What strikes me here is that A) Donnie likes Dampier. B) Jerry West likes Dampier. C) Donnie and Jerry are two of the best GM's in the business.Follow the money
With smaller contracts for top talents, NBA's middle class cashes in
After two years of limited free-agent movement, agents were shocked by the lavish contracts handed out this summer to the likes of Brian Skinner (5 years, $25 million), Brian Cardinal (6 years, $38 million) and Adonal Foyle (6 years, $42 million). This new trend represents a change in priorities: Now that stars such as Kenyon Martin (seven years, $92 million) are no longer receiving maximum deals, middle-class players are finally cashing in via the $4.9 million free-agent exception that is available to all teams that are over the cap. "What this tells me," says one prominent agent, venturing a controversial point amid the union's negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, "is that this might be a better system than we thought."
One theory for the spending spree: After cutting back on payroll while replacing dozens of coaches over the last two seasons, GMs are now feeling the heat to improve their rosters as a matter of self-preservation -- else they become next in line to face the guillotine.
Last week at the NBA's Las Vegas summer league, GMs were split over whether the spending would lead to a luxury tax next summer. "I don't think so," one GM speculated. "The contracts that kill you are those $15 million salaries, and we aren't seeing many of those anymore."
Six intriguing moves that don't involve Shaq
Brian Cardinal ... His surprise signing by Memphis has to suspicions that GM Jerry West will package Shane Battier in a sign-and-trade for Erick Dampieranother big man.
The Pacer's may hand his position over to Jackson?Carlos Boozer ... Under duplicitous circumstances, the third-year power forward's move to Utah (6 years, $68 million) has turned the Jazz into a playoff team.
Stephen Jackson ... When Reggie Miller retires next summer, the Pacers may hand his position over to Jackson (6 years, $42 million), for whom they shipped Al Harrington to Atlanta.
There is more on Blount, and the Celtics. Follow the link if you want more.Brent Barry ... By accepting a salary cut to move to San Antonio, the former Seattle guard gives the Spurs a wealth of experience, clutch three-point shooting and the ability to play both positions. Look for him on the floor in winner-take-all situations.
Steve Nash ... The Mavericks lost their engine and their identity by letting Nash accept $53 million for five years from the Suns. From a point guard rotation two years ago of Nash and Nick Van Exel, the Mavs are now counting on rookie Devin Harris, who didn't play up-tempo at Wisconsin, and Marquis Daniels, who isn't a point guard. Unless Dallas makes a significant move, the up-and-coming Suns might challenge the Mavs in the standings this season.
Kenyon Martin ... By dealing three first-round picks for New Jersey's All-Star power forward, the Nuggets emboldened their front line without letting go of the future first-round pick of the Wizards they own, which is only top-3 protected in the 2006 draft and will be completely unprotected in 2007. Although a solid move, the Nuggets remain a one-dimensional team. They have yet to address their need for a low-post scorer in the half-court offense when San Antonio, Minnesota and other leading defenses shut down their transition game.