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Thread: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

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    Default Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insid...tTrends-090706

    David Lee is better than Jason Kidd, but you'd never know it from their contract talks this summer. Despite averaging a double-double while shooting 54.9 percent from the floor, Lee ultimately may be forced to take a qualifying offer to play for barely more than the biannual exception.
    On the other hand, Kidd turned down a hefty offer from Lee's current employer because he got a better one from Dallas, one that would pay him about 12 times as much as Lee's qualifying offer -- which is still the only concrete one Lee is known to have received.

    Those two examples sum up everything you need to know about the NBA free-agent market, illustrating the three defining trends of this offseason:

    1. Rumors of tightening wallets around the league have been greatly exaggerated.
    2. Contending teams in particular are locked in a massive arms race.
    3. Despite all of this, restricted free agents still can't get squat.

    Let's start at the top, because NBA owners are a funny lot.
    All through the season they pleaded poverty and talked gloom and doom about the tight wallets in the upcoming offseason. Then the offseason came, and they started spending like drunken sailors on whatever wares Charlie Villanueva or Hedo Turkoglu flaunted in the window.
    Of all summers, this was supposed to be the one in which teams began holding the line financially. Faced with declining attendance numbers and a recession so steep that it might produce the unprecedented result of a $6 million decline in the salary cap a year from now, we were warned that a looming financial Armageddon would restrict free agency to a shadow of its former self.

    Guess again. Already, moves by San Antonio, Washington, Orlando and Houston -- none of which have been huge spenders in the past -- have put them over the luxury tax for the coming season, though the Rockets may still be able to work their way under. Meanwhile, maneuvers by Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, New York and the Lakers figure to keep them well over the line, too, and it's possible the Nuggets and Heat will be joining them.
    On the other side of the coin, the only team that seems to be actively cutting salary is Milwaukee, which traded Richard Jefferson for spare parts and didn't make a qualifying offer to Villanueva. Phoenix, Utah and New Orleans could be in the same boat by the end of the summer, but at the moment those three teams also project to be well over the tax line for the coming season.

    Put it all together, and Billy Hunter has to be doing a jig right now. It's hard for the league to plead poverty when potentially 14 of its 30 teams will be going over the luxury tax threshold, giving the Players Association some much-needed ammunition heading into the next collective bargaining negotiation -- one that should begin in earnest in the coming months, since the current CBA expires in 2011. (The league has an option to extend it a year but seems likely to decline.)

    The spending stands out so much because this was supposed to be the year when teams would hold back. Given that only one current free agent played in either of the past two All-Star Games, and even that one player (Allen Iverson) comes with a massive asterisk since he was voted in by fans, this hardly seemed like the summer for a big spending spree -- especially given the potentially star-studded free-agent class available in 2010.

    Instead, teams are falling over each other to give A-list contracts to B-list players. Ben Gordon, Villanueva, Turkoglu and Kidd all agreed to deals for more than the midlevel exception. Even players with less extensive résumés (Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat) or more character flaws (Ron Artest, Rasheed Wallace) have been able to cash in for the full midlevel exception.
    Which takes us to our second trend, because it's the contending teams that have been driving the bus on a lot of the spending we've seen. Sure, Detroit and Toronto have taken the lead in pursuing unrestricted free agents, but dig deeper into the trade and free-agent activity, and it's the prime contenders from last season that have done the most to add payroll.
    The Spurs got it rolling by adding Jefferson in a move that put them over the luxury tax for the first time in eons, and things quickly escalated from there. The Cavs and Magic almost immediately followed with deals for Shaquille O'Neal and Vince Carter, respectively, and going into the luxury tax didn't slow their momentum one iota, either. San Antonio and Orlando both pursued Wallace, and the Cavs made a strong push for Artest; each has moved on to other targets with their midlevel exceptions.

    Another team that was already looking at paying the tax -- Boston -- won the sweepstakes for Wallace, pushing the Celtics far beyond the mark even before the possibility of re-signing restricted free agent Glen Davis. As for the defending champion Lakers, they've been one of the few beacons of fiscal sanity this summer, cutting extraneous salary at the end of last season and using their midlevel exception on Artest -- but only after waving goodbye to Ariza. Alas, even they are going to be well over the tax thanks to Andrew Bynum's extension kicking in.

