Winderman: Cap holds change free agent equation

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Hold on. No, seriously, hold on.

Because all is not as it appears when it comes to the heavy hitters and free agency this summer.

With the passing of the trading deadline and now the passing of this week’s waiver deadline for postseason eligibility, we have a much better read on where teams stand entering the July 1 start of NBA free agency.

We certainly know the heavy hitters.

Based on the accounting of one team executive, factoring in salaries for 2010 first-round picks, nine teams will enter the offseason with more than $10 million in cap space: New York, at $31.65 million, New Jersey at $23.32 million, Miami at $21.35 million, Washington at $19.49 million, Chicago at $18 million, Sacramento at $16.85 million, the Clippers at $15.36 million, Minnesota at $12.46 million and Oklahoma City at $11.5 million.

Yes, you’ve seen other numbers elsewhere, because no one truly knows where the 2010-11 cap will fall or how teams view their own impending free agents, as well as players with option clauses.

But even with the aforementioned space figures, all is not always as it appears, which is where the “hold on” part enters the equation.

Ah, those pesky cap holds.

Basically, if you plan to re-sign one of your own impending free agents and retain the right to give them a typical free-agency raise, you have to deduct their “cap hold” from your impending space.

The formal definition, if you must: “Players who finished their last year of their contract and do not re-sign with another team will have a salary-cap hold for that season.

The cap holds for each player continue to count against the team’s salary cap until they are renounced. If the player is renounced, then he can only re-sign with that team for either remaining space under the cap or the minimum.”

It is why, if the Knicks follow up with their plan to sign two top-tier free agents, David Lee has to be sacrificed.

His cap hold is $10.5 million.

Of course, not all cap holds matter. Al Harrington, for example, has a $15 million cap hold, and no one is holding their breath about the Knicks carrying that on their books for a minute longer than necessary.

The point is that to get free agents you often have to sacrifice your own free agents.

To that end, from the salary book of one NBA team, we offer a look at other cap holds not currently figured into the space of the league’s 2010 heavy hitters.

Chicago: Jerome James, $9.9 million; Brad Miller, $18.4 million; Hakim Warrick, $2.8 million; Joe Alexander, $3.6 million; Flip Murray, $.24 million.

L.A. Clippers: Drew Gooden, $5.5 million; Mardy Collins, $5.6 million; Craig Smith, $4.6 million.

Miami: Quentin Richardson, $13.1 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $24.2 million; Udonis Haslem, $10.7 million; Dorell Wright, $5.8 million; Yakhouba Diawara, $1.2 million.

Minnesota: Damien Wilkins, $7.3 million; Darko Milicic, $11.3 million; Alando Tucker, $1.9 million.

New Jersey: Josh Boone, $6.2 million; Trenton Hassell, $8.7 million; Bobby Simmons $16.2 million.

New York: Chris Duhon, $7.8 million; Al Harrington, $15 million; David Lee $10.5 million; Sergio Rodriguez, $4.7 million.

Oklahoma City: Etan Thomas, $11.9 million.

Sacramento: None of note.

Washington: Javaris Crittenton, $2.3 million; Randy Foye, $10.1 million; Josh Howard, $16.2 million; Mike Miller, $14.7 million; Fabricio Oberto, $2.4 million.

Again, what matters most is that none of the aforementioned players can be retained if their team opts to maximize its cap space.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.