It's time for a review of what the latest status is of the biggest free-agent names that are on the market. A quick disclaimer first though on what is meant here by "on the market."
Technically there are some bigger names than those that are listed here that aren't really "on the market" even though they are officially free agents. These are the restricted free agents like Arron Afflalo and Marc Gasol who are going to be matched by their teams.
That being the case, I decided not to do pointless write-ups on them that say "they're staying put." These are players that are genuinely on the market and will likely be wearing different-colored unis next year.
CBSSports' Royce Young is reporting that Caron Butler is facing a busy week with a lot of teams showing interest in him.
After reports of legit interest in the Bulls, Butler is said to be meeting with the Bulls and Clippers on Monday, the Spurs on Tuesday and the Nets on Wednesday and Thursday he could talk with the Pistons, according to ESPN Dallas.
Whew, that's a lot of teams. If you're wondering where he might end up, then Young offers his best guess:
If I were handicapping this, I'd say the Bulls are the top option for Butler, but it's just whether or not the interest is mutual. It probably will depend on if the Bulls think they can get Afflalo. If not, the Clippers really do seem like a fit. They need a small forward badly and have the money to pay Butler.
In other words, if you're a Bulls fan things are looking pretty good right now. Best case-scenario the Bulls get Arron Afflalo; worst-case scenario they get Caron Butler. That's not bad settling.
Here's the problem with the best shooting guard available in free agency. While there's plenty of speculation about where he might go, it's hard to find anything of substance from "sources" and the like. Looks like we'll have to settle for what Jason Richardson himself has to say:
"I've got an appointment to talk to (Orlando coach) Stan Van Gundy," Richardson said. "They're involved. I've heard Chicago (Bulls), Denver (Nuggets), New Orleans (Hornets), Minnesota (Timberwolves) and Boston (Celtics)."
Well that's a pretty good shortlist. There are a few eyebrow-opening teams on there like the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Hornets, as well as the Denver Nuggets.
Why would the Nuggets be interesting? Well it indicates that if they are looking at Richardson, they may be looking at working a sign-and-trade for the shooting guard that the Chicago Bulls covet, Arron Afflalo, after all.
The Nuggets could be looking for a new center and Omer Asik certainly raised a lot of eyebrows with his defensive prowess last year. Coupling him with Kyle Korver would allow the Bulls to to do a sign-and-trade of up to about $10 million for Afflalo and Reinsdorf has said he would be willing to spend into the luxury tax if it meant a team that could contend for a ring.
According to the article, "Richardson does like the idea of joining Chicago, joining players such as Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Richardson insists that any animosity Boozer may feel is in the past."
However, Richardson also says:
"I got married over the summer and I live in Denver now," Richardson said. "My family lives there, so playing there would be very convenient. It's also a reason I'm excited about getting to drive this (GMC Sierra). I have a (Mercedes) Benz, but driving around Denver I think I need a truck. I'm going to give it a test drive for a year."
Things that make you go hmmm?
Denver might like the idea of Afflalo over Korver, and who wouldn't? But Afflalo over Korver, Asik and Richardson? That might be another story.
David West would have entered this free-agency period as the top free agent on the market were it not for his injury at the end of the year. Even so, he's drawing a lot of interest. Nola.com is reporting:
Teams reportedly interested in West include Indiana, Golden State and Washington. Young said the Hornets have told him they’d be open to a sign-and-trade for West if West decides not to return to New Orleans.
In fact, the team that comes up most in relationship with David West is Indiana. If you Google "David West Indiana" you'll find out that there are presently 54 people named David West living in Indiana, but the Pacers want to make it 55.
The Pacers had a nice finish to last season and their biggest hole is at the 4. David West would complement the team perfectly.
The one thing I'm wondering if I'm a Pacers fan is this: Does signing West make the Pacers a team bound to be in that playoff-team-but-not-a-real-contender purgatory for the next several years? For more information, see the Atlanta Hawks.
If you know where Nene is going to sign grab your groin! OK, it looks like Kevin Durant is the only one who knows. He isn't returning my calls though.
One quote sums up the New Jersey Nets, who are apparently pressing the hardest to land Nene according to the New York Post. An opposing executive said, "When you’re a bad team, you have to overpay.”
The Nets appear ready, willing and able to do that and offer Nene "max money or close to it" in order to secure the services of the center. It's an interesting possibility.
The Nets are desperate to build a team around Deron Williams that is good enough to keep him and Nene would go a long way toward doing that. The article also mentions that the Nets are trying to land a small forward.
They have made their calls to free-agent threes, including Tayshaun Prince, Andrei Kirilenko (whom owner Mikhail Prokhorov in 2007 tried to entice back to Russia from Utah), Grant Hill, Caron Butler (with knee injury reservations, but he is expected to meet with team brass this week, possibly Wednesday) and Boki Nachbar.
The Nets are pressing hard to land more than one key player and when you're in a situation like they are, you need to get one player to commit to get the rest to commit. You've to give Prokhorov credit for trying. He is pushing as hard as he can to make the Nets a contender.
The Rockets and Nets also remain at the forefront of the chase for Denver Nuggets free agent Nene -- along with the Indiana Pacers and Nuggets themselves -- and are likely to meet with the Brazilian big man as well in the coming week. Sources stressed that the Mavericks, meanwhile, continue to keep an open dialogue with Chandler in hopes that a deal can still be struck.
Chandler would seem to be the best fit in New Jersey of these three teams. Deron Williams would be passing him the ball and Chandler has been named by Williams as one of the players he would like to pay with. In New Jersey he might get to take on more of an offensive role as well.