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OutletPass
02-24-2003, 10:03 AM
Trade deadline aftershocks
by Chad Ford

Three days have passed since the NBA trade deadline slipped into the night. The ramifications of what did and didn't happen on Thursday are still the talk of the NBA. How will it affect free agency, the 2003 NBA draft, summer trade talk and the infamous salary-cap and luxury-tax situations of NBA teams? Insider breaks down the 2003 trade deadline aftershocks . . . Free-agent aftershocks

The 2003 free-agent landscape didn't take a major hit during the trade deadline, but several significant developments could make an impact this summer . . . The Sonics were one of the four or five teams that were expected to have semi-serious cap room this summer. Trading Gary Payton for Ray Allen eliminated all of the Sonics' cap space for this summer, shrinking the teams that look to be players in the free-agent market to three -- San Antonio, Utah and Denver. Indiana will also have lots of cap room, but the Pacers will use it all up re-signing Jermaine O'Neal, Brad Miller and Reggie Miller. The Clippers will also have major room, but no one seriously thinks they'll use it. The Heat and Pistons will also have significant cap room, but not enough to sign a max player. The Magic and Cavs will have a little spare change.

The Sonics' moves should have a major impact on Jason Kidd's free-agent recruiting tour this summer. Kidd has indicated numerous times that he wants to play the field, but most league observers have felt that only two teams, the Spurs and Sonics, had a realistic chance of prying Kidd away from the Nets. With the Sonics now out of the picture, this will really be a two-horse race between the Spurs and the Nets. The Nuggets might have an outside chance if they end up with LeBron James and are able to lure another top-flight free agent to come on board with Kidd, but it's pretty unlikely Kidd would pass up the chance to play with Duncan to babysit the Nuggets.

The Warriors' inability to clear cap space before the deadline means they're heading into a showdown this summer with Gilbert Arenas, and more important, his agent, Dan Fegan. Fegan, for those of you who aren't familiar with his exploits, essentially strip mined Utah and Houston the last few years when they wouldn't overpay to keep his clients. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they have three Fegan clients, Arenas, Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson. That could spell trouble. Fegan has a reputation, fairly or unfairly, of always jumping ship for the highest dollar. This summer, if the Warriors don't find a way to cut between $15 and $20 million in cap space, the most the team can offer Arenas is a contract starting at the average-player salary. Several teams, including the Nuggets and Heat, will be far enough under the cap to offer Arenas significantly more.

While Warriors COO Robert Rowell said Saturday that the team is committed to paying the luxury tax to keep Arenas, it still doesn't help them much this summer. If the Nuggets were to offer Arenas $7 million a year, would Arenas take $2.5 million less to re-sign with Golden State? Maybe. The Sonics were in a similar situation with Rashard Lewis a few summers ago and convinced Lewis to stay. They did it by offering him a two-year contract with a player opt out after the first year. If Arenas was willing to take $4.5 million next year, he could opt out in the summer of 2004. By then, Arenas would have been with the team three years and the Warriors would own his Bird rights. That would essentially allow the club to re-sign Arenas to a long-term contract at a much higher figure. So, assuming Arenas agreed to a wink-wink deal with the Warriors, he could re-sign in 2004 to a contract starting at $7.7 million. Since the Warriors are able to give him 12.5 percent raises and other teams are only able to give him 10 percent raises, the Warriors could, by the end of a six year contract, offer the Arenas that same total amount of cash as the Nuggets could.

Where is Gary Payton going to get his big offer this summer? The Spurs are looking for youth, and he'd never play in Denver or Utah. The Heat don't have enough pieces to make a serious run at a championship and everyone else is limited to paying him the mid-level exception. Payton's only realistic shot at a golden parachute is to re-sign with the Bucks. If he's unhappy with them, or, if the George Karl-Payton love affair cools, he's going to wish he was more reasonable when he haggled with the Sonics the last few seasons.

