NBA Free Agency: Day One News and Notes
- By: nwhalen
- On: 7/2/2013 8:46:00 AM
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Note: Transactions cannot become official until July 10 when the 2013-14 salary cap is announced.
Dwight Howard's circus
In an era where seemingly every detail in the process of courting a player is leaked to the public, the summer's hottest free agent – Dwight Howard – met briefly with Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchak shortly after midnight before sitting down with Rockets brass. With Chris Paul intending to return to the Clippers on a five-year, $107 million extension, Howard is now undoubtedly the premier name on the market, and in addition to the Lakers and Rockets, the Mavericks, Warriors and Hawks have all shown strong interest. Even rapper – and proud Houston native – Slim Thug (remember that "Like A Boss" song?) took to Twitter Monday afternoon to try to influence Howard. Los Angeles offered the 27-year-old his own television show as part of their pitch, and Howard is expected to meet with Warriors officials Monday evening.
While Houston may make the most basketball sense for Howard – providing him the opportunity to play alongside rising stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons – the Lakers can offer him the most money. However, given Howard's tumultuous 2012-13 season with the organization, it's widely believed he'd prefer to play elsewhere. Golden State's interest in Howard presents perhaps the most intriguing scenario, as due to cap reasons, the Warriors would need to execute a sign-and-trade for the big man (but could still only offer four years, $88 million). The team is reportedly willing to deal Andrew Bogut and either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes – both very promising young wings – to Los Angeles. This scenario would most benefit the Lakers, who will not receive anything (other than cap relief) should Howard accept an offer from another team outright.
Only time will tell where Howard will inevitably end up, but he does not appear to be in any rush and will likely hear each of his suitors' offers before making a decision.
Andrea Bargnani traded to Knicks
It was reported Sunday evening that the Knicks and Raptors have agreed on a deal to send embattled forward Andrea Bargnani (and the $23 million remaining on his deal) to the Big Apple in exchange for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick and second round picks in 2014 and 2017. Richardson was added to the deal on Monday morning in a sign-and-trade needed to balance salaries.
On the surface, New York seems to be giving up an awful lot for a player who was routinely booed at home last season, but the former No. 1 overall pick has a unique combination of size and shooting ability that should bode well in the Knicks' 3-point-happy system.
Bargnani had clearly worn out his welcome in Toronto, and moving his awful contact is a major accomplishment for the Raptors' new regime led by reigning NBA GM of the Year (with the Nuggets) Masai Ujiri. Plus, obtaining Novak – one of the league's premier shooters – can only help a Raptors team that ranked 25th in the league in 3-point percentage last season.
Camby unhappy with trade
Camby, who was drafted by the Raptors 17 years ago, expressed his displeasure with the deal stating, "I was really looking forward to the upcoming year as a chance to show the organization what they missed out on last year, and pushing our team toward the Finals." The 39-year-old is owed nearly $5.5 million over the next two seasons but could take a pay cut and accept a buyout from the Raptors in hopes of signing on with a contender.
Tyreke Evans and the absurd opulence
In the shocker of the day, the New Orleans Pelicans met with Kings restricted free agent Tyreke Evans and offered him a four-year deal worth around $44 million. It seems like a curious move for a team that appears to be set in the backcourt after trading for Jrue Holiday on draft night, but some reports surfaced that New Orleans would like to use Evans in a Manu Ginobili-type of role off the bench.
The Pelicans currently have about $7.3 million in cap space and would likely need to make some moves should Evans accept the deal. Robin Lopez has been tossed around as a possible candidate to be moved. Eric Gordon is another candidate, as he openly voiced his desire to play elsewhere last season. One potential option would be to swap Evans for Gordon in a sign-and-trade, but the team has so far said that they want to keep Gordon.
Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks were released by the Rockets on Sunday before their contracts became guaranteed for next season. The cap-clearing move opens up more room for a potential Dwight Howard deal. The New York Knicks are reportedly interested in signing Brooks.
