NBA free agency has given us enough gut feelings, amorphous "sources" and clandestine surveillance of Dan Gilbert's private jet to last a lifetime.
Talk, cheap as it is, has been in ample supply since the postseason concluded in June. Now, it's time for action—and not a moment too soon, frankly.
The first nine days of July comprise the NBA's "Free-Agency Moratorium" period. During that span, personnel transactions can be discussed and agreed upon in principle, but actual movement is prohibited. Teams and players essentially pass notes back and forth while each party wonders if the other likes or "like likes" them.
Meanwhile, with nothing better to do and no real news to report, the rest of us sit around and gossip.
In a number of very real senses, NBA free agency is not unlike junior high.
The Main Attractions
The most influential figures in free agency, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, have yet to make their decisions.
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, James didn't make up his mind during an hour-long meeting with Miami Heat president Pat Riley in Las Vegas on July 9:
And per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Melo is expected to return to the New York Knicks on a max offer of five years and $129 million—but he hasn't made any statements to that effect yet.
Those guys set the market, and all along, the rest of the teetering free-agent dominoes have merely been waiting for James and Anthony to fall before tipping over themselves.
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade figure to return to the Heat if LeBron does, but Bosh has been considering a max offer from the Houston Rockets, per Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. His destination is far less certain than it seemed when he told ESPN's The Dan LeBatard Show (via Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post): "Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to go anywhere. I like it here. It’s Miami. Everybody wants to come here."
Bosh then went on to say he'd even accept less money to stay with the Heat "if that's what it takes."
Well, things aren't so certain now.
Wade is a different case, as he hasn't been tied to any other suitors during free agency. His decision to opt out of nearly $42 million over the next two seasons was the strongest indicator that the Heat's Big Three had clear plans of staying together on re-jiggered deals.
Maybe it still is.
Not everybody waited around for James and Anthony to make up their minds. A slew of second-tier stars made commitments during the moratorium, with three big names sticking in their original spots.
Kyle Lowry re-upped with the Toronto Raptors for four years and $48 million. And as everyone expected, Dirk Nowitzki took a reduced salary of $10 million per season in inking his three-year pact with the Dallas Mavericks.
Somewhat surprisingly, Marcin Gortat squeezed five years and $60 million out of the Washington Wizards, a team clearly desperate to keep its core together. Gortat is probably worth that kind of annual scratch, but locking him up for half a decade (he's already 30 years old) is a bit of a gamble.
In addition to those names, here's a comprehensive list of the notable players who agreed to deals during the first week of July:
|Unrestricted Free-Agent Agreements Already Struck|
|Steve Blake||Portland Trail Blazers||2/$4.2 million|
|Avery Bradley||Boston Celtics||4/$32 million|
|Darren Collison||Sacramento Kings||3/$16 million|
|Boris Diaw||San Antonio Spurs||3/$22 million|
|Jordan Farmar||Los Angeles Clippers||2/$4.2 million|
|Channing Frye||Orlando Magic||4/$32 million|
|Ben Gordon||Orlando Magic||2/$9 million|
|Marcin Gortat||Washington Wizards||5/$60 million|
|Danny Granger||Miami Heat||2/$4.2 million|
|Devin Harris||Dallas Mavericks||3/$9 million|
|Spencer Hawes||Los Angeles Clippers||4/$23 million|
|Chris Kaman||Portland Trail Blazers||2/$10 million|
|Shaun Livingston||Golden State Warriors||3/$16 million|
|Kyle Lowry||Toronto Raptors||4/$48 million|
|Josh McRoberts||Miami Heat||4/$23 million|
|Jodie Meeks||Detroit Pistons||3/$19 million|
|C.J. Miles||Indiana Pacers||4/$18 million|
|Patty Mills||San Antonio Spurs||3/$12 million|
|Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks||3/$30 million|
|Patrick Patterson||Toronto Raptors||3/$18 million|
|Thabo Sefolosha||Atlanta Hawks||3/$12 million|
Eric Bledsoe, Chandler Parsons, Greg Monroe and Gordon Hayward headline the list of the league's most sought-after restricted free agents.
As is typically the case when players of their quality hit the restricted market, their current teams have made clear efforts to inform prospective profferers of offer sheets that any such entreaties would be quickly matched.
In other words, the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz have all implicitly told suitors "don't even bother."
Hayward actually agreed to sign an offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets during the moratorium, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, which means the Jazz will have three days to match—starting July 10.
Parsons, too, has reportedly picked up an offer from the Mavericks, per ESPN's Marc Stein.
That the Houston Rockets swingman signed an offer sheet with another team comes as something of a surprise, as it seemed Houston had an unspoken agreement with him to simply wait around until it had completed its run at other free agents.
But it seems that the money was far too much for the previously underpaid Parsons to ignore.
Now, Dallas has forced the Rockets to wrap up their business with guys like Bosh (or possibly Luol Deng) within 72 hours of the beginning of free agency. The Rockets are under the gun.
Monroe and Bledsoe have yet to be firmly tied to any other teams, and could wind up inking deals with their current squads within the next week or so.
|Other Notable Restricted Free Agents|
|Ed Davis||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Kevin Seraphin||Washington Wizards|
|Isaiah Thomas||Sacramento Kings|
|P.J. Tucker||Phoenix Suns|
|Greivis Vasquez||Toronto Raptors|
Other Options on the Market
The list of free agents who have yet to agree to terms is long, and many of them, like Pau Gasol and Deng, have been pursued by what seems like half the league during the July moratorium.
You can toss in the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets as teams who have at least registered interest in the big Spaniard. Oh, and like everyone else, he might be waiting for Anthony's official decision before picking a destination.
Deng has been reluctant to take a paycut to join a contender, which hasn't stopped the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards Lakers or Rockets from reaching out, per Sam Amick of USA Today.
In addition to those bigger names, here's a rundown of the remaining unaffiliated:
|Other Notable Unrestricted Free Agents|
|Ray Allen||Miami Heat|
|Chris Andersen||Miami Heat|
|Trevor Ariza||Washington Wizards|
|D.J. Augustin||Chicago Bulls|
|Andray Blatche||Brooklyn Nets|
|Vince Carter||Dallas Mavericks|
|Mario Chalmers||Miami Heat|
|Jordan Hill||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Kris Humphries||Boston Celtics|
|James Johnson||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Shawn Marion||Dallas Mavericks|
|Mike Miller||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Anthony Morrow||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Jameer Nelson||Orlando Magic|
|Paul Pierce||Brooklyn Nets|
|Ramon Sessions||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Lance Stephenson||Indiana Pacers|
|Marvin Williams||Utah Jazz|
|Nick Young||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Lance Stephenson||Indiana Pacers|
It's been a wild few days to this point, and, technically, nothing has even happened yet. That has left some of the league's most diligent observers looking for escapes:
Soon, though, the meaningless chatter will end as the players already committed make things official and the rest of the market catches fire with activity. Get ready for all the talk we've been hearing to turn into real, tangible news.
Won't that be nice?