Posts Tagged ‘NBA Free Agency’

2014 Free Agency — The Other Dominoes

From NBA.com staff reports

Now that LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland, the belief is many of the other players in the free-agency pool are going to start making deals now, too. Here’s the latest from around the Twitter-sphere and the Internet as we get closer and closer to a real flood of free-agent news …

Update, 1:51 a.m. — Pau to Bulls means ‘Melo stays a Knick?

There’s no such thing as too late for free agent news, and one late-night agreement nearing completion between big man Pau Gasol and the Bulls might mean the end to the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go Carmelo Anthony saga in New York. Is ‘Melo a lock to stay the apple of NYC’s eye?

Update, 12:05 a.m. — Memphis nabs Vince Carter

For three seasons in Dallas, Vince Carter transformed himself into a knock-down 3-point shooter. He wanted to return to the Mavericks, but not at the bargain rate he felt he had been signed on for three summers ago even as his career seemed to be coming to a close. In a surprise, Carter has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, a team desperate for 3-point shooting.

The Grizzlies shot the fewest 3s in the NBA last season, even with Mike Miller back on the team. And with Miller looking elsewhere, perhaps joining LeBron James in Cleveland, the Grizzlies simply had to get a shooter off the bench.

Update, 9:05 p.m. — Hawks make late entry into Gasol sweepstakes

A few hours ago Pau Gasol tweeted that he was nearing a decision. His suitors had been narrowed to two, reportedly the Spurs and Bulls. Now the Atlanta Hawks have made a late bid for the 7-foot center, envisioning Gasol playing next to center Al Horford.

Update, 8:15 p.m. — Knicks waive Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom‘s comeback is apparently over before it really began.

The versatile forward who won titles with the Los Angeles Lakers very well could be at the end of his NBA career. At 34, it’s tough to see another team take a chance on him. Knicks president Phil Jackson obviously has the L.A. connection with Odom and looked to give an opportunity.

Odom didn’t play at all last season after a rough summer that allegedly included heavy drug use.

Update, 7:05 p.m. — Pat Riley releases statement on LeBron

Heat president Pat Riley, who challenged the Big Three to return to the Heat and fight another day if they’ve got the guts, released the following statement on LeBron James‘ decision to leave Miami and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers:

“While I am disappointed by LeBron’s decision to leave Miami, no one can fault another person for wanting to return home. The last four years have been an incredible run for South Florida, HEAT fans, our organization and for all of the players who were a part of it. LeBron is a fantastic leader, athlete, teammate and person, and we are all sorry to see him go.

Over the last 19yrs, since Micky and I teamed together, The Miami HEAT has always been a championship organization; we’ve won multiple championships and competed for many others. Micky, Erik and I remain committed to doing whatever it takes to win and compete for championships for many years to come. We’ve proven that we can do it and we’ll do it again.”

Update, 6:45 p.m. — Lakers bring back Jordan Hill; Gasol a goner?

The Lakers are slowly but surely starting to fill out their roster now that it appears they will not be getting the services of Carmelo Anthony. Of course, Anthony still has yet to make his decision official.

After trading for guard Jeremy Lin earlier in the day, the Lakers are now set to bring back power forward Jordan Hill.

It’s becoming more apparent that Pau Gasol will have played his final game with the Lakers. He reportedly turned down an offer from the Lakers and is being heavily pursued by contenders such as the Spurs and Thunder, plus the Bulls and the Knicks could be an option if they keep Carmelo Anthony.

Gasol tweeted earlier Friday that he was nearing a decision.

Update, 6:30 p.m. — Suns, Kings agree to Isaiah Thomas trade

Phoenix is loaded at point guard, but they’ve made an aggressive play by engaging in a sign-and-trade for diminutive Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas. Thomas will head to Phoenix on a four-year, $27-million deal.

The surprising Suns rolled with two point guards in the starting lineup last season with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, a restricted free agent who the Suns have vowed to keep by matching any offer.

Dragic, named the league’s Most Improved Player last year and who could easily have been an All-Star, will essentially be entering the final year on his contract. He is set to make $7.5 million this season and then has a player option on $7.5 million in 2015-16, an option he will likely opt of to seek a bigger payday.

Update, 5:40 p.m. — Bosh stuns Houston, stays in Miami

In the wake of losing LeBron James, The Miami Heat aggressively pursued Chris Bosh , who appeared to be on the verge of accepting a deal with the Houston Rockets. In a stunner, Bosh accepted Miami’s five, year, $118 million deal.

The Heat are now making a strong push to bring Dwyane Wade  and forward Udonis Haslem.

It’s big news for the Heat, who looked to be reduced to rubble following James’ announcement. And it’s a crusher for the Rockets. They miss out on an All-Star power forward that seemed a perfect fit beside Howard.

Now the Rockets have a difficult decision whether to match the Mavs’ three-year, $45 million offer sheet to Chandler Parsons. If Houston matches, it will eat up the remainder of their cap space.

Only a few hours ago, the Rockets looked to be a vastly improved team. Now they might wind up watching a key player walk to the rival Mavs.

Update, 5:34 p.m. — Swaggy stays in Hollywood

Nick Young is headed back to the Lakers.

Update, 4:25 p.m. — D-Wade going home?

Woj is, as Woj often does, tearing it up. Here, he offers a blurb on Dwyane Wade who, remember, turned down nearly $42 million to get out of his contract with the Heat in hopes of giving Pat Riley more room to get LeBron back.

With that now not happening, would Wade be up for a return to his home town?

