Buckle up. NBA free agency is about to take off.
With the biggest dominoes having already fallen in the Los Angeles Clippers' re-signing of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard's decision to join the Houston Rockets, the rest of the league is now rifling through its wish list for the biggest names still available on the market.
As is often the case, a flurry of free-agent signings should follow those two deals, with several already having been reported. As noted by SportsCenter, Sam Amico of Fox Sports and the NBA on ESPN, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have all agreed to deals, to name just a few.
But several big names remain on the open market, and we’ll take a look at the latest rumors involving a few of the biggest.
Bynum in D12’s Shadow…Again?
Andrew Bynum saw his way out of Los Angeles in favor of the Lakers acquiring Howard, and after the Dallas Mavericks missed out in the D12 sweepstakes, Bynum may be the consolation prize.
According to SportsCenter, the Mavericks are “carefully pursuing” Bynum:
Carefully, of course, because the 25-year-old center missed all of last season following knee surgery and has refused to work out for interested teams, per ESPN.
If Dallas is truly interested, it may have to get creative with the terms of its offer. The risk in signing Bynum is massive given his injury history, and offering him excessive guaranteed money probably wouldn’t be the best choice.
More of the Same for Atlanta
Out with the old, in with the new.
The Atlanta Hawks just saw off Smith—a player many criticize for his trigger-happy approach to offense and general lack of superstar characteristics, despite his 17.5-point, 8.4-rebound performance of a season ago.
Now, as it turns out, general manager Danny Ferry could be targeting a player with similar shortcomings in former Milwaukee Bucks combo guard Monta Ellis, as reported by Marc Stein of ESPN:
Ellis opted out of the final year of his contract with the Bucks in pursuit of more money and potentially a more stable backcourt situation, and while he may not find either in Atlanta, he’s still likely to be handed a sizable contract.
Ellis is arguably the best scorer still available on the free-agent market. After scoring 19.2 points per game last season, there’s little doubt a team (possibly Atlanta) will shell out a hefty sum to acquire him.
A Pekovic Departure?
The Minnesota Timberwolves can match offers for restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic to keep him in town, but according to Sam Amico, they may not want to if the offer is too robust:
That makes sense considering Minnesota already has a max player in Kevin Love under contract and point guard Ricky Rubio will be in line for a similar deal in the near future. The Timberwolves have to prioritize, and Pekovic could be the casualty in the whole process.
Well, sort of.
NBA collective bargaining agreement specialist Larry Coon seems to think Pekovic could be staring down the barrel of a massive deal, as quoted by Moke Hamilton of SheridanHoops.com:
Five years, $57.5 million. Pek’s situation has all the earmarks of a nice payday. He finished the season well, he’s a big man and he’s a restricted free agent. If some team wants to pry him away from Minnesota, they’re going to have to make him an offer the Timberwollves would be reluctant to match. But I don’t see Minnesota letting him go that easily. After he flirts with other teams a little, I see them taking advantage of their Bird rights and locking him in for five years with bigger raises, but maybe conceding a little on the starting salary.
Roughly $11 million per year isn’t a back-breaking figure, but it would certainly put Minnesota at a disadvantage were it to match such a contract offer.
As Amico suggested, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be interested in acquiring Pekovic at the right price:
There’s little else to go off, however. At this point, it seems teams are timid about making a big offer Minnesota can match without first exploring other options on the free-agent market.