Free Agent Roundup — Day 1
Baron Davis has reportedly agreed to a 5-year, $65 million deal with the Clippers. No offers or signings are official before July 9th, when the the league announces the final salary cap figures. Apparently it takes eight days for a team of chipmunks to work the slide rules over on Park Avenue.
Assuming a cap number in the realm of $58,130,000 – what I saw on real GM – just four teams have significant cap room. WIthout Davis, Golden State has the most — about $24 million. However, they also need to save up to re-sign Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. They can go over the cap to sign them, but own Chris Cohan has said he wants to avoid the luxury tax. Meanwhile, Memphis has about $15 million to spend, as do the Clippers – if they renounce rights to Corey Maggette, as expected. Philadelphia has about $12 million in space, assuming they keep Andre Iguodala. It’s even worse, actually, for the free agents – Memphis is supposedly in money-saving mode and is not expected to break open the bank for anyone. Seattle has about $8 million to offer, while every other team is limited to the mid-level (about $6 million) or else seeking a “sign-and-trade” if they want to get in on the action.
Disclaimer: I occasionally saw Billy Knight at a Starbucks near my office, but now that he’s been fired I have no inside line. Therefore the information here is second-hand guesswork.
Arenas is reportedly weighing “max” offers from both Washington and Golden State. Call it a toss-up. Arenas has said he wants to stay in DC, but prior to his coming East no one thought he would ever leave his home state of California. Meanwhile, the Maloof brothers reportedly said they would give up their entire roster to get Arenas to Sacramento. Unless David Stern says he’ll let the Wiz play 15 vs. 5, I don’t think it’s worth it. Seriously, though – if Arenas is set on leaving, you have to think the Wizards would consider a deal involving Kevin Martin, a bad contract and a 1st round pick.
Elton Brand – Unrestricted
Brand says he wants to stay and form a dream team with Davis. He also has Hollywood roots, as a successful film producer (like the Wernor Herzog-helmed “Rescue Dawn.”)
Corey Maggette - Unrestricted
Expect the Clippers to renounce Maggette, in order to re-sign Brand. Then, unless Philadelphia or Golden States wants to pay him, it looks like Maggette will be taking the mid-level. The smart money is on Orlando, where he lives in the offseason and which is reported to be ready to make an offer.
DeSagana Diop - Unrestricted
Reports are that Dallas will bring him home, offering the full mid-level.
Josh Smith – Restricted
Philadelphia is reportedly set to make an offer starting at $11 million a year. The Hawks have vowed to match, but Sekou Smith, the astute beat writer for the Hawks, is pessimistic.
Emeka Okafor - Restricted
Last year Okafor turned down an offer in the $12 million range, and no one has enough cap room to offer that much, so it’s likely he stays in Charlotte. But there are reports of discord – Michael Jordan is fuming. If the two sides don’t calm down, Charlotte might look for a place to trade their big man.
Monta Ellis - Restricted
Ellis might have been in play if Baron Davis had stayed put. As things stand, there’s no way the Warriors let him leave. They’ll match any offer.
Ben Gordon - Restricted
There’s no clear front-runner. Actually, Gordon had such a bad year that his value may have dropped to the point where the Bulls can afford to keep him.
Other restricted free agents like Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and Josh Childress, are assumed to be re-signing, since their teams are likely to match any offer.
Sign and Trade
The sign-and-trade route is more complicated. It requires a team willing to let its star walk, another team willing to make an offer and a star who actually wants to go to the new team. For example, Miami reportedly loves Brand, and Pat Riley did sign him to an offer sheet a few years back. He’s only in L.A. because the Clippers matched it. Shawn Marion probably isn’t enough, but if Riley offered Michael Beasley and salaries to match – wouldn’t the Clips at least consider it?
Another team that hasn’t been mentioned – but maybe should – is Detroit. Joe Dumars says he’s willing to swap any of his starting five, and says he wants to make a big splash. Houston – with risk-taking, stat-loving GM Daryl Morey – could also be a dark horse. Tracy McGrady is an injury risk, and the team actually has a better record without Yao Ming the past two years. Either might be tradeable in the right deal.