Posted on: July 12, 2009 8:54 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2009 10:43 pm
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 4, 2009 6:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2009 7:19 pm
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 CBSSports.com 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, 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 CBSSports.com.
"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.
Posted on: July 3, 2009 3:01 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2009 7:13 pm
Hedo Turkoglu and the Portland Trail Blazers have reached an agreement in principle on a five-year contract, CBSSports.com has confirmed.
UPDATE: Adding Turkoglu gives the Blazers a potent and versatile threat who can handle the ball, produce devastating results in pick-and-roll situations, and present matchup nightmares for the opponent. At 6-10, Turkoglu can easily shoot over smaller perimeter defenders and is smoother than most frontcourt players attempting to guard him. He is the ideal complement to Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, and his ability to initiate offensive sets will provide freedom to shooting guard Brandon Roy even if Portland isn't able to upgrade at point guard this summer. It was expected that the Blazers would have to renounce their rights to two overseas players, Joel Freeland and Petteri Koponen, in order to clear cap space for Turkoglu.
UPDATE: Another person familiar with the Blazers' plans said adding point guard Andre Miller, who was thought to have been their No. 1 target before the free-agent bell rang at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, is still a possibility. Given that Turkoglu will use up nearly all of Portland's $9 million in cap space next season, it would appear that a sign-and-trade for Miller would be the most realistic option, although details on Miller's situation have been scarce.
As for Turkoglu, a 30-year-old player who has never been an All-Star or led the league in any major statistical category, $50 million certainly seems to be the classic case of overpaying. But it's sensible on several fronts for the Blazers, who have extensions for Roy and Aldridge on the horizon and wouldn't have been in a position to improve the roster as much next summer as they are right now. Turkoglu also fits the Blazers' style and helps Roy, their most explosive player. Money well spent, if you ask me.
Posted on: July 3, 2009 1:58 am
Edited on: July 3, 2009 2:33 am
While the Portland Trail Blazers hosted Hedo Turkoglu for an elaborate free-agent visit Thursday, the team that could spoil the party was still plotting.
As of early Friday, the Toronto Raptors had yet to decide whether to trump the Blazers with an offer for the 30-year-old forward. Portland is offering a five-year deal for approximately $50 million. Toronto, which is believed to be the preferred choice of Turkoglu's wife, could beat that by about $800,000 per year once it clears cap space through trades or by renouncing its rights to free agents Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker, and Carlos Delfino.
The Cavaliers, who lost out on Ron Artest and Trevor Ariza, called the Raptors Thursday to inquire about a sign-and-trade for Parker. Cleveland did not ask about Marion, a person familiar with the situation said. Since the inquiry came from Cleveland, the discussions did not seem to be a precursor to a play for Turkoglu.
One Western Conference executive said he would be "shocked" if Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo didn't make Turkoglu an offer. The person believed that Lon Babby, Turkoglu's agent, would wait until Colangelo was able to create the cap space necessary for the offer before agreeing with Portland. But a high-level coaching source familiar with the situation predicted that Turkoglu would wind up in Portland, saying Toronto's involvement was "just talk."
The Raptors were weighing whether they'd be better off losing Marion, Parker and Delfino and adding Turkoglu or retaining one or more of their free agents and pursuing a mid-level signing. Toronto has expressed strong interest in Nuggets free agent Linas Kleiza, a restricted free agent, as an alternative to Turkoglu.
Posted on: July 2, 2009 1:26 am
While Hedo Turkoglu is being wined and dined in two time zones by the Portland Trail Blazers, his other potential suitors aren't sitting around waiting for them to kiss each other good night.
The Toronto Raptors, for one, are deliberating what it would take to make Turkoglu an offer that would top the the five-year, $50 million proposal that Portland can offer, as reported early Wednesday by CBSSports.com. According to a person familiar with the situation, the Raptors are mulling whether they would be better off making a pre-emptive strike for Turkoglu -- which would entail renouncing the rights to Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker -- or trying to keep those players and sign a mid-level free agent. Toronto has yet to offer an extension to 2010 free agent Chris Bosh; that decision is tied to the others. And Turkoglu isn't the only free agent Toronto is considering. League sources indicated early Thursday that the Raptors also were contemplating an offer to restricted free agent David Lee. Any offer to Lee, by definition, would be in the $8-$10 million range so it would test the Knicks' threshold for matching. And Lee's list of potential suitors shrank by one Wednesday when Memphis traded Quentin Richardson to the Clippers for power forward Zach Randolph.
With so many moving parts -- and with Turkoglu having entertained Blazers coach Nate McMillan in Orlando Wednesday night with plans to visit Portland on Thursday -- it is clear that the recruitment of Turkoglu isn't a one-team show. Turkoglu's camp expected Portland to extend its formal offer during the course of Turkoglu's recruiting trip to the Pacific Northwest on Thursday.
If Portland landed Turkoglu, it would be the first big-ticket free-agent signing of GM Kevin Pritchard's reign. While some involved might view Toronto's preparation of a pre-emptive offer as brash or shameless, this is why the negotiating period was created. Free agents may negotiate and consider offers from July 1-7, but can't sign on the dotted line until the league and players association set the salary cap and luxury tax on July 8.
Posted on: July 1, 2009 1:18 am
Edited on: July 1, 2009 10:37 am
Determined to make the first splash of the NBA's free-agent negotiating period early Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers are making a strong push to sign Hedo Turkoglu, the prized free agent of the summer.
While negotiations across the league were in the early stages, a person with knowledge of the discussions said the Blazers are trying to lure Turkoglu with a deal in the $50-million range. Contracts cannot be signed until July 7, when the annual moratorium on signing and trading players is lifted.
Other teams expected to make a play for Turkoglu, who earned a huge pay day by helping Orlando get to the NBA Finals, were Toronto, Detroit, and Sacramento. The Magic, who acquired Vince Carter from the Nets on the belief that they could not retain Turkoglu, are not expected to be a factor in a situation that involves Turkoglu getting $10 million a year.
UPDATE: Turkoglu's agent, Lon Babby, told the Oregonian that the Blazers were the first team to call. "They were enthusiastic and well received by us," Babby said. "We are engaged in the process. We will see where it takes us in the next couple of days and take it from there."
GM Kevin Pritchard and assistant GM Tom Penn first called Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, who are seeking extensions from the team, the Oregonian reported. In order to clear cap space for Turkoglu, the Blazers likely would have to renounced their rights to both Joel Freeland and Petteri Koponen, both playing overseas.
UPDATE: Several team executives confirmed the Blazers' interest in Turkoglu Wednesday. But as is usually the case, the Blazers were operating in somewhat of a clandestine environment. One agent who has been in contact with numerous teams since the free-agent bell rang at 12:01 a.m. said Blazers officials insist the talks with Turkoglu were still in the developing stages. It's difficult to imagine where Turkoglu would do better than the Blazers, though. The Pistons, according to sources, are targeting Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Oklahoma City -- another rare team with cap space -- appears to be focused on restricted free agent Paul Millsap or New York's David Lee.