    With the main players raising the ante so quickly, teams on the fringe of contention feel the need to splurge just to have a shot at contending. Detroit threw nearly $100 million at Gordon and Villanueva in hopes of regaining its perch at the top of the East, while Dallas made a similar push out West by offering a full midlevel deal to Gortat (he's expected to sign an offer sheet July 8) and re-signing Kidd to a $25 million deal. Even 19-win Washington got in the game, feeling it could threaten the East's elite with a couple of more pieces and going deep into the tax to add Mike Miller and Randy Foye.

    Of the main contenders, only Denver has been quiet thus far -- but like all the others, the Nuggets are already in tax territory and will likely go deeper if they re-sign big man Chris Andersen and use some of their midlevel exception. (Grant Hill and Channing Frye have already come up as targets.)

    Which takes us to trend No. 3. Because as much as teams are spending in pursuit of unrestricted free agents, it stands in sharp contrast to those of the restricted free agents on the market. Gortat struck a deal for an offer sheet from Dallas, but desirable commodities like Lee, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams, Josh Childress, Ramon Sessions and Nate Robinson have barely gotten a sniff.

    Moreover, the market for those players to get anything above the midlevel exception is basically gone. Unless they can persuade one of the above teams to join in the bidding, somebody like Lee or Millsap could end up settling for the midlevel exception or playing on a one-year deal for a scandalously low qualifying offer -- $1.03 million for Millsap, $2.68 million for Lee.

    It doesn't get better for the others. Childress will likely have to head back to Greece if he can't work out a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee (it's possible, as a contract starting at $5.1 million in a sign-and-trade for Bruce Bowen and a draft pick works under the cap; the total value of a five-year deal with 10 percent raises would be $30.6 million), while Williams seems likely to play for the $7.3 million qualifier in Atlanta and try again a year from now. Robinson will likely have to leave New York and play for the midlevel exception somewhere, unless he gambles on playing for the $2.9 million qualifier and doing better next summer.

    In turn, this has to be chilling news if you're Rajon Rondo, Luis Scola, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andrea Bargnani, Ronnie Brewer or Foye, all of whom will be restricted free agents next summer if they don't sign extensions by opening day. (Brandon Roy, who is all but certain to get a maximum extension, needn't worry.) The restricted free agents in the class of '09 couldn't get a sniff of big money even in a very underwhelming free-agent market; what can they possibly expect a year from now when the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki and Amare Stoudemire could be available unrestricted?

    On the other hand, the unrestricted free agents could once again make out like bandits -- perhaps providing a carrot for the likes of Lee, Millsap and Williams to take the qualifier and play for a below-market-value price this season in hopes of recouping the difference next summer.

    One thing is for certain: The spending spree of the past five days won't do the owners any favors in the next collective bargaining agreement. But with the remaining cap space essentially dried up and several productive restricted free agents still on the market, the rest of the summer could play out quite differently.
    A "perfect storm" for players like Jack and Mac to lose much of their negotiating power:

    1) extremely poor RFA market thus far
    2) an unbelievably poor set of circumstances next year for all free agents (market saturated with stars, further drop of the salary cap)

    These circumstances would push Jack and Mac towards 3 year deals at the best salary they can get (market rate), which based on the likely signing of Bibby to MLE-level, and some of the other examples, is 3-4 for Jack and 1-1.5 for Mac.

    A really positive outcome if it evolves like this for the Pacers. Wouldn't that still provide enough to sign Dahntay Jones?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Bird is looking like a genius. Imagine if we wait this out until August and end up with the likes of David Lee or Paul Millsap for the MLE (if neither team wants to match, of course). The chances of these things occurring are remote at best, of course, but it gets even pessimistic me excited.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rexnom View Post
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    Bird is looking like a genius. Imagine if we wait this out until August and end up with the likes of David Lee or Paul Millsap for the MLE (if neither team wants to match, of course). The chances of these things occurring are remote at best, of course, but it gets even pessimistic me excited.
    Well, yes and no. Financially, we may be reasonably well positioned, but in terms of supply & demand, I don't see Lee or Millsap improving on our current PF supply ... unless we can trade our $11 mil Murphy, of course. Adding Childress (or even Grant Hill as a short-term fix) as another wing would be wonderful, talent-wise, but I don't see us spending $5+ mil for anyone who doesn't address our biggest long-term need: an upgrade at starter talent, meaning PG & PF/C.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    seriously I do not think giving a player the MLE is in the best interests of the Pacers. Maybe next year. But not the full this year. Remeber if we are over the tax threshold, we pay double. So signing a player at 5m is like spending 10m on them.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rexnom View Post
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    Bird is looking like a genius. Imagine if we wait this out until August and end up with the likes of David Lee or Paul Millsap for the MLE (if neither team wants to match, of course). The chances of these things occurring are remote at best, of course, but it gets even pessimistic me excited.
    We'll match Lee at the MLE - Walsh will dance to the bank on that one. I'm sure he's settled on a number for Lee and I'm sure it's over the MLE. If we can get him back for that, it'll be time to party.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    I could go for Lee. He can play center verses most rosters.

