Free Agency Rundown 7.1.12: The movers, they are a shaking

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Here’s what’s going on with free agency news and rumors as the moratorium period began Sunday night at 12:01 a.m..Do not, by any means, consider this comprehensive. There’s so much going on, we’re just trying to get you an overview. (HT: Hoopshype, IAmAGM.com)

Atlanta Hawks

Well, for starters, they’re exploring a deal for Joe Johnson to the Nets, per Yahoo. That’s a pretty strong indication of where they’re at. The Hawks are considered to be extremely active in the trade market, angling for a total overhaul of the team under new GM Danny Ferry. Nothing may come of it, but they’re on the phone, taking calls.

They’re also talking about, or to:

Ray Allen (link)

Rashard Lewis (link)

Brandon Bass (link)

Boston Celtics

They re-signed Kevin Garnett for a lot of money over three years and he’s old and is only going to oh, you know what? It’s Kevin freaking Garnett. You pay the man.

The Celtics want to get Ray Allen back in the fold and have reportedly offered him two years at $12 million. That’s a LOT for him, and a lot for him to turn down.

Everything else hinges on those two getting locked in first.

Bass reportedly wants to come back, Boston’s his preferred destination.

Brooklyn Nets

Oh, you know. The usual. Trying to trade for Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard, re-signing Gerald Wallace.

If they get Johnson, they don’t get Howard. They may not get Howard anyway. They definitely have Wallace. They’ll try and get O.J. Mayo if Johnson falls through. They have a lot of pans in the fire.

Charlotte Bobcats

Eric Gordon might take a meeting with them. There’s not much point.

Chicago Bulls

Omer Asik has agreed to sign a 3-year, $25.1 million offer with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls have until the 14th to match. The third year is structured to pay Asik $15 million, which may be a poison pill to the Bulls if they still want to dodge the luxury tax. It’s hard to see them matching.

They have interest in:

Kirk Hinrich (link)

Cleveland Cavaliers

They reportedly have interest in:

Nicolas Batum (link)

Ersan Ilyasoava (link)

Dallas Mavericks

They meet with Deron Williams on Monday, and meet with him first. But neither Mark Cuban nor Dirk Nowitzki will be in attendance, and you’d think that those two missing the meeting has some level of importance. But Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Michael Finley isn’t a slouchfest by any means. Something interesting, though.

Steve Nash is going to hold off on making a decision until he’s met with the Mavericks. He has a three-year, $36 million offer from the Raptors on the table.

They have interest in:

Ray Allen (link)

Brandon Roy (link)

Denver Nuggets

Josh Howard (link)

Detroit Pistons

All’s quiet on the Pistons front.

Golden State Warriors

The Dubs are not going to work on an extension with Stephen Curry at this point. They don’t seem to have a very firm lock on who their “core” is.

Houston Rockets

Signed Asik to that three-year deal mentioned above. The Rockets have been looking for a franchise center forever. This does seem to indicate a step away from Dwight Howard, however, as they’re now tied up with a significant chunk of change towards a center. There will be talk about Asik being overpaid, but the third year of the contract, Asik will be a $15 million expiring. That’s a trade chip Morey can use.

The Rockets are expected to host Eric Gordon at some point.

Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert has agreed to terms with the Blazers on a max contract, four years, $58 million. Will the Pacers sign? That’s a huge question. They have long thought highly of Hibbert, but have never been in love with him, so to speak. They like to date him, they enjoy going steady with him, but they don’t consider him marriage material. They might let him go because they just don’t consider him worth it. But if they do, who plays center? Hibbert was a huge advantage in the playoffs for the Pacers, especially against the Heat. Do they really want to let that walk?

They have interest in:

Eric Gordon (link)

Nick Young (link)

Restricted free agent George Hill (link)

Jamal Crawford (link)

Los Angeles Clippers

They inked Griffin to an extension as expected, and Chris Paul turned them down for an extension out of a pretty basic understanding of the CBA, no reason to read into it.

The Clippers are going to take a shot at Ray Allen.

Jason Terry is on their radar. They clearly want a two-guard upgrade.

They’ve already gotten out in pursuit of getting Chauncey Billups back.

Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard! Again!

Nick Young and Brandon Rush are on the Lakers’ targeted list. That’ a fairly big indication that they want a bench shooter to add behind Kobe Bryant. Interesting, considering how many minutes Bryant played last season,and how often Metta World Peace plays at that position.

They’re already reaching out to Ramon Sessions to get him back under contract.

They’re also interested in:

Lou Amundson (link)

Kirk Hinrich (link)

Rashard Lewis (link)

Memphis Grizzlies

Targeting Ray Allen. They’ve reportedly offered the full mid-level exception.

Randy Foye, Kirk Hinrich, and Andre Miller are all also on the list.

