on Kobe Bryant. Along with best friend and former teammate Darius Miles, who is also a free agent, he visited the Nuggets after being put near the top of Denver's wish list.
"They called at 12 o'clock at night for me and my best friend," Miles said. Of course, the Nuggets are also very interested in Manu Ginobili, Kenyon Martin and others. But the prospect of being reunited with each other might persuade Richardson and Miles to sign with Denver.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Troy Hudson
Timberwolves
Raptors?
Timberwolves Jul. 2 - Raptors GM Rob Babcock contacted agent Bill Neff to express his team's interest in Hudson, and the call was well received. "Toronto is intriguing," Neff told the Toronto Star. "It's a team that could use a point guard, apparently."
The agent stopped short of committing at all to Toronto, instead mentioning that there were several other teams interested in his client and that Minnesota still wanted to retain Hudson's services. "I'm only in a hurry to get Troy the best opportunity," Neff said. "I think it's going to move at a glacial pace at first. But Toronto has a chance."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Brent Barry
Sonics
Rockets
Sonics
Nuggets Jul. 2 - Sources tell Insider the Rockets are going hard after Barry, although he has said he wants to return to the Sonics.
"I just don't know what's going on at this point," Barry told the Seattle Times earlier this week. "I'm nervous, excited and anxious at the same time. I haven't had any contact with people. Arn (Tellem) has heard some things, but officially I can really start seeing what's out there (today)."

Barry denied reports the Sonics already had offered him a three-year deal for $18 million and acknowledged that the Nuggets have been after him for a while.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Erick Dampier
Warriors
Jazz
Grizzlies
Mavericks Jul. 1 - The Grizzlies have been after Dampier for more than a year and are actively trying to recruit him now that the center is an unrestricted free agent. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports the Grizzlies are trying to put together a sign and trade package for the center since they are over the salary cap and have only their midlevel exception to offer. Dampier is looking for a multi-year deal starting at $10 million per season.
"I came and checked the team out," Dampier said. "I have a lot of friends there, and it will be close to home. Plus, I like the fact that they're an up-and-coming team. If they had a center, maybe they would have advanced in the playoffs." The Mavericks are also in pursuit of Dampier either as their center of the future or as another piece to lure Shaq away from the Lakers. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Mavs have already contacted the Warriors with three different sign and trade scenarios.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Paul Pierce
Celtics
? Jun. 29 - Pierce's name popped up in a rumor with the Bulls just days before the draft. Danny Ainge denies he's shopping Pierce, but, at the same time acknowledged that given the team's situation (a whopping five players with one or fewer years of experience) he has to listen to offers. Expect them to come for Pierce in bunches. With Ricky Davis, Jiri Welsch and draft-pick Tony Allen in the backcourt, perhaps Ainge feels he can move Pierce if someone is willing to give up a big in return.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jason Kidd
Nets
? Jun. 29 - Rod Thorn denies they're shopping Kidd or anyone else, despite persistent rumors that new owner Bruce Ratner has asked him to slash payroll. "We'd like to have a team that's not a (luxury) tax payer," Thorn said in a statement Monday. "We'll work to get in that direction over the course of time. It's not something that's necessarily going to have to be done this year."
However, the Nets, who had one of the highest payrolls in the league last year ($61.3 million), know it will be impossible to keep that goal if they re-sign Kenyon Martin in free agency this summer and Richard Jefferson to an extension in the fall.

Kidd, Martin and Jefferson, combined with Alonzo Mourning's long-term deal, likely would put the Nets over the cap. Moving Kidd may be the only way to keep the rest of the young core intact. They won't give him away, but if they can find a veteran team for which Kidd would be willing to play -- and that would be willing to give up a young point guard -- they may have to pull the trigger.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Eddy Curry
Bulls
? Jun. 30 - If Bulls general manager John Paxson has said it once, he's said it a million times. "There is no truth to those rumors whatsoever," Paxson said of Curry being on the trading block in the Chicago Sun Times. "That's a bunch of nonsense. I've always said that we want to improve our team and we're doing that, and we always listen when people have something to say. We have received offers for Curry, [Tyson] Chandler and Jamal [Crawford]. But we have received nothing worth paying much attention to.
