Let's quickly review how free agents and the NBA salary cap works... starting with this post by Cosellout, entitled "The Salary Cap Myth".  How many premier free agents switch teams via free agency?  According to Cosellout, less than one per season over the last decades.  In fact, here's the entire list:

Allan Houston (NYK)
Shaquille O'Neal (LAL)
Steve Nash (Pho)
Tracy McGrady (Orl)
Dikembe Mutumbo (Atl)
Vlade Divac (Sac)
Carlos Boozer (Utah)
Gilbert Arenas (Wash)
Mehmet Okur (Utah)
Chauncey Billups (Det)
Rashard Lewis (Orl)

The most shocking thing, looking at that list?  One, that Atlanta actually was once able to land a free agent... actually, twice, if you count the Joe Johnson sign and trade (notable only because it almost cost them Boris Diaw and their #1 draft pick last year). 

But what does that list illustrate?  One, to get another team's free agent, you have to realize that in almost all cases you have little chance.  If that player is any good, then his team will almost certainly pony up the money to re-sign him.  You can't outbid that team's current franchise.  Understand that. 

To clarify:  You can't offer more money to another team's free agent than they can... they might choose not to top offer or even match your offer, but you can't "out-bid" them, in theory.

Now look at those free agents.  They fall into one of two categories:

I.  The Premier Franchise Guy.   That's Shaq.  That's it.  That's a situation in which a premier franchise spent years planning their salary cap so they could offer him a maximum deal when he became a free agent, and lure him with the intangible, in this case the Los Angeles scene (that was Shaq in his "movie star/rapper" days, not in his "sheriff/undercover cop" days).   This might happen again with LeBron James (and to a smaller degree Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), which is to say that everyone is saving up space for their big free agent year (2010), with the hopes of "luring" them away from Cleveland and Toronto to a big market. 

Again, the team bidding on LeBron or whoever (let's call them "the Nets") can't truly top Cleveland's max contract offer, but they can match it (or come close enough) and offer the appeal of... Brooklyn.  Or MSG.  Or "not Toronto".  Especially now when getting paid in US money in Canada is a bad thing....

II.  The Given Up Player:  In almost every free agent circumstance above, the situation is that basically the player's team "gave up" on that player, making him a  true free agent of sorts.  For example, if the Magic this past offseason really wanted to keep Darko Mlilic, they could have.  But they didn't feel he was worth the money, and salary cap room, especially when they were in the process of overpaying for Rashard Lewis (a good decision, but none the less they still overpaid). 

Take a look at some of the situations:  Gilbert Arenas and Carlos Boozer were both second-round picks that got unrestricted free agency earlier than most players drafted.  They had both shown that they could be very productive players, but both franchises (the Kings and Cavs) were unconvinced that they were truly worth the money.  Let's not forget that both franchises acquired them on the cheap, in the second round of the draft.  So once they hit the open market, both got offers that exceed what the Kings/Cavs wanted to pay for them.  And, in the Cavs case, there was some bad blood.  So the Wizards and Jazz rolled the dice, and won.

Steve Nash was a 30-year with a bad back.  Dallas was willing to match the money, but not the length of the contract.  Especially not when they could spend the same money to sign a younger free agent point, namely Jason Terry.  Phoenix rolled the dice, and won.

Free agents that aren't "worth it" to the original teams... they aren't always Jerome James, or Kenyon Martin.  Sometimes they are Chauncey Billups.

Also in this category:  The very rare, once a decade, "We're giving up talent because we're starting from scratch, and our fans don't care if we suck for three years because we're leaving town anyway", as in the Rashard Lewis situation.  The Tracy McGrady signing falls around this category, too... the Raptors had to "choose" between Vince Carter and T-Mac as their franchise guys (they didn't want to go at it together), and they chose Carter (hence, the bidding for McGrady did not include "the home team", so to speak).  Glad that worked out for them.

The larger point:  Very rarely will you see a free agent get away for nothing, unless the original team doesn't believe in them, doesn't want them (and can't/won't sign and trade them, as in the Joe Johnson deal), or just can't match the "appeal" of the signing team (i.e. the Shaq situation, or the LeBron in 2010 situation).

