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OutletPass
07-08-2003, 09:36 AM
Free-agent market taking shape
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Friday, July 4
Updated: July 7
9:35 AM ET


Before we get too excited about Jason Kidd and the San Antonio Spurs, or out of control with Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks, or all warm and fuzzy with Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets, maybe we should first consider Tony Parker, already with the Spurs, Derek Fisher, long of the Lakers, and Vernon Maxwell of the early-1990s Houston Rockets.


Yes, that Vernon Maxwell.



Kidd
Kidd may very well be the most prized individual in this summer's free agent market, but while we wonder which team will get the honor of paying him $12 million a season, let's not forget that in the last 13 years, no point guard has led his team to the NBA title.

Aside from Avery Johnson, no point guard from any championship team in that span averaged more than 5.3 assists per game, and that includes Parker this season. Heck, Johnson averaged only 7.4 per game in 1999. Over those 13 years, the championship point guard averaged a very meager 3.88 assists per game due to changes in offensive theory, availability (or lack thereof) of talent and perhaps even rules changes.

Point guards ain't what they used to be.

The NBA's leading assist man in each of those 13 seasons -- from Jason Kidd to Andre Miller to John Stockton and so on -- has averaged 11.4 assists per game, a nice but very unassuming 47 wins per season and not a single NBA title.

On the other hand, not a single point guard in that span won a title and made that season's all-star lineup.

Just something to think about as we round out all of the free agent news from around the league.

Lakers: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Karl Malone wants to win an NBA Championship so badly he's willing to do it almost for free. "Malone, it appears, has made the Lakers the perfect offer: his services for as low as the veteran's minimum exception ($1.5 million for the first year), or whatever rate they agree would be necessary to top off their roster with (Gary) Payton." If that were to happen, it would place four possible hall of famers on one team. The paper states that Malone is now waiting on word from the Lakers while the Lakers await word from Payton, who is said to be meeting with the club as early as today. However, if the Lakers are unable to secure Payton, the Malone deal also could fall apart.

Bucks: Back in Milwaukee, Gary Payton and the Bucks are talking. But that's all they're doing. "Nothing more further to update than just continuing conversations," new GM Larry Harris told the Journal-Sentinel. Meanwhile, rumors continue to place Payton in Los Angeles or Indiana or other places, as Milwaukee becomes more and more inclined to exercise salary options they haven't enjoyed for several years. "Right now it's just so early in the discussions," Harris said. "Right now it's been very -- it's been, what can I say? Give me a word that I can use -- it's very positive, and things are going in the right direction. I guess that's the way to put it."

Pistons: Just because you haven't heard that Detroit is in the Juwan Howard sweepstakes doesn't mean that Joe Dumars isn't making a little noise. In fact, the Detroit News reports that while other clubs are simply offering Howard as much money as they can, the Pistons have already made one attempt to trade players to Denver in order to offer the forward more money. Those players are said to have included Zeljko Rebraca, Hubert Davis, Chucky Atkins and either Clifford Robinson or Corliss Williamson.



Howard
Nets: Just how fast can the Nets go from out of the frying pan and into the fire? "Kenyon's aware of all the implications. We're watching what's going on," Martin's agent, Brian Dyke, told the N.Y. Post. "Kenyon has always looked at it as things you can't control, you let go. Jason's got to do what's best for him." The agent refused to comment on a departure link between Kidd and Martin but the topic is surfacing more and more. "Of course, that's always nice to hear," Dyke said, noting he "didn't want to get into" what exact plans he and Martin will attempt if Kidd does leave. "Kenyon has learned from Jason how to be professional. [Kidd] has a faith and belief in Kenyon, and Kenyon has it right back [in Kidd]." Meanwhile, several local papers are reporting talks between Kidd's agent and Kiki Vandeweghe, general manager of the Nuggets, and an upcoming visit between Kidd and the Spurs on Sunday but not the Mavericks on any date.

Timberwolves: Kevin McHale isn't quite done with his wheeling and dealing. Already having acquired the high-scoring Sam Cassell from the Milwaukee Bucks, he's now after the Indiana Pacers Al Harrington. All he's offering at this point is the salary cap relief that would come from Terrell Brandon. The Pacers say that isn't enough and have substituted Austin Croshere's name in Harrington's place. The Pioneer Press reports that a deal could be struck within the next two weeks.

Pacers: As if the Pacers don't have enough to worry about already with Jermaine O'Neal and Brad Miller becoming free agents, they've still got this guy named Reggie Miller, you know, the best player in Pacers history, also becoming a free agent. "That's where we have to get," team president Donnie Walsh told the Indianapolis Star of the potential salary structure for an aging icon. "Where it's a good number, but it's not insulting to either side." Complicating matters is Miller's ankle injury last year and the demands of other young players already on the roster. "Sometimes he cries, and sometimes I cry," Walsh said. "But we both know ... last time, maybe it looked contentious at times publicly, but I never thought it was. (Miller's agent) Arn (Tellem) and I have been doing this with Reggie for a long time."

Nuggets: Everybody might be talking about Juwan Howard and Alonzo Mourning in Denver, but at least one person thinks they should be talking to someone else. "If they believed that Alonzo is a better fit than me, fine," free agent center Michael Olowokandi told the Rocky Mountain News. "But, personally, I don't think so." Entering the offseason, many believed the young Clippers center was high on the Nuggets wish list, but so far his name hasn't been mentioned with any regularity and the two sides havent' set a date to talk to each other.



Claxton
Magic: The Orlando Magic made their pitch to Speedy Claxton recently, but it may have had more to do with playing time than dollar bills. "They got Reece Gaines in the draft, but I don't know that you want to turn your team over to a rookie," Claxton's agent Bill Duffy told the Orlando Sentinel as word also surfaced that veteran point guard Darrell Armstrong was highly unlikely to return to the club. "I think guys like Speedy and Reece would complement each other really well. Gaines is a big guard and more of a defender, while Speedy is quick and really good in the open court."

Heat: That cheer you hear coming from Miami has nothing to do with any free agent signing but rather a free agent departure. The Sun Sentinel is reporting that a huge mistake by veteran guard Anthony Carter will now give the Miami Heat in excess of $11 million to spend on free agents this summer. All Carter had to do was inform the Heat that he was exercising the player option on his contract and he would have been guaranteed $4.1 million this season. Instead, neither he nor Duffy, his agent, made the call, and now the Heat are dreaming of names like Kidd, Jermaine O'Neal and Lamar Odom. "Somebody just mentioned this to me," Duffy said when contacted Thursday evening before abruptly ending the phone call with the Sun Sentinel.