Update, 4:03 p.m. — Chicago, Charlotte after Hinrich

Captain Kirk average 9.1 points and 3.9 assists in 29 minutes a game last year for the Bulls.

Update, 3:16 p.m. — More on Lin’s move, Rockets’ Bosh chase

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski provides an update on L.A.’s move to pick up Jeremy Lin from Houston and the Rockets’ pursuit of Chris Bosh:

In an effort to clear salary cap space for Chris Bosh, the Houston Rockets have reached a deal to send guard Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Rockets will send a 2015 first-round pick, and other draft considerations to the Lakers to unload the final year of Lin’s $14 million expiring contract that includes a salary cap hit of $8.3 million based on the deal’s structure.

The Lakers will send cash and the rights to an overseas player, sources said.

Moving Lin to Los Angeles will clear most of the salary cap space necessary to sign Bosh to a four-year, $80 million-plus contract. The Rockets are still working to formalize a commitment out of Bosh, who will leave Miami because of the departure of LeBron James to Cleveland. The Rockets also plan to match Chandler Parsons‘ three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks once Bosh has committed, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Bosh was planning to speak to Houston coach Kevin McHale on Friday afternoon, a source said.

Update, 3:05 p.m. — Another move in store for Cavs?

In order to get LeBron James the max contract offer he’s seeking in Cleveland, Alonzo Gee may end up being dealt …

Update, 2:54 p.m. — Report: Lin dealt to Lakers

And, just like that, Jeremy Lin is on his way to Los Angeles …

Update, 2:52 p.m. — Report: Bosh, Rockets inching closer to commitment

Keep reading below, but it looks like the Rockets and Chris Bosh are nearly a done deal …

Update, 2:46 p.m. — Reports: Lakers, Rockets finalizing Lin deal

It looks like Jeremy Lin is headed back to home state of California …

Update, 2:36 p.m. — You know you’re a big deal when …

… the White House chimes in on your latest career move …

Update, 2:24 p.m. — What about ‘Melo? Bulls staying in touch

Carmelo Anthony, much like Chris Bosh, is one of the big free-agent pieces who has yet to reveal/decide where he’s going next. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune says the Bulls aren’t out of the race yet. And, as ESPN reports, the incumbent Knicks are in the race, too … (more…)

Report: Livingston, Warriors agree on deal

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Veteran point guard Shaun Livingston has reached an agreement to join the Golden State Warriors, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Livingston’s deal, for three years and a reported $16 million (with the third year partially guaranteed, per USA Today Sports), gives the Warriors a new dimension and some security in the backcourt

Livingston’s addition will allow All-Star point guard Steph Curry to play off the ball and alleviate some of the ball-handling and facilitating duties he shouldered last season. The Warriors will be adjusting to new coach Steve Kerr‘s system anyway, but the addition of a season veteran like Livingston gives them all sorts of possibilities in the backcourt.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 127) Featuring Rockets Play-By-Play Announcer Craig Ackerman

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Leave it up to Rick Fox to skip out on his own birthday party on Episode 127 of the Hang Time Podcast.

Perhaps it was for the best, since we spent quite a bit of time discussing his least favorite subject of this free agent summer: Dwight Howard and his moving from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets. (Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni still can’t wrap his head around Howard leaving for Texas.)

While Rick is already on record as being a bit put off by the way Dwight handled himself with the Lakers and with his departure, Rockets play-by-play man Craig Ackerman couldn’t be happier with how things played out.

His phone has been ringing like crazy since Howard joined the Rockets. And things will only get more hectic the closer we get to training camp and the start of the 2013-14 season. He gives us some quality insight on what the Howard era of Rockets basketball will look like from an insider’s perspective and waxes on all things Rockets [sorry Rick].

We also break down the latest news, notes and happenings around the league, including a recap of what we saw during the Las Vegas Summer League, USA Basketball’s mini-camp in Vegas, Brandon Jennings and his fresh start in Detroit and the teams on the rise and fall after a wild July of action in free agency and trades.

You get all of that and so much more on Episode 127 of the Hang Time Podcast: Featuring Rockets Play-By-Play Announcer Craig Ackerman …

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Wizards Sign Wall To Extension

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Washington Wizards building their franchise around John Wall went from theory to reality the moment Wall’s signature went on that five-year, $80 million extension the two sides began working on recently.

That time is now, according to Michael Lee of The Washington Post, who reports that the deal is done and will be announced Thursday at a news conference.

Wall hasn’t made an All-Star team yet and the Wizards haven’t reached the playoff since he was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 Draft. But the Wizards believe he is the key to their future and are paying him accordingly. Wall’s new deal will not start until the 2014-15 season. But Wizards’ general manager Ernie Grunfeld is making sure that the linchpin to the Wizards’ future doesn’t have to worry about free agency any time soon.

The Wizards found out last season what life is like without Wall when they sputtered to a 5-28 without last season while he was recovering from a left knee injury. They finished the season 24-25 with Wall in the lineup. He posted the best numbers of his career in those final 29 games, averaging a career-high 18.5 points and 7.6 assists while shooting a career-best 44 percent from the floor.

With Wall as the ringleader of a young core that also includes fellow lottery picks Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr., the Wizards are poised to make a move up the Eastern Conference standings next season.

Signing Wall through the 2018-19 season with a maximum extension might seem like a risky move to some without more evidence that he is going to be the type of player that can lead the Wizards into the mix at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. But the Wizards are avoiding a load of extra drama by avoiding restricted and unrestricted free agency with a player they have much invested in already.