"We have no intention of trading them and we are not shopping them. In fact, since the draft I have not received one phone call from any general managers about any of our players. If somebody wanted to acquire Curry, they would have to make an offer that makes total sense because there aren't that many guys coming along with his size and his skill level. If we got to the point where we felt he couldn't become the kind of center we feel he can become, we would be interested in trading him. But we haven't gotten anywhere even close to that."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Peja Stojakovic
Kings
? Jun. 29 - The team would prefer to move Chris Webber, but given his injury history and bad knees, that seems impossible. Bad blood was created in Sacramento at the end of the postseason when Webber singled out Stojakovic for a poor postseason performance. Reports out of L.A. indicate the Kings have offered Stojakovic in a package to the Lakers for Shaq. If he's really available, they'll get a flood of offers.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Shawn Marion
Suns
? Jun. 29 - The Suns were willing to include Marion in a deal for Tracy McGrady and now will look for other places Marion might fit. It sounds like the team is targeting its backcourt this summer and would like to move Joe Johnson to the three. Getting Marion's big contract off the books gives them a lot more flexibility to go after other pieces. While most teams believe he's overpaid, there's no doubt it's hard to find a small forward capable of averaging 20 and 10 on a nightly basis.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Blazers
Nets
Sonics
Jazz? Jun. 29 - There's a huge logjam in Portland right now, and Abdur-Rahim looks like the odd guy out. The Blazers and Nets seriously discussed an Abdur-Rahim-for-Kerry Kittles swap before the draft, and indications are they're still talking. The Sonics also have shown a lot of interest, and the Jazz could be in the mix here, as well.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Wally Szczerbiak
Wolves
Cavs?
Bulls? Jun. 29 - Wally was the odd man out of the Wolves' starting five once the team traded for Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell. The Wolves are open to moving him once his base-year status expires Wednesday. The Cavs and Bulls have shown a lot of interest in Wally in the past.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jason Richardson
Warriors
Bulls? Jun. 29 - It became clear toward the end of last season that Mickael Pietrus, not Richardson, was the real two guard of the future for the Warriors. Richardson is coming off a great year in Golden State and should be able to fetch some value in return. This is another place the Bulls might want to look if they're still willing to trade Tyson Chandler.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jason Terry
Hawks
? Jun. 29 - The team is rebuilding, and Terry wants out. The Hawks will have a number of suitors and urgently need to address some huge holes in their frontcourt. They can't move Terry without his permission until Sept. 25, but expect him to agree to almost anything at this point.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Al Harrington
Pacers
Cavaliers?
Bulls?
Knicks? Jun. 29 - Harrington asked for a trade at the end of the season. He's sick of coming off the bench and wants to take a bigger role on a lesser team. Larry Bird is willing to move him but has been careful to keep his options open. He wants to add some firepower in the backcourt or another big man to patrol the middle, and he needs Harrington as bait. If offers for T-Mac and Shaq fall through, a Harrington-for-Terry swap makes a lot of sense for both teams. Chicago, New York and Cleveland were said to be interested before the draft.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Caron Butler
Heat
? Jun. 29 - The Heat deny they're trying to trade Butler, but the word from several GMs is Miami is using him as bait, hoping a team will agree to also take Eddie Jones for either a serviceable five or a veteran point guard. The Heat won't just give Butler away, but the truth is they're really set at both the two and the three with Dwyane Wade and Lamar Odom. Sooner or later, they've got to address their other areas.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Matt Harpring
Jazz
? Jun. 29 - The Jazz know they aren't going to be totally successful obtaining everything they need in free agency and will have to use trade bait to get the rest. Harpring was great for them two years ago and was solid again last season before getting injured. But the team is loaded with swingmen and desperately needs help up front. If Harpring can buy them a player like that, he could be gone.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Antoine Walker
Mavericks
? Jun. 29 - Remember two years ago when everyone began believing Walker actually was an asset? My, how times have changed. The only thing propping up his trade value these days is that he's in the last year of his contract. The Mavs want to move him in return for a big man. Will anyone bite?


