NBA Free Agency Diary — Part II

With so few teams looking at significant cap space and most of the big name free agents becoming available next summer, most thought this would be a rather uneventful summer around the league. But since the NBA’s free agency period started on July 1, there’s been a flurry of activity and several teams have made some momentous moves with an eye towards the immediate future.

As we’ve done in year’s past, we’re here to size up some of the moves and how some of them have changed the landscape around the league.


Magic swing for the fences, go further into luxury-tax territory
The Orlando Magic are poised to take a step forward instead of backwards after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals last month. They first traded for All-Star swingman Vince Carter, then they signed Dallas free agent Brandon Bass to a lucrative long-term deal, and now it appears they’ve opted to match Dallas’ offer sheet for restricted free agent Marcin Gortat.

It’s a risky move, but I respect Magic GM Otis Smith for his determination to take the next step. So many teams that come so close to winning an NBA title take a step back and ultimately end up rebuilding before actually winning an NBA title. Smith clearly doesn’t want to do that and wasn’t about to let Hedo Turkoglu‘s departure set the team back.

But is Gortat really worth $34 million2758 over five years? It’s evident that he’s on his way to becoming a solid big man in this league, and would’ve been Dallas’ starting center heading into the next decade, but I’m not sure the Magic should be spending that kid of money to keep a guy who’ll be nothing more than a backup to Dwight Howard. But I’m really starting to like Orlando’s title hopes after this summer, that’s for sure.

If you listen to the talking heads around the league and in the media, winning a title makes spending all this money worth it.
Sharpshooting Parker agrees to deal with Cleveland
After missing out on free agent Trevor Ariza, the Cleveland Cavaliers turned attention towards Toronto sharpshooter Anthony Parker.

On Monday, Parker signed a two-year deal worth about $6 million with the Cavs. He averaged 10.7 points and 3.4 assists in 80 games for the Toronto Raptors last season. He’s one of the league’s premier shooters and at 6-foot-6, he provides the type of length the Cavs have been searching for in a perimeter defender.

“For me it’s always about who really saw me fitting in with what they’re trying to do,” Parker said. “Cleveland has been that team from the beginning. They showed the most interest and pursued me the hardest. It just so happens they’re also a team that’s contending, which is even better. It was a fit all the way through.”

Parker, 34, is on the tail end of his career and doesn’t have the long-term 635upside Ariza does, but can still light it up from the outside. With Shaq and LeBron demanding attention in the paint, it’s difficult to imagine the Cavs finding a savy veteran better suited to spread the floor for a team on a title quest.
Hawks bring back Bibby, Pachulia
With Cleveland and Orlando setting the tone in the Eastern Conference this off-season, the Atlanta Hawks have also decided to toss its chips to the center of the table. The thinking, according to head coach Mike Woodson, is to be among the four best teams in the conference come playoff time.

In an effort to do just that, the Hawks re-signed two of its own free agents, Mike Bibby and Zaza Pachulia, both of whom played a large role for the 4th seeded Hawks during the playoffs in May.

Because of the moves mentioned above, the Magic have bolstered its roster heading into next season. The Cavaliers brought in Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Parker and the Celtics 612016avoided trading Rajon Rondo and signed free agent Rasheed Wallace. The Wizards traded for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. All of which put pressure on the Hawks to improve its roster, which resulted in the trade for Jamal Crawford and the re-signing of Bibby and Pachulia. The Eastern Conference should as competitive as we’ve seen in over a decade.

Millsap’s Millions

While New York Knicks restricted free agent David Lee remains without a long-term offer, Paul Millsap is assured the opportunity to swim in a vault of 10.3 million dollars in cash this weekend.

The Utah Jazz restricted free agent signed a four-year, $32 million offer sheet from the Portland Trailblazers, giving the Jazz seven days to match the offer. But in an effort to prevent that from happening, the Blazers front-loaded the contract by offering Millsap a $5.6 million signing bonus and agreed to pay him $4.7 million of his first-year, $6.3 million salary the day the contract becomes effective.

So regardless of which team he ends up with this weekend, Millsap will receive $10.3 million. Add to that the $1.6 million that will be spread throughout next season and Millsap, who was paid just $797,581 last season, will be paid $11.9 million this year. The remaining $20.1 million will be spread over the final three years of the deal.

Had All-Star forward Carlos Boozer opted to become a free agent this summer, as he said he would in December, the Jazz would be in a position to bring Millsap back without much difficulty.

Instead, the Jazz are expected to continue their push to trade Boozer, with the intent of creating sufficient distance from the luxury-tax line to match the Blazers offer to Millsap. From all indications, the team plans to match Portland’s offer by Friday and keep Millsap, then deal with Boozer.

I’m really surprised more teams aren’t front-loading free agent contracts. It 3015allows a team to offer a lot of money up-front to a player without necessarily overpaying in the long-term. It also prevents a players contract from becoming deadweight a year or two into the deal. So often we see teams sign a player to a lucrative contract, only to regret it a year later. By front-loading a contract, that situation can be avoided because the player can then me moved much more easily.