With that in mind, here are your free agent classes for the next three years:

2008 Free Agents:

The Big Dawgs (note: if you see player option, followed by... "50/50": that means we figure the odds at 50/50; if you see "unlikely", that means that the player is unlikely to opt-out, meaning the next season is too much money for them to turn down; if you see "likely", that means the money isn't enough, and they are likely to opt-out):

Baron Davis (player option, 50/50)
Corey Maggette (player option, possible)
Elton Brand (player option, unlikely)
Shawn Marion (player option, likely)
Ron Artest (player option for 08/09, 50/50)
Antawn Jamison
Gilbert Arenas (player option for 08/09, 50/50)

The Restricted Expiring Rookie Contracts (note: very unlikely to sign somewhere else, because they often sign an extension before their rookie contract totally expires; in 2008, though, several teams have failed to sign their rookies to extension, making for some very interesting dealings this off-season):

Josh Smith (restricted)
Josh Childress (restricted)
Emeka Okafor (restricted)
Ben Gordon (restricted)
Luol Deng (restricted)
JR Smith (restricted)
Andris Biedrins (restricted)
Shaun Livingston (restricted)
Stromile Swift (restricted)
Sebastian Telfair (restricted)
Nenad Krstic (restricted)
Trevor Ariza (restricted)
Andre Iguodala (restricted)
Kevin Martin (restricted, extension on way)

Young Filler Material, with some potential (The Chauncey Billups Grouping):

Matt Carroll
Andres Nocioni
Chris Duhon
Daniel Gibson
Eduardo Najera
Mickael Pietrus
Matt Barnes
Monta Ellis
Bonzi Wells
Kwame Brown
Jason Williams
Ricky Davis
Boki Nachbar
Antoine Wright
Beno Udrih
Fabricio Oberto

The "They're Still Around?" Group (a.k.a. The Detroit Pistons Bench):
Antonio McDyess
Lindsay Hunter
Ronald Murray
Joe Smith
Michael Finley
Sam Cassell
Alonzo Mourning
Penny Hardaway
Theo Ratliff
Jamaal Magliore
Chris Webber
Aaron McKie
Kevin Ollie
Steve Blake
Mikki Moore
Brent Barry
Robert Horry
Michael Finley
Kurt Thomas
Andray Blatche

2009 Free Agents:

The Big Dawgs:
Drew Gooden
Allen Iverson (almost certain to re-sign with Denver)
Rasheed Wallace
Baron Davis (if he does not exercise the opt out in 2008)
Elton Brand
Lamar Odom
Kobe Bryant (option)
Jason Kidd
Stephon Marbury
Jamal Crawford (player option for 09/10 and 10/11 - 50/50)
Eddy Curry (player option for 09/10, 10/11 - 50/50)
Hedo Turkoglu (player option for 09/10, unlikely)
Andre Miller
Steve Nash (player option, unlikely)
Grant Hill
Steve Francis
Ron Artest (can opt out in '08)
Mike Bibby
Carlos Boozer (player option for 09/10 unlikely)
Mehmet Okur (player option for 09/10 unlikely)

The Rookie Contracts:
Marvin Williams (restricted)
Raymond Felton (restricted)
Jason Maxiell (restricted)
Luther Head (restricted)
Danny Granger (restricted)
Andrew Bynum (restricted)
Hakim Warrick (restricted)
Andrew Bogut (restricted)
Charlie Villanueva (restricted)
Rashard McCants (restricted)
Chris Paul (restricted)
Nate Robinson (restricted)
David Lee (restricted)
Channing Frye (restricted)
Jarrett Jack (restricted)
Francisco "Paco" Garcia (restricted)
Deron Williams (restricted)

Young Filler Material, Given Up, With Potential:
Marquis Daniels (team option, unlikely to be picked up)
Desmond Mason
Chris Wilcox

They Still Living?
Eric Snow
Brevin Knight
Damon Stoudemire
Smush Parker
Juwan Howard
Antoine Walker (player option for 09/10, 10/11 - likely)
Jason Collins
Bobby Jackson
Malik Rose
Raef LaFrentz
Wally Szczerbiak

