7/1/2005 Insider - What should your team do?

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Updated: July 1, 2005, 7:40 PM ET

Free agent watch: What should your team do?




By Chad Ford


NBA fans, whet your appetites. The free-agent feeding frenzy has begun.

Starting at midnight on Friday, teams could finally pursue free agents. Here's what we're hearing so far:

The Clippers are making a big push to bring Ray Allen to L.A. With talks still rocky between Allen and the Sonics, the Clippers could be his final destination once the process works itself out. If the Clippers could pull it off, they would be serious playoff contenders next season.

The Knicks also are trying to make a splash by making a move for Kwame Brown. The Cavs have Michael Redd atop their list.

Insider made a plethora of phone calls Thursday to get you the very latest on what your team is doing in free agency. A few quick pointers before you get into the full list.

The salary cap this year is expected to come in between $48 and $51 million. For purposes of this article, we've split the difference and used an estimated $49.5 million figure.

Teams that are under the cap can sign players up to the cap. Teams over the cap must use a cap exception to sign free agents. Among the most popular are the Larry Bird exception (which allows a team to go over the cap to re-sign their own free agents as long as they've been under contract for three consecutive years) and the mid-level exception (which gives teams a $5 million cap exception to sign players).

Teams are allowed to negotiate with free agents, but aren't allowed to sign them officially until July 22. That means that all deals are done in principle only until July 22. Players also cannot be traded during the 22-day moratorium.

Under the new collective-bargaining agreement rules, teams now have seven days to match any offers for restricted free agents. Previously it was 15 days. This rule change should encourage teams to make offers to restricted free agents.

A new luxury tax amnesty rule will go into effect July 22. Teams will have until Oct. 1 to release one player from their roster. They still have to pay the player their full salary, but the salary won't count against their cap for luxury-tax purposes. For teams that have very high payrolls, it could free them up to be aggressive in the market. It also means that players like Michael Finley, Allan Houston and Jalen Rose could be on the free-agent market as early as late July. Some teams may choose to wait to spend their money until they see who is available.



Key: (R) = Restricted free agent



ATLANTA HAWKS Players they might lose: Tyronn LuePlayers they might pursue: Samuel Dalembert (R), Tyson Chandler (R), Eddy Curry (R), Kwame Brown, Stromile Swift, Ray Allen, Earl Watson, Marko Jaric (R)

Current cap position: $24.8 million ($24.7 million under the cap)

Analysis: For the second straight year, the Hawks have a ton of cash to spend. But will anyone take it?

They desperately need help at both the point guard and center positions. Look for them to make a huge offer to Dalembert, Chandler or Curry -- whichever they believe has the smallest chance of being matched. Sources claim that they contacted Dalembert on Friday, but not Chandler or Curry. They also might use Al Harrington as trade bait for a potential sign-and-trade for Curry.

Brown will be an interesting play for the Hawks too. The Wizards won't be willing to spend much to re-sign him, making him an attractive restricted free agent if they're willing to gamble. The Georgia native is only 23 years old and desperately needs a change of scenery. Atlanta appears to be the perfect place for him to land.

Swift is an unrestricted free agent, so he's a safer bet to help fill out the Hawks' need at the four.

Ray Allen's agent claims the Hawks also like his guy, but given that teams like the Clippers, Sonics and possibly the Cavs will go after him, why would he sign in Atlanta? Still, sources say Allen got a call from the Hawks on Friday.

The point-guard pickings are pretty slim, which is why I'm a little surprised they didn't go that route in the draft. Watson is the primary target and is a good fit in the up-and-down style the Hawks want to play. However, I think Jaric would be a better pick for Atlanta.



BOSTON CELTICS Players they might lose: Gary Payton, Antoine WalkerPlayers they might pursue: Stromile Swift, Earl Watson, Marko Jaric (R), Sarunas Jasikevicius, Ronald Murray (R)

Current cap position: $49.3 million ($198,799 under the cap)

Analysis: The good news is that, with the tax savings built into the new rules, Danny Ainge will be allowed to spend the C's full mid-level exception this year. The bad news is that the free-agent point-guard class isn't great and Ainge has made no secret about his desire to add a point guard to this squad. It's unlikely that Payton will return and though the team likes their two young pseudo-points -- Delonte West and, to a lesser extent, Marcus Banks -- they know they need someone with more experience running the show.

