I know, shocking, right?
While the Los Angeles Lakers center dwarfs about 95 percent of the coverage from all angles, the remaining set of players are also doing their open-market diligence. There are meetings going on in the wee hours of the night, conversations had in hushed tones over drinks at the latest in-vogue restaurant. Believe it or not, there are ways to court players without massive billboards and attempts to trend topics on Twitter.
Sometimes, it's even as simple as a phone call.
But as the league's most talked-about player steals the headlines and the speculation, it's easy for some guys to get lost in the shuffle. Heck, even former All-Stars and borderline candidates for Sixth Man of the Year have been pushed out of the overarching conversation. Luckily, there are a few people paying attention to guys like O.J. Mayo and Andre Iguodala, reporting on their whereabouts and possible destinations.
With that in mind, here is a quick breakdown of how the market is playing out for those two players, along with a look at another quite-famous seven-footer who could be on the move.
Clippers Pushing to Bring in O.J. Mayo
Unlike their Staples Center co-tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers' start to free agency has been 100 percent positive. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported on Monday afternoon that free-agent point guard Chris Paul had verbally accepted the Clippers' five-year, $107 million contract offer. The contract has an opt-out after four years, which is standard in these types of negotiations.
Paul was reportedly never planning on leaving Los Angeles, and he showed that sentiment in a tweet Monday afternoon:
With negotiations with their superstar out of the way, the Clippers can officially move on to bringing in better surrounding talent to Los Angeles. The team's roster was considered one of the deepest in basketball last season, but stands to see a ton of turnover. Los Angeles has only six players including Paul under a guaranteed contract from its 2012-13 roster, with important cogs like Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups and Matt Barnes all possibly leaving town.
It seems the Clippers already have their top target for replacing those wing players in mind. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, head coach Doc Rivers was already working the phone on Monday trying to get guard O.J. Mayo into the fold:
Mayo spent last season with the Dallas Mavericks. The 25-year-old guard averaged 15.3 points and 4.4 assists per game, while shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the three-point arc. He opted out of his player option with the Mavericks this offseason, hoping to get a raise from the $4.2 million he was due for the 2013-14 season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves met with Mayo when free agency opened, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears. Mayo is also expected to meet with the Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks, in addition to the Clippers.
Monetarily, the Clippers would have to sign Mayo to a contract using their mid-level exception. They will likely have a non-taxpayer exception, which allots them $5.15 million in the first year of a contract. That's only a slight raise for Mayo and a figure plenty of other teams could exceed in negotiations.
It will be interesting to see how Paul's re-signing and the presence of Rivers sways these negotiations. Rivers is one of the most respected players-first coaches in the league, a guy who is expected to bring title contention to Los Angeles. If money is the only thing Mayo is looking for with his next deal, the Clippers may only be able to land him via a sign-and-trade. If Mayo wants to win, though, the guard may be coming back to the city where he played his one season of collegiate ball.
Andre Iguodala Drawing Plenty of Interest
There may have been no busier man on the planet on Monday than Denver Nuggets free-agent Andre Iguodala. The athletic swingman is one of the best secondary targets in this year's crop, with most putting Iguodala on the same relative tier as Josh Smith.
In his first season with the Nuggets, Iguodala averaged 13 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. He opted out of the final year of his contract this summer, which would have paid him $16.2 million. While he's not expected to command anything in that range on a yearly salary scale, Iguodala should be able to lock up at least a four-year deal that pays him far more over the duration.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, Iguodala won't have trouble finding teams willing to write a fat check. The 29-year-old forward is expected to meet with six teams on Monday, including the Nuggets:
Denver Nuggets free-agent forward Andre Iguodala has a long day of meetings scheduled in Los Angeles on Monday. He's expected to speak with the Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, a source told Yahoo! Sports.
A combination of money and competing for championships should play a large factor in Iguodala's decision. At 29 years old, this will probably represent the last near-max contract of Iguodala's career. He's a guy who relies a great deal on athleticism and quickness to make himself effective on both ends of the floor, and history tells us time and again that those players tend to age worse than their more-skilled counterparts.
Though somewhat improved from his embryonic NBA form, Iguodala has shot over 35 percent from three-point range just twice in his nine-year career. He also hit just 28.6 percent of his jumpers last season, another statistic that doesn't bode well for his aging process. It's easy to point to Iguodala's effect on the defensive end—the Nuggets gave up about four points fewer per 100 possessions with him on the floor—but it's unclear just how much longer he can keep that up.
Iguodala is definitely a desirable player, but he's one that's working on a limited time frame to get his money. Expect him and his representation to play this out as long as possible—at least until after the Dwight Howard saga and possibly the Josh Smith one as well—to extract maximum money from the market.
Andrew Bynum and the Mavericks Talking?
Strangely, one of the quietest names of this offseason thus far has been Andrew Bynum. The oft-injured center was expected to carry a ton of intrigue this summer, as his combination of top-level talent and propensity for the "DNP" list made him a polarizing subject of conversation throughout the league.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Bynum's former employer, all but took themselves out of the running by orchestrating a trade for Kentucky center Nerlens Noel on draft night. Philadelphia seems to be a team on the rebuild, not one hoping to reconstruct Bynum's career. While it's possible that the Sixers put themselves back into the running if the price drops like Facebook stock, we're probably better off assuming that Bynum's time in Philadelphia will last exactly zero games.
That said, it seems that other teams are willing to kick the tires on Bynum as a secondary option. According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are among the teams who called Bynum's agent on Monday, looking to set up a possible contingency plan should Dwight Howard go elsewhere:
The agent for center Andrew Bynum was among the flurry of phone calls the Mavericks made in the opening hours of free agency, as they began doing their due diligence on potential backup plans in case Dwight Howard decides to sign with another team.
MacMahon goes on to say that "several" teams have contacted the free-agent center, but it's unclear which teams those are. And despite Bynum's injury history and penchant for bowling-related fiascos, the interest in the controversial star is wholly understandable.
When Bynum is on the floor, he's arguably the game's most dominant center. His line of 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 2011-12 compared him favorably to every center in the league whose initials weren't D.H. and his array of post moves and versatility around the basket made at least an interesting argument about who would be better going forward.
With a full season having passed since that blockbuster trade, it's safe to say Bynum's stock is at a low point. He's now missed at least 15 games in all but two of his NBA seasons and all but one of his years as a starter. That's not a good success rate for a man who came into the league for the 2005-06 season.
That said, Bynum is still only 25. He won't turn 26 until October and still has plenty of minable talent and years to get out of his system. If Bynum ever finds a place where he can be both happy and healthy, it might be a worthwhile gamble. As teams get more and more desperate, expect Bynum's name to get increasingly brought up among squads with a nice chunk of cap space.
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