2010 Free Agents:

The Big Dawgs:
Joe Johnson
Ray Allen
Ben Wallace
LeBron James (player option, likely)
Dirk Nowitzki (player option, unlikely)
Josh Howard (player option, likely)
Marcus Camby
Rip Hamilton
Stephen Jackson
Tracy McGrady
Shaquille O'Neal
Dwyane Wade (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
Michael Redd (player option for 10/11, likely)
Tyson Chandler (player option for 10/11 - 50/50)
Eddy Curry (player option for 10/11 - 50/50)
Amare Stoudemire (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
Brad Miller
Manu Ginobili
Chris Bosh (player option for 10/11, unlikely)

The Rookie Contracts:
Shelden WIlliams (restricted)
Rajon Rondo (restricted)
Adam Morrison (brah ha ha)
Tyrus Thomas (restricted)
Rudy Gay (restricted)
Kyle Lowry (restricted)
Randy Foye (restricted)
Marcus Williams (restricted)
Josh Boone (restricted)
Renaldo Balkman (restricted)
Mardy Collins (restricted)
Brandon Roy (restricted)
Sergio Rodriguez (restricted)
LaMarcus Aldridge (restricted)
Quincy Douby (restricted)
Ronnie Brewer (restricted)
Andrea Bargnani (restricted)

Young Filler Material:
Amir Johnson
Al Harrington
Cuttino Mobley
Tim Thomas
Derek Fisher
Mike Miller
Darko Mlicic
Brian Cardinal
Udonis Haslim
Quentin Richardson
Raja Bell
TJ Ford (player option for 10/11, unlikely)

Won't Be In The League Much Longer:
Mark Blount
Bobby Simmons
Troy Hudson
Jerome James
Darius Miles
Travis Outlaw
Kenny Thomas
Shareef Abdul-Rahim
Bruce Bowen
Matt Bonner
Luke Ridnour
Earl Watson
Damien Wilkens
Matt Harpring
Etan Thomas
Antonio Davis
Brendon Haywood

Non-rookie contracts that are past 2010:

Good Contracts, ValueWise (won't get traded, because the contract is too good):
Carmelo Anthony 10/11 $17.1
Chauncey Billups 10/11 $13.15 11/12 $14.2
Yao Ming 10/11 $17.7
Dwight Howard 10/11 $15.78 11/12 $17.15 12/13 $18.52 (player option, unlikely)
Tim Duncan 10/11 $18.7, 11/12 $21.3
Tony Parker 10/11 $13.5
Leandrinho Barbosa 10/11 $7.1, 11/12 $7.6 (player option, unlikely)
Caron Butler 10/11 $10.56

Bad Contracts, LengthWise (Pretty untradeable, other than as salary dump):

Kendrick Perkins 10/11 $4.4
Jason Richardson 10/11 $14.4
Kirk Hinrich 10/11 $9.0 11/12 $8.0 (good contract value wise, though)
Eric Dampier 10/11 $13.0
Kenyon Martin 10/11 $16.55
Nene 10/11 $11.36 11/12 $11.6
Nazr Mohammad 10/11 $6.88
Shane Battier 10/11 $7.35
Troy Murphy 10/11 $11.97
Mike Dunleavy 10/11 $10.56
Jamaal Tinsley 10/11 $7.5
Vladimir Radmanovic 10/11 $6.88 (player option)
Luke Walton 10/11 $5.26, 11/12 $5.68, 12/13 $6.10 (good value, but too long)
Dan Gudzuric 10/11 $7.24
Charlie Bell 10/11 $3.84, 11/12 $4.092
Antoine Walker 10/11 $10.87
Marko Jaric 10/11 $7.63
Richard Jefferson 10/11 $15.0
Peja Stojakovic 10/11 $15.34
Mo Peterson 10/11 $6.64
Zach Randolph 10/11 $17.33
Jamal Crawford 10/11 $10.08 (player option)
Jared Jeffries 10/11 $6.88 (player option)
Rashard Lewis 10/11 $20.514 11/12 $22.15 12/13 $23.8
Jameer Nelson 10/11 $6.72, 11/12 $7.31 12/13 $7.889
Samuel Dalembert 10/11 $12.2
Kyle Korver 10/11 $5.54
Reggie Evans 10/11 $5.08
Willie Green 10/11 $3.98
Boris Diaw 10/11 $9.0, 11/12 $9.0 (player option, likely)
Marcus Banks 10/11 $4.75
Joel Przybilla 10/11 $7.41 (player option, likely)
John Salmons 10/11 $5.81
Nick Collison 10/11 $6.75
Andrei Kirilenko 10/11 $17.82
DeShawn Stevenson 10/11 $4.15