They’ve seen what a healthy and motivated Wall can do, what sort of impact he can have on a team that ranks among the best in the league defensively. As his growth and maturation process continues, the Wizards are clearly focusing on Wall’s immense potential with this extension.

Wall is the first member of his Draft class to receive an extension but probably not the last. The Sacramento Kings have reportedly engaged the representatives of DeMarcus Cousins, Wall’s college teammate at Kentucky, in conversations about a deal for the talented big man. There is an Oct. 31 deadline for players from their Draft class to receive extensions.

Childress Eager For Another Shot In NBA



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Josh Childress has no regrets.

And he’s not looking for a payday or anyone’s pity. Let’s clear all of that up now, before we get into the meat of his story, a comeback one of sorts, in need of an appropriate ending.

His only desire is to finish what he started nearly a decade ago, when he was the sixth pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and began what was supposed to be a long and promising NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks.

No, contrary to the rumors circulating in the basketball universe, he is not ready to retire. Far from it. He has not lost an ounce of the desire that he had the day he first set foot in the league. He is simply a veteran player whose career has taken enough twists and turns the last five years you’d need motion sickness medicine to survive it.

“It’s been a ride, a wild ride,” said Childress, who is three weeks away from finishing up his degree at Stanford while training vigorously in Palo Alto, Calif., and contemplating his next basketball move. “It’s not about the money for me. It’s about having an opportunity to get back out there and play the game at the highest level. That’s what is important to me.”

Childress is a free agent this summer, just another seasoned veteran looking for the right training-camp fit, the right place to show that he can still play a vital role for the right team in a mutually beneficial situation.

He’s just a month past his 30th birthday and is as healthy as ever, as athletic as ever, his basketball IQ remains off the charts and his body is fresh. After all, he’s played just 1,485 minutes in 102 games over the past three seasons with the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets. But he’s operating in a realm where the prevailing wisdom of the day changes like the wind. What’s hot today is ancient history tomorrow. Fall off the NBA radar long enough and you’ll fade into obscurity.

“I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been right now,” Childress said. “When I was with the Hawks it was a little different. I’d been there four years and really grown in that system. We all knew each other and knew each other’s tendencies. And I don’t think I’ve changed as a player since then. For a guy like me, it’s always been a matter of the right fit. My time in Phoenix … it just wasn’t the fit i thought it would be and they thought it would be. That’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s the way it is. You look around the league every year and guys are in situations that work and some that don’t, and a change of scenery changes everything.”

One choice alters career path

Childress made a drastic change in scenery five years ago, a move that altered the course of his career and carved out his place in NBA free-agent lore. He is far removed from that spotlight now, but five years ago he was in a much different space. He was dealing with the constraints of restricted free agency and a Hawks franchise that was in tumult as members of its ownership group were embroiled in a legal fight that overshadowed everything.

Childress’ unprecedented move to bolt for Greece and a groundbreaking contract with Euroleague power, Olympiacos, landed him a deal that would pay him the equivalent of $32.5 millions over three years. That deal dwarfed the five-year, $33 million the Hawks offered only after learning that the deal from Olympiacos was on the table and legitimate option for Childress.

He accepted Olympiacos’ offer — one that he could not refuse — and made a business decision no matter how controversial it might have seemed at the time. That decision, along with the five-year, $34 million deal he signed when the Hawks traded him to the Suns after he returned from his two-year stint in Greece, is one of the reasons his comeback story now isn’t about getting another lucrative pay-day.



That’s also what makes his current predicament so perplexing. In a league where money and championships serve as the ultimate motivators, in different order for different players at different times in their careers, Childress is someone decision-makers have had a hard time figuring out.

“We honestly haven’t seen enough of him the last couple of years to know what he’s got [left] and what’s driving him now,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “There’s no doubt he was a solid payer before he went to Europe. He was one of the best sixth-men in the league and on a team that was on the rise. I watched him a little bit when he was in Europe and he played well. He didn’t dominate necessarily, but he was solid. But since he came back [to the NBA] it’s been a mixed bag. The Suns were a mess when he was there and they ended up amnestying him. And he only played like 14 or 15 games with the Nets before they waived him. This is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, man. Everyone knows that.”

Childress was the victim of an ill fit, some poor timing and plain bad luck in his last two NBA stops.

Stats revolution affects Childress’ future

A broken ring finger on his shooting hand slowed him down in his first season with the Suns. He came back sooner than he probably should have, given his desire to prove himself after playing in Europe, and was in a system where wings were spot-up shooters and not the jacks-of-all-trades player Childress thrives at being.

He was on a non-guaranteed deal in Brooklyn was playing lights out in the preseason before a severely sprained ankle knocked him out of the rotation and opened the door for veteran Jerry Stackhouse, who promptly went on a shooting tear. Childress was slated to serve as Gerald Wallace‘s backup, but never got the chance. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to be in the Nets’ plans, he requested and was granted his release.

In the larger scope, Childress has also become a casualty of the analytics revolution that has swept through the league the past five years. High-percentage jump shooters who stretch the floor have become the new utility players who cash in most during free agency (see Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick this summer).

There’s always room for a pro’s pro on someone’s roster, a guy who does all of the dirty work and accepts that role. But now that guy needs to be a dead-eye shooter, too. And while Childress is a career 33 percent 3-point shooter (52 percent from the floor overall), he’ll never be confused for one of these shooting specialists.

But he knows there is always a place for the skills he has honed over the course of his career. He just needs the right setting to show it … again.

