NBA Free Agency Watch: Day 1
Ladies and gentlemen, the engines have been started. The NBA’s 2013 free agency period is well underway, and while the verbal agreements have been slow to come, there’s no question that things have already gotten crazy and it’s only a matter of time before teams and players start agreeing to terms.
What’s Already Gotten Done:
The Dallas Mavericks got Israeli point guard Gal Mekel to verbally agree to a multi-year deal.
The biggest news, however, is that Chris Paul will reportedly accept a five-year, $107 million deal to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers (said CP3, “I’M IN!!!”). Other than that, however, most of what we’re hearing right now is just teams having conversations with players. So here’s the latest on those conversations:
Clippers Also After Tony Allen
Now that the Clippers appear to have Paul all locked up, they can move onto other positions, and according to Mark Heisler, one possibility for L.A. is unrestricted free agent Tony Allen. Rather than pursue an offensive-minded two guard like Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic (as rumored), new head coach Doc Rivers would rather go after a defensive specialist and confident veteran leader like Allen.
Remember, Allen played for Rivers’ Celtics when they won the NBA championship in 2008, so he’s familiar with the new coach in L.A. and has the pedigree to help lead them toward a championship. The former Memphis Grizzlies guard would be a nice complement to Jamal Crawford, the team’s other main shooting guard, and may even take a price cut to pursue a championship with the Clippers, whom Allen’s Grizzlies faced in the playoffs the last two years.
Bobcats Making Run At Al Jefferson, Not O.J. Mayo
One would think that, having drafted big man Cody Zeller, the Charlotte Bobcats would go ahead and leave the frontcourt rotation alone so that they could begin developing their top-five draft pick, but interest in former Utah Jazz free agent center Al Jefferson suggests that they believe the center position needs quite a bit of immediate help.
According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Jefferson was the first major free agent they called at midnight last night. While it’s true that Charlotte has been abysmal scoring from the post, Zeller was supposed to help change that. Perhaps combining him with Jefferson would help turn the tides, and amnestying Tyrus Thomas (a necessity to afford Jefferson) would help put the Bobcats’ grim past behind them, as well.
Somewhat surprising, though, was that Jefferson was the target rather than free agent shooting guard O.J. Mayo, who has commanded a ton of interest from several teams, just not Charlotte. Ben Gordon is not in the team’s long-term plans and Gerald Henderson is also a free agent, so signing a coveted two guard like Mayo would’ve made some sense. Instead, the Bobcats will pursue a big, and if they’re finally able to relieve themselves of Thomas in the first place, it would be hard not to label that a win for the ‘Cats.
Minnesota Chasing Kevin Martin
While it’s no big secret that Kevin Martin—one of the most respected three-point shooters in the NBA—is drawing plenty of attention from teams that play in a league where three-point shooting comes at a premium, it is a little surprising that he was the very first phone call Minnesota made when the clock struck 12:01 a.m. on July 1, as was first reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
The Timberwolves just drafted Shabazz Muhammad, a scoring small forward, to help get some more points on the board, but Martin would help spread things out for Minnesota, a team that has needed serious help at the two-guard spot for a couple of years now.
Oklahoma City has said that they’d like to keep Martin, but considering how much attention he’s already received and how close the Thunder already are to the luxury tax threshold, that’s looking less and less likely.
Rockets and Hawks Up Next for Josh Smith
All the internet buzz this morning is about Josh Smith’s “interesting” meeting with the Detroit Pistons, but before anybody in Motown gets too excited about a Smith-Monroe-Drummond frontcourt (and we get it—that’s a frontcourt to be excited about), it’s important to note that no contract was actually tendered at the meeting and Smith is still planning on doing his due diligence with the other teams interested in signing him.
According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, most of Monday will be spent interviewing with the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks.
Smith has been linked to the Rockets for a really long time and would be a nice fit there should Dwight Howard choose to play somewhere else next season. Small forward/power forward is an area in which they could use some star power, and without making him sound like a second option, the Rockets would be a really nice landing spot for Smith.
Atlanta, meanwhile, is going to have an embarrassment of riches to spend this summer, and it’s not looking like many big-name free agents are going to be interested in the Hawks, so re-signing Smith may end up being their best option. Considering how well Smith has played for them over the years, a conversation between Smith and the Hawks isn’t particularly surprising. It’s the least they can do for each other.
One thing’s for sure: the man’s got options.
Bulls Interest in Big Names and Point Guards Is Curious
Chicago, however, doesn’t really have a lot of options because of their strapped financial situation. It’s very odd to hear them mentioned as potential suitors for players like O.J. Mayo and Monta Elllis when they do not appear prepared to spend the money required to land those guys.
The Bulls are probably going to have to wait until most of the teams with big cap space spend all of their cash before they get their opportunity to go bargain shopping. It’s more likely that Chicago goes with their two new rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, Malcolm Thomas and a veteran’s minimum salary or two than it is them landing a “big fish” like Mayo or Ellis.
Bulls fans have to love those storylines because those two players are exactly what the team needs, and Chicago is certainly interested for all the obvious reasons, but without some sort of trade, actually landing either of those players (or any big-ticket name) just doesn’t seem all that likely.
Stay plugged into HOOPSWORLD’s Free Agency Diary all day long for the latest updates on the comings and goings of this already-insane free agency session. Agreements are coming soon, and we’ll have all the latest on each and every one of them.