Tag: free agency 2010

Lakers sign Matt Barnes. While you were watching Miami, the champs got better.


Thumbnail image for Barnes_ref.jpgThe Lakers are two time defending NBA champions. And when they tip off next season, they will have improved. Chew on that for a second, Miami.

The Lakers got better at the wing by signing Matt Barnes on Thursday night. The Lakers could offer only $1.7 million this year, next year it would be $1.9 million but Barnes will have an opt out.

Barnes turned down more money, a reported $3.5 million a year for three years from Cleveland. He certainly would have gotten more playing time. But if Barnes was not going to play for a contender, he wanted even more money.

Barnes is coming home — he went to UCLA in college, where he may have been a better wide receiver than a basketball player. Maybe not, but it was pretty close.

The Lakers will now bring Barnes off the bench on the wing, spelling Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant, giving the Lakers some toughness and defense off the bench. Barnes is not a good a defender as his reputation, he shot only 32 percent from three last season. But he plays within himself, can attack the rim, get out and run and makes good decisions.

He also fits with the Lakers theme of versatility. They like guys who can play multiple positions, allowing them to create a host of matchup problems. Barnes can play the two or the three. He is long and athletic.

If the Lakers had a weakness last season, it was that their bench was Lamar Odom and a prayer. Now Steve Blake will come in and be a step up at the one from Fisher, and Barnes can come in at the wing, while Odom will be the four. Basically, the Lakers are eight deep with really good players, plus they have Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic.

The Lakers are better. That is scary for the league.

Tracy McGrady tries to impress Chicago Bulls next


mcgrady_runs.jpgUPDATE 12:05 pm: McGrady made this tweet today:

Clippers, Lakers, Bulls, Heat

Which are the four teams he mentioned last night. But read on, as we explain the Clippers seem to have no interest, and the Heat are saying privately they are not going there. You can do the math from there.

8:44 am: He is maybe the biggest free agent name still on the market, but he is having some trouble finding a home.

Tracy McGrady worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers this week, and while both sides were polite and said they would continue to talk no contract offer is forthcoming from L.A. Next up on the workout tour is Chicago next Monday, according to David Aldridge at NBA.com.

Chicago is where McGrady has been living for a couple years — working out with Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s trainer — and is rumored to be where he wants to land. But he has to go into a workout and impress them that at age 31 he is really back from the microfracture surgery in his knee 18 months ago.

Last season McGrady played in 30 games for the Knicks, scoring 8.2 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting. He also had to miss games to rest his knee. The Knicks are looking for a roster turnover and they did not invite McGrady back to be a part of it.

McGrady tweeted yesterday that he has plenty of interest:

“clippers, bulls, lakers, heat….but that could change by the morning…lol..this is the NBA”

The Heat will not be bringing him in, they have said privately they do not want to bring in another big name and personality that could in any way threaten the chemistry of their big three.

What those other teams are weighing is what McGrady can offer on the court and if that is worth the media attention and distraction he could be off it. McGrady at his peak could fill it up with the best of them — he led the league in scoring twice. There will be pressure from fans and the media to give him some run. Fans that remember the great McGrady and didn’t see him struggle last season.

Maybe the Bulls will like the equation; maybe they think he can defend like Tom Thibodeau wants (actually, I doubt they think that); maybe they think McGrady has something to offer. Maybe they think he can be a veteran backup to Luol Deng (although that is the injury prone backing up the injury prone). But he will have to prove it in a workout.

Rhino running in Los Angeles again, Craig Smith signs with Clippers

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csmith.jpgCraig Smith is solid, reliable, a guy who is physical and will battle inside night in and night out.

Consistency seemed like a novelty to Clippers fans last year, so they latched on to Rhino. He was a fan favorite late in the year, and now they get him back for another season.

Craig Smith’s agent has said he has signed a one-year deal with the Clippers, according to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times.

Smith will come off the bench behind Blake Griffin (you’ll remember soon enough that he can really play) and give the Clippers a steady presence inside. He gave the Clippers nearly 8 points and 4 rebounds a game in 16 minutes.

Good signing for the Clippers.

Matt Barnes trade to Toronto is dead


Thumbnail image for Mbarnes.jpgUPDATE 9:17 am: Matt Barnes is not going anywhere. Yet.

The deal announced by Barnes himself on Twitter is now dead, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. The reason is a miscalculation by the teams on what could be spent. Nice. Somebody forgot to carry the one and look what happens.

It puts Barnes back at square one. He has offers — a bunch of contending teams want him but for limited minutes at a salary of less than $2 million a year. He wants more money and more minutes. So he keeps searching.

1:37 am: Contenders wanted Matt Barnes to come in and play a role. Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston.

Barnes wanted minutes. He wanted more money.

Toronto came through, offering two years at $9 million in a place he will get a lot of burn. Barnes said on his twitter he was going north.

Nxt season I will b playing for the Toronto Raptors. I wanted to thank the fans in orl you guys were amazing the way u guys excepted

Except it’s not that easy and it’s not that done, according to Marc Stein at ESPN (and Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).

Primarily because Toronto cannot offer Barnes $4 million next year, they gave most of their mid-level exception to Linas Kleiza. Toronto reached out to Orlando about a sign-and-trade, but Orlando only has partial Bird-rights (they only had him for one season) and can only offer about $2 million next year.

Orlando and Toronto officials will talk again tomorrow, but they will have to be very creative to find a way to make this work.

If not, Cleveland may step up for Barnes. Or one of the contenders, who are still out there lurking around, hoping Barnes falls to them.

Winderman: Jordan would have called Magic and Bird — he wanted to win


When did Michael Jordan become like our dads?

When did he start with the, “Well, back in my day…”

Because if he truly is going to thrive as a franchise owner with the Charlotte Bobcats, then perhaps there is a need to recognize he is not back in his day, and that the world has changed since there was a one-star-per-team limit.

The latest, and best-chronicled, is the comment Jordan offered during his latest whirl at celebrity golf over the weekend.

“There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team,'” Jordan said. “But that’s . . .  things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.”

In other words, he wouldn’t have gone LeBron, wouldn’t have sought refuge in the land of Wade (and Bosh).


Understand, Jordan wanted to win, had to win.

So let’s say Jerry Krause pulled his ultimate power play during Jordan’s career, during one of those seasons when Michael was on the year-to-year plan. Say Krause won the power struggle with Phil Jackson, excised the coach, and got into a stare down with Jordan.

Can you honestly say Jordan then would have moved on to the Clippers or Warriors or Raptors, or stayed with a rebuilding Bulls team just so he could have competed against Shaq and Malone and Reggie?

Or, like LeBron, would he have said that he wanted to play deeper into the playoffs, play alongside someone who could keep him there.

For Jordan, there always was the luxury of playing alongside Scottie Pippen. He didn’t have to find a running mate; he always had one.

And it’s not as if LeBron still won’t have his moments this coming season against the likes of Carmelo and Durant and Pierce. The challenges still will be there. Plenty of them. With many motivated opponents.

Put it another way, do you honestly believe Jordan would have hung up if Larry or Magic or Charles had actually called, if there was such an opportunity, during a period of much more restrictive free agency?

But this is good to know, and good for those in Charlotte to know.

Because if Michael does have the opportunity to land someone like a Chris Paul, bring the point guard back to North Carolina, at least Bobcats fans would know that Jordan then wouldn’t try to add a Carmelo, as well.

In M.J.’s view, that clearly would be unseemly.

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