NBA AM: Howard Confims Its Only Brooklyn
Its Brooklyn Or Bust: Magic star Dwight Howard has finally decided to tell his side of things. Based on what he said yesterday, Howard would only consider a trade to Brooklyn in the long-term, and a trade anywhere else would see the NBA’s top center exploring free agency in July of 2013.
“There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I’ll play the season out and explore my free agency after that,” Howard told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Reports have surfaced suggesting that Howard contacted the NBA Players’ Association to see if there was any recourse legally he could pursue to gain his release from the Early Termination Opt-In he signed at the trade deadline to try and force his way out of Orlando.
“I never used the word blackmail in reference to any of my dealings with the Magic,” Howard said. “I never said that. It’s defamatory and it’s inaccurate. I know what blackmail means and any report that I used the term incorrectly is inaccurate.”
Howard is reported to have told new Magic GM Rob Hennigan last week that he still wants to be traded and that Brooklyn is the only team he’d consider a long-term deal with.
“This was not the first time,” Howard said. “I communicated this to Alex and Otis way before Friday that I wanted to be traded – months before this meeting with Rob Hennigan. That was all way before Stan got fired.”
Howard has been upset with Orlando on a number of fronts, including the perception that he faked a back injury.
“I’ve never faked anything,” Howard said. “I’d never fake a back injury to not play for my team. I played a lot of games in a lot of pain, and there were times that I was crying in the locker room afterward because I was so seriously hurt. But I kept fighting. I’ve played with a cracked sternum in the past, and played with a lot of different [injuries].”
The Magic have opened talks with a number of teams about a possible Howard based trade, and sources close to the process say while Howard may want to be traded to Brooklyn, “the franchise will do what’s in its best interest” and it’s up to the acquiring team to decide what to do with Howard.
The Houston Rockets, the LA Lakers and Clippers, and Golden State Warriors have expressed interest in Howard, however what those teams will give up to obtain Howard on a rental remains to be seen.
Sources close to the process say Howard will likely be dealt quickly, however there is no internal rush to make a bad deal; the team will be thorough in its process but would like to gain closure as soon as the right deal presents itself.
Some of the Things That Have Gotten Done: While teams and players can openly talk about free agency, physical deals cannot be signed until July 11th, but with the first full day of free agency in the books there were some agreements reached, here is where we stand:
Portland Offers Max To Roy Hibert: The Portland Trail Blazers wasted no time ponying up a maximum contract offer to Pacers restricted free agent Roy Hibbert. The deal would be a four year agreement worth $58 million. Hibbert is said to be leaning towards signing it, if only to close the process.
While the Blazers made the offer, Roy is under no obligation to sign it. Roy has maintained for months that staying in Indiana was his first choice Roy could opt to do a straight deal with the Pacers on his own terms, but if he signs the offer from Portland on July 11th, the Pacers would have just three days to decide to match the deal.
Sources close to the Pacers’ thought process before the offer joked that the team would match anything offered to Roy unless it was a max offer, which is exactly what Portland has done.
If Roy negotiates his own deal with the Pacers he could gain a fifth contract year and bigger annual raises, so it’s not a given that Roy signs the Blazers’ Offer Sheet, although he now has options.
Houston Nabs Omer Asik: The Houston Rockets reached an agreement with Bulls’ restricted free agent Omer Asik on a three-year, $25.1 million deal. Omer is what’s called an “Arenas Rule” player, meaning he has not been in the NBA long enough to be unrestricted and teams looking to poach him are limited in what they can offer him in terms of salary.
Houston’s offer appears to be constructed like this – Year 1 is $5 million, Year 2 is $5.2 million with Year 3 ballooning up to $14.9 million.
There are a couple of wrinkles to this deal. The first being that Houston must be able to fit the “average” value of this deal under the cap this year, which comes out to roughly $8.36 million per year. The Bulls on the other hand can match this offer as defined but only take the cap hit on what’s actually paid to Omer, where Houston takes a cap hit on the average yearly value of the deal.
