Free Agency 2011

Report: Magic won’t trade Dwight

UPDATE, 2:54 p.m. ET: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Magic have ended all trade talks for Dwight Howard. Stay tuned to NBA.com for more on this story.

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For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — Could Dwight Howard be traded before Chris Paul? A few days ago, the answer would have been “no way.” But with Paul talks in somewhat of a holding pattern, the Howard rumors reached a fever pitch in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the report

Talks between the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets for a Dwight Howard blockbuster trade have gathered momentum over the past several days, and the framework of a possible four-team deal has taken shape, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Front office sources say Nets general manager Billy King has aggressively pursued the necessary players and picks to try and satisfy Orlando’s demands for Howard, one of the league’s most dominating and popular players.

New Jersey and Orlando are working toward a core deal that would send center Brook Lopez and another significant player obtained elsewhere to the Magic for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, sources said.

The Magic are listening, but there is still real doubt about their willingness to completely give up hope on convincing Howard to re-sign with them after he opts out of his contract in July. Howard has been willing to sign extensions with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, but the Nets’ future in Brooklyn has been most intriguing to him.

What other teams could be involved? You would have to imagine they’d be in the Western Conference, where GMs would have motivation to keep Howard in the East and away from the Los Angeles Lakers.

In fact, a surprising candidate is involved in the talks, according to Marc Stein and Chad Ford over at ESPN.com:

The New Jersey Nets have entered into serious talks with the Orlando Magic on a multiteam trade scenario that would bring Dwight Howard to the Nets, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the most active proposal discussed by the teams would send Portland Trail Blazers swingman Gerald Wallace to the Magic along with Nets center Brook Lopez as two of the main pieces Orlando would receive in exchange for Howard.

As part of such a trade, which could be expanded to include a fourth team, sources say Orlando would also shed the long-term contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon — both absorbed by New Jersey — while also potentially receiving future draft considerations.

Other players would have to be added to the deal to make the salary-cap math work, but sources said Portland would receive multiple first-round picks as part of the exchange for surrendering Wallace and facilitating the trade.

Yet it remains to be seen if the Brooklyn-bound Nets can convince the Magic to indeed go through with trading Howard before the season starts. Earlier this week, one source familiar with the Magic’s thinking insisted to ESPN.com that they were not yet prepared to trade Howard away, clinging to the hope that he can be talked into staying.

Howard himself is known for changing his views on the matter on a near-daily basis, torn by his desire to move to a more glamorous market like Brooklyn or Los Angeles and the prospect of staying with the team that drafted him and delivering the championship to Orlando that Shaquille O’Neal could not.

One source said that the Nets were moving “aggressively” in their pursuit of Howard after Nene — New Jersey’s top free-agent target — agreed to terms Tuesday night on a five-year, $67 million deal to return to the Denver Nuggets.

Could a blockbuster involving the second-best player in the league go down before the season starts? That’s Orlando’s decision, but a deal would be much easier to pull off before the Nets spend money on free agents, even if they’re only handing out one-year deals to preserve their 2012 cap space.

Nene, Nuggets Agree To Terms

For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

The Denver Nuggets were not always the favorites, but at the end of the day, they got their big man back.

Beating back strong competition from Houston and New Jersey, the Nuggets reached terms Tuesday with free agent center Nene on a five-year, $67 million deal. Earlier in the day, the Nuggets pulled off a trade with the Mavericks, acquiring forwards Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez from Dallas for a second-round pick. And general manager Masai Ujiri said Tuesday night that progress had been made toward re-signing restricted free agent guard Arron Afflalo.

“Today was a good day for the Nuggets,” Ujiri said.

The Nets had an offer on the table believed to be in excess of $14 million per season for the 29-year-old Nene, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds last season for Denver. And the Rockets coveted Nene as well, hoping to pair him with Lakers forward Pau Gasol last week when it looked like Houston would be part of the three-team deal that sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. But the deal fell through, and the Rockets couldn’t make a deal for Nene alone work.

