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Tag:Free Agent Buzz
Posted on: July 7, 2009 11:52 am
Edited on: July 7, 2009 1:31 pm

Free Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

Here's your abbreviated morning edition of free-agent buzz:

* Mike Bibby is re-signing with the Hawks, agreeing to a three-year deal for the mid-level exception for a total of about $18 million, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bibby, 31, preferred to stay in Atlanta and is taking a massive pay cut; he made almost $15 million last season but wasn't going to get more than the mid-level on the open market.

* There has been no movement in contract negotiations between the Lakers and Lamar Odom, according to the Los Angeles Times. So far, L.A. is balking at Odom's request for $10 million a year. Asked if Odom would return for a shot at a second consecutive title, Kobe Bryant said at his annual basketball camp, "He better be."

* Bryant discussed a wide array of topics during his camp at Loyola Marymount on Monday, including his patient approach to signing an extension this summer and his thoughts on retiring as a Laker.

* It's decision day for the Detroit Pistons and Avery Johnson, who met over the weekend to discuss the job of succeeding Michael Curry as coach. If Johnson and Pistons president Joe Dumars can't agree on contract parameters, Cleveland assistant John Kuester and Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau are waiting in the wings. This columnist isn't so sure Johnson is the right fit.

UPDATE: It turns out that Johnson wasn't the right fit. He wasn't able to reach a contract agreement with the Pistons, who have moved on to discussions with Kuester and Thibodeau. 

* A tale of the tangled web being woven in Golden State and how it affects Amare Stoudemire.

* Some options in addition to Jerry Stackhouse in a sign-and-trade involving Shawn Marion are laid out here. The most plausible participants, if Oklahoma City or Memphis is willing to take one of them: Kris Humphries, who has a player option for $3.2 million in 2010-11, and Marcus Banks, who is owed $4.8 million that season.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 7, 2009 11:15 am
Edited on: July 7, 2009 1:25 pm

LeBron: 'Never mind 2010, I'm staying' (UPDATE)

UPDATES THROUGHOUT with LeBron damage control.

The LeBron 2010 story keeps changing, as does the version that James himself reportedly gave to free agent Trevor Ariza.

After it was reported that James personally recruited Ariza by stating that he'd be in Cleveland beyond 2010, people close to LeBron have circled the wagons to refute it., which ran the initial LeBron-Ariza story, is now running one with the LeBron camp's denials.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer was first to refute the notion that LeBron told Ariza of his intentions for Cleveland in 2010, "I'll be there. Of course I'll be there." The comments seemed to contradict James' public stance on whether he would decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent after next season. James has consistently stated that he's happy in Cleveland but hasn't decided what he will do.

Either way, James' recruiting pitch didn't work with Ariza, who opted to verbally commit to the Rockets. It was an odd story to begin with, since James would never recruit free agents by telling them he's planning to leave.

Nonetheless, this is an example of how LeBron's clever non-answers and fence-sitting when it comes to what he'll do next summer have come back to bite him. On one hand, he has every right to leverage his player option as a tool for getting the best deal and keeping the pressure on the Cavs to surround him with the best possible talent to win a championship. On the other, could his wavering have hurt GM Danny Ferry's efforts to recruit another free agent to bolster the pre-draft trade for Shaquille O'Neal?

That's where the LeBron conspiracy theory loses me. What is hampering Ferry is not LeBron's uncertain future, but the simple fact that he has only the mid-level exception to offer. Granted, that's what Ariza ultimately got from the Rockets. It's the same deal Ariza turned down from the Lakers. Ron Artest was hell bent on signing with the Lakers, so it didn't matter what anybody else offered. The point is, players are going to sign where they get the most money -- and if money is a wash, they consider a wide array of factors. None of them should be willing to decide the next five years of his career based on what LeBron may or may not do next July. Especially now, since the story changes every five minutes.

Dwyane Wade felt compelled to go public with his position that if the Miami Heat fail to surround him with championship talent, he'll decline his player option after next season and bolt. That's his prerogative. Is Wade going to privately tell free agents and/or players the Heat might target in sign-and-trades that he was just kidding? Either way, the glamour free agents of 2010 reap what they sow in terms of how they choose to leverage their positions. Where LeBron is concerned, his decision has always been and will continue to be about how close the Cavs are to a championship next June.

