In a relatively weak free agent year, especially with teams looking ahead to the potentially phenomenal 2009 and 2010 classes, Corey Maggette emerges this summer with elite status.
He is reportedly being courted by no less than the Spurs, Celtics, Pistons, Magic, and Jazz.
While the speculation has been that Corey is inclined to accept less in order to contend for a championship, don't believe it.
Barring the unlikely sign-and-trade, these top contenders can only offer their mid level exception (MLE). A full MLE contract is expected to be about $32 million over the 5-year maximum term.
Corey is no doubt flattered by the interest and attention, especially from the NBA champion Celtics, as well as the Spurs. And rightfully so. But, that will wear off fast, as soon as a $10 million-plus per year offer sheet is slipped across the table. He already made over $7 million last season after all.
Plus, players signing MLE money so far include the likes of Chris Duhon (Knicks), Desagana Diop (Mavericks), and Beno Udrih (Kings). They are not in Maggette's class, and surely he knows it.
Who has the wherewithal to offer Corey what he deserves? In the west, it's Golden State. In the east, it's Philadelphia.
Once Elton Brand decides to re-sign with the Clippers (as is still widely expected) and Josh Smith returns to the Hawks (also expected), then the Sixers and Warriors can open their registers for Maggette, the next best option for each.
My money is on the Warriors, but it should get really interesting this week.