“You know it’s really training camp, just being able to show what I can do on the court,” he said. “You get on the court in that situation and do the little things I’ve always tried to do; hustling and rebounding, and all the stuff that helps my team win. More than anything, what I’d love is to get into a situation where I’m with somebody who actually believes in me and what I can bring to a team. I can’t say that I’ve had that lately.”

Fighting for one last chance

Between dispelling foolish rumors and having to remind executives that he was drafted ahead of guys like Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng and even his friend and former Hawks teammate, Josh Smith, for reason, this summer has been a trying process for Childress’ camp.

“Without question it’s frustrating,” said his agent, Chris Emens. “It’s frustrating that so many of the experts … it’s funny how quickly things change. Josh hasn’t changed as a person or a player since he got back from Greece. It’s almost mind-boggling to see him go from a guy worth $6 million a year to fighting for a contract. The thing I love is that Josh wants to fight for it. It’s really not about the money for him. It’s about pride and proving people wrong. I’ve never seen him with chip on his shoulder like this.”

That chip will rest squarely on that shoulder until training camp, wherever that might be. But it’ll be a slow-burn for the always measured Childress. He’s had offers to play elsewhere, overseas. Ironically enough, Olympiacos pursued him again, though it wasn’t an offer he couldn’t refuse this time.

He’s focused strictly on the NBA this time around in free agency.

“I’m patient,” Childress said. “I realize the situation that I’m in. I’ve had offers to go elsewhere. But I feel like I am a NBA player and I can still play at a high level. It’s a mater of getting in a situation where I can do that.”


Howard Made His Decision With A Smile!

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The smile looked genuine.

For the first time in nearly two years, Dwight Howard‘s smile looked like the real thing and not the forced teeth sucking he’s had to do with people and cameras in his face from Orlando to Los Angeles and all parts in between.

If it’s the new environment, as Howard was officially introduced as a member of the Houston Rockets earlier today, so be it. But something tells me he’d have worn that same smile anywhere, so long as it wasn’t Los Angeles.

Much has been made of his unhappiness while wearing a Lakers uniform, while playing alongside Kobe Bryant and for Mike D’Antoni. There is no need to rehash it now, not on the day that Howard finally looked relieved enough to crack that mile-wide smile of his for real.

For all of the people who have felt the need to smash Howard for the way he’s handled things, everything from the way he waffled his way out of Orlando to his unease during his season with the Lakers to his stint as the most coveted free agent since LeBron James leading up to The Decision, he deserves this moment. And I say that after having taken plenty of shots at Howard and his process myself.

But if Houston is where is the heart is and playing alongside James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, and for Kevin McHale, is what gets his juices flowing, then more power to him. NBA careers don’t last long enough for elite players to play under any extra stress.

Howard knows his championship clock is ticking after nine seasons in the league and just his one appearance in The Finals. He’s fully aware that his third stop has to produce some hardware or he’s in danger of wearing the label as a underachiever, something most of the great big men before him shed at one time or another during their playing days.

He’ll have all the resources you could ask for in Houston. General Manager Daryl Morey is an innovator and fearless. He’ll do whatever it takes to make sure Howard’s current surroundings are conducive to winning at the highest level. McHale has championship experience that should prove to be invaluable for a post player trying to refine his game and continue to hone his craft at this stage of his career. Harden is a budding star who will take on the late-game, big-shot pressure that Howard has struggled with throughout his career. And Parsons and Lin lead a supporting cast willing to do whatever is needed to make sure the Rockets’ biggest stars have a drama-free work environment.

It’s up to Howard now. He can’t blame his franchise, the front office, coach, teammates or anyone else for his shortcomings on the floor. The Rockets made a commitment to him that he must now reciprocate in the form of turning back the clock and playing the dominant force he was as recently as three years ago.

I know it seems like an eternity to some of you, but the man averaged 23 points, 14 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as recently as three years ago. We’re not talking about some fading star who’s seen his best days. Howard is just 27 and he’s only begun what should be the prime of his career.

He’s smiling because he knows that, because he realizes that this “fresh start” he’s getting in Houston could serve as the spark he needs to shake off the past two years and return to his rightful place as the best and most dominant big man in the league, not only in the eyes of a few, but in the eyes of everyone.

No words will convince the masses, though. Only actions will suffice.

That smile, the genuine one, is a start.

But it’s only the beginning.

The heavy lifting is on the way.


Signing Day: Free-Agent Moves And Trades Around The NBA Become Official



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Somebody has to go first.

Who is it going to be?

It’s only fitting that the first “official” transaction of the free agent summer of 2013 be Dwight Howard putting his John Hancock on that four-year, $88 million deal with the Houston Rockets. Or maybe it will be Chris Paul finally signing the five-year, $107 million deal he agreed to last week with the Los Angeles Clippers. Josh Smith putting pent to paper on that four-year, $56 million deal with the Detroit Pistons is a candidate as well, though, sometime Wednesday afternoon is more likely for that.

Those are the three biggest deals, to date, of the summer of 2013. And any one of them could be the first one to become official now that the league’s moratorium on free agent signings and trades has been lifted, as of 12:01 a.m ET.

But the guessing game is over for many of the players who have been waiting on this day. The salary cap figures for the 2013-14 season are set. And we’ll make sure you are updated on the latest, as these deals — which also includes that blockbuster trade that sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from Boston to Brooklyn — get the league’s official stamp of approval. (And, as our always-astute John Schuhmann points out, the KG/Pierce mega-deal likely won’t be consummated until Friday because little-used Nets forward Kris Joseph was signed on April 12 and can’t be traded for 3 months per CBA rules).

