The dirty little secret about free agency in the NBA is that while there are players that move on to greener pastures, many free agents come back home after flirting with the idea of leaving.
Some free agents opt out to restructure their deal in part to help the team bring in more talent but also to get more money on the back end of their deals. Some free agents stay because they know the system, they have friends on the team, or they have established a routine that they do not want to disrupt.
Day two of the free agency signing period underscored the idea that breaking up is hard to do as several free agents agreed in principle to terms with their last employer or indicated a willingness to rejoin the team.
Channing Frye – Frye has agreed to a five year $30 million dollar deal with the Phoenix Suns. Frye’s game is perfectly matched with the open style of Phoenix and point guard Steve Nash’s penchant for driving the lane to find teammates at the three point line. How many teams would want their point guard finding their center at the three point line? If Phoenix is unable to come to terms with Amar’e Stoudemire, the Suns will need to become very aggressive in pursuing David Lee or Tyrus Thomas.
Hedo Turkoglu – Several weeks ago, Turkoglu stated on Turkish television that he did not want to return to Toronto. Now, this week Turkoglu was back on Turkish television to say that he had a change of heart. Turkoglu said, "Everybody makes mistakes, that’s a fact. Both parties [Hedo and Raptors management] think that it’s time to correct them. Toronto wants me back and to take the leading role. I’m happy that Carlesimo is here, and we will all see what summer brings. I don’t have any problems with the city of Toronto or the Raptors. I want to be able to perform at the highest level." Turkoglu's change of heart may have been brought about his agent perceiving a lack of interest in his client's services after last year's dismal season.
Ben Wallace– “Our first order of business is retain our free agents, Ben Wallace and Will Bynum.” Pistons President Joe Dumars told the Associated Press. "Ben and I have a great relationship, so I know," Dumars said. "I spoke with Ben before the season was over with and we've talked about that. He knows my feelings and I know his." Most expect Wallace, who averaged 5.5 points and 8.7 rebounds last season, to re-sign with the Pistons. The Pistons looked lost defensively when Wallace was not in the lineup due to injuries. Detroit fans should expect to see the big fro in the middle next year and likely for the rest of Wallace's career.
Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson presented an offer to Dirk Nowitzki's advisor, Holger Geschwindner, as their long-standing talks resumed Friday morning and could wrap up with Saturday's scheduled meeting. The Mavericks are expected to present Nowitzki with a maximum offer, the most Dirk can re-sign for is four years and $96 million.
"It was a very productive meeting. Everything seems to be progressing nicely," Nelson said. "We're hoping that tomorrow we'll be able to get some resolution."
The Mavericks did pull off a nice public relations coup by launching a “DFW Digs Dirk" week which will allow Dallas fans to shower Nowitzki with adoration and love for what he had done for the franchise.
Paul Pierce – It appears that Pierce is staying with the Boston Celtics. The Boston Herald is reporting that Pierce has reached agreement with the Celtics on a new contract. According to Herald sources, the deal "is said to be for four years, with only the first three fully guaranteed." Pierce will reportedly sign "a 4-year, $61 million deal" which averages out to more than $15 million a year.
When he became an unrestricted free agent earlier this week, Pierce forfeited next season's $21.5 million salary for a chance to sign a longer deal. Pierce’s new contract will limit the pain felt by the Celtics pursuant to the luxury tax next year and gives Boston some more flexibility to bring back Ray Allen.
Kevin Durant – While Durant and Oklahoma City Thunder have both been relatively mum about Durant signing a contract extension the little information has been disclosed has all been very positive confirming what we all already know – The Thunder want Durant to become the face of the franchise. Why not? Durant, who last season became the youngest player ever to lead the league in scoring after averaging 30.1 points per game, is one of the rising stars in the league and he wants to be a part of the success story in Oklahoma City.
When Durant was asked about the team’s efforts to extend his contract, he stated, “I always told them I wanted to be here, and they feel the same way. So we're going to get something done. I'm happy I'm a part of this team and hopefully I'll be here for years to come." Durant is expected to receive a five-year deal upwards of $80 million, or the maximum allowed under the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Derek Fisher – While there was much love in the air on day two, there was some heartbreak. The Los Angeles Lakers informed Fisher that while they would like to have him return to the team but if he does come back he will reportedly have to accept a pay cut of slightly more than $2.5 million dollars.
Adding insult to injury, Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss appears to have found someone else. Los Angeles has reportedly come to terms with Steve Blake on a four year deal that will pay him $16 million dollars.
Why cut Fisher’s salary by more than half and then sign a deal with Blake that will pay him more than you are offering Fisher? Lakers fans better hope that Blake can provide leadership and be as good as Fisher was last year in crunch time.