Posted on: July 6, 2009 9:18 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2009 10:00 pm

Marion to Dallas? (UPDATE)

The Dallas Mavericks, who have agreed to bring Jason Kidd back with a three-year, $25 million deal, are trying to work out a sign-and-trade with Toronto for Shawn Marion, has learned.

The deal could provide an alternative for the Raptors to renouncing Marion's rights in a bid to clear cap space for its addition of Hedo Turkoglu. But sign-and-trades are particularly complicated, especially in this case, because Toronto is reluctant to take back salary, a person familiar with the situation said.

When the Raptors got a verbal agreement from Turkoglu, who reneged on a commitment to the Trail Blazers, it was contingent on Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo making several roster moves to make room for the five-year, $53 million contract Turkoglu is eligible to sign on Wednesday. The simplest scenario is to renounce the rights to Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker. But a sign-and-trade -- particularly for Marion, who still has some value -- also would be a palatable option as long as it doesn't complicate the Turkoglu signing. At this point, the source cautioned, the talks are stuck on the issue of how much salary Toronto would have to take back and the deal "may or may not happen."

UPDATE: Marion was among the highest-paid players in the league last season at $17.8 million. But like many free agents this summer, he's been forced to adjust his expectations for the level of interest in his services and the amount teams are willing to pay. The Knicks, for all their largesse and resources, wooed Kidd with -- sigh -- a two- or three-year offer at the mid-level exception of $5.6 million per. Kidd turned it down and stayed in Dallas. There has been a lot of talk about prized restricted free agents David Lee and Paul Millsap, but to this point, no offers to back it up.

Marion, 31, has gone from being a valued trade chip who was sent from Phoenix to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal, to a player whose expiring contract was more valuable than he was in heading to Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal. Now, he is not only running out of O'Neals, he is running out of options. Marion can only hope that interest from several contenders -- Cleveland also is believed to have interest -- could provide him a winning situation, if not a huge pay day. Given the environment, it is incomprehensible that Marion would get more than half of his 2008-09 salary in a sign-and-trade or on the open market.

UPDATE: If Toronto and Dallas work out a deal, Jerry Stackhouse almost certainly would be headed to Toronto because only $2 million of his $7 million salary for next season is guaranteed. Also, you should be following me on Twitter, because you could've found out about this story before I posted it. This news is like so-a-half-hour-ago.

UPDATE: A second person familiar with the situation said the Marion-to-Dallas scenario was being pushed by Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Marion's agent, Dan Fegan. Dallas, the person said, was trying to involve either Oklahoma City or Memphis as a third team to facilitate Toronto's need to clear cap space for Turkoglu.

UPDATE: While there is interest in Marion among several contenders seeking an agile transition player and 3-point shooter, his potential landing spots are limited to teams willing and able to pay him more than the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million -- unless that's all Fegan is able to get for him. That would appear to take a team like Cleveland out of the mix for Matrix.


Posted on: July 6, 2009 5:58 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2009 10:16 pm

Free Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

With two days to go until the official signing period begins, here's the latest free-agent buzz gathered from conversations with executives, agents, and others in the know:


* As reported by, the Mavericks are pushing for a sign-and-trade with Toronto that would send Shawn Marion to Dallas. Such a deal almost certainly would have to include Jerry Stackhouse going to Toronto -- or a third team -- because only $2 million of his $7 million salary for next season is guaranteed. Toronto is not in a position to take back salary because it needs to clear space to sign Hedo Turkoglu, who agreed to a five-year, $53 million deal over the weekend after reneging on a verbal commitment to Portland. Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Marion's agent, Dan Fegan, are pushing the Dallas scenario, according to a source, and are trying to involve either Oklahoma City or Memphis as a third team to satisfy Toronto's need to clear room for Turkoglu. If the Raptors can't trade Marion, the simplest path to clearing space for Turkoglu would be to renounce its rights to Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker.