“We’ve been grinding all along,” Ujiri said. “Nene was our guy and we stayed the course and got through it. Nene wanted to stay home. He wanted to test free agency, but at the end of the day he wanted to stay home and play for the Nuggets. Nene will be a good player for us for a long time.”

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Cavs still undecided on amnesty for Davis

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have still not decided whether they will use the amnesty provision on guard Baron Davis, according to a league source. Davis is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $13.9 million this season. Teams have until Friday to utilize the amnesty provision for this season. Waiving a player via amnesty allows that player’s salary to be removed from both a team’s salary cap and luxury tax thresholds, creating cap room that can be used on other players or potentially getting a team underneath the $70 million tax threshold.

The Cavaliers acquired Davis from the Clippers at the trade deadline last February in a deal that sent guard Mo Williams to Los Angeles and brought Davis and a number one Draft pick to Cleveland.

That pick wound up being the first overall pick in last June’s Draft after the Cavs won the Draft Lottery in May. Cleveland selected Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving with the pick, then used its own first-rounder to take Texas forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall selection.

Cleveland is exploring all options for the 32-year-old Davis, including a contract buyout that would give Davis his freedom right away — and the ability to sign with any team he wants — while saving the team money on the cap. (Players who are waived via amnesty go into a pool, and must report to the team that submits the highest bid for them, as the Clippers did Monday with Chauncey Billups.) Davis’ expiring contract could also be used in a trade to bring back assets, and the Cavs have another candidate on their roster that could potentially be amnestied — veteran forward Antawn Jamison, who is scheduled to make $15 million in the final year of his contract this season. But the Cavs, in full rebuilding mode, can just let the contracts of both Davis and Jamison expire next summer and clear them off the books, freeing a huge amount of cap space that would make Cleveland a potential player for trades or free agent signings.

Complicating matters is the fact that Davis has been out of camp with a bad back that may force him to miss an extended period of time. He was in the process of getting a second opinion on Tuesday.

Davis’ agent, Todd Ramasar, said Tuesday afternoon that the guard will accept any decision from the Cavaliers as long as it comes quickly.

“A lot of people expected Baron wouldn’t report when he was traded,” Ramasar said. “He was a professional. He was totally supportive of the organization when they drafted Kyrie. He reached out to Kyrie. He did everything you could expect someone to do in terms of the community last year. He came in and tried to lead the team and they were playing better at the end of the season.”

If Davis is waived via amnesty, capped-out teams like the Knicks and Heat could only sign him if no other team claimed him out of the amnesty pool. CBSSports.com reported Monday that Davis was “likely” to sign with the Knicks if he wasn’t claimed out of the amnesty pool.

Lamar Odom’s Replacement Is…

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — Less than three days after sending Lamar Odom to Dallas, the Lakers found his replacement. And it’s Hang Time favorite, Josh McRoberts (a.k.a. “McBob”), according to Yahoo’s Marc Spears.

McBob comes cheap ($4.5 million cheaper than Kwame Brown) and should fit well with in the Lakers’ frontline rotation, sliding ahead of Derrick Caracter on the depth chart and backing up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

He didn’t put hip big numbers, but McBob had somewhat of a breakout season for the Pacers last year, and he’s an efficient scorer. Among the 299 players who logged at least 750 minutes last season, he ranked 17th in true shooting percentage. He finished well around the basket, shooting 68 percent from the restricted area, but was only 50-for-133 from outside the paint.

As an added bonus, McBob has a history with the celebutante set, having (at least) once gone on a date with Lauren Conrad. That’s not quite the same as being married to a Kardashian, but it gives the Indiana kid a little Hollywood caché as he arrives in L.A.

Four Teams Pursuing Warriors’ Williams

For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

The Bobcats, Raptors, Trail Blazers and Rockets are the four teams in hottest pursuit of unrestricted free agent swingman Reggie Williams, according to a league source. Williams became unrestricted over the weekend when his former team, the Warriors, rescinded its qualifying offer to him in order to clear room for a four-year, $43 million offer sheet Golden State made to Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers matched the sheet on Jordan Monday.