    Lee/Hibbert/Foster
    Murphy/Hansbrough/McRoberts

    Looks like we would need to trade Murphy or Foster to make sense of it.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrFife View Post
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    Well, yes and no. Financially, we may be reasonably well positioned, but in terms of supply & demand, I don't see Lee or Millsap improving on our current PF supply ... unless we can trade our $11 mil Murphy, of course. Adding Childress (or even Grant Hill as a short-term fix) as another wing would be wonderful, talent-wise, but I don't see us spending $5+ mil for anyone who doesn't address our biggest long-term need: an upgrade at starter talent, meaning PG & PF/C.
    You really don't think Milsap or Lee are an improvement over Murphy?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    With respect to this article, obviously the teams that feel that they are in position to contend and are already near or over the cap are going to spend more to improve themselves, and have gone after the best free agents available for each team's purposes. Most are in markets that have not imploded due to these teams being highly competitive already, and they don't want to lose that for fear they end up facing the horrendous position of not even being able to give tickets away due to fans not wanting to spend what money they have on what they perceive being a lesser quality team.

    Others, notably Detroit, have filled a good portion of their needs by allowing their expirings to just leave and quickly moving to fill their needs with the free agents that they feel will best fit their needs going forward with money they had under the cap. These teams also don't want to fall into the abyss of having very few ticket sales without massive discounting due to their fans having the perception that they can't provide a competitive team starting this year.

    In fact, I believe that this is an easily defensible position in the upcoming negotiations between the owners and players association. A few teams that are rich are getting richer. A few more that are on the bubble are spending what they have in an effort to hold their positions.

    This will settle out pretty soon, and the remaining players and franchises that are not able to hook up with anybody early will simply wait, with the deepest remaining pockets picking up previously highly overvalued players for closer to their actual market value, and giving an opportunity to certain guys to corner their respective markets due to a perceived need for franchises to at least do SOMETHING to placate their fans and not allow themselves to fall towards poor attendance.

    Our question is, will Jack be a player who ends up cornering his market, or will he end up marginalized due to other teams recognizing that our offensive system leads to skewed statistics due to an exceptionally fast pace?

    I hope we luck out on Jack and are able to keep him for a cheap price, but I doubt that occurs. I also think we will be stuck with TJ due to his not having much trade value under this scenario.

    Murphy would be more tradeable, and will not have a higher value than he does now, unless his value is also diminished due to other teams recognizing that our offensive system provides him with far more boards than he would get elsewhere due to our pace of play and the difficulties faced by our opponents in getting to rebounding positions that they normally would due to the fast pace leading to more mental mistakes and fatigue.

    As far as next summer goes, there will only be so many free agents who are truly coveted. Franchises will recognize this and spend some of next year's money this year if the opportunities present themselves. Players may also want to potentially lock in early with contracts where they are just in case the cap reduces significantly next year, making it even more difficult for them to "test the market" next summer.

    I am not certain that this bodes well for the Pacers, especially if the Simon's either aren't able to spend due to financial issues that they face in the real world, or simply don't want to spend due to the fans not even truly coming back in huge numbers with exceptionally discounted tickets this past season unless it was to see the elite teams with elite players come to Conseco.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    This could be an classic example of professional over-reacting. It's still early in the FA period. One would think Milsap and Lee are a priority. I would like to think we have shot at Lee. I dunno, maybe NY really loves Jordan HIll that much, I doubt it but maybe.

    Yes, Lee is definitely and upgrade from Murphy. I still love Murphy's game. Like many, I just wish he didn't come so over priced.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    I dont know about Lee. I used to be really high on him, but he cannot play defense, which we are in the need for
    "So, which one of you guys is going to come in second?" - Larry Bird before the 3 point contest. He won.



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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Are the cap and tax figures announced today?
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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by MillerTime View Post
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    I dont know about Lee. I used to be really high on him, but he cannot play defense, which we are in the need for
    Oh how you were high on him.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rexnom View Post
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    Bird is looking like a genius. Imagine if we wait this out until August and end up with the likes of David Lee or Paul Millsap for the MLE (if neither team wants to match, of course). The chances of these things occurring are remote at best, of course, but it gets even pessimistic me excited.
    Don't count on it. I don't think the Pacers are playing games, we're broke and we're spending like it.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ryheathco View Post
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    Don't count on it. I don't think the Pacers are playing games, we're broke and we're spending like it.
    Hey, in the past we would have offered Jack a five year deal at the MLE. It's good enough for me!