Just The Right Length and Amount
:

Kevin Garnett: 10/11, $18.8, 11/12, $21.2
Paul Pierce 10/11 $21.5
Gerald Wallace 10/11 $9.8, 11/12 $10.65, 12/13: 11.44 (player option)
Jason Terry 10/11 $10.65 11/12 $11.44
Chris Kaman 10/11 $11.30 11/12 $12.2
Pau Gasol 10/11 $17.82
Mo Williams 10/11 $9.30, 11/12 $8.5, 12/13 $8.5 (player option) (a little long, but good value)
Al Jefferson 10/11 $13.0, 11/12 $14.0 12/13 $15.0 (tough call, but could become a sweet deal)
Vince Carter 10/11 $17.3, 11/12 $18.0 (player option)
David West 10/11 $8.288 11/12 $7.525 (player option)
Tyson Chandler 10/11 $12.75 (player option)
Eddy Curry 10/11 $11.28 (player option)
Tayshaun Prince 10/11 $11.15

Okay, in Part 2 (coming on Monday), we'll look at the first 15 teams in the league alphabetically, and evaluate their franchises salary cap prospects for the next three to five years.


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52 Comments

Comments

[December 12, 2007 1:48 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jack Cobra said

I would say Ben Wallace was more 'premier' than Mehmet Okur when he came over from the Pistons in free agency, no?

[November 29, 2008 5:25 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Ben replied to Jack Cobra

Im really confused why this guy has Travis Outlaw in the not going to be in the league much loger catagory thats rediculous

[December 12, 2007 2:33 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Okur was an All-Star last year; I'm not sure that Wallace has returned to the All-Star game since signing in Chicago. I think that's the definition that Cosellout used to define "premier", i.e. a player signed as a free agent that was an All-Star for their new team.

Otherwise, the Lakers signing Gary Payton and Karl Malone would count. Sadly, Ben Wallace might be closer to those guys than to Okur ;)

[December 12, 2007 3:25 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jack Cobra said

Hey, hey, hey..almost 11 rebounds a game last year and almost 9 this year (with a bullet!). Thanks for the clarification, makes sense now.

[December 12, 2007 3:31 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Five Pound Bag said

Good stuff SML - this kind of post requiring actual research and analysis is what the Internet needs more of. Someone is paying Antoine Walker for 3 1/2 more years?

Not that making up goofy jokes about obscure countries doesn't have its place, but this is an impressive piece of work right here.

[December 12, 2007 4:41 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Tony said

Hey Mike, since you want to enlignten the readers about Isiah , why don't you or your colleagues interview the players who played for him in the past and determine if he is good coach, ask them if they think the Knicks team will turn that corner , or whether they will not progress. ask Byron scott if it takes time fr his team to be aclimated to each to be doing well. Also can you please do a special on the Jets coach and theirr losing record. Try and add also a derogatory cartoon of Mangini and the Jets owner as the Daily news did with Isiah and Jim Dolan to be fair.