Another interesting thought is that the Blazers are clearly trying to weaken the Jazz, its Northwest division rival. Sure, they could’ve signed David Lee — who actually put up better numbers than Millsap last season — to an offer sheet, and New York may not have matched in an effort to preserve cap space for next summer. But according to a source close to the situation, signing Lee would actually strengthen the Jazz. Not only would Millsap likely remain in Utah, but the Knicks would undoubtedly be much weaker without Lee. Because the Jazz own the Knicks unprotected first round pick in 2010, the Jazz would ultimately benefit. Interesting concept from a college friend now working for The Oregonian.

With free agency far from over, we’ll be adding and updating information in the comments section of this thread. Feel free to comment or add your own updates/rumors there as well.

*Email Andrew at


16 Responses to “NBA Free Agency Diary — Part II”

  1. Jeremiah J. Says:

    After Gortat and Varejao getting the money they’re getting, I don’t blame Paul Millsap or David Lee for wanting 10 million. Gortat, Varejao and even Bass don’t have much of an offensive game. And while Millsap and Lee don’t exactly have post games like Pau Gasol, they’re solid 15 ppg scorers, and either of them with outrebound Anderson Varejao any day. Those other 3 guys have defensive abilities as well, but anything over the midlevel for them is overpaying. I’m really bewildered that Cleveland is so smitten with Varejao in a market where they could have gone out and got an upgrade–for cheaper.

    I think you forgot to update the Millsap stuff at the end of this post. As you said, the talk of 65 mil over five years really was insane. Millsap’s people are now saying that a deal worth half that is really good.

  2. I actually purposely left the Millsap deal out because we’ve talked about it so much in the last free agent thread and even have a post centered around it and what the Jazz might do to counter.

    That being said, I read something tonight that made me want to re-visit the subject and I’ll likely post add it to the end of the thread sometime tomorrow, or whenever I have a chance.

    As for Varejao and Gortat, well, they’ve proven two things: 1) size does matter in this league and … 2) teams aren’t afraid to spend, despite what we keep hearing about the NBA’s weakened economy. I’ve always maintained that NBA players are overpaid, but I’m loving the fact that the top teams in the league are actively trying to improve their rosters … and in some cases, regardless of the cost.

  3. Jeremiah J. Says:

    I thought you had some outdated Millsap stuff at the end last time I looked at this post–it must be the computer re-posting an cached version of the post or something weird like that.

    I don’t think the contracts are that out-of-control this off-season, except for the guys we’re talking about. In fact you could argue some guys are underpaid, like Ron Artest. Ramon Session will probably get less than he deserves, too. But personality issues with both guys might be depressing their value. Aside from those two guys, Chad Ford has a long list up of remaining free agents. I bet half of them don’t get any contract, and won’t be in the league next year because teams are out of money. You could call that being underpaid, or I guess you could call it necessary housecleaning.

  4. I’d call it both. I mean, seriously, if Brandan Bass can get $18 million, then other guys should be getting something. Allen Iverson is worth more than $5 per season, but he’s also pretty old, is more on-dimensional than he used to be, and doesn’t have the power to draw a crowd like he was able to three or four years ago.

    But in a sense, most of the guys on Chad’s list should still probably have a bone tossed to them. I mean, David Lee might be better off signing the qualifying offer and becoming unrestricted next summer. As goes with the plethora of other guys, if they have the opportunity to do so. But you’re probably right, guys like Andre Miller should get more than the league minimum.

    Which brings me to another point. With so many guys out there that can be had for a cheap price tag, the league’s elite are likely to get even stronger. Imagine Andre Miller signing with a team like the Lakers or Blazers. How about Josh Childress coming back to the NBA and signing with a contender? It could get interesting.

  5. Interestingly, it sounds as if Millsap’s agents want him to land in Portland. Some comments have been interpreted as harsh towards the Jazz, almost like they’ve been disrespected by the Jazz for not wanting to overpay for Millsap. They were simply doing what others teams do, that is to wait and see what the market rate is for a restricted free agent.

    “If Paul was their first priority like they said, we should’ve come to an agreement early,” Millsap’s agent told the Salt Lake Tribune.

    “It should always be what do you value Paul Millsap as your player?” Simmons added. “Not what happens with Shawn Marion or [Anderson] Varejao. They haven’t taken any charges for you. Why would you care about somebody else?”

  6. Interestingly, it sounds as if Millsap’s agents want him to land in Portland. Some comments have been interpreted as harsh towards the Jazz, almost like they’ve been disrespected by the Jazz for not wanting to overpay for Millsap. But the Jazz were simply doing what others teams do, that is to wait and see what the market rate is for a restricted free agent.

    “If Paul was their first priority like they said, we should’ve come to an agreement early,” Millsap’s agent told the Salt Lake Tribune.

    “It should always be what do you value Paul Millsap as your player?” Simmons added. “Not what happens with Shawn Marion or [Anderson] Varejao. They haven’t taken any charges for you. Why would you care about somebody else?”

