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  #1  
Old 08-05-06, 04:50 AM
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Bonzi slipping through cracks in free-agent market

Slipping Through the Cracks in the Free-Agent Market
Basketball

BY JOHN HOLLINGER
August 4, 2006
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/37369

For Bonzi Wells and Al Harrington, this summer had to seem like a can't-miss proposition. Each was entering free agency coming off his best season in years, and market conditions couldn't have been more in their favor.

In a weak free agent class, Wells and Harrington were two of the top five players available in the eyes of most, making them coveted assets for any team looking to step up. Additionally, the market seemed flush with cash. Five teams — New Orleans/Oklahoma City, Toronto, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Chicago — entered the summer with enough cap space to ink either Wells or Harrington to a multi-year deal in the $60 million range.

But then a funny thing happened. One by one, teams started picking off the cream of the free agent crop — Ben Wallace to Chicago, Peja Stojakovic to the Hornets, Sam Cassell to the Clippers, Mike James to the Timberwolves — but Wells and Harrington went all but ignored.

The remaining teams with salary cap space haven't shown a whit of interest in them and, more embarrassingly, neither have their former clubs. Sacramento made an early offer to Wells, but when he refused they went ahead and gave his spot to veteran mediocrity John Salmons — he of the 5.1 career scoring average. Meanwhile, Atlanta has all but packed a suitcase for Harrington, hoping only to dump some salary and perhaps get some cash or a draft pick for him in a sign-and-trade deal.

With the summer winding down, most teams are already done with their off-season shopping, and yet both Harrington and Wells remain without a team. Usually, this only happens with restricted free agents (Drew Gooden and Chris Wilcox would be this year's examples), and for an obvious reason — opposing teams are reluctant to commit salary cap space while the club that owns the player's rights dithers over whether to match the offer.

But Harrington and Wells are both unrestricted, which usually starts a bidding frenzy. Unforutnately, each may have overplayed his hand. Sacramento put an offer on the table for Wells that was supposedly in the $35 million range — well over the mid-level exception, in other words. One wonders how much money he thought he'd be getting considering that a) he's never been a star-caliber player, b) he's already blown out his knee twice, and c) he's a notorious pain the derriere.

As for Harrington, he supposedly had a sign-and-trade deal in the works that would have sent him to Indiana —and then he abruptly fired his agent. The deal would have paid Harrington handsomely, although not quite in the $60 million range he was seeking, and the Pacers seemed to be the only player in the sweepstakes.

Additionally, the waiting game could continue much longer for each.Now that both have been relegated to working the sign-and-trade game, it's going to be much harder to put a deal together that pays them what they had hoped to receive. Sacramento is flirting with the luxury tax line and can take back very little in the way of contracts in such a deal, meaning Wells could only sign a big-money deal if he went to a team that was under the cap or one that had a large trade exception.

Harrington's former employers in Atlanta aren't in such a fix cap-wise, but unfortunately for him the Hawks' general manager is the notoriously slow-footed Billy Knight. More than one league executive has complained about how difficult it is to get a deal done with him, simply because there's no creativity or urgency coming from his end.Add in an ownership tangle that has slowed the Hawks' approval chain to a crawl, and it's a wonder they even had the Indiana deal ready to go.

However, these two shouldn't give up hope quite yet.They may need to lower their expectations salary-wise, but there are deals that can be done if they're patient. The most obvious one would be with the Charlotte Bobcats, who still have to spend several million dollars just to meet the league's minimum salary requirement.

A multi-year deal might be tricky since Charlotte is also looking to make a big push in free agency next summer, but Harrington or Wells could buy themselves some time by signing a one-year deal with the Bobcats for big money and then purchasing a generous insurance policy to guard against injury.

As for Harrington, several sign-andtrade options remain on the table. Indiana still is the leader in the sweepstakes, owning a behemoth trade exception from the Peja Stojakovic sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets that could be transferred to Atlanta.The previous deal on the table would have sent Harrington, cash, a draft pick, and John Edwards' contract to Indiana, and that still may be the deal that comes to pass.

