View Full Version : 7/2 ESPN Insider - Kiki pursuing wrong FA's

07-02-2003, 09:20 AM
Nuggets pursuing wrong players
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Wednesday, July 2
Updated: July 2
9:46 AM ET

With chum now (legally) in the water, the free-agent feeding frenzy roiled the NBA personnel waters Tuesday.

After weeks of speculation, vague promises and winks, GMs took off their anti-tampering flak jackets and got to work.

Most of what went down Tuesday shocked no one. The Spurs scheduled visits with Jason Kidd and Jermaine O'Neal. The Mavs are after Alonzo Mourning. The Lakers got on the phone with Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Juwan Howard and P.J. Brown.

We've known about all of that for weeks.

But Denver GM Kiki Vandeweghe threw everyone a curveball when he and most of his staff and flew to Miami to woo 'Zo.

Mourning has said repeatedly that he'll only leave Miami for a chance to win a championship. We don't think he meant three years from now.

This comes amid reports Vandeweghe is trying to lure Kidd to Denver, too. Problem is, as good as Kidd thinks the situation in Denver will be down the road, he's not ready to take the plunge -- with or without Carmelo Anthony.

Kidd's agent, Jeff Schwartz, told Insider on Monday that there was no truth to the report that Kidd will be making a visit to the Nuggets. Schwartz said Kidd will meet with San Antonio this weekend and would then meet with "possibly" one other team.

That other team, Schwartz said later, was the Mavs.

Jermaine O'Neal, another Denver target, has no immediate plans to visit Denver, either. Money means a lot in the NBA -- but money and winning are the magic combination.

Kidd? O'Neal? Mourning?

Maybe all of that UCLA blue (the Nuggets' new color) is getting to Kiki's head a bit.

While no one can fault him for shooting at the moon, there's a very significant side effect the Nuggets may not have anticipated -- alienating the players who really do want to play in Denver.
Michael Olowokandi
Los Angeles Clippers

36 12.3 9.1 1.3 .427 .657

"I was surprised," said Bill Duffy, agent for Michael Olowokandi, of the Nuggets making their first visit to Mourning. "But they're doing what they want."

"I personally think that in the long run, Michael would be better," Duffy told the Rocky Mountain News. "Michael is young enough that he can be your center for the next seven or eight years."

Gilbert Arenas, Corey Maggette and Andre Miller were probably thinking the same thing.

Maggette will be in Denver today for a visit. Vandeweghe called Olowokandi just after midnight July 1 and expressed interest. The team never did get a hold of Arenas, according to the Denver Post, and no one is sure what happened to Miller.

Still, as far as messages go, the Nuggets sent a mixed one.

"I'm really confused," one player agent told Insider. "That's a young team with a lot of money who's consistently maintained that they are going to bring in some good young talent. But 'Zo and Kidd? C'mon. Kidd isn't going to play there. 'Zo isn't going to play there. I think you make your courtesy calls to those guys, and then you get your butt on the doorstep of the best kid that you have a realistic chance of landing. I can tell you I have one very confused free agent who can't figure out why the entire staff of Denver is in Miami right now instead of here."

Sour grapes? Perhaps.

A negotiating ploy? Maybe. The Nuggets know agents are looking for them to overpay. With a perceived inability to land the upper-crest free agents, folks will be trying to take advantage.

Arenas' agent, Dan Fegan, is asking for a starting salary of $9 million a year. Did we mention that his own team, the Warriors, can offer only half that? Olowokandi, Maggette and Miller are looking for big deals too -- maybe too big.

"The next two or three weeks are a critical period for the Nuggets," Kroenke Sports president Don Elliman said. "The objective is picking up talent and not overpaying."

But as Kidd, Mourning, O'Neal and the rest of the free-agent elite start falling into place in Dallas, San Antonio, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Indiana -- will the Nuggets' early flirtation with the supermodels of the NBA keep them from landing the girl next door?

Around the league
Jason Kidd
Point Guard
New Jersey Nets

80 18.7 6.3 8.9 .414 .841

Speaking of the Jason Kidd "free-agent tour", his agent, Jeff Schwartz refuted reports that Kidd would be crisscrossing the country looking for a new gig. He has only one visit scheduled -- San Antonio. Schwartz said there's a possibility that he'll also interview in Dallas. Anyone else?

"At this time, there's no reason to go anywhere else," Schwartz told Insider. "He's got a very short list."

Does the list include New Jersey? Sure it does. Schwartz claimed recent reports that had Kidd saying his son T.J. could have done a better job coaching in the Finals than Byron Scott were untrue.

"He's very happy in New Jersey," Schwartz said. "He likes the direction that they're heading -- they've been to the Finals two consecutive years. I'm not sure what more you can ask of them."

So why exactly is he making visits anywhere? "Free agency doesn't come around very often," Schwartz said. "Jason has to make sure he's making the right decision."

Jermaine O'Neal's eyes are wandering. O'Neal will visit the Spurs on July 9. He'll talk to the Mavs next week, as well.