Miami Heat

Ray Allen. So much Ray Allen. Targeting Ray Allen. Need the Ray Allen. Want the Ray Allen. May not have the money to get the Ray Allen. Boston’s offer throws a major wrench in their plans. Jason Terry will likely become option 2 if Allen goes back to Boston.

You can put them on the list if Jose Calderon is amnestied.

Milwaukee Bucks

Not sounding like Ersan Ilyasova will be back. With John Henson, Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, the Bucks have a lot of depth down low. But they don’t have a lot of skill offensively. Could get tough to get balanced scoring.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They’re reportedly hot to trot for Nicolas Batum. Can’t see a situation where Portland lets him get away. But the Hibbert deal could change all that.

Jamal Crawford is reportedly on their list.

New Orleans Hornets

Laughing as teams host Eric Gordon before they match any offer and continue their rebuilding plan, I’d imagine.

New York Knicks

Got Steve Nash in the building to try and stay in the conversation. The Raptors offer may have been a death knell.

Oklahoma City Thunder

YOU GOT THABEET (maybe).

Orlando Magic

Oh, you know. Dwight.

Philadelphia 76ers

Got Lavoy Allen back on a great, two-year, $6 million deal. Total steal.

Phoenix Suns

Looking at all options as it looks like Nash is gone. Going to take a whack at Eric Gordon.

Portland Trail Blazers

Offered Roy Hibbert a max contract. That impacts their ability to re-sign Nicolas Batum, but also gives them maybe the best guy to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge in the league. If they get him, they may be overpaying, but they’re also going to have a ridiculously tough frontcourt.

Sacramento Kings

All’s quiet on the Kings front, for now.

San Antonio Spurs

Looking at options, nothing heavily invested now.

Toronto Raptors

Offered Steve Nash a 3-year, $36 million contract to come back to the motherland. Raptors would then presumably amnesty Jose Calderon. Where Nash fits in with the Raptors’ defensive approach is still up in the air.

Utah Jazz

Josh Howard is visiting a number of teams, and it doesn’t look likely he’ll return.

Paul Millsap wants an extension for more than $10 million per year.

Washington Wizards

All’s quiet on the Wizards front, for the most part.

Tim Hardaway Jr.’s reported reaction to Knicks’ $71 million offer: ‘Man, that’s crazy’

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Knicks acting (now long-term) front-office leader Steve Mills signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet shocked some within the Knicks.

It also apparently shocked someone who wasn’t (yet) with New York – Hardaway himself.

Pablo Torre on ESPN:

I was talking to somebody who would know about the Tim Hardaway Jr. scenario. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s first words after signing that contract: “Man, that’s crazy.”

In the likely event Hardaway doesn’t live up to this massive contract, he’ll get blamed – and the scorn will be hotter in New York.* That’s not fair, as Hardaway was just taking the money offered to him. He wasn’t getting anywhere near that much anywhere else. But it is reality.

*It’s a lesson Kyrie Irving, who could land anywhere, could stand to remember as he reportedly hopes for the Knicks to trade for him.

As hilarious as Hardaway’s response was, it doesn’t top Tyler Johnson for my favorite reaction to a loaded offer sheet.

Report: As Kyrie Irving rumors swirl, Timberwolves still negotiating extension with Andrew Wiggins

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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The Timberwolves were working on a contract extension for Andrew Wiggins.

Then, Kyrie Irving‘s trade request became public. He reportedly listed Minnesota among his preferred destinations. Jimmy Butler (a friend of Irving’s) and Karl-Anthony Towns have petitioned Timberwolves management to add Irving, and the team is exploring a deal. Wiggins fits perfectly what Cleveland is said to be seeking.

So, where do extension talks stand now?

Darren Wolfson of

The Timberwolves could simultaneously be exploring multiple paths. They might want to trade for Irving, even if it means including Wiggins. They might want an extension lined up with Wiggins in case they don’t. They’re not committed to either direction until they finalize something.

They’re not even committed to keeping Wiggins if they extend him.

It’d complicate an Irving trade, to be sure. Wiggins outgoing salary would still count as his actual salary ($7,574,323), but his incoming salary to Cleveland would count as the average annual salary of the entire deal – the final season of his rookie-scale contract and the extension years both included.

But there’s no time period after signing Wiggins to a rookie-scale extension where the Timberwolves would be prohibited from trading him. He could also sign an extension with the Cavs anytime between a trade and Oct. 16. Minnesota might be assessing Wiggins’ extension demands on behalf of Cleveland, which would surely be interested in extending him in accordance with a trade.

If the Timberwolves actually sign Wiggins to an extension, that’d send a big signal they don’t plan to trade him for Irving – but even that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Until a deal becomes official or more concrete word leaks of Minnesota’s plan, I wouldn’t assume a Wiggins-for-Irving deal is off the table.

