Posted on: June 29, 2010 1:31 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 1:41 pm
The Nets enhanced their position in the free-agent chase Tuesday, trading Yi Jianlian and cash to the Wizards for Quinton Ross, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com. New Jersey cleared more than $2.9 million in additional salary-cap space with the move.
With the trade and the release of Keyon Dooling, the Nets now sit with $30.5 million in space to sign free agents -- second only to the Knicks' $34.4 million. The Bulls have $29.2 million, while the Heat will have $29.1 million once they re-sign free agent Dwyane Wade.
All three teams still have more maneuvering to do before having enough space to sign two players at the maximum first-year salary of approximately $16.6 million. The Nets could use Devin Harris ($8.9 million) in sign-and-trade scenario, or dump Kris Humphries ($3.2 million) on a team, like Washington, that is under the cap and thus wouldn't have to send salary back.
Posted on: June 28, 2010 5:38 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 1:54 pm
While agents and GMs continue to point out that teams without cap space can participate in free agency, too, it's worth taking a look at exactly where the cap-flush teams stand with two days left before the negotiating period begins.
The Bulls and Heat weren't the only teams whose cap space changed with draft-related trades. As things stand now, five teams have enough room to sign at least one max free agent at the going rate of about $16.6 million in the first year of the deal. Only the Knicks have more than enough room for two max players, while the Bulls and Heat are within easy striking distance through various housecleaning moves.
UPDATE: By trading Yi Jianlian and cash to Washington for Quinton Ross Monday, the Nets cleared another $2.9 million in cap space, closing in on room for two max free agents.
In all, there are nine teams with cap space heading into July 1. That doesn't mean free agency is a nine-team race, as teams that are over the cap (Dallas and Houston, for example) already are internally discussing sign-and-trade deals that could yield marquee free agents in return. Here's a breakdown of how much room each team with cap space has, using league salary figures and consultations with team executives:
1) Knicks, $34.4 million: That doesn't include a $10.5 million cap hold for unrestricted free agent David Lee, whose rights must be renounced to have room for two max signings.
2) Nets, $30.5 million: New Jersey failed in its draft-day attempt to deal Devin Harris and his $8.9 million contract, a move that would’ve put them on par with the Knicks for the most cap space. The Nets will continue to dangle Harris and others if they feel it gives them a real shot at two max players.
3) Bulls, $29.2 million: Chicago cleared $9.8 million by trading Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Wizards, who ironically absorbed the hit with the space provided by Cleveland in the Antawn Jamison trade. So it's possible that the Bulls could wind up recycling that space and turning it into LeBron James. But I digress. The Bulls' figure could rise to $30.9 million after Rob Kurz and Chris Richard (both non-guaranteed deals) are waived, and they’d get the room for two max free agents by dumping James Johnson ($1.8 million) on a team with cap space.
4) Heat, $29.1 million: Like Chicago, Miami is on the cusp of clearing room for two max free agents. There are two fairly straight-forward routes by which they can finish the job: Acquire one of the players in a sign-and-trade (if someone will take Michael Beasley and his $4.9 million contract) or give James Jones ($1.8 million) away to a team that’s under the cap, such as Sacramento. If a team like the Kings were offered Jones plus $3 million cash and a future draft pick, how could they say no?
5) Clippers, $16.8 million: As things stand now, the Clips have room for only one max player, and it’s likely to stay that way. They’ll go all-in for LeBron, but anticipating a no, will quickly switch gears to a second-tier free agent, with Joe Johnson the likely target.
6) Kings, $14.9 million: Sacto doesn’t intend to be a major player in pursuing free agents, but GM Geoff Petrie and assistant GM Jason Levien will still be quite busy. The Kings will field numerous calls from teams trying to unload salaries into Sacramento’s space, an avenue that would provide cash and future draft picks to continue the rebuilding process.
7) Timberwolves, $13 million: If GM David Kahn is able to dump Al Jefferson ($13 million), the T-Wolves’ space could increase significantly. Short of that, Minny will be in the same boat as the Kings as facilitators for other free-agent movers and shakers.
8) Wizards, $10.4 million: All that space, and then some, disappears if Washington picks up Josh Howard’s $11.8 million team option for 2010-11. That’s unlikely. It’s also a long shot that the Wizards will be players in the free-agent derby, preferring instead to wait until the financial framework of a new CBA is set.
9) Thunder, $5.5 million: GM Sam Presti finally delved into his cap space to acquire Daequan Cook and the expiring contract of Morris Peterson, deals that yielded 11th pick Cole Aldrich and future draft picks.
Posted on: June 24, 2010 6:35 pm
NEW YORK -- The Bulls have been talking about trading Kirk Hinrich since the February trade deadline, for obvious reasons. Shedding his $9 million salary for next season would seriously enhance Chicago's already strong hand in the free-agent chase that begins July 1.
That plan came to fruition Thursday when Chicago agreed to send Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft to the Wizards, which means they're now riding shotgun with the Knicks as the two teams with the most cap space for the Summer of LeBron.