Keep checking back here all day Wednesday as deals start becoming official …

11:46 p.m. ET

REPORT: BUCKS READYING OFFER SHEET FOR HAWKS’ TEAGUE

Might there be an end in sight to the point guard drama involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Hawks restricted free agent Jeff Teague? There could be as the first 24 hours of signing day comes to an end. (You knew we were going to finish up the first day with a little drama, what with so much of the “official” business still being sorted out.)

While this is hardly a done deal, what with all of the confusing signals that have gone back and forth about potential swapping of restricted free agent point guards Teague and Brandon Jennings, as well as unrestricted free agent guard Monta Ellis, the Bucks are reportedly set to scramble all those other plans and present Teague with a four-year, $32 million-plus offer sheet.

If Teague does indeed sign an offer sheet from the Bucks, the Hawks would have three days to either match the offer or watch him head to Milwaukee and play for his former coach with the Hawks, Larry Drew.

8:49 p.m. ET

BYNUM TO THE CAVALIERS 

Andrew Bynum wasn’t about to be left out of the free agent big man parade, not with a two-year offer on the table from the Cleveland Cavaliers. With only $6 million of the incentive-filled deal guaranteed the Cavaliers, Bynum had to take advantage of the opportunity that isn’t nearly as risky as it appeared to be Tuesday, when ESPN.com first reported that he was considering the Cavaliers’ offer. TNT’s David Aldridge provides some details and perspective:

Bynum agreed Wednesday to sign with the Cavaliers on a two-year deal worth $24 million. But that $24 million, really, is just $6 million in guaranteed money for next season. The other half of Bynum’s salary next season would come if he reaches certain incentives. The Cavaliers have a club option for the second and final year of the deal.

The deal is a small gamble for the Cavs, who continue to rebuild their team in an orderly manner. They had already added first overall Draft pick Anthony Bennett, former Warriors combo guard Jarrett Jack and ex-Laker big man Earl Clark since June to a core that includes guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, forward Tristan Thompson and centers Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller.

Now they add Bynum, whose abilities when healthy are unquestioned. The 25-year-old center averaged 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in 2011-12 with the Lakers, his final season in L.A., and looked to be one of the game’s best young big men.

But knee injuries have plagued Bynum throughout his career, and kept him from logging a single game with the Philadelphia 76ers last season after being part of the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers, Andre Iguodala from the Sixers to the Nuggets and several young players and Draft picks to the Orlando Magic.

Bynum, according to sources, is still not able to participate in full-court drills. But the Cavs don’t need Bynum next season. They have the veteran Varejao, recovering from a blood clot that ended his season last January, and Zeller, the second-year center from North Carolina.

So many of the Cavaliers’ main players are in the process of trying to recover from injuries that it’s difficult to identify exactly who or what they might be come training camp. But there is no denying they are a talented bunch with the potential to compete for a playoff spot, provided the key members of their core group get healthy in time for the start of the 2013-14 season and stay that way for as long as possible.

Toss in Bynum at anything close to his best, and the chances of them making some playoff noise go up dramatically.

6:37 p.m. ET

REVISED NUMBERS ON SMITH DEAL WITH PISTONS …

Josh Smith signed a four-year, $54 million deal with the Pistons and not the $56 million figure previously reported here and elsewhere, a source with knowledge of the deal has confirmed to NBA.com.

The dollar amount, however, was only part of what sold Smith on the Pistons, who have already put him front and center on the team’s website. The other was a convincing sales pitch from Hall of Famer and Pistons boss Joe Dumars.

“When I first met with Joe, he had me sold from the word ‘go,’ ” Smith said during his introductory presser Wednesday afternoon. “This is an organization that is a successful organization. I’ve always wanted to be part of a good organization that has a lot of die-hard fans.”

4:12 p.m. ET

CLIPPERS PRESENT FAMILIAR AND FRESH FACES

Everything the Clippers do these days seems to be big-time, and that includes introducing all of the players they signed and/or traded for this summer. And that includes Matt Barnes, Darren Collison, Jared DudleyRyan Hollins, CP3 and J.J. Redick flanking Doc Rivers and the rest of the Clippers’ brain trust:

3:33 p.m. ET

BOBCATS AMNESTY THOMAS

Tyrus Thomas will not be a part of whatever the Charlotte Bobcats do this season or beyond. They have requested waivers on the seven-year veteran and plan on using the one-time amnesty provision on him. That allows the Bobcats to wave him and not have his salary count against their salary cap or luxury tax figures.

2:46 p.m. ET

PACERS KEEP WEST IN THE FOLD
Perhaps no player over the last two seasons has done more to help a team’s on-court and locker room culture than the Pacers’ David West. Since he came aboard before the 2011-12 season, Indiana has returned to its glory days of the mid-1990s with long playoff runs, Central Division relevancy and legitimate contender status in the East.

West got a reported deal from the Pacers early in free agency as he was one of, if not their primary, target. Pacers.com has details on the move, which keeps West with Indiana as it tries to make a run to The Finals:

The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday they have re-signed veteran free agent and two-time NBA All-Star David West to a contract. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not released.

West, 6-9, 240 lbs, is a 10-year veteran who has played the last two seasons with the Pacers, averaging 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in 139 games. Prior to his time with the Pacers, West had played his entire NBA career with the New Orleans Hornets. He has career averages of 16.1 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game.