If not, another intriguing possibility is a three-way arrangement involving Golden State. The Warriors don't have the goods to get a deal done by themselves, but have a roster loaded with young players and could work a deal out if they sent cash and an expiring contract from another team to Atlanta. That might not be the Hawks' first choice, however, because they get more cap relief by dumping Edwards's contract in the Indiana trade. And ultimately, Atlanta can put the kibosh on any deal involving Harrington — which is exactly why he's been in limbo so long.

Of course, the most intriguing option on the table for Harrington would be Philadelphia. They've been shopping Allen Iverson all summer, and Iverson might be just what the Hawks need to rejuventate their moribund fan base. Throw in a gaping hole at the point, and it seems a perfect match — Atlanta could sign-and-trade Harrington and throw in another young player (say, Marvin Williams) as a crowd pleaser, and the Sixers could begin rebuilding.

Regardless, it appears Wells and Harrington can forget about those $60 million sugar plums that were dancing in their heads at the start of the summer. It's unusual to see two highly-touted unrestricted free agents languish without a contract so deep into summer, especially when the rest of the crop is so weak. But it's just the latest non-development in the NBA's Summer of Inactivity — heck, even Isiah has barely given us reason to chortle. So as the dog days of summer drag on, don't hold your breath waiting for a resolution. It may be training camp before either player knows who will be employing him this season.

http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=37369
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Old 08-06-06, 12:53 PM
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Serves his sorry a$$ right!!! Man, that guy is the epitome of a bad seed...
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Old 08-06-06, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Indiana still is the leader in the sweepstakes, owning a behemoth trade exception from the Peja Stojakovic sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets that could be transferred to Atlanta.
Can someone explain to me what a trade exception is?
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Old 08-06-06, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob42378
Serves his sorry a$$ right!!! Man, that guy is the epitome of a bad seed...
thats what Spurs fans were saying of Rodman as we traded him to bulls...where he helped Michael and company when 3 more rings...I'd trade/sign bonzi..
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Old 08-06-06, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-rob fan
Can someone explain to me what a trade exception is?
A trade exception is basically a one-year credit line a team receives when it trades away a player (or players) whose contract far exceeds those received in return. Teams have up to one year to use the exception, but it can not be used to sign free agents. It can only be used to acquire existing contracts from other teams; in other words, to consummate a trade.
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Old 08-06-06, 06:55 PM
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thanks spurtime
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Old 08-06-06, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spurseye
thats what Spurs fans were saying of Rodman as we traded him to bulls...where he helped Michael and company when 3 more rings...I'd trade/sign bonzi..
I would love Bonzi in Silver and Black. He was a wrecking crew in the playoffs. He actually reminded me of sir Charles, and I never thought anyone would do that. Pop and the guys would not tolerate his bad attitude.
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Old 08-06-06, 09:14 PM
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Bonzi for MLE would be a steal for a lot of teams, even though his attitude sux.
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Old 08-06-06, 11:09 PM
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If not, another intriguing possibility is a three-way arrangement involving Golden State. The Warriors don't have the goods to get a deal done by themselves, but have a roster loaded with young players and could work a deal out if they sent cash and an expiring contract from another team to Atlanta. That might not be the Hawks' first choice, however, because they get more cap relief by dumping Edwards's contract in the Indiana trade. And ultimately, Atlanta can put the kibosh on any deal involving Harrington — which is exactly why he's been in limbo so long.
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I know its a long shot but could the spurs be the third team they need? we do have some expiring contracts
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Old 08-06-06, 11:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spurseye
thats what Spurs fans were saying of Rodman as we traded him to bulls...where he helped Michael and company when 3 more rings...I'd trade/sign bonzi..
rodman didn't help the spurs win a champinoship, will perdue did.
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Old 08-07-06, 02:17 PM
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naaaa rodman use to be "bowen" against utah´s malone... to me, championship key player in the bulls system....
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