Thomas Robinson traded to Trail Blazers
And in the final cap-clearing move before going all-in for Dwight Howard, the Rockets traded Thomas Robinson to the Blazers for two second-round picks and the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorovic. Portland will already be Robinson's third team, after the Kings traded him to Houston at the deadline. It could be a healthy situation for the former fifth overall pick, as Portland is desperately looking for depth after having the worst bench in the league last season.
Josh Smith talks to Pistons, Hawks and Rockets
The Pistons met with their top free-agent priority, Josh Smith, early Monday morning. Despite a lackluster 2012-13 season, Detroit has a nice young frontcourt in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond to market to potential signees and plenty of cap room to offer a maximum deal. While they did not extend an offer to Smith on Monday, the Pistons are one of the top contenders to land the swingman, as they're expected to propose a near-max deal. Smith also met with the Hawks and Rockets on Monday, as he looks to be each team's backup plan if they're unable to land Dwight Howard.
Andre Iguodala talks to Pistons, Nuggets and Kings
Andre Iguodala, who opted out of his $15.9 million player option with the Nuggets, also met with the Pistons on Monday. He's believed to be their second choice behind Josh Smith. Iguodala met with the Nuggets and Kings on Monday as well and will reportedly speak with the Warriors, Hawks and Pelicans in the near future. There's a decent chance Iguodala re-signs with the Nuggets, as they likely can offer the best basketball situation, but another franchise may be willing to shell out more money for the nine-year veteran.
Jose Calderon back to Detroit?
Detroit is also reportedly very interested in bringing back Jose Calderon, whom they acquired in a mid-season deal from Toronto. If the team is able to do so, and reach an agreement with either Smith or Iguodala, the Pistons could be in good shape heading into next season with a potential lineup of Calderon, rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Iguodala/Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Of course, this is all speculative.
AK-47 wants a longer contract
The San Antonio Spurs are interested in Andrei Kirilenko, who spent last season with the Timberwolves. The unrestricted free agent opted out of his deal with Minnesota but did not rule out a return to the team, stating, "I was really happy with everything… everything except for the term of the contract." While Minnesota may look to bring back the 32-year-old, they appear to be more interested in upgrading the shooting guard position. Kevin Martin, O.J.Mayo and Chase Budinger are all targets. Plus, the addition of 14th overall pick Shabazz Muhammad gives the Wolves some flexibility at the small forward spot.
Kevin Martin pursued in the North
The Thunder's Kevin Martin is receiving interest from several teams, including Milwaukee and Minnesota. The Thunder likely will not have the cap room to bring back Martin next season and have set their sights on Dorell Wright as his replacement. Wright is not the offensive threat that Martin is, but he's a much better defender and capable 3-point shooter (36.7 percent career).
Where, o' where will Bledsoe be at the end of free agency
The Clippers' Eric Bledsoe has been named in a number of speculative sign-and-trade deals, two of which would send him to either the Bucks or Mavericks. With the Clippers in need of a shooting guard, Bledsoe would likely be exchanged (along with other contracts to balance out the deal) for packages centered around J.J. Redick or O.J. Mayo, respectively. The Clippers also have interest in the Raptors' DeMar DeRozan and the Magic's Arron Afflalo – both native Californians and members of teams in dire need of a point guard
J.J. Redick sign-and-trade?
As noted above, several teams would likely entertain offers for Bledsoe, but a meeting with the Bucks regarding a sign-and-trade for J.J. Redick is reportedly "imminent."
O.J. Mayo sign-and-trade
Like Redick, O.J. Mayo is a top target of the Clippers in what would likely be a sign-and-trade for a package centered around Eric Bledsoe. Though the Mavericks drafted Shane Larkin last week, Bledsoe is an established commodity who thrived in a bench role last season. The way things are shaping up, the Clippers may have their choice of up to four shooting guards to potentially exchange for Bledsoe.
Martell Webster key in D.C.
The Wizards have reportedly made re-signing Martell Webster their top priority. Webster averaged a career-high 11.4 points per game and shot 42.2 percent from 3-point territory last season. Though the team recently drafted a similar player in Otto Porter, Webster could start at small forward if he opts to return.
Antawn Jamison back to Washington?
