NBA Free Agency: Top 10 Winners from Day One

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NBA Free Agency: Top 10 Winners from Day One
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The big fireworks did not occur on day one of the free-agency season. 

Of course, no one really thought that LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh would likely announce their intentions on day one.

The paparazzi did do its job to ensure that all NBA fans who were interested in every move of James, Wade and Bosh got information on the big three.

Thus, we had a report that James waived to people outside of his mansion when he left earlier this morning.  We also know that there were several reports that Wade and Bosh were staying in the same hotel in Chicago.

While it is exciting to follow the tweets to see what your favorite player is going to have for lunch or who they are going to meet with the next, the real payoff is finding out who is actually going to get paid next year.

The top ten winners at the end of day one of the NBA free agency period are:

 

10. NBA Player Association

The NBA Players Association recently sent a memo urging all player agents to be proactive in light of a potential lockout in the 2011-2012 season on behalf of their clients by “negotiat[ing] an 18 or 24 month payment schedule for [their] 2010-11 salary.” 

If there is a strike no one can blame the Players Association for not warning their members to prepare and save for the looming rainy days on the horizon.  A subtle but significant move that players should incorporate within their deals.

 

9. Darko Milicic

At the beginning of last season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Darko Milicic would not be in the league at the beginning of the 2010-2011 NBA season. 

A late season trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves gave Milicic one last opportunity to demonstrate what he could do in the league and Darko made the most of his chance posting a respectable eight points and five rebounds a game. 

The Wolves have reportedly offered Darko a four deal worth $20 million.  Milicic may be the best value of the non-max free agent centers this year.

 

8. Houston Rockets

How the Rockets were able to secure a face to face meeting with Chris Bosh is unclear, but somehow Houston was able to secure a meeting with the 6-10 Texas native on the first day of free agency.  

Bosh is reportedly a huge fan of new technology and twitter so the Rockets pitch got an added boost when they used a personalized Chris Bosh iPad.  Rockets may not get their man but they showed the league that they are in the game.

 

7. New Jersey Nets

The Nets upstaged the Knicks at the start of the free-agency period by unveiling a larger-than-life billboard on the side of a building visible along Eighth Avenue and within a bounce pass of Madison Square Garden. 

The billboard features huge photos of new billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov and minority owner Jay-Z and was prominently featured in the New York Daily News. 

Prokhorov clearly came ready to win during his first NBA free-agency period.

 

6. San Antonio Spurs

While Richard Jefferson was not the answer last year, he may still be an important puzzle piece for the Spurs to make a championship run before having to rebuild. 

Gregg Popovich has reportedly been working with Jefferson suggesting that Jefferson may have renounced the $15 million due to him this season in exchange for a potential longer deal with the Spurs. 

A longer deal between Jefferson and Spurs may allow the Spurs to avoid a luxury tax hit or at least reduce their luxury tax penalty.    

 

5. Mike Miller

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly offered Miller a five year deal in the amount of $30 million.  The Lakers reportedly have put a short time frame on their offer to Miller.  The only question that I have concerning this offer, assuming it has been extended to Miller, is why Miller hasn’t said yes to the deal.

 

4.   Milwaukee Bucks

Is there a reason to fear the deer?  While neither is a marquee player, the Bucks got two quality players on day one.

John Salmons has agreed in principle to come back to Milwaukee and will earn a base salary of $39 million over five years.  

Salmons will also reportedly have the opportunity to be able to earn an additional $5 million in bonuses.  Salmons averaged 19 points, three rebounds and three assists a game for the deer.

The Bucks also wasted no team in securing the services of Gooden by tendering him a five year deal worth $32 million, in which all of the money reportedly is guaranteed.  Gooden averaged 12 points and eight rebounds a game last year.

 

3. Los Angeles Lakers

Phil Jackson is back to coach the NBA Champions for what he says will be his last year.  I can only wonder what the Boston Celtics will give Phil as a parting gift when he makes in his farewell tour in the league—a box of Red Auerbach’s favorite cigars?

The Zen master may be one of the best coaches in all of professional sports for keeping his players focused on getting back to the mountain top after they have won a championship. 

The Lakers may have problems focusing this year given the burgeoning rap career of Ron Artest and the creation of the new reality television series of Lamar Odom and his wife Khloe Kardashian. 

 

2. Amir Johnson

Toronto Raptors reached an agreement in principle with Johnson, a reported five-year contract worth $34 million. 

Johnson in averaging 17 minutes of playing time a game with Toronto last year was able to grab five rebounds and score six points a game.  The big question in Toronto will be whether Johnson will able to step up his productivity for the Raptors once Bosh leaves Toronto and he is able to see more playing time. 

 

1.  Rudy Gay

Memphis offered Gay (pictured above) a five year contract worth just over $80 million, and there are reports that Gay has verbally accepted the deal. 

Gay was scheduled to visit Minnesota to listen to their pitch but he has cancelled his trip to the Twin Cities.  Gay is a solid player averaging 19 points, six rebounds and two assists a game. 

The Grizzlies arguably overpaid Gay (compare the numbers Gay put up compared to Salmons); however, Memphis appears to be very happy to have wrapped up Gay for the next five years.

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