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Tyson Chandler
Bulls
Grizzlies? Jun. 29 - It sounds like Bulls GM John Paxson is going to break up the Baby Bulls, and our money is on Chandler to get the boot. Eddy Curry, because he plays center and can score with his back to the basket, is too rare a commodity. While Chandler's value may not be as high as it once was, he still has enough juice to bring a seasoned four in return. Wouldn't a Chandler-for-Stromile Swift deal work for both the Grizzlies and the Bulls? We're pretty sure Swift would agree to the sign-and-trade.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Shaquille O'Neal
Lakers
Mavericks
Pacers?
Grizzlies?
Blazers? Jun. 28 - The Lakers have been holding out hope O'Neal would change his mind about wanting to be traded, but Sunday he reiterated his desire to leave L.A., even going so far as to put his Beverly Hills home on the market for $7.5 million, according to the L.A. Times.
The Mavericks are considered to be the front-runner to deal for Shaq, but they are reluctant to part with Dirk Nowitzki, a condition L.A. has said is non-negotiable. Dallas reportedly is trying to interest the Lakers in a package headlined by Steve Nash. The Pacers, Grizzlies and Blazers are also possible trading partners for L.A., but a trade with Dallas makes the most sense by far.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Rasheed Wallace
Pistons
Pistons
Knicks?
Sixers? Jun. 28 - After the Pistons won the NBA title, everyone assumed Wallace would re-up there. They can offer him more money than anyone else, and he seems like a perfect fit in Detroit. However, he has taken the stance that the money doesn't matter and wants to find a place where his family is most comfortable.
The Pistons are still the heavy favorites to re-sign him, but two teams -- the Sixers and Knicks -- could be in the mix. Wallace grew up in Philly and has always wanted to play there. He has made his desire to play in New York clear for the past year. However, if he plays for either team, it would have to be via a sign-and-trade deal, or else he would have to take a pay cut and play for the mid-level exception (starting salary of about $5 million).



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Derek Fisher
Lakers
? Jun. 24 - Fisher officially opted out of his contract with the Lakers with the intent of re-signing with the team on two conditions. First, he wants a shot at the starting point guard position. Second, he wants a nice raise from the $3 million he was making per season.
"You only get so many opportunities to be a free agent in your career," his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said n the Los Angeles Times, "especially when you're in the prime of your career. ? It doesn't mean by any stretch he wants to leave the Lakers." One problem for his return could be the fact that incumbent starter Gary Payton has already opted to remain with the Lakers next season.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Karl Malone
Lakers
Retirement? Jun. 23 - Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson, who covered Malone in Utah for more than a decade, is saying that barring a miracle, Malone will retire having never won an NBA title. Malone opted out of his deal with the Lakers recently and said he would return only if his knee heeled 100 percent, which seems unlikely at his advanced age. Monson quotes an unnamed source saying that there is a "70-30 that things will stay that way" and that it would take a "complete 360" to change his mind.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Allen Iverson
76ers
Raptors? Jun. 22 - The rumor that had Allen Iverson trading places with Vince Carter appears to be just that. Both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Toronto Star are running stories stating that both franchises are not on the verge of making the deal happen. The rumor is said to have begun on a radio show in Philly and that show is now stating that they were only speaking in terms of speculation.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Kobe Bryant
Lakers
Lakers
Suns
Clippers
Spurs Jun. 21 - Kobe has opted out of his deal and likely will take his time deciding where he wants to play next year. Sources close to Bryant told Insider over the weekend that his first choice still is to remain a Laker. The same sources contend Bryant had little to do with the Lakers' break-up. With at least one championship contender, the Spurs, clearing enough cap room to make a run Kobe, the Lakers will have serious competition for his services.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Ron Artest
Pacers
Magic
Grizzlies Jun. 21 - The volatile Artest, this season's Defensive Player of the Year, decided to skip the Pacers' mandatory exit interview at the end of the season, stating only: "There was nothing to talk about. We lost." Rumors have spread that he could be part of a package put together by Indiana and sent to Orlando for Tracy McGrady. But Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh seemed to quell that thought by saying to the Orlando Sentinel: "If there's going to be interest in doing a deal with us, [Magic GM John Weisbrod] is going to get back to me. He hasn't done that. I don't know where it stands."
Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune writes that there may be another possibility and Artest may be headed to the Grizzlies, but doesn't give any other details beyond that.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Bruce Bowen
Spurs
Spurs Jun. 14 - Bowen has become one of the best defenders in the NBA and maybe too good for the Spurs. This weekend, the swingman who was named to the NBA's All Defensive team opted out of his contract that would have paid him $4 million next season.
"After the season Bruce had and the great recognition he received for being first-team All-Defense, this is probably a nice opportunity for him," general manager R.C. Buford said in the San Antonio Express News. The move makes Bowen an unrestricted free agent and gives the Spurs additional cap space approaching one maximum level deal many believe they will offer Kobe Bryant.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Grant Hill
Magic
? Jun. 10 - Believe it or not, there are teams out there who want Hill. Or, rather, the cap space Hill can potentially create. "I've had four or five teams call about Grant," Magic general manager John Weisbrod said in the Orlando Sentinel. "It's a little surprising."
Of course, the acquiring team would still be on the hook for the remaining $47 million in salary, but it would come off the books if Hill reinjures himself and is forced to retire. The risk, though, is that Hill would refuse to quit and the team would be stuck with him and his contract. "It excites me that teams still want me and are willing to take a risk," Hill said, missing the point. "The bottom line is that I want to play and I want to play here."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Alonzo Mourning
Nets
Nets Jun. 8 - The Nets hope Mourning comes back. Jason Kidd said he expects Alonzo to come back. But someone, obviously, forgot to check with Morning. "Barring a miracle, no, that is not my intention," said Mourning in the Bergen Country Record.
"My intention right now is to continue to focus on making sure that this new organ that I have in me stays in me. I don't want to go through that procedure again."

Mourning is still recovering from kidney surgery, though he has made constant appearances behind the Nets' bench. "As far as the possibility of me playing again, that is something that yes, being around the game, obviously I think about," he said. "But it is not an issue. The important issue is making sure that my body keeps its kidney."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Vlade Divac
Kings
Kings
? Jun. 4 - Vlade Divac may be a free agent, but he's still a King at heart. "The Kings are my first option," said Divac in the Sacramento Bee. "I feel like a King. I came here six years ago because I believe in Geoff (Petrie) and the things we can do. It would have to be perfect situation for me to leave."
Recently, Divac has considered teams like the Clippers and Lakers (where he started his career) and even retirement. But with the Kings' future in flux, he seems to want to stick around and see it through. "I think we have the best team in the league," he said. "It just has to click together. What really ticks me off is that I saw great talent, I saw opportunity, and we didn't capitalize. I don't know why it happened."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Kurt Thomas
Knicks
? Jun. 3 - Knicks head coach Lenny Wilkins mentioned the need for a stronger, bigger power forward, which immediately started speculation that the Knicks might use veteran Kurt Thomas as trade bait despite the fact that he had just signed a four-year extension worth about $30 million. The New York Daily News reports that any deal would have to include a 20 percent trade kicker that might scare off any potential suitors for Thomas. Besides, he is already the team's leading rebounder, second in blocked shots and, "I think everybody saw I could play with the injury," he said. "I don't think that will be a factor or anything."