“We said when the season ended, bringing David back was our No. 1 priority and we are very pleased to have him back,” said Larry Bird, Pacers President of Basketball Operations. “He is a leader, he is a professional, he is a great competitor and he is the type of player and person you want on your team if you hope to be successful.”

West played in two All-Star games in 2008 and ’09. Those two seasons, he averaged 20.6 ppg and 8.9 rpg and 21 ppg and 8.5 rpg, respectively.

“You can watch David play and appreciate him, but to coach him and see what he brings to our team on a daily basis really enhances that appreciation,” said Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel. “There aren’t many players like him in the NBA and to have him back on our team is very important for what we hope to accomplish.”

2:33 p.m. ET

LAKERS RE-SIGN FREE-AGENT CENTER (SORRY, IT’S NOT DWIGHT)
Sorry to get your hopes up there, Lakers fans, but Dwight Howard still is Houston-bound. But, at least Lakers fans will get to enjoy the sideline antics and celebrations of backup center Robert Sacre for another season! Lakers.com has more on the return of the towel-waving big man:

The Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed Robert Sacre, it was announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Sacre, a 7-foot center out of Gonzaga University, was selected by the Lakers in the second round (60th overall) of the 2012 NBA draft. In 32 games (three starts) with the Lakers last season, he averaged 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds in 6.3 minutes. Sacre also spent time with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Development league during his rookie campaign, appearing in eight games and posting averages of 11.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.33 blocks in 32.8 minutes.

At Gonzaga, Sacre finished his career with the Bulldogs ranked second in school history with 186 blocked shots while averaging 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.38 blocks in 135 games. As a senior, Sacre was named the 2012 WCC Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-WCC First-Team honoree while averaging 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.42 blocks in 26.3 minutes.

1:44 p.m. ET

JEFFERSON HEADS EAST, JOINS BOBCATS
Al Jefferson spent his first three seasons with the Celtics before being the lynchpin (for Minnesota, at least) in the deal that sent Kevin Garnett to Boston. After three seasons with the Wolves and the last four with the Jazz, Jefferson is going back to the Eastern Conference on the heels of him signing a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats.

It’s a move that surprised many in the early stages of the offseason given the reported amount Charlotte would pay Jefferson and how it might help reverse the fortunes of a franchise that has often been stuck in hard times. Jefferson joins a youthful frontcourt that features Bismack Biyombo and some veteran bigs (such as Brendan Haywood):

Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has signed free agent center Al Jefferson. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are ecstatic to add Al to our roster,” Higgins said. “He gives us a low post presence that we have not had on our roster and brings a skill set that does not become available very often. He is a veteran leader who helps his teammates get better, but at the same time he is only 28 years old so he can be part of the core of this franchise for several years to come.”

The 15th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, the 6-10 Jefferson has played in 628 games for the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz during his nine-year career. He has career averages of 16.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 blocks in 30.6 minutes, while shooting .500 from the field.

Jefferson is one of only two players in the NBA to have averaged at least 17.0 points and at least 9.0 rebounds in each of the last six seasons, joining Dwight Howard in doing so. No other player has posted those averages in more than four of the last six campaigns.

1:37 p.m. ET

WIZARDS ADD MAYNOR, RE-SIGN TEMPLEIn our breakdown of teams most likely to crack the playoff party next season, the Washington Wizards were our surprise pick to be postseason bound (with the No. 6 seed, no less!). Part of that comes with the assumption that John Wall plays a full season — a hope that will be helped immensely by Washington’s signing of capable backup Eric Maynor.

Maynor made his name as Russell Westbrook‘s backup for 2 1/2 seasons before getting injured and losing his job to Reggie Jackson. The Thunder moved Maynor at the trade deadline last season to Portland, where he again was a solid backup, this time to Rookie of the Year winner Damian Lillard. The Wizards have more on the addition of Maynor on a day where they also re-signed defensive stopper Garrett Temple:

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed guard Eric Maynor. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

“Eric is a solid player who has thrived playing behind some of the league’s best point guards,” said Grunfeld. “He will bring stability and experience in that role and add leadership and character off the floor.”

Maynor averaged 4.5 points and 2.8 assists in 64 overall games with Oklahoma City and Portland last season, including 6.9 points and 4.0 assists in 27 game after being traded to the Trail Blazers.

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has re-signed guard Garrett Temple. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

“Garrett was a good addition to our backcourt rotation last season and we are happy to have him back to give us depth at both guard positions,” said Grunfeld. “His defensive ability, toughness and team-first attitude make him an excellent fit in our system and provide a great example of the culture we are building.”

1:14 p.m. ET

PISTONS SIGN VERSATILE SMITH
This isn’t a big surprise to anyone — particularly after the Atlanta Hawks announced the signing of Paul Millsap two hours earlier — but Josh Smith is officially a member of the Pistons. Smith leaves behind the only NBA team he’s ever known (as well as his hometown of Atlanta) to venture off to the Motor City to play along side young big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed free agent forward Josh Smith to a multi-year contract. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We’re pleased to welcome Josh Smith to the Pistons organization,” Dumars said. “Josh is a two-way player and we look forward to blending his talents with our young core.”

12:08 p.m. ET

KNICKS, RAPTORS COMPLETE SWAP
As our own John Schuhmann pointed out a few weeks ago, the Raptors’ proposed trade that would send Andrea Bargnani (and his large contract) to New York proved that no player is untradeable. That is apparently true as the Knicks and Raptors officially signed off on the deal that breaks down as follows:

New York receives Bargnani while the Raptors get Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, Steve Novak, a 2016 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2014 and 2017.