The 25-year-old Williams is one of the better shooters still available in free agency. He made 42 percent of his three-pointers at Golden State last season, averaging 9.2 points, mainly off the bench, for the Warriors. The two-time NCAA scoring champ from VMI burst onto the NBA scene out of the Developmental League in 2010, averaging 15 points in 24 games for the Warriors after being called up. He worked out for the Bobcats in Charlotte on Sunday.

The Blazers are also interested in free agent guard Jamal Crawford, who is being pursued by the Pacers, Knicks and Timberwolves.

Top Free Agents Wait … And Wait

 

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — We knew this free agency period, coinciding with the start of training camps, was going to be crazy. And as we sit here on Tuesday morning with four days of camp are in the books and the preseason is just three days away, a few of the top free agents are still standing by the phone.

Nene was arguably the No. 1 free agent of this class. And only 12 days to go before the season starts, he’s still without a team.

Houston was reportedly ready to team Nene with Pau Gasol for what would have been an awesome, international frontline. But the three-way trade between the Hornets, Lakers and Rockets fell apart and the Rockets weren’t able to clear the cap space necessary to sign Nene.

Now that Marc Gasol has agreed to terms with the Grizzlies (before the Rockets even signed him to an offer sheet), Houston will presumably knock on Nene’s door again. But the 29-year-old Brazilian reportedly has a tentative offer from the New Jersey Nets for $64 million over four years.

The Nets, of course, have Nene on hold while they try to convince Magic general manager Otis Smith that the best time to trade Dwight Howard is now, while they have the cap space to take Hedo Turkoglu‘s contract off Smith’s hands. (more…)

Source: Clips ‘Move On’ From CP3 Talks

For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

While the New Orleans Hornets hope to revive trade talks involving four-time All-Star Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers, a league source tells TNT’s David Aldridge that the Clippers have “moved on” and are not, at the moment, interested in restarting the discussions.

Sources late Monday night indicated that the Hornets — whose negotiations for Paul are being handled by the NBA, which owns the team — believed there was still a chance that they could find common ground with the Clippers on a deal. But a source directly involved in the negotiations said early Tuesday morning that it was doubtful the Hornets would compromise enough for Los Angeles to be interested.

“I don’t know that they can come back far enough,” the source said.

Trade talks are notorious for their fits and starts, and while the talks currently are dormant, the possibility they can warm up again quickly must not be overlooked. However, the Clippers are adamant that they will not part with both promising two guard Eric Gordon and the unprotected 2012 first-round pick from Minnesota that they control. The 2012 Draft is expected to be one of the deepest in recent years. The league has asked for both, along with center Chris Kaman, second-year forward Al-Faroqu Aminu and second-year guard Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Paul, who has been seeking a trade while not publicly asking for one.

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Billups Forewarned By League

For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

Before Chauncey Billups was claimed by the Clippers on Monday, the NBA sent an e-mail to teams that threatened discipline against the free agent guardif he refused to report to a team that claimed him in the waiver pool or was disruptive to that team after reporting.

According to the e-mail, obtained by TNT’s David Aldridge, the league warned Billups and his agent, Andy Miller, on Monday that any statements made concerning not reporting to a team or being disruptive would be viewed as a breach of Billups’ contract, and that the NBA “is reserving all of its rights to take appropriate action against the player for his efforts to undermine the waiver process and the contractual rights of both the waiving team and any claiming team. Please also be advised that the NBA will fully support any team that claims Mr. Billups’ contract in the amnesty/waiver process and that subsequently believes it has grounds for discipline of Mr. Billups for breach of that contract.”

Miller, according to several sources, sent a letter to teams over the weekend that reiterated that Billups would be unhappy if anyone claimed him out of the waiver pool (for at least $1.35 million, the minimum for 10-plus year veterans like Billups) after being released by New York on Saturday via the amnesty provision. Miller did not respond to e-mails and calls seeking comment Monday.

In an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Saturday, Billups said he was “tired of being the glue guy” and said he was tired of being taken advantage of by teams who have thrown him into deals in recent seasons, such as when the Nuggets included him in the Carmelo Anthony deal to the Knicks last season. Billups is a Denver area native who was pained to leave his hometown team not of his own volition.

