Tag:Free Agent Buzz
Posted on: July 30, 2009 5:43 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2009 8:37 pm

Odom chooses Lakers (UPDATE)

Lamar Odom is doing the only thing that makes sense.

Returning to the Lakers.

All of this indecision for nothing.

UPDATE: The Lakers confirmed Thursday that they've reached an agreement with Odom and hope to finalize it in the next couple of days. Neither the Lakers nor Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, would comment on the details. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com that Odom's teammates have been informed that the 6-10 forward isn't going anywhere, and a second source placed the total value of the four-year deal at significantly more than the mid-level exception but less than $33 million with the fourth-year team option factored in.

Either way, that's less than the Lakers originally offered, however -- a sign of just how much Odom wanted to stay with the Lakers. The cap-strapped Heat are believed to have offered a five-year deal starting at the mid-level exception of $5.9 million, giving Odom the ability to opt out after the fourth year.

Odom, 29, was one of the most integral pieces in the Lakers' championship run last season, and GM Mitch Kupchak prioritized his prized sixth man over fellow free agent starter Trevor Ariza. Odom's decision to turn down aggressive overtures from Miami Heat president Pat Riley and reigning scoring champion Dwyane Wade ended a month-long saga in which the Lakers pulled their initial offer off the table once Odom's agent began shopping it to other teams. Riley and Wade met personally with Odom on Monday, but couldn't close the deal.

UPDATE: The Lakers started the offseason with a flourish, coming out of nowhere to sign free agent Ron Artest when it became obvious that Ariza wanted more than market value -- the mid-level exception -- to stay in L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss let Ariza walk, but wasn't going to give up so easily on Odom. At various times this summer, teammates Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher had publicly lobbied for Odom to re-sign. It was perhaps a sign that even they weren't sure how this was going to end even though Odom had stated during the Finals that he had no intention of leaving the Lakers unless he received an offer he couldn't refuse.

That offer wasn't going to come from Miami, a team that is over the cap and probably still would've been another piece away from championship contention even if it had landed Odom. Playing with Wade would've satisfied one of Odom's requirements; he's never wanted to be a No. 1 option on his team. But with the Lakers, Odom can dominate for short spurts off the bench, taking advantage of mismatches against second units. His versatility -- playing on the perimeter and under the basket, defending small forwards and centers -- will be crucial to the Lakers staying on top in the West given the improvements made this summer by their competitors, most notably the Spurs.

And remember what Artest said the day he agreed to terms with the Lakers. One of the first points he made was that he's known Odom since both were teen-agers playing on the playgrounds of Queens and AAU tournaments. Artest has done a lot of crazy stuff in his career, but I always believed that he wouldn't have jumped quite so quickly at the Lakers' offer had he believed there was even a slim chance Odom would be leaving. 

Where does this leave the Heat? Well, there is always Carlos Boozer, who almost certainly will be dealt before the February trade deadline. Miami still has a $4 million trade exception it acquired in the Jermaine O'Neal trade. If not Boozer, Miami will have some cap flexibility next summer to surround Wade with the championship-level talent he so desperately desires. The problem is, if Wade doesn't sign an extension before then, he'll be fielding free agent offers, too.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 27, 2009 10:51 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2009 9:08 am

Odom meeting with Riley, Wade

The Miami Heat's pursuit of free agent Lamar Odom has escalated in recent days. Now, reigning scoring champion Dwyane Wade reportedly will have a chance to close the deal in person.

Although Wade is dealing with forces beyond his control, he usually closes the deal.

Reporter Jim Hill of the CBS-TV affiliate in Los Angeles reports that Odom was scheduled to meet with Wade and Pat Riley on Monday in hopes of finalizing the talented sixth man's departure from the defending champion Lakers. This comes after Wade escalated his recruitment of Odom on his Twitter account over the weekend, urging Odom to "come back to where it started for both of us."

Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who personally closed the deal with free agent Ron Artest earlier this month, pulled his initial offer of three years and approximately $30 million off the table -- apparently in frustration over Odom's insistence on shopping the offer to other teams. Neither the Lakers nor Odom has closed the door on reigniting the talks, and some close to Odom still believe he prefers to re-sign with the Lakers. A face-to-face meeting with Riley and Wade will go a long way toward determining whether Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, are posturing for a better offer or serious about leaving Hollywood for South Beach, where Odom played the 2003-04 season when Wade was a rookie.

A resolution is expected by the end of the week, but there's no foolproof way to handicap Odom's destination. Clearly, there will be no home-team discount for the Lakers. But if Odom was so intent on leaving, wouldn't he have made a decision already? Riley and Wade are extremely persuasive, but will they be able to sell Odom on the idea that Miami is a better championship contender with Odom than the Lakers are?

I'm on record saying Odom would be better off staying in L.A., but it's not my money or my career. If Odom finally decides to return to the Lakers, all of this posturing and negotiating will be forgotten. In my opinion, he fits better on that team than he would anywhere else.

Posted on: July 24, 2009 5:28 pm

Miller, Blazers finalizing deal

After failing in their pursuit of free agents Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, the Portland Trail Blazers are closing in on point guard Andre Miller.

Miller, 33, is on the verge of agreeing to a two-year deal worth slightly more than the $5.9 million mid-level exception annually with a team option for a third year, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

The Sixers, whose youth movement Miller helped stabilize, decided early in the free-agent negotiating period that they were content to move forward with Lou Williams starting at point guard and first-round pick Jrue Holiday backing him up. Despite their emphasis on upgrading the point-guard position, the Blazers initially prioritized their pursuit of Turkoglu and Millsap -- in part because, like the Sixers, they were concerned about overpaying an aging point guard with a suspect shot. When Turkoglu reneged on a verbal agreement to sign with Portland and the Jazz matched the Blazers' offer sheet for Millsap, a restricted free agent, Portland officials circled back to Miller, who had also attracted interest from the Knicks on a short-term, cap-friendly deal.

Devoting a little more than $6 million in 2009-10 cap space to Miller leaves the Blazers with about $1-$3 million to spend this summer. The short-term deal also does not jeopardize Portland's plans to re-sign Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge to extensions as early as next summer.

With Miller off the board, the Knicks likely will turn their attention to Bucks restricted free agent Ramon Sessions. While it is accurate that the Bucks may not match a lucrative offer sheet for Sessions as they try to rein in payroll, the Knicks are not likely to make a prohibitive offer because they are determined to preserve precious 2010-11 cap space for their pursuit of LeBron James or another high-end free agent. The Bucks, however, appear ready to move on with first-round pick Brandon Jennings as their starting point guard.

Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:34 am

Time to re-sign, Lamar

A few weeks ago when Ron Artest decided to sign with the Lakers, one of the first things out of his mouth was this: "I know Lamar Odom, so that's pretty cool."

Artest and Odom have known each other since they were kids growing up in Queens, playing in the playgrounds and on AAU teams. As much as Artest wanted to sign with the Lakers -- even saying he'd "play there for nothing" -- it is unfathomable that he would've made such a bold career move without knowing L.O. would be on board.

This is why the posturing, the rejected offers, and the offers taken off the table over the past few weeks have been so puzzling. Well, puzzling isn't the right word. I never -- ever -- begrudge athletes, entertainers, finance people, or anybody else when they try to get paid. That is their right and that is how the game is played. An athlete's career is a nanosecond, and they should make as much money as humanly possible. You would do the same thing. So would I.

But the time has come for Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, to recognize that the market is what it is for a player who might just be the best sixth man in the NBA -- but one who, nonetheless, has never made so much as an All-Star team or led the league in any major statistical category. Odom wears his heart on his sleeve and the address of the South Jamaica home where he grew up on the tongues of his sneakers. The dirty secret that Lakers management has known throughout this process is that Odom's heart is in L.A. That's where he and his sneakers belong, too.

Miami? Nice place. No state income tax. Great teammate to play with in Dwyane Wade. But adding Odom wouldn't put the Heat any closer to a title than the Lakers would be if they re-signed him. Portland? The Blazers certainly have the cap space after losing out on Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, but Portland doesn't feel like the right fit for Odom.