Readers who don't agree entirely with you and your colleagues assesment of the knicks still think the knicks will make it to the playoffs , but i am sure that, latently there are lots of people who don't want to see that happen just to prove a point, to augment more why Isiah should be fired. but it will not happen because just like the Yankees, they will get it together and win games..so for now be fair with your criticsm or simply spread it around with all New York pro sports team that are losing. also critique the Nets and their meltdown and why New Jersey fans are not booing or asking for the coach to be fired. I honestly think the media and columnist like yourself add selectively damaging words or writings to purposely fuel readers who are simply just innocent to the game of basketball.
love to hear your response.
Tony

[December 12, 2007 4:47 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Tony said

Hey Mike, since you want to enlighten the readers about Isiah , why don't you or your colleagues interview the players who played for him in the past and determine if he is good coach, ask them if they think the Knicks team will turn that corner , or whether they will not progress. ask Byron Scott if it takes time for his team to be acclimated to each to be doing well. Also can you please do a special on the Jets coach and their losing record. Try and add also a derogatory cartoon of Mangini and the Jets owner as the Daily news did with Isiah and Jim Dolan to be fair.

Readers who don't agree entirely with you and your colleagues assessment of the knicks still think the knicks will make it to the play-offs , but i am sure that, latently there are lots of people who don't want to see that happen just to prove a point, to augment more why Isiah should be fired. but it will not happen because just like the Yankees, they will get it together and win games..so for now be fair with your criticism or simply spread it around with all New York pro sports team that are losing. also critique the Nets and their meltdown and why New Jersey fans are not booing or asking for the coach to be fired. I honestly think the media and columnist like yourself add selectively damaging words or writings to purposely fuel readers who are simply just innocent to the game of basketball.
love to hear your response.
Tony

[December 12, 2007 5:44 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Dinosty said

I don't see Jose Calderon on next year's free agent list, unless you spelled his name "Sebastian Telfair".
Tell me that's an oversight.

[December 12, 2007 6:57 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Holy sh*t Dinosty! I was just skimming through my documents, and I realized that the Toronto Raptors file, including the printout of their salary cap (from HoopsHype, is totally not there. So I'll go home tonight, and update it tomorrow morning. Obviously I'm missing all the Raptors' free agents (Ford, Calderon, Bosh, Bargnani, et al).

Good catch!

Hey Tony: I'm actually not Mike Lupica (though that would be kinda meta, no?)! In fact, I agree with most of what you are saying... I was pretty close to pen an article bashing Lupica's article today, but his article is so clueless and already preposterous (is there something clever about referencing a TV show from 30 years ago, especially when you are only using it's title, and nothing else, to make your point?!?) that I didn't feel it necessary.

I do agree with commenter BK, who in a previous post said that Isiah should step down as coach and let Herb Williams lead the team. Mostly because I feel Herb deserves a chance, and it'll keep the fans from booing for a bit. And also because I feel it'll re-energize the Knicks team, and they need a dose of positive energy....

[December 13, 2007 9:53 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Tom said

I remember reading MODI's "Book of Isiah" and reading about the free agent myth, and although the general point of it is true, what about sign-and-trades?

Sign-and-trades accomplish several very important things:

1. It allows the FA's previous team to get some sort of "compensation" for the departing player

2. It allows the FA to make more money than otherwise, since his own team can always outbid other teams.

3. It allows other teams to get around the salary cap, if they are willing to pay the luxury tax

So basically, all three parties receive some sort of benefit.

A sign-and-trade is essentially a free agent transaction...I think that if MODI considered all the players who changed teams via a sign-and-trade, the list would be considerably more extensive

[December 13, 2007 10:23 AM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Hey Tom: Yeah, if you included sign and trades, then yeah, the list might be bigger (though I'm not sure about that... most sign and trades aren't for All-Stars, but that's because I'm thinking of Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford).

But, the point of Modi's post, and my post here, is just that: Sign and trades aren't the same as free agent signings, because you don't have to have salary cap space. That's why the Knicks were able to get Curry and Crawford while being over the cap.

And, as Modi pointed out, in those cases you give up something of value. Or, as the local media pointed out for the last two years: The Knicks gave up two lottery picks!!

So I think in that way, since a team doesn't need to make salary cap space to sign a free agent via a sign and trade, and since they have to give up something of value (see the Joe Johnson trade to the Hawks), it's more like a trade than a regular signing.

[December 13, 2007 11:18 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Marc R said

SML-

I agree that most sign-and-trades shouldn't count because you don't have to get under the cap to do them.