By ridding the '10-'11 payroll of Hinrich's salary and the $1.3 million they would've had to pay the draft pick, the Bulls are now hovering around the $30 million mark in cap space -- second only to the Knicks' approximately $34 million. The Nets ($27 million) and Heat ($26 million) are in the back seat in terms of sheer cap room.
Those numbers could change between Thursday night and July 8, when teams can begin consummating trades and officially signing free agents. The Heat, for example, have been very active in recent days in their efforts to unload Michael Beasley in a cap-clearing move. But that scenario is complicated, one rival GM said, because of Beasley's status as a former No. 2 pick. They can't just send him to a team with cap space and take no players back, as the Bulls did with Hinrich. "They have to get something for him," the GM said.
The Nets, owners of the No. 3 pick (for now), also have been involved in various conversations about moving Devin Harris -- with the latest buzz centered around the Pacers in a swap of the third and 10th picks that would send Danny Granger to New Jersey. The Pacers have been actively discussing the 10th pick with numerous teams, but president Larry Bird and GM David Morway have long been opposed to dealing Granger. Asked if the Indiana-New Jersey scenario had legs, one person directly involved in the discussions said, "Nope."
Posted on: May 21, 2010 11:38 pm
With speculation growing over where LeBron James and other marquee free agents will wind up July 1, the player who could represent the best consolation prize is about to move one step closer to coming off the market.
Representatives for three-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets have scheduled a face-to-face negotiating session with the hopes of agreeing on a three-year extension that would keep the coveted scorer from hitting the free-agent market in 2011, sources familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com. Since Anthony, who turns 26 later this month, isn’t a free agent this summer, he is free to discuss an extension with his team prior to the opening of the negotiating period July 1.
The Nuggets, fully aware that Anthony would be in high demand in 2011 among teams that strike out in their pursuit of James, Dwyane Wade and other marquee free agents this summer, are hopeful that this will be the first step toward “making Melo a Nugget for a long time,” one of the people familiar with the team’s strategy said.
Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, declined comment recently when approached after a playoff game and asked about Anthony’s future. Rose, of course, has a full plate now that James’ season has ended and his long anticipated foray into unrestricted free agency is in full froth. With six weeks to go before James can terminate his contract and hit the market, speculation about where he will go has reached a fever pitch. But hardly anyone is paying attention to Anthony, who would be the ideal consolation prize for teams like the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat, Clippers and Wizards if they fail to lure the free agents of their choice this summer.
Anthony signed his current agreement in 2006, the same summer when James, Wade and Chris Bosh all chose three-year extensions with an early termination option in the fourth year that would maximize their ability to hit the free-agent market in the prime of their careers. Anthony opted for a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year, thus choosing the additional money and security over flexibility. The Nuggets are hopeful that Anthony will follow the same strategy again, especially with the very real threat of a lockout in 2011 and ultimately a salary structure that is expected to be far less favorable to the players, sources say. Some circumstances have changed. Anthony’s current deal was negotiated by agent Bill Duffy, whereas his current agent, Rose, negotiated the shorter extensions for James, Wade and Bosh. Ultimately, though, it comes down to what the player wants.
Anthony will have to weigh those financial realities against the possibility that the Nuggets’ roster built around him and an aging Chauncey Billups has gone as far as it will go with the current core group. Also, sources say Anthony perpetually feels slighted among the league’s top talent and may want to seek a bigger stage to pursue his rightful place in the league’s pecking order.
For example, if James turns down the Knicks’ overtures this summer and stays in Cleveland or signs with the Bulls, imagine what a star Anthony would be in New York if he returned to his birthplace next summer with a chip on his shoulder. Not only would he have an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong about his own talent, but he also would be the perfect candidate to tap into Knicks fans’ anger over being jilted by James. During the Knicks’ most recent run of success in the 1990s, they were immensely popular in New York not only because they were successful, but because they never had the league’s best player. The underdog/villain role would suit Anthony’s personality perhaps better than any of the league’s current superstars.
While Anthony was born in New York, he grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, and the Wizards’ just became a far more attractive destination for free agents with the draft lottery triumph that will land them No. 1 pick John Wall. The point is, Anthony will have options galore if he decides to forgo an extension this summer and hit the market in 2011. And that’s something both sides in his imminent contract negotiation understand quite well.
Posted on: May 18, 2010 9:01 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2010 9:38 am
Gilbert Arenas tore the Wizards apart. On Tuesday night, the basketball gods took a major step toward putting them back together.
The Wizards "went through a lot last year," Wall said. "I'll have an opportunity to help turn the organization around. They have cap space to add some good players."
Wall said he'd received a text from his college coach, John Calipari, who is at the center of speculation about several NBA coaching jobs. Wall said he hasn't discussed Coach Cal's future with him -- nor has he spoken with his pal, LeBron James, since his season ended prematurely with a loss to Boston in the conference semifinals.
