Updated: July 18, 2005, 11:49 AM ET
Why can't Wallace get a deal?
By Chad Ford
With just five days before the league lifts its moratorium on player movement, this summer's free agent frenzy appears to have hit a lull.
With most of the top unrestricted free agents off the board, and the top young restricted free agents waiting for the moratorium to end before announcing their intentions, free agent news slowed to a trickle this weekend.
Most surprising is that several of the most promising free agents haven't gotten deals yet. With guys like Raja Bell, Dan Gadzuric, Brian Scalabrine, Luke Walton, Bostjan Nachbar and Jerome James all having come to terms with teams, it makes you wonder why these five sleepers haven't been locked up.
Sarunas Jasikevicius, PG, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Two international free agents, Fabricio Oberto and Arvydas Macijauskas, have already found homes. But how is it that the best veteran player in Europe, Jasikevicius, hasn't? Oberto is older and Macijauskas is less athletic. Neither player has led his team to three straight Euroleague Championships. Jasikevicius, a former Maryland star, is an incredible passer, has deep range on his jumper, and plays with emotion and grit.
Given his asking price (three years, around $10 million), he'd be a great pickup for a team trying to compete for a championship. The Cavs have shown the most interest, but have waffled between him, Antonio Daniels, Marko Jaric and Damon Stoudamire. The Pacers, Blazers and Sonics have also shown interest, but it's becoming clear that the market isn't quite as hot for him as we thought going into the summer.
If teams don't act quickly, he may just decide to sign a long-term deal in Europe. That would be a shame. While Jasikevicius may not ever be a superstar in the NBA the way he is in Europe, he has the intangibles to be the type of player who helps a team win a title.
Gerald Wallace, G/F, Charlotte Bobcats
With most of the top swingmen off the board, it's pretty surprising that Wallace hasn't garnered more interest this summer.
He had an excellent year for the Bobcats last season, and has great size and athleticism for his position. Defensively, he ranked in the top 10 in steals last year. His jump shot will never be a thing of beauty, but Wallace is versatile and would be a great fit on a team still trying to fill a void at the two or three.
However, most teams assume that the Bobcats would match any offer for Wallace. They are way under the cap and have to sign somebody.
But the truth is that Bernie Bickerstaff isn't inclined to overpay. They want lots of cap room going into next summer and might be willing to let Wallace leave if the alternative is eating up an inordinate amount of their cap flexibility next year.
Kyle Korver, SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Now that it appears that Joe Johnson, Michael Redd, Ray Allen and Macijauskas are locked up, Korver stands as the best shooter left on the board. Seven of the top eight 3-point shooting teams in the league made the playoffs last season. It's clear that shooting now comes at a premium.
Korver tied for the league lead in 3-pointers made (226) and posted better than average numbers in rebounds and steals. The Sixers used him primarily as a spot-up shooter in their system, but it's clear that Korver has potential to be more. Add in his durability and better-than-expected defense and it's surprising the Heat and Cavs haven't made a stronger run at him.
The fear is that under the new rules for "early bird" free agents (players with just two years experience), the Sixers will just match any offer. However, with Jim O'Brien gone (as well as the heavy emphasis on 3-point shooting) and Samuel Dalembert looking pretty expensive for the Sixers, Korver might be worth the risk.
Ronald Murray, G, Seattle SuperSonics
Have NBA teams forgotten about Murray's magical run in November of 2003, when he averaged 20.8 ppg and 4.3 apg on 45 percent shooting with Ray Allen out of the lineup? Murray's numbers have been up and down since then, but he was so good, and so consistent, during that month that surely teams have to take a look. Even this season, when given more than 25 minutes on the floor, Murray averaged an impressive 16.1 ppg.
His shooting percentage was terrible this year and he never seemed to get into the flow, but on a team desperate for a combo guard who can put the ball in the basket, Murray seems like he's worth the risk.
Travis Hansen, SG/SF, TAU Vitoria
Hansen spent one lackluster year on the Hawks before heading overseas last year. After a rocky start at TAU, Hansen turned it on in the last two months of the season and was great. He helped his team get all the way to the Euroleague Finals and did it in front of a host of NBA GMs and scouts.
Hansen is a great athlete, plays tenacious defense, can play multiple positions and has turned himself into a very good 3-point shooter. The Nuggets and Rockets have shown the most interest, but you have to wonder why teams such as the Cavs (assistant GM Chris Grant drafted him in 2003), Heat, Bobcats, Magic and Jazz aren't in the mix.
