From ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
It’s been a familiar refrain from a handful of front-office types during the first few days of the NBA’s gradual return to offseason normalcy: Denver’s Arron Afflalo is a popular choice when you ask execs to pinpoint the most attractive free agent outside of the big men…
…Sources told ESPN.com that the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, despite possessing no cap space to bid for the 26-year-old swingman, will continue to press the Nuggets to see if they’re amenable to sign-and-trade discussions. Sources say New Jersey and Minnesota, meanwhile, are among the teams with salary-cap space weighing whether to extend an offer sheet after free agency officially starts Dec. 9 that the Nuggets will have three days to match to keep Afflalo.
Afflalo, who excels at perimeter defense and knocking down open shots, is the type of solid role player that teams love to have — players with the athleticism to play good defense, the ability to make three-point shots, and the maturity to not use their shooting range and athleticism to force tough shots are not easy to come by. Afflalo would be a natural upgrade over Keith Bogans in Chicago, and would be a younger, cheaper, and overall better version of Metta World Peace in Los Angeles. (New Jersey and Minnesota, meanwhile, apparently can’t even look at a free-agent swingman without putting an offer sheet on the table.)
Of course, as Stein notes in his article, it will likely take a huge offer sheet to pry Afflalo away from the Nuggets, as they can match any offer sheet he receives and Denver has already lost both Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith to China in free agency. Plenty of contenders would love to have Afflalo on their wings, but it’s hard to imagine him wearing anything but a Nuggets jersey at the beginning of next season.
From Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld:
On Wednesday, NBA teams were allowed to contact agents for the first time since June 30, the day before the lockout commenced. Executives were given the opportunity to work the phones and express interest in upcoming free agents ten days before those players can start signing with teams.
One player that came up often in conversations was Jamal Crawford. He’s arguably the best shooting guard in this year’s free agent class and one of the best pure scorers available. After averaging 14.2 points off of the Atlanta Hawks’ bench last season, Crawford is receiving plenty of interest around the league.
A number of teams made calls to Crawford’s camp on Wednesday including the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers, according to sources close to the situation.
It makes sense that so many contenders are interested in Crawford, who LeBron James attempted to recruit via Twitter a few years back. Crawford excels at drilling long jumpers, either off the dribble or spotting up, and can provide instant offense and floor-spacing to any team. He doesn’t need plays called for him or an offense built around him to be effective — he can come off the bench, fire in some long jumpers, and then go right back to the bench and wait for his number to be called again. Also, he may have the coolest signature move in the NBA, and everyone loves signature moves.
Due to Crawford’s middling scoring efficiency, poor defense, and iffy passing skills, he’s not a player that any team can build around, but he’s a luxury that almost any contending team would like to have. However, with so many teams bidding for Crawford, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that he’ll end up being overpaid, so don’t be surprised if the team that wins the “Crawford sweepstakes” ends up feeling like they got a booby prize after a season or two has gone by.
Tyson Chandler was the anchor of the Mavericks championship defense. In an era with no hands allowed on the perimeter, you can’t win without a big who can protect the rim. He was a key change that took them from contender to pretender.
In a surprise development on the first day that NBA teams and agents could start talking about new contracts, Tyson Chandler came away convinced that his time with the Dallas Mavericks is coming to an end.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Marc Stein have the report:
“I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview Wednesday night. “I’m really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me.”
Chandler insisted Wednesday that such assumptions are a misnomer and admitted for the first time that he’s disappointed by the club’s decision not to offer him a contract extension after he was widely credited — most notably by Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki — for changing the team’s defensive culture after three first-round exits in the previous four years.
Chandler’s injury history makes him a bit of a risk, and any team that pays for him in free agency will definitely be buying high, but Chandler is one of the most efficient offensive players in basketball and a legitimate force at the defensive end who helped propel the Mavericks to a championship. If Chandler does leave the Mavericks, expect nearly every team with cap space — and a lot of contenders without cap space who will be praying that Chandler will take a pay cut to play with them — to start bidding for Chandler’s services.
According to Stein and Broussard, one reason the Mavericks may be willing to let Chandler go is that they are hoping to join next off-season free-agent frenzy, when Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul may all be available. We’ll keep you updated on this as it develops.
From ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher:
Mentioned on SC a Monta Ellis + asset for Rudy Gay deal. Came from GS side. If Mem considered – big if – it would be for financial reasons.
Ellis is owed $11 million a year through the 2013/14 season, while Gay’s contract size will increase until he is owed $19 million in the 2014/15 season. Gay was injured for Memphis’ playoff run, which makes him look a bit less important to the team than he did before he got hurt last season, but this would still be a significant on-court downgrade for the Grizzlies.
Ellis is a volume shooter who can fill it up in the blink of an eye, and the Grizzlies did reportedly offer O.J. Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet for Ellis at the 2009/10 trade deadline, but Gay is a better outside shooter, a more efficient scorer, significantly larger than Ellis, and a much better defender than Monta, who may well be the worst perimeter defender in the NBA. If the “asset” the Warriors are willing to throw in is something like a first-round pick or Memphis truly thinks it is in dire straights financially, this could happen, but from a pure basketball perspective, this would make very little sense for the Grizzlies.
TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott suspects that it might:
David Stern has more than a little power, which is especially clear when players really break the rules.
After the unrestrained brawl known as “the Auburn Hills incident,” for example, the fortunes of the Pacers and Pistons franchises and several players hung in the balance. Were there hearings to be had? Was there testimony? Is there a judge or a panel that metes out punishments in such cases? Are there published guidelines?
There is none of that. In that case, and in many other cases, the commissioner essentially has the right to punish players as he sees fit…
…Hunter said a couple of weeks ago that his list of “B” issues runs to six pages of “issues that are very important that we have yet to resolve.”
Asked to name some of the issues on his “B” list Hunter first identified the league’s age limit, and then named just one other: “commissioner discipline.”
We’ve gotten used to swift justice being handed out by the commissioner when players step out of line. While a more democratic process would certainly seem like a good idea in theory, Stern’s first priority is generally damage control, as he is still attempting to get mainstream America to embrace the NBA game the same way they embrace the college game every March.
If swift suspensions aren’t handed down when players run into the stands and start punching people, that goal could become harder to attain. Still, fair is fair, and the argument that Stern has too much power when handing out suspensions has merit to it on an ideological effort. The players may also want the controversial “dress code” revoked — personally, I like seeing players in business clothes when they’re not playing (and it’s often mutually beneficial — how much extra endorsement money do you think Michael Jordan made during his career for suiting up after games), but ultimately the players should get to decide what they want to wear if they’re not playing. And if this lockout agreement blows up because of a hooded sweater impasse, I will actually go insane.