Watson is probably the best fit for the style that Ainge wants to play, but Ainge is going to have competition from a number of other teams for Watson's services.

The Celtics also need another big man, especially if they're not bringing back Walker. Swift also could be an interesting pick. The Celtics still need athletes at the four and five positions and Swift is near the top of the heap. But he may command more cash than the Celtics have to offer.

If nothing materializes soon, don't be surprised if Ainge starts trading guys to keep upgrading his squad.



CHARLOTTE BOBCATS Players they might lose: Gerald Wallace (R), Brevin Knight, Kareem Rush, Jason Kapono (R)Players they might pursue: Joe Johnson (R), Bobby Simmons, Vladimir Radmanovic (R), Ronald Murray (R)

Current cap position: $25.2 million ($12.1 million under the cap -- because the Bobcats only have 75 percent of the regular cap this year)

Analysis: The Bobcats have a ton of cash to spend and have only six players under contract for next season. Look for them to make a strong effort to retain Wallace, Knight and Kapono in free agency. After that it's anyone's guess.

The plan has been to continue to be bad for one more year, earn one more high draft pick and then use the cap room in 2006. However, if I were Bernie Bickerstaff, I'd be tempted to make an offer to a young player like Johnson, Simmons or Radmanovic. Any of the three would fill a need and would be young enough to grow with the team. If nothing pans out, they will wait till next year. I also wouldn't be surprised if they make a smaller run at Murray. He's an intriguing combo guard that shouldn't take much to pry out of Seattle's hands.



CHICAGO BULLS Players they might lose: Tyson Chandler (R), Eddy Curry (R), Chris Duhon (R), Othella HarringtonPlayers they might pursue: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Donyell Marshall, Udonis Haslem, Bobby Simmons, Marko Jaric (R), Toni Kukoc

Current cap position: $35.6 million ($13.8 million under the cap)

Analysis: In 2001, the Bulls drafted Chandler and Curry, the two pillars in Jerry Krause's misguided quest to rebuild MJ's Bulls. Four years later, they still aren't sure exactly what they have. They know enough to know that they'd prefer not to lose either at this juncture in their careers. But they also know enough to know that both guys are still big risks at this point.

If the Bulls re-sign both, their free agent money will dry up. Of the two, Chandler is the most likely to get a big contract offer from the Bulls (and from lots of other teams).

Curry, with his heart problems, both literally and metaphorically, is on shakier ground. If the Bulls decide not to re-sign Curry, they still wouldn't be that far under the cap, which means they could try to do a sign-and-trade.

No one expects them to be too busy on the free-agent market. The two guys to keep an eye out for are Abdur-Rahim and Marshall. The Bulls want a veteran four, especially if Curry bolts town and they have to move Chandler to the five. Abdur-Rahim is the best on the board that might be willing to take the mid-level exception. Abdur-Rahim, however, seems to be leaning toward the Nets. The Bulls loved Marshall the last time they had him and think he'd add some veteran toughness to their front line. Haslem is a lower cost option that has the type of work ethic that GM John Paxson loves.

The Bulls could also use some veteran size in the backcourt. They're huge fans of Simmons, but know he's probably out of their price range unless the Clippers sign Allen and no longer have room for him. They're also big fans of Jaric who would give them versatility, experience and size in the backcourt. The team also wants to re-sign Duhon.



CLEVELAND CAVALIERS Players they might lose: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jeff McInnis, Dajuan Wagner, DeSagana Diop (R)Players they might pursue: Michael Redd, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson (R), Tyson Chandler (R), Samuel Dalembert (R), Bobby Simmons, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Vladimir Radmanovic (R), Marko Jaric (R), Antonio Daniels, Sarunas Jasikevicius

Current cap position: $23.2 million ($26.3 million under the cap)

Analysis: The Cavs have more cap room than any other team in the league. What will they do with it?