The big free-agent winner may be Elden Campbell. The Hornets had no real intention of re-signing Campbell this summer, meaning he would've lost his Bird rights. With so many players competing for mid-level exception slots, it's possible that Campbell would've been lost in the shuffle. Not anymore. If he plays well for the Sonics, another big if, they can choose to re-sign him and still have the use of their full mid-level exception.


Draft aftershocks

A series of moves, and non-moves, gave several teams a better chance to land the ultimate prize this summer -- LeBron James . . .Everything starts in Seattle. No one believes that this team will be any better with Ray Allen than it was with Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. The Sonics' move was directed toward the future. Currently, the Sonics are 23-31 and have just a 1.1 percent chance of winning the lottery. However, there's a chance for the team to keep moving up the ladder now. After a hot 8-2 start, the Sonics are just 15-29. The team is just one win ahead of the Knicks for ninth place in the lottery. And it's just four wins from leap frogging a number of teams -- the Bulls, Heat, Clippers, Hawks -- into a much more comfortable position. It's not inconceivable that the Sonics could end the season with a nine percent chance of winning the lottery. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the conditional first-round pick that the team is getting from Milwaukee won't help much. The best the Sonics can hope for is that the Hawks fall to No. 4 in the draft and the Bucks don't make the playoffs, pull off a miracle and land either the first, second or third slot in the lottery. If that happens, they'd get the Hawks pick. The worst case scenario, and a more likely one, is that the Bucks go on a run with Payton on board and end up with one of the 10 best records in the league. The Bucks are only three games behind the Celtics, who currently hold the 10th-best record. If that happens, the Bucks will keep the Hawks' pick, send their draft pick (if it's between 19-29) to the Pistons and the Sonics will be stuck with two second-round picks from Milwaukee.

It seems pretty likely that the Cavs and Nuggets will stay one and two in the lottery standings for the rest of the year. The next two closest teams, Memphis and Toronto, both look like they're poised to make late-season runs. The Grizzles' acquisition of Mike Miller gives them another solid scorer to go along with Pau Gasol and Jason Williams. The team still has a long way to go, but I think they'll be much better over the home stretch. The Raptors have been on fire since Vince Carter returned from injury. The team is 7-3 during that stretch and will probably play itself out of a high lottery pick by the end of the season. That probably leaves the Heat, Bulls and Clippers in a scrum for the coveted third-worst record in the league.


Summer trade talk aftershocks

Expect to see a bunch of the same players on this winter's trading block back in play this summer when trades are much easier to consummate . . .

Expect the Kevin Garnett rumors to really start heating up this summer. If the two sides can't come to terms on an extension, the T-Wolves are in serious danger of losing him for nothing. What will it take to convince Garnett to sign an extension? The T-Wolves are going to have to make a bold move this summer. They tried to land Eddie Jones before the break. They came close, but Heat coach Pat Riley couldn't bear that thought of losing Jones for a guy, Terrell Brandon, with one foot in the grave. While those talks may be dead, the T-Wolves need to figure out a similar deal to make Garnett happy. He's willing to take less money if the Wolves prove to him that they'll use the savings to sign another star. So far, Garnett has been seriously disappointed.

If the Hawks continue their losing ways, expect the team to shake things up, hire a new GM and get to work on retooling the roster. Priority No. 1 this summer will be figuring out what to do with Jason Terry. The Hawks can't afford to sign him to a long-term deal for several reasons. One, their luxury-tax situation is already bad. Two, it will kill his trade value. The best bet for them is to work out a sign-and-trade that packages him with a guy like Nazr Mohammed or Theo Ratliff. The Hawks should also have plenty of time to figure out what to do with Shareef Abdur-Rahim. For whatever reason, it isn't working and he still has lots of trade value. Again, the key is cutting a few other salaries off the books before moving Rahim.

The Warriors should have an easier job moving the likes of Chris Mills, Bob Sura and, if worse comes to worst, Adonal Foyle. Despite what they're saying about paying the luxury tax for Gilbert Arenas, they really would like to clear the cap room now.