* Despite reports that the Trail Blazers were preparing to make a major bid for Knicks restricted free agent David Lee, a coaching source familiar with the situation said Portland is more interested in the Lakers' Lamar Odom. And the source described the Odom situation with Portland as "lukewarm." The Blazers and Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, discussed the situation early in the negotiating period, but Portland was preoccupied at that time with its pursuit of Hedo Turkoglu. Now that Turkoglu has spurned the Blazers and committed to the Raptors, Portland is deliberating what to do with its $9 million in cap space. The Blazers have been exploring point-guard options for some time, but the coaching source said Sixers free agent Andre Miller isn't the answer because of his sub-part shooting ability.

* Lee's situation is complicated by the fact that the teams with cap space have either spent it on other players (Detroit, Toronto, Memphis) or are proceeding cautiously in the first wave of free agency (Oklahoma City, Sacramento). The market for Lee is difficult to navigate because teams are hesitant to endure the seven-day period during which the Knicks would have the right to match. Sign-and-trades, too, are untenable due to the fact that Lee's first-year cap number would be exorbitant based on his status as a base-year compensation player. Knicks president Donnie Walsh has played this as close to perfectly as possible from the beginning.

* A rumored trade discussion sending Richard Hamilton from Detroit to Utah for Carlos Boozer is just that, for now: a rumor. "Not at all," said a person who would have knowledge of the talks when asked if there was anything there. Even so, it's worth keeping in mind because it makes too much sense for both teams. Boozer's decision not to invoke his player option opened the door for the Jazz to trade him while retaining restricted free agent Paul Millsap, who like Lee has been met with lukewarm interest. The backcourt situation in Detroit with Rodney Stuckey, Hamilton, and Ben Gordon bears watching, as does the $50 million or so left on Hamilton's contract.

* The Wizards are pursuing Antonio McDyess, but word is he's heading back to the Pistons. A decision from 'Dyess is coming soon, according to a source, and it appears to be between Detroit and San Antonio. Blazers restricted free agent Channing Frye could be a fallback option for Washington. But according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cavs are the latest team to meet with Frye, who also has drawn interest from Denver, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

* If you're having serious hoops withdrawal, you can watch the Orlando Summer League action live online. I'll be watching the first few days of the Las Vegas Summer League in person from July 10-14. You can follow my updates on Twitter. But then, you already should have been doing that.

UPDATE: Shannon Brown will re-sign with the Lakers for two years and $4.2 million, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein. The second year is a player option.

UPDATE: Ramona Shelburne of the L.A. Daily News -- you read some of her stuff here during the playoffs -- caught up with Kobe Bryant at his annual basketball camp at Loyola Marymount on Monday. Surprisingly few media members were there, considering all the news in Kobe-land of late. Check out her blog for all the details.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 6, 2009 5:06 pm

Wade plays the leverage game

I applaud Dwyane Wade.

Not for his game. Not for his frequent Twitter updates. And certainly not for his honesty.

I applaud Wade for his willingness to openly play the leverage card.

By telling the Associated Press that simply getting to the playoffs is "not enough for me," Wade has quickly filled the void left by Kobe Bryant's decision last week to A) not opt out of his contract, and B) consider signing an extension this summer. Instead of dancing around the question like LeBron, who never answers it with anything other than vapid hyperbole about how he loves Cleveland and doesn't want to leave, Wade has put his cards on the table.

"Build me a team," Wade said. "Put the pressure on me to win a championship. Give me a team and say 'All right, you've got to go do it,' and I'll take that pressure. Give me guys that we feel can compete every year to win a championship. I don't want to go anywhere else."

Will Wade ultimately make good on his threat to leave South Beach for supposedly greener pastures if Miami doesn't put itself on the doorstep of a championship? Probably not. But he has every right to use that leverage in the hopes that the Heat step up and make the kind of roster moves he believes are necessary to contend for a title.

As unpredictable as this summer's free-agent negotiating period has been with only a handful of teams armed with cap space and no top-shelf All-NBA talents available, imagine the frenzy a year from now. About half the league will have cap space, and Wade just put everyone on notice that he might just be the superstar most motivated to move.