New GM Danny Ferry is a fan of Ilgauskas and plans on throwing some of that cash his way. Expect $10 million to $12 million to be used on Z.

How they spend the rest will be interesting. No one is sold on Drew Gooden and the Cavs have already called Chandler and Dalembert. Abdur-Rahim is another possibility.

Most expect them to spend the rest of the money upgrading their backcourt. Redd has been a target for six months, but it sounds like he's returning to Milwaukee. Allen would help immediately, but given his age, he might not be the best fit. Johnson would be perfect, but the Suns sound adamant that they're matching any offer. If all of that falls through, expect them to carve up the money in smaller amounts. Simmons is a nice all-around fit next to James. Radmanovic is a more affordable shooter, and a veteran like Daniels, Jaric or Jasikevicius would be a nice upgrade at the point.



DALLAS MAVERICKS Players they might lose: Darrell Armstrong, Alan HendersonPlayers they might pursue: Stromile Swift, Kwame Brown (R), Jerome James, Dan Gadzuric (R), Zaza Pachulia (R), Reggie Evans (R), Sarunas Jasikevicius, Arvydas Macijauskas, Kyle Korver (R)

Current cap position: $87.6 million ($38.1 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Mavs have their mid-level exception to spend and will likely use it. That's based in part on Shawn Bradley's pending retirement and the possibility of waiving Michael Finley and getting some major luxury tax relief in the summer.

The team has two big needs. They need more veteran size at the four and five. Swift would be the ideal fit -- an athletic shot blocker who runs the floor, but he might be out of the Mavs' price range. Brown is a bigger risk, but he may be more affordable via a sign-and-trade with the Wizards.

A player like James, Gadzuric or Pachulia would be a nice addition and backup for Erick Dampier. Evans is a fantastic rebounder who could help on the boards.

They also could use a lights-out shooter in the backcourt, especially if Finley is waived. Macijauskas is the best long-range shooter in Europe and a guy Donnie Nelson Jr. (who coaches the Lithuanian national team) knows well. They could also make a run at Korver, one of the best shooters in the NBA last season.

And don't rule out Jasikevicius. He's another tough Lithuanian that the Mavs have coveted for some time. They still have needs at the point and no one in free agency is tougher or more experienced than Jasikevicius, who has won three straight Euroleague titles.



DENVER NUGGETS Players they might lose: Greg Buckner, DerMarr JohnsonPlayers they might pursue: Michael Redd, Joe Johnson (R), Bobby Simmons, Keyon Dooling, Ronald Murray (R), Arvydas Macijauskas, Travis Hansen

Current cap position: $44.4 million ($5.1 million under the cap)

Analysis: The Nuggets seriously miscalculated their cap position for this summer at the trade deadline when they traded for Eduardo Najera. Had they not made that trade, they would've been looking at between $7 million and $9 million in cap room. Instead, they just have around $3.5 million, no more than the mid-level exception that every team in the league has.

It will cost them in their pursuit of their biggest need, a sharpshooter in the backcourt. If they want guys like Redd or Johnson, they're going to have figure out a way to do a sign-and-trade (perhaps using Nene as bait) or pick up a guy like Michael Finley from the NBA amnesty program that allows each team to waive one player.

On the cheaper end are guys like Dooling, who started to impress some scouts this year with his play in Miami. Dooling is a combo guard that could be a good fit in Denver. Ditto for Murray, who had a breakout year two seasons ago while Ray Allen was on the injured list.

Macijauskas is more affordable and a good, veteran fit on the team. He played in the Euroleague Final Four this year and has rare experience for someone so young.

Hansen, the former BYU star, was on the same team with Macijauskas and at times looked like the better NBA prospect because of his superior athleticism.



DETROIT PISTONS Players they might lose: Ronald Dupree, Elden Campbell, Darvin HamPlayers they might pursue: Michael Finley, Bobby Simmons, Bonzi Wells, Gerald Wallace (R), James Jones (R)

Current cap position: $53.8 million ($4.3 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Pistons are just looking for depth at this point. Their top six players are rock solid and they're looking for another Antonio McDyess-type player who can give them something off the bench. If Michael Finley gets waived in the NBA's new amnesty program, they will be very interested. If not, an all-around player like Simmons or a local guy like Wells could give them some scoring punch immediately. Jones, who had a few shining moments for the Pacers this year, would make sense as well.



GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS Players they might lose: Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Rodney WhitePlayers they might pursue: ?

Current cap position: $55.8 million ($6.3 million over the cap)

Analysis: By my count the Warriors now have 14 players under contract (including their three first rounders on Tuesday night) and don't have a lot of gaps to fill. They're two deep at every position and the franchise is in the best shape it's been in a decade. After a few early hiccups (hopefully he'll waive Foyle or Fischer in the amnesty program) everything Chris Mullin has touched is turning to gold. Their great draft really absolves them from making a big run at anyone.



HOUSTON ROCKETS Players they might lose: Jon Barry, Dikembe MutomboPlayers they might pursue: Marko Jaric (R), Stromile Swift, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Donyell Marshall, Reggie Evans (R), Jay Williams

Current cap position: $53.9 million ($4.4 million over the cap)

Analysis: The team is getting pretty deep in the backcourt with the addition of Luther Head in the draft (and the possibility of bringing over last year's second-round pick Vasilis Spanoulis, who had a great year in Europe), but that might not stop them from going after a point guard in free agency. They like Jaric a lot and because of his versatility could easily play him alongside Head in the backcourt.

More intriguing is their interest in Williams, who has just begun playing five-on-five. If he continues to show improvement, he could be in training camp this year. Williams' agent also represents Yao Ming, which is why there might be a connection here.

The Rockets also need more size and toughness up front. Swift is athletic and a good shot blocker. Abdur-Rahim is talented, but may be too much of a Juwan Howard duplication. Marshall is an old standby who doesn't out-jump anyone anymore, but has strung together a couple of impressive seasons of late. Evans is a beast of a rebounder, something the Rockets desperately need on their front line.



INDIANA PACERS Players they might lose: Dale Davis, James Jones (R)Players they might pursue: Sarunas Jasikevicius, Dan Dickau, Zaza Pachulia (R)

Current cap position: $74.3 million ($24.8 million over the cap)

Analysis: The team is trying to figure out a way to hang onto Jones, but are worried the Pistons or Spurs might steal him away. They also want to bring back Davis if they can. The Pacers have made no secret about their passion for Jasikevicius. The question is whether they can afford to offer him the type of contract it's going to take to get the star point guard from Maccabi Tel Aviv to leave Europe for the NBA.

If they can't, Dickau would be a strong backup. Pachulia is a guy the Pacers have always liked who could add some depth to their front line.



LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS Players they might lose: Marko Jaric (R), Kerry Kittles, Zeljko Rebraca, Bobby SimmonsPlayers they might pursue: Ray Allen, Michael Redd, Larry Hughes, Joe Johnson (R)

Current cap position: $33.1 million ($16.3 million under the cap)

Analysis: The Clippers are going to swing for the fences and try to get the one true All-Star in this free-agent class. Allen fits a need and would propel them into heights never experienced by Donald Sterling. According to sources, Sterling has OK'd the move even if it costs him upwards of $75 million to sign him. Will Allen reciprocate?

If they can't get him, they may make a move for Redd, Hughes or Johnson or just stick to re-signing their own free agents. Simmons is a priority as long as the bidding war doesn't get out of control. Jaric isn't as high on the list. He wants to play point guard and that's not happening in L.A. Look for the Clips to work out a sign-and-trade for him this summer.



LOS ANGELES LAKERS Players they might lose: Luke Walton (R)Players they might pursue: Donyell Marshall, Antonio Daniels, Tyronn Lue

Current cap position: $69.7 million ($20.2 million over the cap)

Analysis: If the Lakers are going to make radical changes this summer, they're going to have to make them via trade. Their lottery pick, Andrew Bynum, won't be ready for a few years. They have only the mid-level exception to work with in free agency.