“After a while, you just kind of get taken advantage of in these situations,” Billups told Yahoo!. “I’ve been known as a leader, and I am a leader, but a leader can be as disruptive as he can be productive, especially when you carry a strong voice and people rally around you. This is about me now. This is about me, and teams should know that right now.”

League sources believe that Billups wanted to clear the waiver pool so that he could sign with Miami or another contending team when the waiver claim time period expired at 6 p.m. Monday evening. Earlier Monday, ESPN.com reported that Orlando’s Dwight Howard wanted the Magic to claim Billups as part of remaking the roster in a way more to Howard’s liking as he contemplates whether to stay there after next season. Howard asked for a trade last week and was given permission by the Magic to talk with the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets about a potential deal.

The league’s e-mail said that Billups could choose to retire rather than report to a claiming team, though it would absolve the team that claimed him from having to pay his salary.

Pursuit For Crawford Intensifies

For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

A league source tells TNT’s David Aldridge that the Knicks, Trail Blazers, Pacers and Timberwolves are among the teams in hottest pursuit of Hawks free agent guard Jamal Crawford.

New York, the source said, is still trying to figure out some way to carve out additional cap room for the multi-year amount that Crawford is seeking. At present, all the Knicks could offer is the new two-year “room” exception for teams that are under the luxury tax threshold, starting at $2.5 million. The Blazers and Pacers are interested as well, though right now, it would be more likely that Crawford would sign one-year deals with each team and test the free agent market again next summer when more teams will have significant cap room.

Portland has limits on how much it’s willing to spend, though, and Indiana is contemplating going forward with a deal that would bring O.J. Mayo from Memphis in exchange for Josh McRoberts. The Pacers and Grizzlies nearly completed a Mayo-McRoberts trade last February before the trade deadline, but the deal collapsed at the last moment, with each team subsequently blaming the other for backing out. It isn’t clear when Mayo or Crawford would be Indiana’s top priority. The Timberwolves added to their already-crowded backcourt Monday by agreeing to terms with guard J.J. Barea on a four-year, $19 million deal.

The Hawks are unwilling to do a sign-and-trade deal for Crawford if it gets them anywhere near the luxury tax threshold. Atlanta is currently around $65 million in team salary and will not take on additional money in exchange for Crawford, who is seeking a deal above the $8 million per year that Marcus Thornton received to re-sign with the Kings.

Last week it appeared as if Chicago would get involved with Crawford, but the Bulls are expected to sign Richard Hamilton, who was officially bought out on Monday by the Detroit Pistons, to a deal as early as Wednesday.

What Now For Chris Paul?

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — Chris Paul is still a member of the New Orleans Hornets. And at this point, you have to start thinking about the possibility of Paul being in uniform when the Hornets play their first preseason game in Memphis on Friday night.

On Monday afternoon, multiple outlets reported that the Los Angeles Clippers were pulling out of the latest negotiations with the Hornets (and/or the NBA league office).

Here is ESPN’s report from Marc Stein and Chris Broussard

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the league-owned New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers could not complete their proposed Paul trade because the Clippers ultimately decided the NBA’s asking price for the All-Star guard was too high.

At the NBA’s direction, sources said, New Orleans was insisting upon the inclusion of both shooting guard Eric Gordon and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round draft choice in addition to former All-Star center Chris Kaman and prospects Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe.

The Clippers found the demands “too steep,” according to one source close to the process, even after Paul told the Clippers he would invoke the 2012-13 option in his contract as part of the trade, ensuring that L.A. would have him next to Blake Griffin for at least two seasons

Paul is a special player, but that’s a lot of assets to give up if you’re not sure he’ll be staying beyond next season. Now, we must wonder what it’s going to take for the Hornets/NBA to part with Paul and if a trade is even possible at all with the league owning the team.

Meanwhile, the only players that the Hornets have signed are training camp fodder. Their roster is basically Paul, Trevor Ariza, Jarrett Jack, Emeka Okafor, Quincy Pondexter, and nine guys you’ve never heard of. And Monty Williams has to get them ready to play a game in four days.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.