  7. Gortat is “disappointed” that the Magic matched Dallas’ offer? He’s disappointed that he’s wanted? He’s disappointed to be returning to “The Happiest Place on Earth?” He’s disappointed to be returning to a title contender? Come on, I mean seriously.

    I understand he wanted to be the starting center in Dallas and that he’s in Dwight Howard’s large, broad-shouldered shadow. I get that. But dude’s getting paid like a starter, despite mediocre production, so he should be pretty happy about that. I’d be much more disappointed if I were stuck in a place like Minneapolis, where the winters are long and the team blows.

  8. Looks like Iverson could land in L.A. He’d be an interesting fit with Baron Davis and Eric Gordon as a three-headed monster in the backcourt.

    Funny thing because didn’t he force his way out of a proposed trade to the Clips back in 2000? I believe he did, and it’s quite telling of how poor the market is for a 34-year old undersized, one-dimensional shooting guard. It’ll be fun to watch with him B-Dizzle and Griffin next year.

  9. Drew, I recently spoke a friend of ours who works at the New York Times (I’m sure you know who I’m talking about) and he had heard that Lee was in fact being considered by the Blazers. But the belief in Portland was that the Knicks were much more likely to match than the Jazz because of the cap situation caused by Boozers.

    If I were a Jazz fan, it would be hard not to have a strong hatred for Boozer because of his flip-flop that may ultimately cost them Millsap.

  10. Jeremiah J. Says:

    “If I were a Jazz fan, it would be hard not to have a strong hatred for Boozer because of his flip-flop that may ultimately cost them Millsap.”

    I’m not big on Boozer, because he’s asserted that he would get a raise this summer even though he should have known the Jazz couldn’t pay it and that the market was going to have something to say about his hoped-for raise. He’s apparently only happy with being a Jazzman if he’s overpaid. But I can’t get mad at him for opting in–it’s part of his contract. Opting out would have meant a huge pay *cut*, and very few choices. The Jazz management are the ones who created this payroll situation, not Boozer.

    I’d be a little disappointed too if I were Gortat. Restricted free agency means that you have to get yourself psyched up for a new experience with a new team–even when it’s not really your choice. If it were only about money that would be one thing, but sometimes it’s not.

  11. I do have distain towards Boozer, but he didn’t create this cap problem, Kevin O’Conner did. But I do have a problem with a player running his mouth about opting out, then reneging in the eleventh hour to burn the team that has paid him roughly $50 million over the past five years. But I guess that’s business as usual in the NBA … or at least business as usual for Boozer.

    As for Gortat, why get psyched before it’s a done deal? It never ceases to amazing me how often players get their hopes up before knowing exactly what’s going to happen. Is it ignorance or arrogance? Either way, that’s what happened to Boozer when he got his hopes up about “getting a raise,” only to find out that there wasn’t a market for him. Ooops!

  12. I think this was posted on the last free agent thread, but I wanted to talked about the updated version. It’s Chad Ford’s top free agents still left on the market. It’s a pretty good read, so check it out:

    Though I enjoyed read it, I have problems with guys like Josh Childress being ahead of Allen Iverson in terms of ranking. I realize Iverson is getting old and has little appeal at this point in his career, but what has Childress ever done in his career? In my opinion, he’s one of the most overrated players of this generation and he hasn’t even played in the league in over a year. That’s just ridiculous.

  13. Looks like the Lakers have pulled the rug out from underneath Lamar Odom.

    If he goes elsewhere, I’m not sure I like the Lakers chances next year, especially with so many other teams bolstering their rosters.

  14. Jeremiah J. Says:

    On Odom–yes, I hope this game of chicken blows up in their faces and Odom walks. Finally some bad luck for the Lakers! But Buss’s “game of poker” is smart. Odom will be coming off the bench. No one is paying him 10 million this off-season. No one will be paying him the lower figure the Lakers were offering. Leaving the champs to take the mid-level somewhere else is going to look pretty bad on Odom’s part.

    Check this out on Yahoo: “Utah restricted free agent forward Paul Millsap, who is regarded slightly higher than Davis”.

    Please Utah, please do not start beleiving that Big Baby is a replacement for Millsap!

  15. You’re right, the Lakers idea to play hard ball could end up saving them money that they offered prematurely. I was actually surprised to see that, although if was for only three years, they were offering him $9 million season when he wouldn’t be able to get more than the mid-level somewhere else. If he’s going to be coming off the bench, that’s a ridiculous price to pay in this market.

    That being said, he could probably get the mid-level somewhere else and regain a starting position, which might actually be what he wants anyway. If that happens, the Lakers bench has very little frontcourt depth.

  16. Glad to hear the good news that the Jazz have matched the four-year $32 million offer for Paul Millsap. They now have until October to move Boozer, which should be plenty of time. The great news is that after this year, the Jazz will have Millsap for very little money under the cap each year, so they can afford to place some other star players around him and D-Will.

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