That said, some sign-and-trades occur only because the team acquiring the free agent DID get under the cap. Haven't done a study, but I can think of Grant Hill (ORL), Joe Johnson (ATL) and Kenyon Martin (DEN) as all being players that signed with a team that was sufficiently under the cap. Since, I believe, all of those players were restricted free agents, their former teams accepted compensation in exchange for not matching.

Also, and this is the most crucial point, all of those teams received superior value for not matching the overinflated contracts. Detroit got Ben Wallace, Phoenix got Boris Diaw and a #1, and New Jersey got three #1s, two of which turned into Vince Carter.

[December 13, 2007 12:56 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Good list, and good point, Marc. What I find most interesting about those situations is that, despite being under the cap enough to sign those player straight up, they still had to pay the "home" time a steep price to complete the deal, simply because the "home" team had the advantage (i.e. the Nets could resign K-Mart to more than the Nuggets offered him, but they didn't want to; since they could also match K-Mart's offer, for K-Mart to get more money, he had to "force" the Nets and Nuggets to make a sign and trade).

In that sense while a sign and trade can take place if that player is truly a free agent, and if he has a qualified offer from a team sufficiently under the cap, even then the home team still has the advantage!

The larger point: Clearing cap space to "lure" free agents is not a guaranteed strategy. And you might still have to deal with sign and trades.

[December 13, 2007 4:04 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Tom said

Oh, you guys are definitely correct...getting under the cap does not give you THAT much felxibility. I just thought that considering the unique situation that the NBA has (the "soft cap"), an anlysis of free agent movement without taking sign-and-trades into account is incomplete, in my opinion.

Neither MLB nor NFL has sign-and-trades, either because they have no salary cap (MLB) or they have a hard cap (NFL). But in the NBA, it's almost irresposible to let a free agent leave without executing a sign-and-trade. After all, if the player's going to leave anyway, you might as well try to get something back for him. Especially if it's an All-Star caliber player. Why would you let an All-Star caliber player just walk when you can figure out how much the other team is willing to pay, pay the player that much, and get a player/pick in return?

So yeah, getting under the cap won't give your team much flexibility. But if you're trying to consider the free agent process as a whole, namely the quality of player who moves via this process, I think including sign-and-trades gives a more complete picture.

[December 14, 2007 7:33 PM]  |  link  |  reply
MODI said

SML, yes, you are correct about the definition of "all-star" being one AFTER they were signed.

Marc's point about Grant Hill (ORL), Joe Johnson (ATL) and Kenyon Martin (DEN) is an excellent one. In each case the team that traded their player came out better. While JJ is a great player Diaw and TWO #1's is an awfully steep price.

Also, Chauncy is the only all-star on the entire list signed with the mid-level exception, so all 30 teams could have had him.

[February 1, 2008 7:36 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Patrick said

As a Jazz fan, I'm soooooooo excited. They're very young, very talented, and deep. Short-term, do you see them acquiring anyone in the off-season to fill any voids? I'm thinking not so much because they're going to have to worry about extending Williams deal in a couple of years as well as Brewer's, and with Kirilenko and Boozer already making a nice dollar, they don't have alot to spend. Okafur is someone who jumped out at me who would bring an inside defensive presence they desperately need but could they even afford someone like that? Moreover, long-term, do you see any roadblocks for them extending Williams? I fell in love with his poise, leadership and ice-cold clutch play as a 23 year old when it mattered most in the playoffs last year and we can't let him leave.

[February 2, 2008 12:06 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Hey Patrick,
First off, I like Deron Williams. I don't understand the comparisons between Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Yes, they play the same position, but they play different styles, suited for the different systems that they are in. It's a bit like comparing LeBron James to Scottie Pippen - both incredibly talented, but both had different roles and different systems.

Anyway, here's my guess on the Jazz: The guy they will try the hardest to dump is Matt Harpring, especially that Kyle Korver is now on the team for the next three seasons. That deal took away some of their future salary cap flexibility, but really, there aren't going to be many appealing free agents this upcoming offseason anyway.