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    I keep saying that one of the most underrated players in free agency is Marvin Williams, I even think that this guy is better than Ariza and nobody is paying attention to him, I wonder if he could be taken from Atlanta.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by EmCeE View Post
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    Yes, Lee is definitely and upgrade from Murphy. I still love Murphy's game. Like many, I just wish he didn't come so over priced.
    Funny that we're debating from opposite sides of the fence. I prefer Lee's game to that of Murphy, but the two are nearly identical in my rankings according to overall productivity. Will Lee continue to improve (more than Murphy)? Perhaps, but as MillerTime pointed out, Lee's defense leaves something to be desired. IMO, his game may be preferable, but he is not a definite upgrade. (Millsap, while blossoming with potential, currently is clearly a level below.) Moreover, I imagine that Larry sees Bro growing into a Lee type over the next two years.
    Last edited by DrFife; 07-07-2009 at 10:12 AM.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrFife View Post
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    Moreover, I imagine that Larry sees Bro growing into a Lee type over the next two years.
    Well, I hope Larry is right because the odds of landing David Lee aren't very high anyway. More or less just won't happen. I do believe Lee is better than Murphy. Always loved Murphy, but PF's need to play down low and bang. Lee is a slighty better rebounder, and I love big guys who shoot hig percentages from the floor. Dude has a career 55% shooting. Lee also knocks his FT's down. Kinda sounds like Hansbrough, with out the rebounding, so hey. Good point Dr..
    I always wanted David Lee though.
    Last edited by Noodle; 07-07-2009 at 10:45 AM.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    When isn't it a horrible year for Restricted Free Agents? They should just do away with it in the next CBA, it's asinine.
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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    I seriously can't wait for these two players to be off the market. That way we can relaz on slight "upgrades" and developing the youth we have next year.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    If only this spending spree on average players would be remembered in the NBA's next labor negotiations. You're never going to have owners "hold the line" on salaries because there's always at least one lunatic with more money than brains. Then other owners feel pressure to spend money because if they don't, their hardcore fan base will trash them on talk radio, message boards, blogs, etc. which will cause ticket sales to remain stagnant.

    The point is, the owners need a guideline for salaries. I've seen the idea floated on here before--each roster spot should come with a designated pay scale. Maybe a Franchise/Transition tag system would work like the NFL.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kegboy View Post
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    When isn't it a horrible year for Restricted Free Agents? They should just do away with it in the next CBA, it's asinine.
    Why do you say that? Just the idea of the old team being able to say "nope! you're staying here!" ?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    I think the Pacers should try to upgrade from Jack. I don't think Jack is someone you want defending starting caliber NBA point-guards, he's just too slow. What he offers on offense, doesn't make up for what he gives defensively. As a combo guard off the bench he's decent, but you can find similar players every season, in the draft or in the Min. salary/LLE/MLE FA market.

    If I were Bird, I'd be more worried about seeing who could I try to get in these market conditions then in retaining Jack. For the QO, Jack is good value; but a tad more than that makes him overpaid. I'd try to have him playing on the QO next season.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Major Cold View Post
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    I seriously can't wait for these two players to be off the market. That way we can relaz on slight "upgrades" and developing the youth we have next year.
    You mean Lee and Milsap?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by cordobes View Post
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    I don't think Jack is someone you want defending starting caliber NBA point-guards, he's just too slow.
    I don't see that at all. I thought Jack was solid defensively this year when he got to play PG. He was put at SG quite a bit, which caused problems because other guys could shoot over him. But not many people were going around him.
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    Default Re: Hollinger's read on free agency to date... good prognosis for a team like the Pacers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem View Post
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    I don't see that at all. I thought Jack was solid defensively this year when he got to play PG. He was put at SG quite a bit, which caused problems because other guys could shoot over him. But not many people were going around him.
    You certainly have seen Jack much more than me, but I'll have to disagree. From my perspective, Jack is pretty slow-footed and struggles to recover to his man after ballscreens or when he's forced to help. I think the reason not many people were going around him was because he's very conservative on his defence, not putting pressure on quicker guards. However, I personally think you simply won't have a good defensive squad if your leading guard isn't able to pressure his counterpart.

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