A forward like Marshall is a possibility, but the real need is at point guard. Daniels is the type of big, tough point guard who will stick to the system. Lue is a super quick guard who thrived in L.A. during his last stint.



MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES Players they might lose: Stromile Swift, Earl Watson, Bonzi WellsPlayers they might pursue: Marko Jaric (R), Jerome James, Dan Gadzuric (R)

Current cap position: $56.7 million ($7.1 million over the cap)

Analysis: The problem for Memphis right now is that the team is overextended financially and needs to cut payroll. That means that Swift, Watson and Wells probably won't be re-signed or replaced. The Grizzlies have had one of the deepest teams in the league and it's unlikely they'll spend too much money trying to restock it this year.

They're also trying to trade Jason Williams, so point guard is a need, but who on the market would really make sense for them? With the exception of Marko Jaric, I'm not sure.

If they do spend money in free agency, they still need to get a center who will rebound. James and Gadzuric are the best in their price range.



MIAMI HEAT Players they might lose: Udonis Haslem (R), Keyon Dooling, Damon Jones, Steve SmithPlayers they might pursue: Antonio Daniels, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stromile Swift, Bobby Simmons, Donyell Marshall, Robert Horry

Current cap position: $57.9 million ($8.4 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Heat have some tough decisions to make. They'd like to keep their own free agents -- Haslem, Jones and Dooling -- but doing so would price them out of the rest of the free-agent market. Drafting Wayne Simien made Haslem expendable. Jones opted out of his contract with the idea that the Heat would re-sign him to a multi-year deal. Dooling is expected to play the market.

In the past, team president Pat Riley has been reluctant to spend the entire mid-level exception on one player. But with guys like Abdur-Rahim, Swift, Simmons and Marshall potentially willing to settle for the mid-level exception, the Heat may have to go for it. Each one of those guys would be a big upgrade over what the Heat had this year.

Horry, looking to grab a seventh ring, also is in the Heat's sights. He knows playing with Shaq will give him a shot at winning it all again.



MILWAUKEE BUCKS Players they might lose: Marcus Fizer, Dan Gadzuric (R), Toni Kukoc, Michael Redd, Zaza Pachulia (R)Players they might pursue: Ray Allen, Stromile Swift, Kwame Brown (R), Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Current cap position: $33.9 million ($15.1 million under the cap)

Analysis: The Bucks' position is pretty simple. They want and feel like they have to re-sign Redd this summer. They're willing to throw the max his way, which will be more than any other team in the league can offer. He's said on multiple occasions over the past few months that he's willing to give the Bucks the first shot at signing him. GM Larry Harris will soon find out, with a Cavs blitz expected to come today. Will Redd really choose to return to a rebuilding team with no head coach, when he could return home, play alongside LeBron and have a chance at a championship? We have our doubts.

If the Bucks lose Redd, then they'll have some serious free-agent money to spend. Wooing Allen back to Milwaukee is the backup plan, though it seems obvious that Allen has at least two better options on the table right now (Clippers, Sonics).

If Allen is gone, the Bucks could go in a completely different direction. They could move Desmond Mason to the two, play Jiri Welsch at the three and try to land a big, athletic forward to play the four. Swift, Brown and Abdur-Rahim are all options.

The Bucks will also try to sign one of their two backup centers. It sounds like Gadzuric is their first option, though Harris called Paculia Friday as well and might find that he'll get stiff competition for both players' services.



MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES Players they might lose: Eddie Griffin, Ervin Johnson, Mark Madsen, Latrell SprewellPlayers they might pursue: Marko Jaric (R), Antonio Daniels, Ronald Murray (R), Kwame Brown (R), Dan Gadzuric (R)

Current cap position: $55.1 million ($5.5 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Wolves aren't expected to make Sprewell a significant offer to return after he turned down two huge contract extension offers by the Wolves. Spree's in real trouble now. The Wolves went in a different direction on draft night, bringing in rookie Rashad McCants, and no longer need him.

The team still needs help at the point and at center. They've been trying to move Sam Cassell all summer and will need to find a replacement at the point either via trade or free agency. Jaric, Daniels and Murray, all big combo guards, would be good fits.