I think they'll stay put for the most part (maybe a small trade), with Deron Williams, Boozer, and Okur all needed extensions right around the same time, in a couple of seasons.

Meanwhile, as long as they have AK (their worst contract, value wise), they can't get too far under the cap to sign any top tier free agents. Mostly mid-level exemptions at best.

I think the gameplan is to continue to let Williams and Brewer mature, keep the starting lineup together (Boozer, Okur, AK rounding it out), and make small deals to upgrade the bench with role players, as they did in picking up Korver. They made it to the Conference Finals last season, ahead of schedule, so they might not want to tinker too much with a good thing right now.

[February 2, 2008 12:23 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Patrick said

stopmike-

thanks for the feedback. think they have a shot at the finals? only four games out, with a very favorable schedule the rest of the way, and their players starting to gel, i actually think they have a fair to good shot to attain home court in the west.

[February 4, 2008 11:50 AM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Patrick: Alright, I'll be honest... they are in the same group with the Nuggets and Hornets and Lakers right now. They all see that the Spurs are vulnerable this year; the Mavs and Suns also seem weaker. The Lakers made a big move in acquiring an All-Star like Gasol - it's not so risky in terms of what they gave up (almost nothing of value), but it might also hurt Bynum's development. The Hornets are a bit too young and inexperienced right now, and they need an upgrade at SG/SF. The Nuggets need to stay healthy, especially in the frontcourt (they need Nene, K-Mart and Camby to play together).

For the Jazz, they need to stay ahead of the Nuggets (and Blazers) and win the division. They need the home court advantage in the playoffs. If they have to play the Spurs right now, they'll have the home court advantage. That's big.

The Jazz can hang with teams like Phoenix I think. The Mavs a bit tougher, but their biggest challenge right now in the West is the Spurs, and possibly the Lakers. They probably won't catch Phoenix for the top seed, and the Hornets are, like I said, not as legit a contender (unless they upgrade a bit); therefore the Jazz are in good shape right now. The need to stay ahead of the Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers, Mavs and Spurs in terms of home court advantage. If they can do that, I think they might be a good bet to make the Finals.

If I had to rank it right now: Spurs and Lakers are the top bets to make the Finals, with the Jazz third, Nuggets fourth, Hornets fifth, Suns sixth, Mavs seventh, and Rockets eighth. Still alot of season to go, and probably a few more trades and injuries to shake things up....

[March 13, 2008 2:32 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Darryl said

Hi guys,

This post is great and helped me learn quite a bit about upcoming free agent classes.

A couple personnal issues that irked me a bit (obvious canadian bias here):

1) Canadian dollar is actually on par with the US and depending on the day you look.. is worth more than the american dollar... so that is not an issue.

2) Toronto not a big market? Our building is sold out and we have one of the biggest sports cities in north america.

3) Your reference to "not toronto" as a selling point for an FA like bosh leaving... i think you underestimate the impact of Bryan Collangelo and the new raptor era. We are no longer the laughing stock of the nba... and if you pay attention to other nba players... they all talk about the atmosphere of the air canada center being crazy and an amazing place to play a game.

Also... bosh resigned to a max deal and loves playing here... and likes the direction of the club.... and I am sure as a solid basketball fan... you know that Collangelo is setting this team up (on the court and off the court financially) for long term success... with a couple of big moves likely in the next couple years.

In closing... aside from my toronto bias.... i really enjoyed the article and I hope the toronto is able to make a splash via free agency or trade.

PS: Calderon's offer is likely to be matched by Toronto according to management. Guesstimate will be 6-8 million per.. similar or slightly less than TJ Ford

[March 27, 2008 11:00 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Mike said

Just wanted to say that this is a really really good website!

[April 24, 2008 6:16 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Blazer Wookee said

You put Travis Outlaw is "Won't Be In The League Much Longer" category?

Your employment is not subject to random drug testing, is it?

[April 24, 2008 7:14 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Bballer22 said

Travis Outlaw won't be in the league much longer? You must not watch much basketball. The kid is 23 and busted out this year to become one of the best reserves in the entire league. The sky is the limit for him. Possibly the best vertical in the entire NBA so he can get his accurate jumper off anytime over anyone. Not only will he be in the league another 12 years, but he has a chance to make the all star team.