The Bulls will have three days to match the deal once Omer signs it, but they will have to consider how much they value Omer, especially given that in Year 3 of the new Omer deal the Bulls would be paying Carlos Boozer $16.8 million, Derek Rose $17.832 million and Joakim Noah $12.20 million. It is hard to imagine the Bulls would sign on for another $14.9 million but they would have the option of using the Amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer that year or decide to eat the Luxury Tax for a single season to keep their emerging big man.
The final year of an Arenas Rule deal is typically called the Poison Pill; the question is, will Chicago swallow it or simply let Omer head to Houston?
Gerald Wallace Gets His Deal: The Brooklyn Nets reached a verbal agreement with free agent Gerald Wallace. Wallace was obtained at the trade deadline and opted out of the final year of his deal that would have paid him $9.5 million this upcoming season.
The new deal for Wallace is said to be four-years and $40 million guaranteed, which sources say includes a slightly lower dollar amount for next season, giving the Nets room to add another player or two.
The Nets have been in talks with the Atlanta Hawks about a deal involving Joe Johnson, and it seems Wallace’s deal gives them a little more room to work in exchange for a fourth year on the back of the deal.
The Nets are expected to meet formally with Deron Williams today, and if he agrees to return it’s believed the Nets will consummate a deal with Atlanta that could see the club parting with MarShon Brooks and possibly a signed and traded Gerald Green as the meat of the deal.
Raptors Pony Up For Nash: The Toronto Raptors have made no secret about their affections for Suns’ free agent Steve Nash and its being reported that the Raptors put a three-year $36 million fully guaranteed offer on the table for the 38-year old Nash.
There has been some dispute on whether the Raptors really offered that much to Nash, but sources close to the process say there was no wavering on Toronto’s part and they made it clear that if Nash signed in Toronto it would not be to tutor a young roster, but that the team would make all of the moves necessary to be in the playoffs each year.
The New York Knicks also met with Nash and appear to have laid the ground work for a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns that would net Nash a salary in the $8 million/per range if he wants to be a Knick.
The Knicks sign-and-trade deal would be centered on the non-guaranteed $1.7 million deal of Dan Gadzuric and possibly injured rookie Iman Shumpert. Knicks free agent Landry Fields and guard Toney Douglas have also been mentioned in reports.
Nash is expected to ponder his options and make a decision soon.
The Raptors are also looking for a small forward upgrade and will focus their attentions on that after getting an answer from Nash.
The Knicks are expected to turn their attention to former guard Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd should Nash pass on their offer.
Andre Miller Staying In Denver: Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Denver Nuggets and free agent guard Andre Miller have reached terms on a new three-year deal that will keep Miller in Denver. The value of the deal is reported to be just at $3 million per season.
Gordon Taking Visits: Hornets’ free agent Eric Gordon is taking a number of free agent visits, meeting yesterday with the Houston Rockets, who are proposing a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets centered around forward Luis Scola and possibly one of the players they drafted last Thursday.
Gordon is expected to meet with the Phoenix Suns today. The Suns met with Wolves’ forward Michael Beasley yesterday. The Suns look to be losing guard Steve Nash to free agency, meaning they would have a sizable amount of free agent money to offer Gordon.
Gordon has long been the target of the Indiana Pacers, so there will be no shortage of options for Gordon.
The New Orleans Hornets have said they will match any offers to Gordon, assuming he wants to remain in New Orleans. There is growing concern that Gordon, who missed most of the season to a knee injury, does not see New Orleans as a good long-term fit and would rather be elsewhere.
The Hornets won’t tie up salary dollars into Gordon if he genuinely does not want to be there and would explore sign-and-trade scenarios if that turns out to be the case.
76ers keep Lavoy Allen: The Philadelphia 76ers reached a deal with free agent center Lavoy Allen. The two sides agreed on a two-year deal worth $6 million. The 76ers were seeking a longer-term deal something in the four year range, however Allen’s camp was seeking a three year deal to get him past restricted free agency. The compromise was a two-year deal.
Allen who was labeled by ESPN as the 500th best player in the NBA last offseason will now make more than Thomas Robinson who was taken 5th overall in last Thursdays draft.
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