In my mind, the only place besides L.A. that would've made sense for Odom was Boston. But the Celtics struck early in the free-agent period and signed Rasheed Wallace for a fraction of what Odom is seeking.

There will be no hard feelings on either side when, I predict, Odom relents and accepts a three-year deal from the Lakers for somewhere north of $30 million. Derek Fisher is on record saying, "We want him back badly and I hope we can accomplish that in the next couple days." Kobe Bryant is on record saying he's "optimistic" that Odom will return to the Lakers. It is time for those recruiting efforts and optimism to become reality.

Some people whose names end in two G's don't like Lamar Odom. They're stuck in their wistful thinking about how good he could've been if he'd applied himself or if he wanted to be one of the top five players of his era. Odom certainly has that kind of talent. But he was born to be a wingman, and life's challenges have only solidified that niche for him. The Lakers are the perfect team for him, and he for them. It's time to stop posturing and put pen to paper with the Lakers. I refuse to believe that Fisher, Bryant, and Artest will let him do anything different. If Odom knows what's good for him -- if he knows where he's wanted and where he belongs -- then he'll listen.

Posted on: July 14, 2009 12:04 am

Boozer trade talks heat up

LAS VEGAS -- Working under the assumption that the Utah Jazz will match Portland's $32 million offer sheet for Paul Millsap, the wheels are in motion to find trade possibilities for Carlos Boozer.

According to a person involved in the process, Boozer's camp has explored trade possibilities with Miami, the Knicks, Golden State, and Detroit, among others. The scenario is complicated by the fact that Utah would want to bring back as little salary as possible to avoid luxury-tax ramifications, meaning a third team would have to be recruited as a salary dumping ground.

Oklahoma City, with $11.5 million in cap room, is the most logical choice. But the Thunder don't appear to be willing to disrupt their financial horizon. Memphis has room and will get $5.2 million more on Friday from the Jerry Stackhouse buyout. The Pistons cleared $1.8 million more by trading Arron Affalo and Walter Sharpe to Denver for a second-round pick and cash. The Pistons now have more than $5 million in cap space and could emerge as a factor in the Boozer talks, the person familiar with the situation said.

The Jazz likely will make the Blazers wait the full seven days before matching, which could slow progress on the Boozer front. If the Jazz follow through on their intentions and match the offer sheet, they would be close to $12 million into the luxury tax and would need to trade Boozer before the February trade deadline to ease that penalty.

Posted on: July 13, 2009 10:52 pm

Revised 2010 scenarios

LAS VEGAS -- Loyal readers will notice that I've made some mathematical changes in the two pieces on the 2010 decisions for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

I am here to explain why, because that's the kind of guy I am.

The premise remains the same: All three would be better off financially in the short term by signing extensions this summer. The part that I missed -- as did some cap experts I consulted in working on the stories -- is the fact that the Big Three can only sign three-year extensions this summer. That's because only Bird free agents and players on rookie-scale contracts can get the maximum extension of six years.

The other factor that changed some of the numbers was the fact that by opting out next summer and staying with their teams -- or participating in a sign-and-trade -- LeBron & Co. would be eligible for bigger raises after the first year of the deal than if they signed with another team. Of course, they'd also get a six-year deal by re-signing with their current teams or participating in a sign-and-trade.

Here's the revised column reflecting the changes, and here are the updated scenarios. The numbers have changed, but looking at the next four years and the total values of the potential extensions and new contracts really illustrates how much the shrinking cap has changed the game as players decide whether to re-up or go for one more long-term deal before the salary structure is drastically changed by a new collective bargaining agreement.

One more thing on this topic: Writing about this is not meant to evoke sympathy for athletes who obviously make an incredible living most of us can only dream of. The point is not that we should feel bad for highly paid performers losing out on a few million dollars. The point is that all the decisions that determine how good the teams that you root for will become are made based on complicated financial factors like these. Pointing them out and trying to explain them should give you a little insight into why players and franchises do what they do when faced with such decisions.