[May 7, 2008 12:20 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Robinsson said

Nice article. Thanks to the salary cap, basketball GMs have to be like chess players and look many moves ahead. I have to agree with Blazer and bballer about Travis Outlaw. He's already a very good 6th man, and in 2010 will 25 or 26 years old.
Also, you didn't list the versatile & underrated Ryan Gomes of the Timberwolves who will be a restricted free agent this summer-- rumor is the Spurs are interested.

[May 9, 2008 5:34 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Greg Oden said

Are you sure you're not confusing Travis with Bo Outlaw? Trout is a future 6th man of the year and only 23.

[May 15, 2008 1:05 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Frank O'Hara said

I think Ryan Gomes will have quite a few offers to choose from... he's the kind of all around player that could make a good team great without breaking the bank. Childress too....

[May 19, 2008 6:28 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jeff said

Hey SML - good article.

I do want to correct some mistakes re Gilbert Arenas. First, he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors, not the Kings. Second, The Warriors didn't have the opportunity to match the Wizards contract offer. Back then, second round picks were not restricted like first round picks. This meant that Golden State could not exceed the salary cap to resign Gil. The "Arenas Rule" has since been corrected, which is good for Golden State, since former second-round pick Monta Ellis is a free agent this offseason...

[July 30, 2008 2:40 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Anonymous said

Man what a yr it was... da spurz almost went 2 da finalz .. Dey woulda beat boston dey match up better...in a yr or 2 dey gone be at the top again...oh nd da east is weak only 3 to 4 good teamz boston,pistons, cavz,magic

[August 7, 2008 12:26 AM]  |  link  |  reply
jabbed u said

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[August 7, 2008 12:29 AM]  |  link  |  reply
penis said

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[September 28, 2008 6:29 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Chuck said

I just wanna know who's likely to be traded to what nba team before the trade deadline and your thoughts to the Boozer to Miami rumor at the end of the year.

[November 3, 2008 9:33 PM]  |  link  |  reply
blazer fan said

you said travis outlay wont be in the league much longer? he cant be older than 25 and is a very good small forward.

[November 15, 2008 2:52 AM]  |  link  |  reply
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[November 17, 2008 9:53 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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[November 17, 2008 9:57 PM]  |  link  |  reply
YA-YA said

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[November 27, 2008 12:28 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Anonymous said

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[December 9, 2008 1:57 AM]  |  link  |  reply
YouAreAFuckingHomo,YesYou said

Wow.
I know this article was written years ago, but so much of the information on his lists are incorrect, such as who has player option, team options, who is even a free agent, who is on a rookie contract, etc, that it isn't even funny.
This guy is a drenched and dripping maxi pad that knows nothing about basketball and the cap.

[February 5, 2009 8:02 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Anonymous said

Lots of mistakes here:
Arenas was drafted by Golden State, not Sacramento.

Both Arenas and Boozer weren't "given up" by their teams, they were both second year, second round draft picks that didn't qualify for bird rights and were not restricted free agents. Their original teams could not offer them as much as their new team.

Jason terry was not signed as a free agent, but was traded (for Antoine Walker and others).

His opt out predictions were also way off (Brand unlikely, Mario likely, 3/4 of the 50% guys opted out with the fourth wishing he had). But hindsight is 20/20 so I'll let it go.

[April 19, 2009 2:09 PM]  |  link  |  reply
james said

steve should retire.lebron james isnt suppose to be a free agent

[May 5, 2009 3:14 AM]  |  link  |  reply
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[June 8, 2010 1:53 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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Bağlama Duası said

Again, the team bidding on LeBron or whoever (let's call them "the Nets") can't truly top Cleveland's max contract offer, but they can match it (or come close enough) and offer the appeal of... Brooklyn. Or MSG. Or "not Toronto". Especially now when getting paid in US money in Canada is a bad thing. Thank you very nice article. Thank you for sharing :)

[September 7, 2010 10:17 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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