"He's an unrestricted free agent, and we understand what that means," David Morway, Pacers vice president of basketball administration, told the Indianapolis Star. "He has an opportunity to look at other situations and weigh those situations. We feel strongly that at the end of the day we'll be the best situation for Jermaine."
Scottie Pippen
Portland Trail Blazers

64 10.8 4.3 4.5 .444 .818

The Bulls also surprised some folks by focusing their attention on Scottie Pippen and, to a lesser extent, Horace Grant on Tuesday.

"I respect Scottie Pippen as a person and as a basketball player immensely," GM John Paxson told the Chicago Sun Times. "I look at our current situation, and it would be a real plus to have him here. It goes to the fact we do need veteran leadership, and he would be the perfect veteran leader. He's been through it all. He may feel he doesn't want to play anymore or (watns to) go to a team that has a chance to win a championship right away. If that's the case, we don't fit in. But there's a place for him if he does want to come.''

The Clippers got off to a slow start on Tuesday. According to several sources GM Elgin Baylor did make a few phone calls to free agents but took the now infamous "wait-and-see" approach. While expressing interest in re-signing all of their free agents, the Clips prefer that players, especially the restricted free agents, set their market value, bring in an offer sheet and then they'll talk about matching.

As we wrote Tuesday, that could lead to a long summer. Meanwhile Corey Maggette will be in Denver on Wednesday. Lamar Odom got several phone calls from teams but is unsure what he'll do. And Miller reportedly is deciding between Denver and Utah.
Radoslav Nesterovic
Minnesota Timberwolves

77 11.2 6.5 1.5 .525 .642

The Knicks showed their hand Tuesday, making a full-out blitz for T-Wolves center Rasho Nesterovic.

"The talks were very substantive," Bill Duffy, the agent for Nesterovic, told the New York Times. "They've been very forthright in their interest in him. They think he can emerge as one of the top centers in the East, maybe the top center in the East."

The only problem for the Knicks? They're dreaming if they believe Rasho is coming for the mid-level exception. A source in Minnesota told Insider the Wolves' offer will be significantly higher than that. That means the Knicks would have to work out a sign-and-trade to get him in New York. New York might have the assets to get that done, but if Nesterovic is signed for too much, he becomes a base year player, making him next to impossible to move later.

To make the numbers work, the Knicks would have to conceive a much larger deal that would send a signed Nesterovic and Terrell Brandon to New York for Latrell Sprewell, Mike Sweetney, Michael Doleac and Frank Williams.

A more realistic option for New York appears to be Sonics free agent Elden Campbell.

The Hornets' P.J. Brown is getting love from the Lakers, Magic, and the Cavs.

Don't be surprised if the Suns settle on Sonics big man Predrag Drobnjak with some of their mid-level money. Drobnjak's size, ability to stretch the floor and ability to play some center have them intrigued.

Add the Wizards to a long list of teams that appears to be targeting Speedy Claxton in free agency.

07-02-2003, 09:22 AM
o'neal and kidd talking to the mavs next week...oh yeah!!

07-02-2003, 10:30 AM
Why? There is no reason to talk to either of them. Why would we be talking to guys we have no chance of signing when Malone is sitting on the corner watching with a tear in his eye?

07-02-2003, 10:32 AM
we have a chance, madape. don't wake me up from my dream.

Tony tha Mavs fan
07-02-2003, 10:54 AM
Why not have either of them visit? At least make a sales pitch to them, who knows , Mavs may have a SLIGHT chance to land one of them .

07-02-2003, 10:56 AM
the fact that they are visiting dallas means something.

and even if they don't end up here, at least we will know we tried instead of wondering what if.

07-02-2003, 11:14 AM
(future what if) What if we had gone harder after Karl Malone...

07-02-2003, 11:18 AM
true, but you can't have it all ways. jo or kidd would be a better addition to the mavs. you have to go after it if you think there is a chance.

07-02-2003, 11:25 AM
This headline should definitely read, "Mavs pursuing wrong FA's."

07-02-2003, 11:38 AM
Using that logic, why don't we fly to San Antonio and talk to Tim Duncan. He'd be a better addition than either Kidd or O'Neil.

Seriously, there are repercussions in going after unattainable free agents. Right now, the biggest result is that we're sending the message to Karl Malone that we don't want him. If we strike out on Zo, Kidd, O'Neil, and Malone is no longer available.. what then? We're left with jack shit.

07-02-2003, 11:42 AM
ok, ok, madape, you have a point. but we could strike out on malone, too. i am betting we are talking to him too anyways.

07-02-2003, 01:00 PM
Originally posted by: Mandyahl
ok, ok, madape, you have a point. but we could strike out on malone, too. i am betting we are talking to him too anyways.

Exactly. Everyoen is talking about how Mourning might not even play next season but Malone is now 40. Some think a year isn't much but all it takes is a off season to lose your play.

07-02-2003, 07:00 PM
I agree with Madape, I think the Mavs should pursue Malone very hard instead of wasting time with the O'Neals, Kidds, etc etc. Players they have no chance of signing, they should go very hard after Malone BEFORE the Lakers look to sign him.