View Full Version : 6/17 ESPN Insider - Free Agent Forecast/predictions

06-17-2003, 10:20 AM
2003 NBA Free Agent Watch
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Tuesday, June 17
Updated: June 17
10:17 AM ET

Now that Tim Duncan and the Spurs have officially ended the season and the NBA draft debate is in full swing, it's time to take a step back and survey the free-agent landscape. As great as draft picks are, few of them make a major impact these days. Only LeBron James, Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony are expected to make significant impacts this year.

With teams like Chicago, Miami and Toronto losing their patience with the whole rebuilding thing, free agency, not the draft, is where they'll have to look to find impact players. The last thing the Bulls need is another lottery stud who thinks he's the center of the universe. There's been a lot of talk for the past year about the golden free-agent class of 2003. Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Jermaine O'Neal, Gary Payton ...

The names might be A-list, but the teams with enough cap room to actually lure them away are all small-time gigs. San Antonio, Utah, Denver and the Clippers have cash to burn. But would Kidd leave the bright lights of New York for the sleepy confines of the Alamo? Would O'Neal bolt the up-and-coming Pacers for the down-and-out Nuggets? And once the Spurs, Jazz and Nuggets get done spending (we're leaving the Clippers out of this right now) is everyone else going to have to settle for a mid-level exception?

Exclusive complete 2003 free agent list
Key = (R) - restricted free agent | (PO) - player option

1. Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs (PO)
Outlook: All signs still point to Duncan staying in San Antonio. In fact, he may not even opt out of his deal. Given that the cap has actually dropped since he signed his last deal, Duncan would actually lose money if opted and out and went for a new deal in San Antonio.
Insider Prediction: Duncan will be flying the flag in the Alamo for years.

2. Jason Kidd, PG, Nets (PO)
Outlook: Kidd is still determined to play the free-agent market. Sources close to Kidd have indicated that he'd like to finish his career on the West Coast with a contender. The only team he's interested in with enough cash to sign him straight up is the Spurs. The Clippers would probably fit in that category too, but unless Duncan agrees to come along for the ride and Donald Sterling gets a lobotomy, you know that isn't happening. A return to the Bay Area also isn't out of the question. The Warriors have enough young assets to work out a sign-and-trade if that's where Kidd wanted to land. If none of that works (and nothing looks too tempting at the moment) Kidd will re-sign with the Nets and stock up on bridesmaid dresses.
Insider Prediction: Jason stays in bed with the Nets. No Kidding.

3. Jermaine O'Neal, PF, Pacers
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. However, Pacers sources continue to insist that O'Neal has not wavered in his commitment to re-sign with the organization. Why would he leave the comfortable East Coast (where he's clearly the best power forward in the conference and a perennial all-star) for the harsh and cruel Western Conference? Playing against Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki, Karl Malone and Pau Gasol every night isn't a piece of cake. The only team with a real shot of luring him out West is the Spurs. A combo of Duncan and O'Neal would be frightening.
Insider Prediction: There's no place like home. O'Neal sticks with the Pacers.

4. Elton Brand, PF, Clippers (R)
Outlook: Everyone has interest, but so do the Clippers. Brand doesn't want to re-sign with L.A. unless Sterling also forks over some cash for Michael Olowokandi and Lamar Odom. Expect the Jazz and Spurs to flirt with him, but in the end, Brand will probably take the Clips' 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)
Outlook: He's the hottest free agent on the market. The Warriors desperately want to keep him, but the most they can offer him is $4.5 million next season. Expect teams like the Nuggets and Heat to offer him a contract starting at around $7 million a year. Arenas' agent, Dan Fegan, claims Arenas needs more money than that, but who's going to pay it? An extra $3 million a year may be just too much for Arenas, or anyone else, to pass up.
Insider Prediction: Arenas strikes gold with the Nuggets.

6. Michael Olowokandi, C, Clippers
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 tries to fill David Robinson's shoes in San Antonio.

7. Andre Miller, PG, Clippers (R)
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.
Insider Prediction: It's Miller time in Utah.

8. Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Clippers (R)
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 looked like they're the most interested in bringing him into the fold, but if they draft Carmelo Anthony, will he be a fit? Don't be surprised if the Spurs try to get in on the action.
Insider Prediction: Expect a fierce bidding war on Maggette, and expect the Spurs to come out on top.

9. Juwan Howard, SF/PF, 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 Pistons, Lakers, Bulls, Sonics, Spurs, Heat and Magic all remain good possibilities.
Insider Prediction: Howard wants to win without riding Shaq and Kobe's coattails, which is why he'll head back to Michigan for the mid-level.

10. Gary Payton, PG, Bucks
Outlook: The Bucks still maintain that they want Payton to re-sign this summer, but with the way they're playing, it may not be an easy sell. With the team up for sale, and the organization stuck in limbo, Payton will be out the door, too. No team is going to spend a huge chunk of its cap on a 35-year-old point guard, no matter how good he is. If he decides to bolt Milwaukee, the best he can hope for is a mid-level exception contract with a team like the Pacers, T-Wolves, Warriors or Heat.
Insider Prediction: If Arenas bolts, the Warriors could put together a combination of Mike Dunleavy, Chris Mills (last year of his deal) and the No. 11 pick that would convince the Bucks to pull the trigger on a sign-and-trade.