Or not. Maybe he's just using the circumstances to his advantage. To which I say, good for him.
Category: NBA
Posted on: July 6, 2009 11:07 am

'Sheed gets green

Rasheed Wallace intended to spend the weekend contemplating which of the three teams that wanted him to visit with next. By Sunday night, he decided there was no point. 'Sheed wanted to be in green.

"The important thing is that Rasheed felt this was the best fit for him," Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland, said on the phone Monday. "And he decided, 'Let's not waste other people's time.'"

San Antonio, Orlando, and Dallas were hoping Wallace would delay his decision and hear what they had to say. But when Wallace called Strickland Sunday night, he'd already decided that Boston was where he wanted to sign what likely will be the last contract of his career. It's for two years at the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million annually.

The Celtics' star-studded recruiting pitch, spearheaded by Kevin Garnett, certainly paid off. Wallace was sold on being a complementary piece on a star-laden, championship-ready roster, and was wowed by coach Doc Rivers' presentation on how he would fit in.

"He has respect for the organization, likes the players and respects their abilities," Strickland said. "He has a certain affection for and is sort of a kindred spirit with K.G."
Posted on: July 4, 2009 6:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2009 7:19 pm

Hedo, Raptors agree to 5-year, $53 million deal

Hedo Turkoglu has agreed to a five-year, $53 million deal with the Raptors, admitting through his agent, Lon Babby, that he changed his mind after giving a verbal commitment to Portland.

The saga took presumably its final turn Saturday when Babby briefed reporters on Turkoglu's verbal commitment, his second thoughts while touring the Blazers' facilities on Thursday, the surprise offer that came in from Toronto on Friday morning, and finally the breakdown of the talks with Portland and the agreement with the Raptors.

"He's committed to Toronto," Babby said on the phone Saturday. "We acknowledge that the process has been a tough one. The moratorium was designed to give free agents time to deliberate and make a decision. Hedo had given a verbal commitment to Portland, and went out there with every intention that he was going to follow through on it. It just never felt right to him, and Toronto jumped in unsolicited with a proposal."

Turkoglu got $3 million more than the Blazers were offering, and Babby has a promise from Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo that he will make whatever roster moves necessary to create the cap space needed to make room for Turkoglu. That involves, at minimum, renouncing the rights to free agents Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker.

UPDATE: Turkoglu met with Blazers coach Nate McMillan Wednesday night in Orlando and gave his verbal commitment before traveling to Portland on Thursday to tour the facilities. The plan was that Turkoglu was going to Portland to finalize the deal.

But Babby said Turkoglu began having second thoughts upon arriving in Portland. It was widely known that the other team that coveted him was Toronto, which has a large Turkish population, is a "cosmopolitan city" (according to Babby), and is several hours closer by air to Turkoglu's homeland. It was the city Turkoglu's wife was said to have favored from the start of the free-agent process.

But the Blazers made a swift and aggressive push for Turkoglu, becoming the first team to contact him at the start of the negotiating period at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and putting their cards on the table: five years, $50 million, as reported here that morning. But a rival team executive who spoke to early Friday accurately predicted that Toronto would jump in with a pre-emptive offer and that Babby -- a shrewd negotiator -- would be willing to wait for Colangelo to clear the necessary cap space to follow through on it.

It turns out that by early Friday, Turkoglu already was seriously doubting whether Portland was the right fit and Babby already had communicated his client's second thoughts to Blazers management. Colangelo jumped in with his offer Friday morning, hours before numerous media outlets -- including this one -- began reporting the original agreement between Turkoglu and the Blazers.

UPDATE: Portland's front office initially was irate with Turkoglu's misdirection, according to a high-level source familiar with the situation, who used the word "reneged" to characterize Turkoglu's decision. Another source said the Blazers and Turkoglu had "different priorities," and that it was obvious that Turkoglu and Portland wasn't the right fit. Either way, the Blazers are moving on. They're expected to make a push for Knicks restricted free agent David Lee, who has not received the anticipated interest from teams with cap space like Memphis (which acquired Zach Randolph), Detroit (which spent its money on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva), plus Oklahoma City and Sacramento, neither of which is taking an aggressive posture in the first wave of free agency. The Blazers also are expected to focus on a point guard such as Sixers free agent Andre Miller, and some rival executives wonder if GM Kevin Pritchard will make a play for Lakers free agent Lamar Odom.