Around the League
• The Nets are running out of patience with the Blazers and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The two teams have been in talks for the past week about a sign-and-trade that would put Abdur-Rahim in New Jersey. The Nets are trying to use their $4.9 million trade exception to acquire him. While that amount is no more than the mid-level exception that every team over the cap owns, a sign-and-trade would allow Abdur-Rahim to get an extra year and larger bonuses each year. The difference could amount (depending on where the cap comes in) to an extra $9 to $11 million over the course of the deal. The Blazers were holding out for a No. 1 and lately have been trying to get the draft rights to the Nets' second round pick this year, Serbian center Mile Ilic. So far the Nets have refused to budge, offering only a future second-round pick.
The team's trade exception expires July 29, so there is a growing sense of urgency. If the Nets can't land Abdur-Rahim with their trade exception, they would be willing to pay him their mid-level. However, his agent, Aaron Goodwin, is holding out hope that if the Blazers can't work out a deal with the Nets, they might be able to get one done with the Kings, Rockets or Clippers.
Expect things to work themselves out soon. The Nets also have strong interest in Stromile Swift and will try to work out a sign-and-trade with the Grizzlies for Swift if they don't get things with Abdur-Rahim resolved in the next few days.
If the Nets can land either Swift or Abdur-Rahim with their trade exception, look for new owner Bruce Ratner to keep spending money. Their next signing would likely be free agent guard Keyon Dooling with part of their mid-level exception. The Nets are looking for a combo guard who can help Jason Kidd keep his minutes down to about 30 a night and they seem to have narrowed in on Dooling as their guy.
• The Hawks have targeted Eddy Curry this summer, sources say, because GM Billy Knight believes that Curry is the one attainable free agent center out there right now. Knight is convinced that the Sixers and Bulls would match any offer he might make for Samuel Dalembert or Tyson Chandler, but Curry is a different story. Given his health problems and rocky relationship with the Bulls, the Hawks feel like the Bulls would be unwilling to match or, at the very least, would be amenable to a sign-and-trade that could send Al Harrington to Chicago.
• It looks like free agent point guard Antonio Daniels has narrowed his choices down to the Lakers and Blazers. It would appear that the Lakers would be a no-brainer. Phil Jackson loves big guards and the Lakers, now that they've agreed to trade Chucky Atkins, could offer him a starting position. However, two things are holding him back. One, the Lakers want Daniels to sign a two-year deal. This has been the Lakers mantra all summer as they try to protect potential max cap space during the summer of 2007 so that they can make a run at Yao Ming in free agency. Daniels, who turned 30 in March, wants more job security, and feels he can get it from his other suitors.
Two, new Blazers head coach Nate McMillan loved Daniels in Seattle and has been pushing to get him to come aboard as a tutor for Sebastian Telfair. The Jazz, Heat, Magic and Cavs have also shown interest in Daniels.
• It looks like Vladimir Radmanovic and the Sonics are in contract gridlock at the moment. The Sonics want to re-sign Radmanovic, but he's asking for starters money (a starting salary between $8-9 million) and a position in the starting lineup. "Vladimir's a starter," his agent David Bauman told Insider. "He needs to be paid like one and he needs to be played like one."
The problem for the Sonics is that they have Rashard Lewis playing his primary position, small forward, and a combo of Reggie Evans, Nick Collison and Danny Fortson holding down the power forward spot. Evans is also a free agent, so there might be an opportunity there, but it seems unlikely. If Radmanovic is a sixth man, the price would be way too rich for the Sonics' blood.
The Sonics, however, hold Radmanovic's restricted rights making it difficult for him to just bolt the team. Teams like the Hornets are interested and have the cash to do a deal, but are fearful that the Sonics will match. A sign-and-trade might be the only way out of the jam for both teams. The Sonics need a big man and there are plenty of suitors for Radmanovic if teams over the cap can get into the bidding. One trading partner that might make some sense is the Celtics, who are willing to part with Antoine Walker and/or Gary Payton in a sign-and-trade. The Sonics have interest in both.
• The Timberwolves are making a strong push for Clippers free-agent point-guard Marko Jaric. That could be the best signal yet that the team plans to jettison Sam Cassell this summer. Jaric is a restricted free agent, but the Clippers have shown some interest in being willing to facilitate a sign-and-trade. Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy would love to have Jaric return as a back-up to Shaun Livingston and Cuttino Mobley, but he isn't going to break the bank. Jaric likes the Clippers, but would prefer to get a starting gig in the league. The Nuggets and Cavs have also shown strong interest in Jaric this summer.
• The Bucks have been very busy this summer, drafting Andrew Bogut, trading for Jiri Welsch, and coming to terms with free agents Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons and Dan Gadzuric. The team has also been trying to re-sign center Zaza Pachulia. However, sources say that it looks like the Hawks are prepared to throw more cash his way should they be unable to land a big-time center like Dalembert, Chandler or Curry via free agency.
