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NBA@2: Timberwolves Chasing Pau Gasol, Brandon Roy
Posted By Bill Ingram On July 2, 2012 @ 2:15 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
When Rick Adelman took the reins of the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, he made it clear that the rebuilding process was about to accelerate. For one thing, his methods of getting the most out of the available talent promised to make the Timberwolves a better team from day one, but his insistence on having input into the roster itself also meant things were about to move forward dramatically.
One of the things Adelman has been pushing for is a more prominent veteran presence in the locker room, and team president David Kahn is completely on board. The two of them share a strong interest in Los Angeles Lakers center/forward Pau Gasol, whom they were close to acquiring at last season’s trade deadline. That interest is still alive and well in Minnesota, according to sources close to the situation, and the offer of Derrick Williams, perhaps Wesley Johnson and/or other pieces, is still very much there for the Lakers’ taking.
The issue that killed this deal at the deadline was, according to Timberwolves sources, the Lakers’ insistence on including undesirable baggage as part of the deal. Some of that baggage was subsequently moved elsewhere, so it could be that the Lakers and Timberwolves can find common ground more easily now.
The other thing the Timberwolves are looking for this offseason is outside shooting, which is why they traded their first-round pick to Houston for Chase Budinger, and also why they have an offer sheet ready to go for Portland Trail Blazers restricted free agent Nicolas Batum.
Sources close to the situation say that while the Timberwolves are very interested in Gasol, the Lakers’ stance in discussions regarding him make a deal difficult. The Lakers talk as though they don’t need to trade him, and ignore the fact that Gasol is coming off of a disappointing season. It’s very possible that Gasol ends up in Minnesota, even likely, but not until the Lakers come off of their current stance.
Our source said it will most likely take a third team getting involved for the Timberwolves to finally land Gasol, and there are several teams interested in doing that. The Charlotte Bobcats were involved in discussions leading up to the draft and the Houston Rockets are interested in being a part of any and all deals, it seems. The Timberwolves would like to move Luke Ridnour as part of the trade, and they extended the deadline for Martell Webster in case they need him to be involved in trades.
The Timberwolves are also very interested in Brandon Roy, and envision him coming off the bench for something like 20 minutes a games in a reserve role. The team would consider it a huge win to have both Batum and Roy in the mix when training camp begins.
If Gasol is there, as well, so much the better.
How Much Is Hibbert Worth?
Here’s how agents work, for those of you who haven’t experienced the real business side of the NBA. Player agents like to set the value of their clients based upon the contracts signed by other, similar players. In fact, they often go to great lengths to prove their player is worth a certain amount based on the play and pay of players at the same position.
I may be dating myself here, but my first clear recollection of this phenomenon in the NBA was when Jon Koncak signed a six-year, $13 million contract in 1989. At the time, it paid him more than Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and it famously inspired Patrick Ewing to say he needed a raise. And indeed, if Koncak, a reserve center, was worth that kind of money, then a lot of NBA players were due for significant raises.
We have a couple of similar situations brewing now, ironically on the advent of a new CBA that will make it much more difficult for teams to overpay for talent and still build deep, well-rounded teams. The first is the maximum offer sheet the Portland Trail Blazers have extended to Indiana Pacers restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert. A Pacers front office source recently told HOOPSWORLD that they would match any reasonable offer for Hibbert, and even joked that no one in their right minds would offer max money for a player who averaged 12 points and eight rebounds last season.
But the Blazers did just that, offering Hibbert a four-year, $58 million deal to ponder as he waits for the July 11th moratorium to lift. He can then sign the offer sheet, giving the Pacers three days to either match it or let him walk. That’s roughly a $14.8 million per season average for Hibbert, paying him just $3.5 million less than Dwight Howard, easily the best center in the NBA.
If Hibbert is worth that much, what does that mean for players like Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap, and others who are double-double machines or amazing shot-blockers? You can bet their agents will bring up Hibbert’s new contract when the time comes to negotiate new deals for their clients.
Of course, we have another crazy example to look at after this weekend’s action, as the Houston Rockets used a loophole in the new CBA to offer Chicago Bulls’ backup center Omer Asik a contract. The Rockets offered Asik, a player who averaged 3.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and shot 35% from the foul line, a contract starting at $5 million, then $5.2 million and ultimately $14.9 million in year three. If Asik is worth $14.9 million for one season, I think Joel Przyilla just became an MVP candidate.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Bulls’ stance of matching any offer for Asik has not changed.
“I don’t want to speculate until we actually see something,” said Bulls GM Gar Forman. “We’ve made it clear we value Omer.”
Value is, indeed, the question, as future contracts will be written based upon the precedents set by modern deals. If Hibbert and Asik are becoming the new gold standard, it’s scary to even think what agents for better players will expect in the future.
Free Agency Notes:
Be sure you’re keeping up with the absolute latest in HOOPSWORLD’s 2012 NBA Free Agency Diary. Here are some of the latest stories being talked about as of this writing:
The Indiana Pacers have reached a new five-year agreement with point guard George Hill. It remains to be seen whether Darren Collison or Hill winds up being the team’s starter, but the experience and veteran leadership he brought to the team last season were viewed as critically important to the success of the team in 2011-12.
Jeff Green was expected to re-sign with the Boston Celtics this summer, and according to multiple reports, that deal is close to being in place.
Marcus Camby lives in Houston, but returning to the Houston Rockets is anything but a foregone conclusion. Camby is looking for a starting job, and he will consider any team with an opening in the starting rotation.
New Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan has more on his plate than just Dwight Howard, if you can believe it. He’s also working on a gameplan for J.J. Redick going forward. According to reports, Redick’s situation will be resolved this week.
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