Report: Kyrie Irving ‘very badly’ wants trade to Knicks

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Kyrie Irving, who grew up in New Jersey, listed the Knicks among his preferred destinations in a trade.

Is New York his top choice?

Pablo Torre on ESPN:

I got a phone call, and the voice on the other end of that phone call is a trustworthy person. And he was saying to me that Kyrie Irving very badly wants to be a New York Knick. Kyrie Irving wants to come home.

Irving is less valuable than Kristaps Porzingis and more valuable than Carmelo Anthony, and the Knicks can’t easily bridge either gap. They reportedly won’t trade Porzingis for Irving, a wise move. Anthony – who possesses a no-trade clause – is reportedly set on the Rockets. An Irving trade would almost certainly have to be centered around one of those two players.

Maybe Cleveland can work its way into a multi-team trade with Anthony going to Houston, but it’s unclear where the assets the Cavs are seeking would come from.

When Irving requested a trade, he should have known he’d lose control of the process. Locked up for two more years and without a no-trade clause, Irving has minimal sway. His relationship with the Cavaliers looks increasingly unworkable, but they could deal him anywhere.

That said, I can see why he’d want to go to New York – big market in his home area, a team he could take over. Even as Porzingis grows in stature, he’s not a ball-dominant player who’d step on Irving’s toes.

But this just feels like a Stephon Marbury redux. From owner James Dolan down, the Knicks are poorly run, and their stars – beloved when welcomed – usually leave with their reputations damaged.

By the way, what happened to the Spurs being Irving’s top choice? In a situation like this, sometimes people close to the player have differing preferences and leak accordingly. That could have just been someone near Irving pushing for his or her choice for the guard – and this could be, too.

If players thought this year’s free agent market was tight, next summer could be “nuclear winter”

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Plenty of agents spent this summer trying to explain to their clients that the summer of 2017 was not the summer of 2016 (one I know of even was thanking media members in Las Vegas who wrote about how tight the free agent market had gotten so he could show his clients). Players saw the ridiculous contracts of 2016 — Timofey Mozgov got four-years, $64 million; Bismack Biyombo got four years, almost $70 million; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, players deep into rosters were overpaid — and thought this summer it would be their turn.

Except it wasn’t. In 2016 the salary cap spiked from $70 million to $94 million and that meant 27 teams entered free agency under the cap (and the teams over it spent big to re-sign their own), and $5 billion in contracts were handed out. This summer, 14 teams were under the $99 million cap and about $3 billion was handed out — and once the stars such as James Harden got paid big, the market dried up and players got less than expected. Four-time All-Star and elite defender Paul Millsap would have been a clear max a year ago, he could “only” get three years (at age 31) at $4 million less than his max. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would have been a lock max in 2016, he signed a one-year deal with the Lakers for $18 million this summer. And further down the list guys like Rajon Rondo are signing team-friendly deals.

And next summer is going to be a far tighter market. As Tim MacMahon and Bobby Marks of ESPN point out, the free agent class of 2018 is going to pay for the excess of 2016.

The early projections for 2018-19: nine teams with cap space, and potentially 10 teams paying luxury tax.

“The real story is the nuclear winter for free agents coming next year,” one team executive with authority to make personnel decisions told ESPN. “Teams planned the last two summers for the cap to be much higher. The fact that it went way down from the projections crushed teams.”

Another general manager put it this way to ESPN:

“What I see all the time is players not understanding why, ‘This player got this, but I get that?’ They want it to make sense and it just doesn’t make sense. I think you’ll see a lot of agents get fired.

“The top guys will always feed first and then the year of the cap spike, there was a lot left for everybody else to feed. Next year, the top players will still get theirs, and then there will be not much left.”

NBA teams are not going to negotiate deals off the mistakes of 2016, they see that as the outlier to be ignored.

The Summer of 2018 is loaded with top free agents who are going to get max contract offers from their own teams and those with enough cap space to try and poach them — LeBron James, Kevin Durant (he will re-sign with Warriors), Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins, plus restricted guys who could see max deals such as Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. There’s even a second tier of guys who will be maxed out or close to it — Andrew Wiggins (extension eligible right now), DeAndre Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, and others.

But that next tier down? How much will teams pay for Robert Covington? Aaron Gordon? Clint Capela? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Danny Green? And for guys counting on the one-year deals they signed this summer to boost their stock — we can use Derrick Rose as an example — even if they play well they may not see the money they expect.

The league and owners had wanted to smooth in the salary cap spike of 2016, raising it fair amount over three or five years to avoid the spending spree, but the players’ union rejected that idea. For the free agents in the summer of 2016 that worked out well. For the ones in the 2018… not so much.