NBA AM: NBA Free Agency Falling Into Place
The Dominoes Starting to Fall: As expected a flurry of transactions dropped yesterday and the 2012 Free Agent class got a little bit smaller and some trades started to get finalized, paving the way for a few more.
Here are some things still percolating:
Bobcats After Sessions: The Charlotte Bobcats are closing in on former Laker guard Ramon Sessions. Word is the Cats could consummate a deal shortly and that Sessions along with soon to be amnestied Brendan Haywood would be the two new additions in Charlotte. If the Bobcats can finalize a deal with Sessions, the Bobcats are expected to withdraw their Qualifying Offer to restricted free agent D.J. Augustin making him an unrestricted free agent.
The Indiana Pacers have interest in adding Augustin, however they recently inked George Hill to a massive four year deal and sources say Augustin is looking for a situation where he can play a major role. The Pacers appear to be open to a sign-and-trade deal to land DJ, however it’s unclear where he is leaning.
The Pacers consummated a trade yesterday sending Darren Collision to the Mavericks along with swing man Dahntay Jones, so there is a spot on the roster, however the Pacers also have Lance Stephenson, who has played incredibly well this week in Orlando’s Summer League. Augustin is clearly the better NBA player, however if he is looking for a major role, he may not find it in Indiana.
Elton Brand Hoping For Dallas: The Philadelphia 76ers used their one-time amnesty on Elton Brand and he is entering the final phases of the Amnesty Waiver process. All of the teams under the salary cap can enter a bid on Brand, and the highest bidder will get his final contract year.
Brand commented recently that he hoped the winning bid was from the Dallas Mavericks, however league sources say it’s unclear where he will land. A final decision could come today, and Brand is hoping he lands in Big D.
Sixers Interested in DeJuan Blair: DeJuan Blair is on the outside of the Spurs plans looking in, and word is the Philadelphia 76ers would love to have him as a possible replacement for Elton Brand.
Blair is owed roughly $1 million for next season and has grown frustrated with the Spurs. For the last two years Blair played a role in the regular season, only to find himself anchored to the bench in the playoffs.
The Spurs explored trading Blair in and around the draft but could not consummate a deal. Blair has told those around him he expected to be moved and with teams like Philly having real interest, a deal seems probable.
No Amnesty For Calderon: The Toronto Raptors finalized their trade for Rockets’ guard Kyle Lowry yesterday. During his press conference with the media Raptors’ president Bryan Colangelo was deliberate in saying that incumbent guard Jose Calderon, who has been the center of trade and amnesty speculation for months, was “not thrilled” about the deal but it would improve the Raptors.
It’s hard to imagine that both Lowry and Calderon will be happy sharing time together, however sources close to the situation say that using the one-time Amnesty provision on Calderon still remains unlikely and that a trade involving Jose is more probable than outright cutting him, especially as he enters the final year of his deal.
Calderon is owed some $10.5 million next season, which becomes an interesting trade chip especially at the mid-season Trade Deadline.
Perry’s Fresh Start Perry Jones III believed he was a lottery pick when the 2012 NBA Draft process started, but after questions about his knees dropped him to the Thunder he was noticeably disappointed on draft night, but the reality that he’ll be part of a team that was just in the NBA Finals makes the sting of getting drafted lower a little more tolerable.
Where Things Stand With Howard: The Orlando Magic closed the door on trading disgruntled star Dwight Howard yesterday. Informing Howard that the team did all it could to make a deal with Brooklyn and that for the short term they would be focusing their energies on hiring a head coach and fleshing out their roster.
The Magic worked the process diligently and professionally according to the teams that interacted with the Magic, but in the end they simply could not find a deal that made sense to them.
A common theme around Orlando’s Summer League this week was “overstated” as more than a few teams commented that their “reported” involvement or offers were greatly exaggerated and that it seemed the Brooklyn Nets were using the media to try and drive through a deal that most of the parties involved either never openly discussed or worse yet never agreed to.
The Magic continue to have talks on all fronts, as they are trying to reorganize their roster. A deal involving Howard still remains possible, but what appears to be happening is the Magic are playing a tactical game with Howard and his camp now that things have fallen through with Brooklyn.
Sources close to the process say the Magic seem to be letting Howard and company “stew” on the situation for a bit hoping that Howard will consider other options now that the Nets have signed Brook Lopez and closed off the option of trading him for Howard.
The Houston Rockets and LA Lakers remain at the table according to sources, however neither team is going to gut their roster or worse yet take on bad Magic contracts without verbal assurances from Howard that staying long-term is a possibility.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement makes signing an in-season contract extension all but improbable as the wording of the deal only allows for a total of four years on an extended deal including the number of years left on the deal. In Howard’s case an in-season extension would tack on additional three years and some $68 million, wherein a deal in July of 2013 would allow for a five-year $108 million deal.
None of the major top dollar players are going to leave that kind of money on the table, so expecting an “extension” is improbable.
Sources close to the process peg the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors as dark-horse teams to land Howard, but it seems both would want some kind of public commitment to staying with those teams beyond the current year before they even engage in serious discussions.
The Atlanta Hawks have vehemently denied that they have ever offer Al Horford in trade, however there was talk yesterday that Atlanta would do a deal for Howard, but that the goal would be to add Howard to a roster of Horford and Josh Smith, meaning a Hawks deal would be comprised of several smaller players.
The Magic are expected to re-engage on Howard talks throughout the summer, but as things stand today there is not a deal for Howard that the Magic would do, however this situation is far from over.
IN RELATED: Could the Orlando Magic keep Howard and bring him to training camp?
The short answer… No.
The long answer… Maybe.
Howard has long stressed that his goal was to either be in Brooklyn as a Net or to remain in Orlando. The Brooklyn ship has sailed. So could the Magic really engage the idea of keeping Howard long-term? Maybe.
A lot of bridge building would have to take place and where things stand today that does not seem likely or possible.
Howard has had an adversarial stance with the Magic throughout most of this process, as he feels like the organization betrayed him on a number of fronts. There have been a lot of things said and implied through this that are going to be hard to forget – on both sides.
How Howard has been portrayed and the things he has been accused of doing is not entirely how it happened.
In order for Howard to remain in Orlando both sides are going to have to work through a lot of emotion and distrust.
Howard would have to find a way to rationalize his trade demands and convince a skeptical and angry fan base that he wants to be there and that Orlando isn’t just Plan B. The Magic would have to rebuild the trust and get Howard to buy-in to the new Magic culture in a very public way.
That will not be easy.
A new head coach would help. Signing the right free agents would help. But there is still a lot that would have to be smoothed over and even then, like a jilted lover, does that emotion really ever go away?
Could the Magic bring Dwight Howard to training camp? Maybe. Is a long-term marriage still possible? Doubtful, but maybe.
There needs to be a lot of relationship building before that is even remotely possible, and given how both sides are communicating now, it doesn’t seem likely. But with Brooklyn off the table until mid-January because of trade restrictions, Howard may have to come to grips that either he changes his list of teams or he tries to make peace with Orlando.
Is that probable? No, but there is a chance if both sides really wanted it.
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