Depending on where the Nuggets land in the draft, don't be surprised to see Marcus Camby's name pop up in trade talks around draft day. Now that Seattle is out of the free-agent picture, the Nuggets see a golden opportunity to clear more cap space and make a run at another free agent. Moving Camby would give them another seven million under the cap.

Raef LaFrentz, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Rashard Lewis, Bonzi Wells, Jason Williams, Michael Dickerson, Al Harrington, Eduardo Najera, Ricky Davis, Michael Redd, Pat Garrity and Malik Rose lose their base-year compensation status this summer. The big currency this summer will again be players in the last year of their contracts. It's highly doubtful that teams will be able to clear much cap room before the NBA draft. That means the guys in vogue this summer will be players whose contracts expire in 2004. Among the names you could see dangled? Glen Rice, Tom Gugliotta, Brent Barry, Ron Mercer, Eric Williams, Brevin Knight, Wesley Person, Toni Kukoc and Greg Ostertag.

Expect the LaFrentz, Carter and Wells rumors to run rampant if the Mavs, Raptors and Blazers fail to get it done in May and June.

Dooby
02-24-2003, 10:18 AM
Thanks for posting OP; alwaus appreciate reading the insider.

LRB
02-24-2003, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the article OP. It just seems to echo the transferring of importance of trades from talent to finances and salary cap considerations. Obviously talent will always be a part of the equation, but it certainly is losing share to salary cap considerations very rapidly. Scary.

sturm und drang
02-24-2003, 03:57 PM
I just have this nsaty feeling that LaFrentz's $77M contract-- $77M for a role player! Yikes!-- might be the albatross around our necks for years to come.

Drbio
02-24-2003, 05:37 PM
As always...Thanks OP!

MavKikiNYC
02-24-2003, 06:39 PM
<< I just have this nsaty feeling that LaFrentz's $77M contract-- $77M for a role player! Yikes!-- might be the albatross around our necks for years to come. >>



Layden-esque. Absolutely Layden-esque.

sturm und drang
02-24-2003, 07:08 PM
Exactly. I look at the Knicks-- and the sad, sad payroll situation they're mired in-- and laugh at their knack for giving average role players incredibly inflated contracts... and then shudder and realize that, unfortunately, we have a few of those ourselves.

Let's just hope that we don't end up with a team full of them. I'm glad we didn't trade for Brian Grant, because I think he's simply another above-average role player with a superstar contract. One of those is manageable. Start collecting them, and we'll be in trouble...

MavsFanFinley
02-25-2003, 12:34 AM
I have nothing new to add, I just wanted to say thanks to OP for posting these articles here for all to read.

LRB
02-25-2003, 02:35 AM
<< Exactly. I look at the Knicks-- and the sad, sad payroll situation they're mired in-- and laugh at their knack for giving average role players incredibly inflated contracts... and then shudder and realize that, unfortunately, we have a few of those ourselves.

Let's just hope that we don't end up with a team full of them. I'm glad we didn't trade for Brian Grant, because I think he's simply another above-average role player with a superstar contract. One of those is manageable. Start collecting them, and we'll be in trouble... >>



Very good point Sturm about how we are better not having made the trade for Grant. Teams who trade for shot term talent but huge long term contrancts will find themselves in dire straits is a couple of years. The Mavs have had our share of piss poor teams for qute a while.

jayC
02-26-2003, 07:11 PM
Keon clark gets more production than Raef LaFrentz what gives Raef show us great flashes but can't string consistent play together. Raef is more like the no Role on this team he is the one guy that hasn't found his role this season. Bradley has played good at times and then back to the old bradley than others. I would be great if we can move LaFLop.

But as I say this hopefully Raef will show up tommorow against the hated queens.

And kg please come here and team up with Dirk to become the most versatile forward tandem in NBA history.