Posted on: July 12, 2009 8:54 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2009 10:43 pm

The Boozer-Millsap dilemma (UPDATE)

LAS VEGAS -- With their four-year, $32 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Paul Millsap, the Trail Blazers have woven a web that has ensnared bonus money, luxury-tax considerations, and the future of Carlos Boozer. Based on conversations with NBA front office sources, here's an attempt at untangling it:

Utah is currently about $3 million over the luxury tax. If they match the offer sheet for Millsap, they'd be close to $12 million over. A person familiar with Utah's situation said the team has accepted the fact that it is going to be a tax-paying team, but nobody expects the Jazz to venture that far into the land of the taxpayers. So something has to give.

In order to keep Millsap and get under the tax threshold of $69.9 million, Utah would have to trade Boozer (due to make $12.7 million next season) and take virtually no salary back. The only way to do that is to recruit a third team that is under the cap -- one that is willing to take on salary for the price of draft picks and cash.

At this point in the free-agent period, only two teams remain under the cap: Oklahoma City, which is getting plenty of calls from teams looking to recruit them as a trade partner, and Portland. The Blazers aren't interested in Boozer; they already have a starting power forward, LaMarcus Aldridge, and covet Millsap for his willingness to be a role player and contribute in ways that vary from the traditional post-up forward. Oklahoma City is the key.

UPDATE: The Thunder currently are about $11.5 million under the cap, but aren't eager to use that space by becoming a dumping ground for contracts shed in a Boozer deal, according to sources. Despite its acquisition of Zach Randolph, Memphis surprisingly has several million dollars in wiggle room -- and will get $5.2 million more on Friday, when their Dallas-assisted buyout of Jerry Stackhouse hits their books.

One interesting aspect of this tale is the fact that Utah is in better financial shape to match Millsap's signing bonus than was originally assumed. The maximum signing bonus that can be included in an offer sheet is 17.5 percent of the total contract -- in this case, $5.6 million. Many NBA teams would have trouble writing a check that big without borrowing the money, but Utah, according to NBA front office sources, isn't one of them. The team's only debt is a small amount owed on its arena, so paying Millsap a signing bonus would be "a non-event for them," according to one of the sources.

The signing bonus is prorated for the life of the deal for cap purposes to preserve the structure of year-to-year raises prescribed by the CBA. But Utah must front that money to Millsap in order to meet the exact requirements of matching the Portland offer.

UPDATE: If the Jazz decide to venture deep into tax territory by matching the Millsap offer, they would have a few months to find the best deal for Boozer. They wouldn't be locked into a tax level until the February trade deadline, when they might get better offers from teams eager to clear 2010-11 cap space by acquiring Boozer's expiring contract. But their leverage also might diminish because teams would know they were desperate to shed tax money. 

From the Blazers' standpoint, it's not clear what their options would be if Utah matched the offer sheet. Portland has between $7.7 million and $9 million in cap space, which was preserved when Hedo Turkoglu backed out of his verbal agreement and signed with the Raptors. If the Blazers don't use that money this season, it won't be available next summer because they will have to use it to sign Brandon Roy and Aldridge to extensions.

Confused? Hopefully less so than before you started reading.

Posted on: July 12, 2009 7:23 pm

Wade receives extension offer from Heat

LAS VEGAS -- The Miami Heat have wasted no time offering Dwyane Wade a contract extension.

Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, confirmed to CBSSports.com that he received an offer from Miami on Sunday, the day Wade's one-year window for signing an extension opened. Thomas declined to discuss specifics, but the maximum Miami can offer under the collective bargaining agreement is a four-year extension worth $86.6 million.

Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh signed their current three-year extensions three years ago this week. They become eligible to sign extensions on the three-year anniversary of signing their current deals. Wade was the first to sign, and his window -- which lasts until June 30, 2010 -- was the first to open.

Wade has said that he wants to wait and see what moves Miami makes to bring the team closer to championship contention before he decides on signing the extension.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com