11:48 a.m. ET

TRAIL BLAZERS SIGN WRIGHT
Portland owner Paul Allen took to Twitter to announce the signing of Dorell Wright and rookie Allen Crabbe, not to mention the completion of the trade that will bring second-year power forward Thomas Robinson to the Pacific Northwest.

It’s been an interesting offseason, so far, for the Trail Blazers, as they attempt to escape from the Western Conference cellar and move back into the playoff mix. It remains to be seen if their offseason moves will produce the kind of results they desire.

11:23 a.m. ET

HAWKS PICK UP MILLSAP
According to Hawks GM Danny Ferry, ex-Jazz forward Paul Millsap “got the call at 12:01 (a.m. on July 1)” to gauge his interest in coming to the team. Millsap, who was born in Monroe, La., and went to Louisiana Tech, is back in the South again after signing his contract with the Hawks on Wednesday morning.

Millsap, 28, averaged 14.6 points on .490 shooting, 7.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 30.4 minutes per game in 78 starts with the Jazz last season. He is expected to help fill the void in the lineup by Josh Smith, who is reportedly headed to the Detroit Pistons. The Hawks have more in a team release:

The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Paul Millsap, President of Basketball Operations/GM Danny Ferry announced today. Per club policy, terms were not disclosed.

The 6-foot-8, 253-pound forward has career averages of 12.4 points on .516 shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 27.4 minutes per game in 540 games (265 starts) and has recorded 107 double-doubles. A native of Louisiana, Millsap played collegiately at Louisiana Tech where he became the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in rebounding in three consecutive seasons.

“Paul was one of our top priorities entering the free agency process and we believe he is a great fit with the team and culture that we are trying to build,” Ferry said. “He is a high-character individual and his toughness, high basketball IQ, and selflessness will add to our locker room and give us versatility on the court.”

10:30 a.m. ET

KNICKS RE-SIGN PRIGIONI
Pablo Prigioni made a lasting impression on New York as a 36-year-old rookie with his passing skills and playmaking. While he was mostly a reserve for New York in his first season, Prigioni moved into the starting lineup down the stretch and the Knicks took off, going 16-2 with Prigioni among the first five.

That productivity helped lead the Knicks to re-sign the point guard to a deal, the terms of which were undisclosed by the team. The team released the following statement Wednesday morning:

New York Knickerbockers Executive Vice President and General Manager Glen Grunwald announced today that the team has re-signed guard Pablo Prigioni to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Prigioni, 6-3, 185-pounds, was the first Argentine-born player in Knicks history and made his NBA debut at age 35 after signing as a free agent on Jul. 24, 2012. He averaged 3.5 points, 3.0 assists and 1.8 rebounds over 16.2 minutes in 78 games (18 starts) this past season and was inserted into the Knicks starting lineup on Mar. 18 to help lead the team to the franchise’s third-longest winning streak of 13. In 11 postseason games (10 starts), Prigioni averaged 4.5 points, 3.2 assists and 1.27 steals over 20.9 minutes.

“We are very excited to have Pablo back in a Knicks uniform. He is one of our catalysts on both the offensive and defensive end,” Grunwald said. “His tenacity, leadership and experience played an integral role in our team’s success down the stretch, and into the postseason.”

1:08 a.m. ET

BULLS CONFIRM DUNLEAVY DEAL
The Bulls add some depth to a bench crew that did a lot of heavy lifting last season by confirming the signing of veteran swingman Mike Dunleavy. The 11-year pro has become a vital reserve throughout his career, which has included stops with the Warriors, Pacers, Bucks and now, Bulls. As our own John Schuhmann pointed out yesterday, Chicago should be getting a lot of 3-point bang for the buck as Dunleavy is a significant upgrade in the shooting department.

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12:20 a.m. ET

PAUL WASTES NO TIME RE-SIGNING
And the first man to put pen to paper is … CP3 (with Lil’ Chris keeping a watchful eye over the proceedings)! According to the Clippers’ web site, Paul inked his deal almost immediately once 12:01 a.m. ET (9:01 L.A.-time) passed and will be sticking with the Clippers through the 2017-18 season.

2013-14 NBA Salary Cap Figure Set at $58.679 Million

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The new numbers are out.

The NBA revealed its new Salary Cap figure for the 2013-14 season, which will be $58.679 million. The tax level for the season has been set at $71.748 million.

Those are slight increases from the 2012-13 numbers of 58.044 for the Salary Cap and 70.307 for the tax level, respectively. The new figures go into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. ET. That is also when the league’s “moratorium period” ends and teams can begin signing free agents and making trades.

The minimum team salary, which is set at 90 percent of the Salary Cap, an increase from the 85 percent from last season, is $52.811 million. Teams will have to spend that figure of the cap figure on player salaries starting this season.

As expected there are new tax rates for the incremental spending above the tax level, with the league having done away with the previous $1 for $1 tax of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new tax rate schedule:

  • Portion of team salary $0-$4.99 million over tax level:          $1.50 for $1
  • Portion of team salary $5-$9.99 million over tax level:          $1.75 for $1
  • Portion of team salary $10-$14.99 million over tax level:      $2.50 for $1
  • Portion of team salary $15-$19.99 million over tax level:      $3.25 for $1
  • Rates increase by $0.50 for each additional $5 million of team salary above the tax level.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for three different mid-level exceptions depending on a team’s salary level.   The non-taxpayer mid-level for this season is $5.15 million, the taxpayer mid-level is $3.183 million and the mid-level for a team with room under the Salary Cap is $2.652 million.

