NBA Saturday: Free Agency Rumors, The Next Tier
NBA free agency is in full swing and with most of the top guys on the market coming to terms (deals can’t be signed until July 11) the domino effect will begin to bring the next tier of players into the limelight. There are still more than few guys available without agreements in hand who can help a contender or team on the rise.
Here is a list of notable second wave guys whose stocks are rising as the smoke begins to clear at the top of the free agency pyramid – somewhat.
Chris Kaman – Center – Unrestricted Free Agent
Last season: New Orleans Hornets
13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 45% FG, 79% FT
The days of the dominant NBA center are a thing of the past, but productive big men will always have a home in the league and will be compensated extremely well for their size. After Indiana center Roy Hibbert, who has a max offer on the table from Portland, Kaman is the most coveted free agent center remaining on the market. Just two years ago Kaman was an All-Star performer with the Los Angeles Clippers but has only appeared in 79 games over the past two seasons.
Sources say Kaman, who met with Indiana team officials this week, will be the Pacers’ top priority if the team opts not to match the Blazers’ reported four-year $58 million offer sheet for Hibbert.
The veteran center has also received interest from Sacramento, Dallas and San Antonio. There is also a chance New Orleans stays in the mix for his services as well.
Lou Williams – Shooting Guard – Unrestricted Free Agent
Last season: Philadelphia 76ers
14.9 points, 3.5 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 41% FG, 36% 3PT, 81% FT
In a mild shocker, the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to terms with shooting guard Nick Young on a one-year deal on Friday which all but sealed the fate of Williams’ seven year run in Philadelphia.
Williams has established himself as a proven double-digit scoring threat off the bench for the past five years and received some much deserved early run for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year this past season.
According to SI’s Sam Amick, the Phoenix Suns may emerge as a suitor for Williams’ services if their max contract offer to shooting guard Eric Gordon (very likely) is matched by New Orleans after the league moratorium is lifted on July 11.
OJ Mayo – Shooting Guard – Unrestricted Free Agent
Last season: Memphis Grizzlies
12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 41% FG, 36% 3PT, 77% FT
Ever since Mayo lost his starting shooting guard spot early in the 2011 season, the common belief was his days in Memphis were numbered. In fact, Mayo was almost traded multiple times over the past two seasons before the plug was pulled for a variety of reasons.
One of the primary suitors for his services has been the Indiana Pacers and according to HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy sources continue to maintain the team has a serious interest in the guard heading into his fifth season. The Dallas Mavericks have also emerged as a likely suitor.
Mayo’s camp has indicated the guard is looking for a deal more than the midlevel exception, which may keep some teams on the sidelines unless Mayo backs off the demand.
Raymond Felton – Point Guard – Unrestricted Free Agent
Last season: Portland Trail Blazers
11.4 points, 6.5 assists, 41% FG, 31% 3PT, 81% FT
To imply Felton’s one year stint in journey proved to be disastrous is an understatement. Felton entered the season out of shape and there were reports of a feud with then head coach Nate McMillan.
Even with last season’s episode fresh, there’s no denying that when properly motivated Felton is a borderline All-Star talent and a proven starting point guard with game.
The Houston Rockets, who have a contract offer on the table to New York’s Jeremy Lin, has reportedly touched base with Felton’s camp according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. The Knicks have the option to match Lin’s offer and in all likelihood will do so, but if not sources say the team would have interest in signing Felton to pair alongside newly added guard Jason Kidd in the backcourt.
Felton also met with the Phoenix Suns earlier this week but appears to be out of the running there with the club offering the emerging Goran Dragic a multi-year deal.
Joe Johnson Delivered Deron Williams To Brooklyn: The most coveted free agent of the summer of 2012 was All-Star point guard Deron Williams who chose to remain in Brooklyn instead of heading home to Dallas to play with the Mavericks.
Williams maintains the decision was a tough one, but ultimately Brooklyn’s clear direction toward title contention was the primary driver in his choice (Brooklyn also could offer him $20 million more than Dallas in a new deal).
Dallas was close, but the Nets’ trade for six-time All-Star guard Joe Johnson to pair with Williams in the backcourt was also a key factor in his decision to stay put in Brooklyn.
“I was really close to going to Dallas,’’ Williams told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I actually thought that’s where I was going to go. Then I had the meetings [with Dallas and Nets] and changed my mind. After I got out of the meeting with Dallas, saw the team they were going to have and putting out there and we just made the trade for Joe Johnson, I felt that team [the Nets] for a longer time would be the better team.’’
In Atlanta, the removal of Johnson’s large contract from the books led many fans to rejoice the trade made by newly hired general manager Danny Ferry but in Brooklyn the acquisition of the high scoring veteran may have boosted the franchise back into league wide relevancy. Williams has high hopes for the duo for years to come.
“Joey, I never played with anyone like him,’’ Williams said. “A guy on the wing that can get his own shot, but also get me involved and is a great defender. We can be one of the top backcourts in the NBA.’’
The Nets still may not be finished making moves this summer as the team remains engaged in discussions to acquire center Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.
Quick NBA Notes
- One of the pieces sent by Brooklyn to Atlanta in the Johnson trade, point guard Jordan Farmar, next stop may be outside of the NBA. Farmar is widely expected to be waived once the moratorium is lifted on July 11 by the Hawks who acquired Devin Harris in a separate deal last week. According to a Sportando report, Farmar is in advanced negotiations with Turkish club Anadolu Efes Istanbul. The deal would be for two years with an option for a third season paying $2.5 million per season.
- Jason Kidd recently agreed to terms with the New York Knicks and opened up on why decided not to return to Dallas as their starting point guard. “I was with my good friend Deron [Williams], and I am looking at him and he talked to me about it and the reason why he thought he couldn’t go was because of the [Mavericks] roster,” Kidd said in an interview on WFAN. “I kind of looked at it, too and I backed off and I looked at it and said, ‘Hey, New York has a chance to be successful. I can help those guys win.’ ”
- As reported in detail last night, the Miami HEAT and future Hall of Fame guard Ray Allen have agreed to a deal. Allen will play for Miami’s mini midlevel exception worth $3.09 million per season. Allen spent the prior five seasons with the Boston Celtics and turned down their reported $6 million per year offer to join the reigning NBA champions.
NBA Chats: There are two chats on today’s schedule. First, HOOPSWORLD’s Susan Bible will hold her weekly chat at 11 a.m. ET. Next, HOOPSWORLD’s Derek Page will hold his weekly chat at 5 p.m. ET. Submit your questions early because these chats fill up fast! View every upcoming chat here.