11. Karl Malone, PF, Jazz
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. But can Malone really leave Utah?
Insider Prediction: The Mailman delivers to Utah until it's time to retire.

12. Lamar Odom, SF, Clippers (R)
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 they do, will the Clippers match? Odom's not in a bad situation either way.
Insider Prediction: Expect the Heat to try to sign him, but don't be shocked if the Clips match the offer.

13. Brad Miller, C, Pacers
Outlook: It's not a great year for big men in free agency or the draft. That could mean very big things for Miller despite a so-so year. Indiana wants to re-sign him, but don't be surprised if the Spurs come after Miller if Kidd and Olowokandi don't pan out
Insider Prediction: The Pacers keep the other Miller home.

14. Rasho Nesterovic, C, T-Wolves
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 Wolves want him, and they'll have to pay handsomely to keep him.
Insider Prediction: Nesterovic sticks in Minnesota.

15. Jerry Stackhouse, SG, Wizards (PO)
Outlook: Stackhouse won't opt out of his contract unless he gets a guarantee of a big extension from the Wizards. That's not going to happen. The Wizards are shopping him around, but don't expect that to change his free-agent status
Insider Prediction: Stackhouse won't ever hit the free-agent market.

16. Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons (R)
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. Keon Clark, PF, Kings (PO)
Outlook: Slender star was on his best behavior this season in Sacramento. But will there be any money for him this summer? Clark may be better off sticking with the Kings next season and then trying things again in 2004 when the free-agent field isn't so crowded.
Insider Prediction: The free-agent market's too crowded. Clark stays with Kings one more year.

18. Jason Terry, SG, Hawks (R)
Outlook: 6-foot-2 shooting guard anyone? Anyone?
Insider Prediction: The Hawks draft a big point guard, then keep Terry around as a bargain.

19. P. J. Brown, PF, Hornets
Outlook: He's not the flashiest player on the list, but his toughness in the paint could really help a team like the Lakers, Mavs, Sonics or Celtics. If he wants to bolt New Orleans and he's willing to play for the mid-level exception, he should be very popular this summer.
Insider Prediction: Brown watches Shaq's back in L.A.

20. Alonzo Mourning, C, Heat
Outlook: Mourning said he's been cleared to play next season. Can Mourning really desert the Heat after all they've done for them? In our book, after two years of paid sick leave, Mourning owes them a season or two at the veteran's minimum. In Mourning's book, however, it appears that he'll go where the money is.
Insider Prediction: Expect Mark Cuban and Paul Allen to get in a bidding war over the rights to Mourning. Both can afford to gamble with their full mid-level exception.

Best of the Rest: Dion Glover, SG, Hawks (R); DerMarr Johnson, SG, Hawks; Jumaine Jones, SF, Cavs (R); 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; Kenny Thomas, SF/PF, Sixers (R); 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; Speedy Claxton, PG, Spurs; Elden Campbell, C, Sonics; Predrag Drobnjak, PF, Sonics; Rafer Alston, PG, Raptors; Voshon Lenard, SG, Raptors

Lonely PSU Mavs Fan
06-17-2003, 10:50 AM
HOw much does this Chad Ford actually know? Where is he getting his information? To say that dallas is only going after Zo seems off. I think Cuban learned from last year and is going to push hard to sign a quality free agent.

06-17-2003, 01:39 PM
Iīm pretty sure the Spurs arenīt stupid enough to spend their money on Kandi and Maggette. If they canīt get any of the real big names they will sign a couple veterans to one year deals and wait for the 2004 class which will feature quite a few big names too. Actually I think they will be able to sign one of the big names this year though.

06-17-2003, 08:27 PM
Looks like the experts expect a shutout for the Mavs.

06-17-2003, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by: MFFL
Looks like the experts expect a shutout for the Mavs.

hopefully they are wrong

06-18-2003, 09:53 AM
What are you talking about? Sports columnists are NEVER wrong about the Mavs!

06-18-2003, 10:41 AM
Fidel - I agree that SA spending their money on a fool like Kandi would be stupid...and Maggette might be wrong for their system...but I drool at the prospect at having Maggette at our 3. (Not that it's going to happen). LRB has been a huge proponent of Maggette all season...and I agree with the big man.

06-18-2003, 10:57 AM
If Zo is healthy I think he would be a solid addition to the mavs.

We should also remember that mavs can make a trade before deadline in Feb to get Brand.

06-19-2003, 12:16 AM
Originally posted by: madape
What are you talking about? Sports columnists are NEVER wrong about the Mavs!

Quite the contrary...most sports columnists had Dallas making an exit in the 1st round and have Nowitzki as only a top 25 player but not very high on that list either!

We made it past the 1st round (even though I think the prolonged battle with the blazers cost us severely and possibly cost us the trophy!) And Nowitzki is probably the 9th or 10th best overall player in the NBA 1 spot ahead of Sac's golden boy C-Web!

Dont trust those ignorant know it alls!

06-19-2003, 12:32 AM
evan...i think he was being sarcastic. maybe you are being sarcastic arguing with him, but it didn't seem like it.