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NBA PM: First Free Agency Domino Falls
Posted By Bill Ingram On July 1, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The First Free Agency Domino Falls
The NBA’s 2013 free agency period got off to a bang, with plenty of trade talk, Dwight Howard getting right into meetings with potential suitors and, perhaps best of all, Chris Paul sticking to what has been his plan all along.
The first big domino of free agency fell late Monday morning, with Paul tweeting out his intent to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
I'M IN!!! #CLIPPERNATION
— Chris Paul (@CP3) July 1, 2013
The deal, which can’t be signed until the moratorium lifts on July 10, is reportedly worth $107.3 million over five seasons, with an opt-out option after the fourth year. The fact that Paul has made his intentions known signals two important things. First, the Clippers don’t have to worry about having a Plan B in the event that Paul were to leave, and they can proceed in free agency knowing their big gun is in place. Second, it means teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets that were hoping to at least have a conversation with Paul can now move aggressively forward in other directions.
All the Clippers really need to do is tweak a little here and there, as the team is coming off of their best season in franchise history. Their 56 wins were somewhat overshadowed by their first-round exit in the playoffs, but with head coach Doc Rivers now at the helm they are better equipped to adjust to the challenges of the postseason going forward.
It appears one of their primary free agent targets will be former Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo, who has long been of interest to Rivers. Mayo fell out of favor with Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle in a very public way late last season, though he had a solid year overall, despite withering down the stretch. He averaged 15.3 points per game and shot over 40 percent from three on the year. The Clippers ranked 12th in the NBA in three-point shooting last season, so Mayo would help them raise that part of their game and give them the starting two-guard they need.
Most importantly, they wouldn’t need to give up prized reserve Eric Bledsoe in a trade to acquire a shooting guard to start ahead of sixth-man Jamal Crawford.
Warriors Hoping For Sign-and-Trade with Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers free agent center Dwight Howard continued his process of meeting with potential suitors today, taking some face time with the Golden State Warriors’ brain trust. The Warriors, of course, have no hope of signing Howard as a free agent because they don’t have the cap space to do so. They are hoping to put together an offer that the Lakers can’t refuse in terms of a sign-and-trade. The Lakers, to this point, have made it clear they are not willing to make such a deal, but that won’t deter the Warriors from trying to change their minds.
According to multiple reports, the Warriors’ offer for Howard, which is still in the hypothetical stage, would involve Andrew Bogut and either Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson, with Golden State also potentially sending over the expiring contract of either Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins, allowing the Lakers additional cap flexibility in 2014.
As of today, the Lakers have only one contract on the books for 2014, when Steve Nash will be in the final year of his deal with the team. The Lakers’ long-term goal has been and continues to be to rebuild around Howard and a second star (possibly Miami HEAT forward LeBron James once he becomes a free agent). The beauty of the Warriors’ offer is that it doesn’t jeopardize the Lakers’ long-term cap space, as Bogut is expiring and Thompson and Barnes are inexpensive and both have team options built in after this season.
Still, all indications are that the Lakers will either sign Howard themselves or let him walk rather than facilitating a sign-and-trade.
Howard also has meetings scheduled with the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks in the coming days, so this process isn’t close to being finished.
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