Open For Business On Free-Agent Sunday



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – There are still potentially two big fish available in a shrinking free-agent summer pond. And while Sunday saw no concrete offers for either Andrew Bynum or Monta Ellis, the general sentiment is that things could change dramatically at either time for one, if not, both of them.

The Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets are reportedly interested in acquiring Ellis, who can slide into a specific role in either location. The Hawks need to restock their ranks with impact players and Ellis, a legitimate 20-point scorer, could add immediate punch at shooting guard. Denver has a hole to fill where Andre Iguodala worked last season and Ellis could also be a fit there.

The market for Bynum’s services seems to have taken a familiar turn in this wild free-agent summer, and that’s to Texas, where the Dallas Mavericks are looking for a frontcourt anchor to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. They had their sights on Dwight Howard, of course, but since that didn’t work out they’ve had to work down their list. Now Bynum appears to be in their sights, though they are cautious about his knees, as any team would be at this point.

That said, some folks believe a surprise team could win the Bynum sweepstakes.

This one could get really interesting before it’s all over.

Making things even more intriguing is what will happen with incumbent Rockets center Omer Asik, who reportedly wants no part of playing behind Howard and has asked to be traded. The Rockets have no intention of trading him, according to ESPN.com, making for an extremely intriguing next few days for any team desperate for a center.

Free agency is only a week old but there are already tons of wrinkles. As for the other business that went down Sunday, here are some of the highlights:

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Free Agent Tracker

What Is Dwight’s Motivation?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve read for weeks now about the pros and cons of the franchises pursuing Dwight Howard in free agency.

His best chance to win a championship is with an up-and-coming outfit in Houston or even Golden State. He can earn more money if he sticks with Los Angeles and the Lakers. He’ll be most comfortable on the court in Atlanta with the hometown Hawks. He won’t play with a better partner in crime than Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas.

All of that is just theory, blind stabs in the free-agent dark as we await Howard’s final decision on where he will commit to playing the next four or five years of his career (a revelation that could come as soon as this afternoon). You can assign different attributes to each franchise, with the Lakers’ being able to offer an extra year and that extra cash being the only static variable on the list.

But what are Howard’s real goals? What’s his true motivation for dragging the world through this exhausting process? Does he rank championships above all things? Is it his legacy, the money, reclaiming his good reputation, the fame and all of the things he’s lost since forcing his way out of Orlando and into his current predicament?

His reason for leaving the Magic kingdom created for him in Orlando, where he seemed to have absolutely everything a superstar in pursuit of the ultimate glory could ask for, was the chance to seek his championship destiny in a place of his own choosing. He’d somehow grown tired of his surroundings — the new arena, a city filled with fans who adored him and applauded his every move on and off the court. The folks inside of the Magic organization tried to move heaven and earth to appease him, they even fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, only to find out his heart simply wasn’t in Orlando.

Howard is still searching for the right fit, for inspiration. And it’s unclear if he’s going to find what he’s looking for among his current list of suitors.

It’s hard for Howard to get any more famous (or infamous, for some) than he already is. And he didn’t need Los Angeles or the Lakers to get there. He topped the list in All-Star votes two years ago, when he was still in Orlando and All-Star weekend was in his backyard. That wasn’t enough to convince him to stay.

His quality of life wherever he goes will be high. A multi-millionaire many times over already, life tends to be good for rich folks in all of his possible destinations. (Go ahead and rank the cities in any way you want, but ask yourself where you’d like to live and work with a new $89 million to $118 million contract to work with for the next four or five years.)

If he’s concerned strictly about championships, the Lakers are the one franchise on his list with a sustained history of not only competing for but winning championships. Would he have to play under a coach (Mike D’Antoni) he doesn’t vibe with and with another star (Kobe Bryant) who scolds him more than he’d like? Sure. But he wouldn’t be the first superstar to work under those sort of conditions. Besides, a little bit of external pressure might be good for Howard. It might push him in ways that no coach or teammates have previously.

The possibilities of Howard teaming up with James Harden and coach Kevin McHale in Houston or with Steph Curry and coach Mark Jackson in Oakland are endless. With two stars and a coach the caliber both of those options bring, with only the supporting cast needing to be sorted out, big things would certainly appear to be on the horizon. If the Rockets were to land Howard and his pre-school classmate, Josh Smith, that would instantly vault the Rockets into the championship conversation in the Western Conference. But neither franchise has sniffed championship-level play in the past decade. So any gamble Howard makes on either one of these options is little more than playing a hunch that things will turn out well because they look good on paper … the same way they did last summer when the Lakers started planning parades after snagging Howard and Steve Nash.

Teaming up with Nowitzki in Dallas makes all kinds of sense, if you’re the Mavericks. Dirk is still in top form at this stage of his career and has thrived with a dominant defensive big man (Tyson Chandler) and a solid supporting cast around him. The Mavericks have also stared down the reigning league kingpins in Miami, having beaten back LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in The Finals in 2011. If a championship blueprint is what Howard is looking for, the Mavericks have the freshest one.

Howard’s hometown team has little to offer in the way of championship culture or infrastructure. They barely have enough players under contract right now to field a 3-on-3 team. So the appeal there would have to be strictly emotional and hinge on Howard being instrumental in helping craft the Hawks’ championship plans.

So in the end, we come right back to that same vexing question that has hung over Howard for the last 18 months.

What’s his motivation?

We won’t know the real answer until he makes his choice … which could be any minute now.