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07-08-2003, 09:06 AM
2003 NBA Free Agent Watch
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Tuesday, June 17
Updated: July 8
10:03 AM ET

Updated July 8 Will Gary Payton take a major pay cut to sign with the Lakers. Are Jason Kidd and Jermaine O'Neal saying there's no place like home? Is Zo looking East? Here's the latest on the free agent front.

Here's Insider's latest look at who's going where.

Exclusive complete 2003 free agent list
Key = (R) - restricted free agent

1. Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs
In the mix? Spurs
Outlook: All signs still point to Duncan staying in San Antonio. He did just opt out of his deal but there's almost zero chance he bolts San Antonio this summer.
Insider Prediction: Duncan will be flying the flag in the Alamo for years.

2. Jason Kidd, PG, Nets (PO)
In the mix? Nets, Spurs, Mavs
Outlook: Kidd is still determined to play the free-agent market. Kidd was in San Antonio on Sunday checking out the sites. He left for New Jersey on Monday. While Spurs officials claim publicly that they're optimistic that he'll sign in San Antonio, privately, they believe he'll stay in New Jersey. Kidd may also visit the Mavs after his Spurs visit. No other visits are scheduled.
Insider Prediction: Jason stays in bed with the Nets. No Kidding.

3. Jermaine O'Neal, PF, Pacers
In the mix? Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Mavs
Outlook: O'Neal was considered a lock to re-sign with Indiana until a late-season swoon put that into question. The Spurs, Jazz and Nuggets would all love to have him. And with the recent cap windfall to the Heat, Pat Riley's also in a position to lure O'Neal to Miami. O'Neal canceled visits to the Spurs and Mavs this week citing a family emergency. Pacers sources continue to insist that O'Neal has not wavered in his commitment to re-sign with the organization.
Insider Prediction: There's no place like home. The question is, which home. The Pacers can offer him the most money and he's a big fan of Isiah Thomas. The Heat can offer him warm weather and one of the best coaches in the league. Right now, it still looks like the Pacers have the upper hand..

4. Elton Brand, PF, Clippers (R)
In the mix? Clippers, Spurs, Jazz
Outlook: Everyone has interest, but so do the Clippers. The latest has them offering Brand a five year, $65 million contract. Will Brand take it? The Jazz have also reportedly offered Brand a six year max deal, but agent David Falk is afraid to pull the trigger out of fear that the Clipps will match. Brand doesn't want to re-sign with L.A. unless Donald Sterling also forks over some cash for a few more free agents. Expect Brand to take the Clips' offer or he'll snag the one-year tender and hit unrestricted free agency next summer.
Insider Prediction: Brand has to endure the Clippers for one more year.

5. Gilbert Arenas, PG, Warriors (R)
In the mix? Nuggets, Warriors, Heat
Outlook: He was the hottest free agent on the market. But with Denver cooling on his price tage, he may be out of suitors quickly. The Warriors desperately want to keep him, but the most they can offer him is $4.5 million next season. Expect the Nuggets to offer him a contract starting at around $7 million a year. Arenas' agent, Dan Fegan, claims Arenas needs closer to $9 million a year, but who's going to pay it? The Heat are an option if talks fall through between Miami and O'Neal.
Insider Prediction: Arenas strikes gold with the Nuggets.

6. Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Clippers (R)
In the mix? Nuggets, Spurs, Jazz, Clippers
Outlook: No one's stock has risen more this season than Maggette's. We've known for a while that he's one of the best athletes in the league. But his development of a consistent long-range jumper has really opened up the game for him. Again, he's likely to be another casualty of the Clippers' salary-cap woes. The Nuggets look like they're the most interested in bringing him into the fold. He was in Denver last week and said after the visit that he hopes the Nuggets make him an offer. The Spurs and Jazz also have scheduled visits. The Clips claim that they'll match any offer for Maggette.
Insider Prediction: Expect a fierce bidding war on Maggette, and expect the Nuggets to come out on top.

7. Alonzo Mourning, C, Heat
In the mix? Heat, Mavs, Pistons
Outlook: The Mavs were thought to be the front-runners for weeks, but the latest intelligence has Mourning also seriously considering a return to the Heat. Mourning sounds more inclined to work something out with Miami now that they've landed an extra $4 million under the cap. A real dark-horse in the Mourning race is Detroit. Mourning is convinced his best shot at getting a ring is by staying in the East. Like several other top free agents, Mourning has identified the Pistons as being the up-and-coming team that could get him there.
Insider Prediction: Mark Cuban will lure Zo to Big D.

