Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Who knew Rudy Gay would be the first free agent to hear his phone ring at 12:01 this morning?
The Minnesota Timberwolves decided to storm the free agency party when the bell rang, chasing the Hang Time Grizzlies‘ coveted restricted free-agent forward.
So much for all that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh talk.
Wade got a call from Heat boss Pat Riley, who has his recruiting team in Los Angeles for rounds of meetings with other free agents. Joe Johnson met with Hawks officials in Los Angeles. Houston GM Daryl Morey spoke to Bosh (“Just finished meeting with @chrisbosh – great player & person. He is about winning so I focused on how w/Houston he can win a championship.”), who is expected to receive a maximum contract offer from the Toronto Raptors as they try to salvage their summer. And surely, someone reached out and touched James (at least by phone), just to make sure we kicked this free agency period off the right way. His meetings take place later and he has told everyone he plans to make a decision by Monday, which would allow us all to get some rest.
(The Clippers released a statement indicating they are just “honored” to be one of the teams making a presentation to the King. Clippers point guard Baron Davis took it a step further and penned a letter to all the free agents … check it out here.)
Yet, the Timberwolves managed to make news on opening night/morning.
That they’ve even entered the conversation reminds us all just how wonderfully twisted a time this is. The same team that acquired three new small forwards on Draft night makes it’s splash in free agency by reaching out to what else but another small forward in Gay.
In fact, the Timberwolves have the first confirmed free agent get of the season, reaching an agreement on three-year deal with 2008 second-round draft pick Nikola Pekovic, per ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.
It’s okay to yawn right now. No offense to Pekovic, who by all accounts is an accomplished player. But we didn’t stay up all day waiting for news on Pekovic.
Bosh didn’t spend an entire day Tweeting himself into the Twilight Zone just to hear about Pekovic’s rise up the ranks from international project to NBA prospect.
And, as my NBA.com colleague Art Garcia reminded me after the fact, Richard Jefferson didn’t opt out of the final year of his contract ($15.2 million) just to make us all ask, “is he smarter than a 5th grader?”
We’re more than an hour into the greatest free agent frenzy anyone has ever seen and I’m still waiting to see the fireworks. Will Johnson spurn the maximum contract offer from the Hawks and go elsewhere? He met with the Knicks immediately after speaking with the Hawks. Could they lure him to New York to work as Robin to James wearing a Batman mask?
There are theories running rampant that Johnson is now the key to enticing James (and perhaps even Amar’e Stoudemire) to play in New York … it’s yet another of the seemingly logical but unsubstantiated reports about this frenzy that will leave us all wondering what’s really going on.
If you thought there would be some clarity to all these things just because the clock struck midnight on July 1, you were wrong. We’ve still got a week to go before anyone can sign anything.
Verbal agreements are sure to start rolling throughout the 4th of July weekend.
Who swings at that opening pitch remains the most pressing question as we continue digging deeper into Day 1.