Washington is also interested in bringing back veteran Antawn Jamison, who spent this past season with the Lakers. The two sides are mutually interested, though Jamison, 37, may look to sign on with a contender if the opportunity arises.
C.J. Watson signs with Pacers
C.J. Watson and the Indiana Pacers agreed to a two-year deal. The six-year veteran spent last season backing up Deron Williams in Brooklyn and will play the same role for Indiana, this time behind George Hill. Watson is a capable perimeter defender and 3-point threat but does not offer much else offensively. Still, he looks to be an upgrade from D.J. Augustin, who shot a career-worst 35.0 percent from the field last season.
Eric Maynor signs with Wizards
The Washington Wizards agreed to a multi-year deal with Eric Maynor. Details of the contract have not been released yet, but it appears the Wizards finally have a consistent backup behind John Wall. Coming off of ACL surgery, Maynor got off to a slow start with the Thunder last season before being shipped to the Blazers at the deadline. If he can regain his pre-injury form, Washington should have a strong rotation at point guard.
Al Jefferson to meet with Bobcats
Unrestricted free agent Al Jefferson will meet with the Bobcats on Wednesday. While Charlotte is the only team to show strong interest in the big man thus far, expect several other teams to jump into the fray in the coming days. The Jazz have not been clear about whether or not they intend to attempt to re-sign Jefferson (or Paul Millsap), but they own the advantage of having two young bigs – budding stars Derrick Favor and Enes Kanter – waiting in the wings. There is little doubt that either Jefferson or Millsap (possibly both) will for sure be in another uniform next season.
Brandon Jennings unfinished business with Bucks
Brandon Jennings' status still appears be up in the air after day one of the free agency period. The Bucks recently extended him a $4.3 million qualifying offer, allowing them to match any offer Jennings may receive. Still, it is unclear whether Milwaukee really wants to bring Jennings back, or if they simply want to prevent potentially losing him, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick without receiving anything in return. If the Bucks receive a tantalizing sign-and-trade offer, it would not be a surprise to see the organization cut ties with the enigmatic point guard. If not, Milwaukee will be combing the market for a shooting guard. O.J. Mayo, Tony Allen and J.R. Smith are three names linked to the Bucks.
Mike Dunleavy signs with Bulls
Former Bucks' forward Mike Dunleavy will reportedly sign a two-year, $6 million deal with the division-rival Chicago Bulls. Dunleavy averaged 10.5 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 42.8 percent from beyond the arc last season. He'll provide a much-need outside shooting threat for the Bulls, who may lose Marco Belinelli this offseason.
Andray Blatche re-signs with Nets
In possibly the most Andray Blatche move of all-time, the 26-year-old reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million to return to the Nets next season. After being amnestied by the Wizards, Blatche enjoyed the best season of his career (by far), averaging 10.3 points on 51.2 percent shooting with a 22.0 PER.
What makes this deal so Blatche-y is that he deliberately accepted a smaller deal to stick it to the Wizards (yes, this is actually happened). After a semi-breakout season, he almost certainly would have been able to earn a more-lucrative deal from a team other than the (extremely) cash-strapped Nets. However, under the NBA's amnesty provisions, the Wizards still owe him about $16 million over the next two seasons. While this does not count against Washington's cap, they are obligated to pay him the difference between his new deal and the remainder of what he's owed (for example, if he had signed a $10 million deal, Washington would only owe him $6 million). Thus, he'll receive $1.4 million from the Nets and $7.5 million from the Wizards in 2013-14.
Kyle Korver pursued by Nets
Kyle Korver is receiving heavy interest from the Brooklyn Nets, as one league executive said a deal is "in the bag." Brooklyn can only offer Korver the mini-mid-level exception (about $3 million), but given their recent blockbuster moves, the team may be Korver's best option to win a ring in the near future.
Gal Mekel signs with Mavs
The Mavericks secured a verbal commitment from Israeli point guard Gal Mekel on a multi-year contract at the league-minimum. The deal is reportedly worth $2.3 million over the next three years. Mekel, 25, will play for the Mavericks' Summer League squad.