8. Andre Miller, PG, Clippers (R)
In the mix? Jazz, Nuggets
Outlook: The Clips can't afford to pay everyone, and most feel that Miller will be the casualty. Despite a terrible season, after Kidd and Arenas, he's the best point guard on the board. Expect the Jazz to make him a big offer. He wants to return to Utah and the Jazz would love to have him. He's a perfect fit in the Jazz's system and a great heir to John Stockton. The Nuggets are also taking a look, especially while Arenas keeps up his ridiculous demands.
Insider Prediction: It's Miller time in Utah.

9. Juwan Howard, SF/PF, Nuggets
In the mix? Pistons, T-Wolves, Lakers, Magic, Nuggets
Outlook: Howard will likely go from being one of the most overpaid players in the history of the league to one of the best bargains. He's gained a huge amount of respect for the way he handled himself on the lowly Nuggets this year. The Nuggets want him back, but expect him to try to work out a sign-and-trade with a team in a better position to win now. The T-Wolves, Magic, and Pistons all remain good possibilities. Howard claims he could decide as early as this weekend. Sources claim Howard has the most interest in the Wolves, Pistons and Magic now that it appears that the Lakers are close to locking up Karl Malone and Gary Payton.
Insider Prediction: Howard wants to win without riding Shaq and Kobe's coattails, which is why he'll go to the T-Wolves for the mid-level.

10. Gary Payton, PG, Bucks
In the mix? Lakers, Blazers, Heat
Outlook: Payton's agent told the L.A. Times this weekend that he's no longer interested in re-signing with the Bucks. And while his agent held open the possibility of a sign-and-trade with Portland or Miami, the Times, citing sources close to the situation, is reporting that Payton could announce as early as today that he's joining the Lakers.
Insider Prediction: It appears that Payton has his heart set on playing with the Lakers.

11. Karl Malone, PF, Jazz
In the mix? Lakers, Jazz, Mavs, Spurs, Nets
Outlook: He turns 40 in July, but the Mailman continues to deliver. It will be interesting to see what the Jazz and Malone do this summer. The team would like to start rebuilding, but it also wants to see him retire in Utah. Malone couldn't command a huge, long-term contract anywhere, but he can still help a playoff contender if he's willing to settle for the mid-level exception. He was in L.A. on Wednesday talking to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. The latest has Malone willing to take the Lakers $1.5 million execption to play in L.A. if the team can also land Gary Payton. But can Malone really leave Utah?
Insider Prediction: It looks like the Mailman wants to deliver to the Lakers.

12. Lamar Odom, SF, Clippers (R)
In the mix? Heat, Nuggets, Spurs, Clippers
Outlook: If he's healthy and gets his head on straight, he's a top-five talent. Pat Riley loves him. But so does Elgin Baylor. Will the Heat give him some love? If Jermaine O'Neal and Michael Olowokandi fall through, they might try to steal Odom away from the Clips. If they do, will the Clippers match? Odom's not in a bad situation either way.
Insider Prediction: Depends on what Miami does. If they don't make an offer, Odom will take the Clips one year tender.

13. Michael Olowokandi, C, Clippers
In the mix? Heat, Nuggets, Spurs
Outlook: His stock has dropped considerably since last summer. Olowokandi held out for a max contract last summer, and right now it doesn't appear that the gamble has paid off. Injuries, a bad attitude and a terrible Clippers squad will haunt him as he tries to find another team willing to pony up the cash. The Heat, Spurs and Nuggets are all interested in Olowokandi, but at what price? If Sterling is willing to spend, a sign-and-trade isn't out of the question either.
Insider Prediction: The Kandi-man wants to play in Miami. If the Heat land O'Neal, however, he'll try to get Kiki Vandeweghe to give him some love.

14. Brad Miller, C, Pacers
In the mix? Pacers, Heat, Nuggets, Spurs
Outlook: It's not a great year for big men in free agency or the draft. That could mean very big things for Miller. Indiana wants to re-sign him, but don't be surprised if the Heat come after Miller
Insider Prediction: The Pacers keep the other Miller home.

15. Rasho Nesterovic, C, T-Wolves
In the mix? T-Wolves, Knicks, Spurs
Outlook: Next to Maggette, no one has helped his stock more this year than Nesterovic. He's been a solid force in the middle for the T-Wolves. This time, agent Bill Duffy's gamble, he turned down a six-year deal from the Wolves last summer, paid off big time. The Knicks are trying to swing a deal, but the just don't have the cap space. The Wolves want him, and they'll have to pay handsomely to keep him. The Spurs are the latest team to get in on the action. With Kidd and O'Neal unlikely to sign, they think Nesterovic's ability to step out and play the high post makes him a great fit in the Alamo.
Insider Prediction: Nesterovic bolts the T-Wolves for San Antonio if Kidd and O'Neal don't pan out.

16. Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons (R)
In the mix? Pistons, Spurs
Outlook: He had a big year in Detroit, meaning that the Pistons are trapped in the same dilemma they faced with Stackhouse. They really want to re-sign him, but what is he worth? Hamilton can play the free-agent market all he wants, but with the free-agent talent pool so deep, there may not be any money left by the time Rip bubbles to the top. Look for the Pistons to get a real bargain on Rip.
Insider Prediction: Hamilton keeps ripping the nets in Detroit.

17. Jason Terry, SG, Hawks (R)
In the mix? Hawks, Nuggets, Sonics
Outlook: 6-foot-2 shooting guard anyone? Anyone?
Insider Prediction: The Hawks drafted a big point guard in Boris Diaw so they can afford to keep Terry around as a bargain.

18. P. J. Brown, PF, Hornets
In the mix? Magic, Spurs, Lakers, Jazz, Pistons, Mavs, Cavs
Outlook: He's not the flashiest player on the list, but he's among the most popular. His toughness in the paint and veteran leadership could really help a team like the Lakers, Mavs, Spurs or Magic. If he wants to bolt New Orleans for a contender and he's willing to play for the mid-level exception, he should be very popular this summer. He visted Orlando on Monday and is in San Antonio today.
Insider Prediction: Could Brown be the missing piece of the puzzle in Orlando?

19. Kenny Thomas, SF/PF, Sixers (R)
In the mix? Sixers
Outlook: He's one of the best young power forwards available, but don't expect him to be out on the market for long. The Sixers really want him back. If there's any truth to the six-year, $50 million offer he'll get from the Sixers, there's no way he leaves Philly.
Insider Prediction: Time to quit doubting Thomas Sixer fans.

20. Speedy Claxton, PG, Spurs
In the mix? Knicks, Pistons, Wizards, Jazz, Cavs, Nuggets
Outlook: His heroic play in Game 6 of the NBA Finals will earn him a lot of cash. Size will be an issue, but with so many teams clammering for a point guard, he'll land on his feet somewhere.
Insider Prediction: The Knicks, Pistons and Pacers look like frontrunners.

Best of the Rest (in order by team): Dion Glover, SG, Hawks; DerMarr Johnson, SG, Hawks; Jumaine Jones, SF, Cavs; Donnell Harvey, PF, Nuggets; Jon Barry, SG, Pistons; Earl Boykins, PG, Warriors; James Posey, SG, Rockets (R); Reggie Miller, SG, Pacers; Eric Piatkowski, SG, Clippers; Travis Best, PG, Heat; LaPhonso Ellis, SF, Heat; Darrell Armstrong, PG, Magic; Kenny Anderson, PG, Hornets; Tyrone Hill, PF, Sixers; Derrick Coleman, PF, Sixers; Scott Williams, C, Suns; Antonio Daniels, PG/SG, Blazers; Scottie Pippen, SF, Blazers; Jim Jackson, SF, Kings; Stephen Jackson, SF, Spurs; Elden Campbell, C, Sonics; Predrag Drobnjak, PF, Sonics; Rafer Alston, PG, Raptors; Voshon Lenard, SG, Raptors

07-08-2003, 09:30 AM
Thanks OP - we really missed you.

07-08-2003, 09:31 AM
Thanks MFFL...the trip to Cancun was VERY weird...I'm very happy to be back home.

07-08-2003, 09:32 AM
Weird how? Tropical storm? That's what ruined my last trip to Cancun.

07-08-2003, 09:39 AM
Nope, Continental airlines "deleted" my wife's reservation (long story) although we made it 3 months ago...so my son and I went...they promised she'd be on the next flight....but they put her son on standby and they never made it...there were no more flights available AT ALL . So Ryan and I were stuck there without my wife and stepson...just sick.

NEVER EVER FLY CONTINENTAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!

We're suing BTW.

07-08-2003, 09:47 AM
Originally posted by: OutletPass
Nope, Continental airlines "deleted" my wife's reservation (long story) although we made it 3 months ago...so my son and I went...they promised she'd be on the next flight....but they put her son on standby and they never made it...there were no more flights available AT ALL . So Ryan and I were stuck there without my wife and stepson...just sick.

NEVER EVER FLY CONTINENTAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!

We're suing BTW.

That sounds like a nightmare. How can you have fun on a family vacation when something like that happens?

Bleh. And I don't fly Continental anyway - a situation happened to me where I was late to a flight. When I checked in at the desk, I was told to hurry. I did but still the plane took off without me. The desk didn't call the flight and ask them to wait a couple of minutes. To top it off, the folks at the desk LEFT before I could get back so I wasn't able to arrange a flight until the next day.

07-08-2003, 10:11 AM
OP- glad you're back.

I've missed the insider. Sorry to hear about your vacation. I got screwed by America West flying home from vegas, not as bad as you, but it sucks that an airline can screw over your whole vacaction.

Anyway, most of these assessments and predictions seem pretty straight forward and right on.