As for the possibility that ping pong balls and free agency could bring them together somewhere, Wall said, "That would be exciting, but I haven't talked to him about that. I'm just excited to get a chance to play in the NBA."
Posted on: March 26, 2010 8:07 pm
Gilbert Arenas receiving a lenient sentence Friday that includes no jail time had little bearing on his future in the NBA. That aspect of his sad fall from grace isn't any clearer than it was two months ago, when NBA commissioner David Stern suspended him for the rest of the season.
Since then, the Wizards have almost entirely divorced themselves from Arenas. They've also traded the core players they expected Arenas would lead to the playoffs this season. With Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood went tens of millions in future payroll commitments. GM Ernie Grunfeld and assistant Tommy Sheppard responded swiftly and drastically to this franchise-shaping event, getting the Wizards under the luxury tax and putting the pieces in place for an all-out rebuilding.
The problem is, the Wizards have a team built for rebuilding with a franchise player, Arenas, on the books for $81 million over the next four years. And the chasm of distrust between Arenas and some elements of management did not shrink in the least with Friday's sentencing news.
Arenas' attorneys compiled a 221-page sentencing memorandum with dozens of character reference letters -- some of them quite moving. Yet the most significant aspect of the document was the glaring absence of a letter from a single member of the Wizards' basketball operations staff.
Not every decision maker in the Wizards' organization wants to move on without him, so the team's lack of participation in trying to minimize Arenas' sentence was critical. If the Wizards considered Arenas a key piece of their future, wouldn't they pull out all the stops to encourage leniency?
That is where basketball sense collides with legal protocol. If the Wizards take the expected step of investigating whether they can void Arenas' contract over the incident, then the organization's absence from the sentencing memorandum makes perfect sense. Legal sense.
Legal and basketball observers believe that voiding Arenas' contract is a long shot at best; the collective bargaining agreement is quite clear that players cannot face punishment from the league and from their team for the same offense. But that doesn't mean the Wizards can't try. And how duplicitous would it look to take that step after submitting a character reference letter to a judge?
So the next move belongs to the Wizards, and it's complicated by the fact that ownership of the team soon will be transferred from the family of late owner Abe Pollin to Ted Leonsis, with the franchise being valued at $550 million. Will the new ownership group make front office changes, holding Grunfeld accountable for the catastrophic impact of Arenas' foolishness? Nobody knows.
Whomever is in charge will have to weigh a lengthy arbitration process if they go the route of voiding Arenas' deal vs. the more expedient route of trying to trade him. There's a tendency to overreact in situations like this -- though there's never really been a situation like this -- and presume that Arenas' contract is untradable. Just look up the list of overpaid malcontents who've been traded in this league. No contract is untradeable.
Would a team that strikes out in its pursuit of 2010 free agents want to take a chance on Arenas, who is only 28 and will be determined to use his basketball and personal gifts to do some good?
The Wizards' statement after Arenas' sentencing Friday made reference to "closure" and said the team "looks forward to moving on and focusing on building this team into the contender that our outstanding fans deserve.” Moving on with or without Arenas? That is the biggest question that still needs to be answered.
Posted on: March 1, 2010 11:45 am
The Cavaliers confirmed Monday that Shaquille O'Neal will miss about eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. Despite the fact that Cleveland has gone from having two 7-footers to none in the past two weeks, this isn't a devastating blow to the Cavs' championship hopes.
While the Cavs were playing well with Shaq -- 12-3 from Jan. 16 until he got hurt last Thursday night in Boston -- they never needed him for the regular season. From the beginning, Shaq was strictly a postseason asset -- specifically, an asset big and bad enough to play mind games with Dwight Howard and get in his way just enough for Cleveland to beat the Magic in a seven-game series this time around.
Eight weeks from today is April 26 -- near the end of the first round, or (more likely) in the midst of a second-round playoff series. That will give Shaq enough time to get his tree-like legs back under him before Howard is posting him up in the playoffs. Maybe while he's rehabbing his thumb, Shaq could adopt Ron Artest's fish-and-veggie diet and drop a few LBs before he returns.
From now until the rest of the regular season, Shaq's absence will allow the Cavs to concentrate on getting Antawn Jamison acclimated to their offense. More importantly, it will give the Cavs a chance to play a little more freely, with better spacing, and at a quicker pace. They won't be a running team as they get deeper into the playoffs, but pushing the ball without Shaq down the stretch will only help them for the postseason stints when they'll need to play smaller lineups.
In the meantime, Cleveland will get back one of its 7-footers, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, once the 30-day waiting period expires following his trade to the Wizards. If Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought that was a "sham" before Shaq got hurt, imagine what the Zen Master thinks now.
Posted on: February 17, 2010 7:07 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 12:38 am
Before the All-Star break, LeBron James made it clear to Cavaliers management what he wanted to see them accomplish at the trade deadline. "Go get Antawn," the King told the Cleveland brass, according to sources.