• The Cavs have been showing a lot of interest in free agents Reggie Evans and Damon Stoudamire. The team is looking for a rugged rebounder to put next to Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The team missed Carlos Boozer and feel that Evans, who was the best rebounder per minute in the NBA, would be a great fit. If the Cavs offer the full mid-level, the Sonics might not be match. The team has also shown strong interest in Abdur-Rahim. That could also signal the end of the Drew Gooden era. The Cavs are also after another point guard to platoon with Eric Snow. Snow is a bigger, defense-minded guard so the Cavs are trying to go the opposite direction with his backup. Stoudamire might be a good choice. He's a good perimeter shooter, can push the ball up the floor and is coming off one his better seasons in recent memory. Then again, he's 31 years old and has had more than his fair share of legal problems the past few years. The team has also looked at Jasikevicus as well as two bigger guards in Daniels and Jaric.
• The Miami Heat wanted to make a big splash this summer in the free agent market, but it looks like they'll end up standing pat by keeping a couple of their own free agents. The team came to terms with restricted free agent Udonis Haslem early last week and is getting closer to getting a deal done with free-agent point-guard Damon Jones. The Heat will, however, have to use most of their mid-level exception to lock up Jones.
• Poor Nikoloz Tskitishvili. After three years of being labeled one of the all-time great draft busts, he finally caught a break this summer by landing on the Timberwolves' summer league squad. With former Suns scout Rex Chapman now playing a big role in Minnesota, Skita finally got a chance to show his stuff in front of some sympathetic eyes. In his first game, he had 25 points, 10 rebounds, shot 4-for-5 from three and looked much better than the No. 1 pick in the draft, Andrew Bogut.
Alas, Skita broke his hand just nine minutes into the Wolves' second summer league game and will be out the next 4 to 6 weeks. Unfortunately for Skita, who wants to keep playing in the NBA, not Europe, no one is willing to break open the bank after one great summer league performance. Every one remembers that he was the MVP of the Reebok Vegas Summer League last year and then went on to do very little for the Nuggets and Warriors last season.
• Spanish point guard Jose Manuel Calderon is expected to sign with the Raptors when the moritorium ends. The 24-year-old Calderon averaged 12 ppg and 2.9 apg this past season in the Euroleague and hit 46.6% of his three-point attempts.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
NBA Rumor Central: Stubborn over Shareef
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Monday, July 18
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Stubborn over Shareef
Jul 18 - The Nets want Shareef Abdur-Rahim and are still talking sign-and-trade with the Blazers, since all they can offer the free agent power forward is their mid-level exception. The Nets are offering their $5 million trade exception in a deal, but Blazers GM John Nash still wants a first-round pick.
Said Aaron Goodwin, Abdur-Rahim's agent, in the New York Daily News: "Portland knows what (it takes) to get a deal done. New Jersey knows. The mid-level is what we will take as a last resort."
Abdur-Rahim has also reportedly drawn interest from the Kings, Spurs, Heat, Wizards, Clippers and Magic.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Marko on the market
Jul 18 - The Timberwolves are targeting Marko Jaric, the Clippers' restricted free agent point guard, the Star Tribune reports. "That would be a great fit," Jaric's agent Bill Duffy said. "It's a pretty aggressive market, but we'll try to be creative with every team."
Signing Jaric outright would be difficult for Minnesota because most or all of their midlevel exception is believed to be for forward Eddie Griffin. So a sign-and-trade might be in order.
The Clippers and Nuggets are also reportedly interested.
Sunday, July 17
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Drooling for Dooling
Jul 17 - Free agent Keyon Dooling said "six or seven" teams have expressed interest in his point guard skills, reports the Miami Herald. While the Heat have not made him an offer, Dooling says he hopes to be back but understands that may not happen with Shaquille O'Neal's contract being the team's top priority.
"If an offer comes along that me and my family thinks is good, we're going to have to take it," Dooling said.
Dooling has visited the Magic, and Nets coach Lawrence Frank also payed him a visit, the Herald reports.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Jul 17 - According to the Miami Herald, Jay Williams said he's "positive" he will play in the NBA next season and believes the Heat are interested in scheduling a workout with him.
"This would be a great fit for me," said Williams, who suffered serious leg injuries in a motorcycle accident in 2003. "I'm a lot further ahead than people think."
Saturday, July 16
WHO WHAT THE SKINNY
Riley's coaching itch
Jul 16 - Trying to put an end to the speculation that he would return to the sideline at the expense of Stan Van Gundy, Pat Riley held a teleconference.
"I would quit my job before I would dismiss Stan Van Gundy as the head coach simply because I wanted to coach," Riley said. "Period. That's not me. Anybody who knows me knows that I wouldn't do that for the sake of me wanting to get back into the job."
The controversy began when Riley said last month that he missed coaching and would like to take more of an "active participation" in the context of coaching.