As far as bigs go, Brown and Gadzuric both would be good fits if they can afford them. With Ervin Johnson out of the mix and Michael Olowokandi being Michael Olowokandi, they still need a lot of help in the middle.



NEW JERSEY NETS Players they might lose: Cliff RobinsonPlayers they might pursue: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stromile Swift, Donyell Marshall

Current cap position: $53.2 million ($3.7 million over the cap)

Analysis: Now that the Nets have shored up their backcourt by adding rookie Antoine Wright, the challenge will be to find someone, anyone to replace what the lost last summer when they let Kenyon Martin leave town.

Luckily the Nets have options. They've been flirting with Abdur-Rahim for almost an entire year and see him as a great veteran complement to the team. Abdur-Rahim will likely have to sign for the mid-level exception somewhere, and the Nets seem like the best fit. Abdur-Rahim has never been on a winner and the Nets offer him a good shot at changing that. Look for Abdur-Rahim's strong relationship with Jason Kidd and Lawrence Frank to seal the deal.

Swift might be a little better fit for New Jersey. The way he gets up and down the floor is very appealing, but he also is less consistent than Abdur-Rahim. If both guys are priced out of the Nets' range, a player like Marshall might be a cheaper option.





NEW ORLEANS HORNETS Players they might lose: Dan Dickau, Casey Jacobsen, Lee NailonPlayers they might pursue: Samuel Dalembert (R), Joe Johnson (R), Bobby Simmons, Vladimir Radmanovic (R), Stromile Swift

Current cap position: $31.3 million ($18.2 million under the cap)

Analysis: The Hornets struck quickly on Friday, working out deals for two lesser free agents, Chris Andersen and Bostjan Nachbar.

Even after those signings, they have enough cash to make a max offer to someone, and they still have a big need at small forward.

But will ownership be willing to spend the cash? It's questionable.

The Hornets tried to pull off a big draft day deal that landed them extra picks for Jamaal Magloire. The theory was that they'd be better off paying young players less money since they weren't going to win or sell many tickets anyway.

As it stands now, they have some nice pieces with the addition of Chris Paul, and Brandon Bass and might be better than people think if they can add one big name to the mix.

As far as free agents go, Johnson, Simmons or Radmanovic all make a lot of sense here. Johnson, however, is likely to have his contract matched by the Suns and Simmons has said he wants to go back to L.A. or land with a contender. That could make Radmanovic their guy. The Sonics won't overpay him because he's a backup there and Radmanovic wants to find a team willing to start him. It's a good fit for both sides.

The Hornets also placed calls to Dalembert and Swift on Friday. The word is that P.J. Brown is on the block and neither David West nor Bass are ready to step in and play immediately. Both Dalembert and Swift would give the Hornets some much-needed athleticism and Swift could become a full-time starter for the first time in his career.



NEW YORK KNICKS Players they might lose: Jermaine Jackson, Bruno SundovPlayers they might pursue: Kwame Brown (R), Antoine Walker, Stromile Swift, Jerome James, Dan Gadzuric (R)

Current cap position: $114.3 million ($64.8 million over the cap)

Analysis: The hottest rumor Thursday night was that the Knicks were targeting Brown and offering to do a sign-and-trade with Washington that would send back Michael Sweetney to the Wizards. It's clear the Knicks still need to get bigger and they also need to thin out the undersized corps of power forwards that they have.

Going after Brown makes a lot of sense for the Knicks. They need to swing for the fences and at the age of 23, Brown still has plenty of untapped potential.

The problem is that playing in New York might not be the best fit for Brown. He probably needs a smaller market with less, not more, attention. He also needs to play in an offense that gives him the ball once in a while. He played with shot-happy guards in Washington and didn't enjoy it. The Knicks may offer the best money, but if Kwame wants to resurrect his career, he should probably do it somewhere else.

Walker is another attractive option for the Knicks.

If the Knicks can't land Brown, Swift would be another good option. Put him on the floor with Channing Frye and the Knicks would be flying up and down the court again. If both guys opt for more money or different environments, James and Gadzuric are serviceable big men who could help clog up the middle.