The Blazers, Babby said, "are feeling somewhat aggrieved, and justifiably so. We just assumed we had made a verbal commitment and we had every intention of following through on it. ... There was never any intention of hurting anybody."

Posted on: July 3, 2009 10:54 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2009 12:37 am

Hedo or Hedon't? (UPDATE)

Hedo, we have a problem.

Hours after agreeing in principle to a five-year contract with the Trail Blazers, free agent Hedo Turkoglu abruptly ceased negotiations and appears headed to the Toronto Raptors, a person directly involved in the negotiations told

"Hedo is headed to Toronto," said the person, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks. "To sign."

But after a whirlwind day in which Turkoglu and his representative, Lon Babby, gave a verbal commitment to sign with the Blazers -- or were done in by what one rival executive termed "too many leaks and not enough info" -- determining Turkoglu's final landing spot is best left to those getting the signatures.

The situation was rapidly unfolding, and it was unclear Friday night whether Turkoglu had second thoughts or Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo swooped in and played his trump card -- the fact that Turkoglu and his wife were said to prefer landing in Toronto. As word spread that Turkoglu had agreed with the Blazers after meeting with coach Nate McMillan in Orlando on Wednesday night and touring the Blazers' facilities on Thursday, the Raptors were pursuing three separate avenues that would have precluded making an offer for Turkoglu. They were engaged in talks with Cleveland about a sign-and-trade for guard Anthony Parker, and were making progress on re-signing two of their other free agents -- Shawn Marion and Carlos Delfino. A person familiar with all three negotiations said Delfino's deal was closer to completion due to ongoing debate in the Toronto front office about Marion's value.

The person involved in Turkoglu's negotiations with Portland used the word "reneged" in describing the nature of the impasse. Babby, who earlier in the evening had cautioned that there was "nothing yet" in terms of finalized details of a contract, did not return phone messages or emails after the talks broke down.

UPDATE: The details of how Turkoglu would wind up with the Raptors were sketchy. But given the fact that Toronto had already engaged in discussions about re-signing Marion and Delfino -- with varying degrees of progress -- left open the possibility of a more complicated sign-and-trade avenue. That would entail multiple parties signing on, including the Magic, who have quietly stayed in the background of Turkoglu's quest for a new home after acquiring Vince Carter from the Nets last week to protect themselves against losing him. Such a scenario could drag on for days because of the moving parts involved, and the person familiar with Turkoglu's decision to spurn the Blazers for the Raptors did not know the details of how it would be worked out. The simplest option on the table was for Toronto to renounce the rights to Marion, Delfino, and Parker and use the $9-$10 million in cap space for Turkoglu.

UPDATE: It is believed that Turkoglu's preference for Toronto was not the only factor. Another person familair with the situation said Turkoglu wasn't the right fit for the Blazers and that the two sides had "different priorities." As always, money played a role, according to another source. By renouncing Marion, Delfino, and Parker, the Raptors could exceed Portland's offer by about $800,000 annually. It wasn't clear Friday night whether Portland drove a harder bargain after seeing Toronto's options dwindle; whether Colangelo swooped in with an 11th-hour bid; or whether Turkoglu's camp simply had second thoughts or believed it could get a better deal from the Raptors.

If anything was clear in this bizarre negotiation, it was that Turkoglu's discussions with the Blazers were irreparably broken.

"It's called an agreement in principle," one source said in describing the agreement between Turkoglu and the Blazers, without elaborating. It is believed that the last player to reneg on such an agreement was Carlos Boozer with Cleveland in 2004.

No agreement between teams and players during the weeklong free-agent negotiating period is binding until deals can be signed on July 8, after the NBA and players association agree on the salary cap and luxury tax for the 2009-10 season.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or