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.

Bradley Beal admits he gained 20 pounds of sympathy weight with pregnant partner last year

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If you’ve had a pregnant wife/girlfriend, you know what Bradley Beal went through. I added 15 pounds when my wife was pregnant with our second daughter — a pregnant woman’s metabolism needs more calories and for energy, “they’re eating for two,” and often what they want is comfort foods. And deserts. Put that around a non-pregnant person and the temptation can be overwhelming at times, leading to simple overeating.

Washington’s Bradley Beal says he gained 20 pounds of sympathy weight last season while his partner Kamiah Adams was pregnant with their son Bradley Beal II. He spoke about it to TuAnh Dam of Yahoo Sports.

“Oh, pizza. It was always late-night pizza for me,” Beal said. “It was just pizza and ice cream. That’s all we ate — pizza and ice cream, pizza and ice cream.”

He said those extra 20 pounds went straight into his legs, but even that wasn’t enough to slow Beal down too much. The guard had one of the best years of his career, starting all 82 games while averaging 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

He’s lost the weight though, starting his cleaner diet the first week of the offseason, so don’t expect to see him waddling around the court this year.

Every training camp we hear about players having lost 15 pounds or gained 10 pounds of muscle and never having been in better shape. Veteran observers greet these proclamations with shrugs — some of them are true, but if everybody says it every year there’s some boys crying wolf out there.

Beal I believe. Nobody wants to admit to gaining sympathy weight.

Beal and the Wizards enter another season with their core intact, a new piece added (this year Dwight Howard, once he gets healthy), and questions believers pointing out on paper they should be a threat in the East. At this point, it’s like a player saying he lost 20 pounds in the offseason — fine, but show me how things are now going to be different on the court because of it. I’m not sold these Wizards are much different than the previous versions. They need to prove it.

Devin Booker to play in Suns’ opener Wednesday

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Devin Booker — the Suns’ newly minted max contract player — had been working hard to recover from off-season hand surgery in time for the opening of the season (the original timeline after surgery had him missing the first week or two of the season).

Looks like he made it, according to coach Igor Kokoskov, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

Booker is young, 21, and hopefully he just healed quickly. There is no reason to rush Booker back here, the Suns need to approach this season with a long-term view, not thinking win now.

This is going to be an interesting young Suns team with Booker, rookie Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, and now with some veteran voices in Trevor Ariza and the newly added Jamal Crawford in the locker room. This team is not playoff bound in the West, but nightly they will be improved and not a pushover.

Portland, NBA community react to passing of Paul Allen

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For 30 years, Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers. In that time the team made the NBA Finals a couple of times, was a model of consistency making the playoffs 23 times, and providing a city unforgettable memories filled with some of the biggest personalities and best players in the game.

Allen passed away Monday, losing his battle to cancer. He was just 65 years old.

It has led to an outpouring from the entire NBA community, especially around Portland.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Russell Westbrook listed as out for season opener vs. Warriors

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No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.

This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).

The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.

Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.