Friday, July 15
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Get to the point
Jul 15 - First Nate McMillan leaves. Then Jerome James. Now Antonio Daniels? According to the Seattle Times, the sought-after free agent point guard sees it heading that way.
"Seattle continues to say something to the effect like when and if you get a serious offer, then come back to us and tell us what it is," Daniels said. "Well, that makes me feel very unappreciated. ... You never want to close any door, but I'm not the one closing the door." The Blazers, Lakers and Wizards have all reached out to Daniels, while the Jazz are expected to pay him a visit this weekend. His agent, Tony Dutt, has indicated that two teams have offered his client the full mid-level exception and at least one team has offered a five-year deal, the Times reports.
"It would be nice to start, but that's not the most important thing to me," Daniels said. "I need to be in a situation where I feel comfortable. Where I feel like they believe in me as a player and believe in my skills as a person. Somewhere my wife is comfortable. I thought that place was Seattle, but I'm finding out more and more that maybe it's not."
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Here he comes to save the day?
Jul 15 - Tracy McGrady is calling for Damon Stoudamire's help, the Houston Chronicle reports, saying the Portland point guard would fit well with the Rockets. The two played together in Toronto for part of McGrady's rookie season.
"He was Mighty Mouse then," McGrady said. "He's toward the end of his career where he just wants to win. It's not about being the man."
McGrady would also like to see Stromile Swift in Houston red. "He has unbelievable talent, and he's young," McGrady said. "That's a guy I can grow with. With his athleticism and power out there at the four position and his ability to play the five, it creates mismatch problems on the opposing end."
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
High on the Hawks
Jul 15 - Eddy Curry is enjoying his visit in Atlanta and warming up to the idea of playing for the Hawks, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
"I'm extremely excited about this whole situation and glad the Hawks have taken an interest in me," he said. "I realize there might be a chance I might not be in Chicago next year. ... I'm definitely open to coming to the Hawks."
Before the visit, however, Curry was still torn. "My heart never changed," he said in the Chicago Tribune. "Chicago always will be the place I want to be. Right now it's just business."
Thursday, July 14
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Kwame and Kobe
Jul 14 - If Kwame Brown had a hard time playing with MJ, imagine what it'll be like suiting up with Kobe. According to the L.A. Times, the Lakers have agreed in principle on a sign-and-trade deal that would land them the former No. 1 pick for Caron Butler and likely Chucky Atkins. Brown would receive a two-year contract from the Lakers with a third-year team option. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld declined to comment Wednesday.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
No Knicks for Laimbeer
Jul 14 - According to ESPN's Jim Gray, Bill Laimbeer has told Isiah Thomas that he no longer wants to be considered for the Knicks' head coaching job. Instead, he plans to concentrate on his current gig as head coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock. He also is interested in the Sonics' opening.
The Cavs have been showing a lot of interest in free agents Reggie Evans and Damon Stoudamire. The team is looking for a rugged rebounder to put next to Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The team missed Carlos Boozer and feel that Evans, who was the best rebounder per minute in the NBA, would be a great fit. If the Cavs offer the full mid-level, the Sonics might not be match. The team has also shown strong interest in Abdur-Rahim. That could also signal the end of the Drew Gooden era. The Cavs are also after another point guard to platoon with Eric Snow. Snow is a bigger, defense-minded guard so the Cavs are trying to go the opposite direction with his backup. Stoudamire might be a good choice. He's a good perimeter shooter, can push the ball up the floor and is coming off one his better seasons in recent memory. Then again, he's 31 years old and has had more than his fair share of legal problems the past few years. The team has also looked at Jasikevicus as well as two bigger guards in Daniels and Jaric.
so monroe is wrong about cavs signing the point guard or ford is wrong
Its amazing how we hear all the rumors and then see somthing else happen. At least it passes the time.
I'm not really clear on what type of player Radmanovic is. This lists him as a small forward, on a team with a need for a big - and wanting to do a sign and trade. If, and it's a big if, he's a tallish, mobile 3 who can defend, would a S&T work for either Rasho or Nazr?
I don't think we need to trade either, and would like to play a season with both, but I just wondered if Vlad would fit at all with the spurs team & system.
I'm not impressed with his "I wanna be a starter" call - doubt he'd shift Bowen to the bench unless he's REALLY good.
Coopers Pale Ale, the breakfast of champions
Vlade wants to START. That is part of the reason he may leave Seattle.
Sarunas is a point guard. Why would he come here to battle Beno for the 10 or 12 minutes a night that Tony's back-up gets- plus, he wants REAL $$.
People keep throwing out names of all these players that are NOT going to come here. We are looking for BENCH guys- guys who will accept that role. Every FA that gets mentioned people want.
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