Tim Thomas doesn't have a future in New York and will likely be traded to a team that wants his expiring contract.



ORLANDO MAGIC Players they might lose: Andrew DeClerq, Brandon HunterPlayers they might pursue: Marko Jaric (R), Earl Watson, Antonio Daniels, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Udonis Haslem (R), Jerome James

Current cap position: $70.2 million ($20.7 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Magic helped themselves in the middle on draft night by grabbing Fran Vazquez. Now they need to find a point guard that would allow them to move Steve Francis to the two full-time.

Jaric might be the best fit for the Magic. He's can play both the one and the two and has the toughness and size the Magic are looking for at the point. Daniels also may be a good fit if Jaric commands more money elsewhere.

The Magic also have shown interest in Abdur-Rahim and have him near the top of their wish list, according to sources. If they were to land him, I would expect them to move Dwight Howard to the five. Haslem has been another target for them.

James also is an interesting pick here. If he plays like he did in the first round of the playoffs, he could be a real steal this summer. However, if he plays like he did most of the last three seasons, he could be the biggest bust.



PHILADELPHIA 76ERS Players they might lose: Samuel Dalembert (R), Willie Green (R), Kyle Korver (R), Rodney RogersPlayers they might pursue: ???

Current cap position: $66.2 million ($16.7 million over the cap)

Analysis: At this point, the Sixers are concentrating heavily on re-signing their own free agents. They really want to bring back Dalembert, Green and Korver and are ready to break the bank to do it.

Bringing back Dalembert is the team's biggest priority. The Hawks and Cavs both could make major offers to him and other teams like the Mavs and Suns would love to do something via sign-and-trade. Two months ago it looked like Dalembert was gone. But now that head coach Jim O'Brien is out and Mo Cheeks is in, everyone expects the Sixers to match any offer.



PHOENIX SUNS
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Players they might lose: Steven Hunter, Joe Johnson (R), Jake VoskuhlPlayers they might pursue: Samuel Dalembert (R), Vladimir Radmanovic, (R), Raja Bell, Nikoloz Tskitishvili

Current cap position: $45.7 million ($3.8 million under the cap)

Analysis: Priority No. 1 for the Suns is re-signing Joe Johnson. They've already made one drastic move this summer (sending Quentin Richardson and their No. 1 pick to New York for Kurt Thomas), proving that they'll do what they can to keep him. Johnson will likely get big offers elsewhere, but at the end of the day, it looks like the Suns are prepared to match. The Suns also want Hunter back, but won't overspend to get him.

The Suns have other lofty ambitions, including landing a shot-blocker like Dalembert or sweet-shooting small forward like Radmanovic. To get either guy, they'd have to work out a sign-and-trade. It appears that Shawn Marion, once again, will be the trade bait.

As far as their mid-level exception, the Suns agreed to spend most of it on swingman Raja Bell Friday.



PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS Players they might lose: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Damon StoudamirePlayers they might pursue: ???

Current cap position: $54.8 million ($5.3 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Blazers will have a different strategy than most teams coming into the free agent season. They have two free agents they don't want back (Abdur-Rahim and Stoudamire) that they'll try to use as sign-and-trade bait.

The team also is dangling Nick Van Exel's non-guaranteed contract this summer and Darius Miles in hopes of landing a star-caliber small forward.

Both plans mean that the Blazers won't be making a lot of late-night free agent calls but could be the most important trade broker in the league this summer.



SACRAMENTO KINGS Players they might lose: Maurice Evans (R), Cuttino Mobley, Darius Songaila (R)Players they might pursue: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Bobby Simmons, Marko Jaric (R), Ronald Murray (R), Arvydas Macijauskas, Anthony Parker, Travis Hansen

Current cap position: $57.3 million ($7.8 million over the cap)

Analysis: With Mobley deciding to opt out, the Kings could go in a different direction, though you have to wonder why Mobley would opt out without some assurances that he had another deal in place with the Kings.

The Kings could make a run at Abdur-Rahim, a guy who would be a perfect fit in the Kings' system. They have some assets they could use in a sign-and-trade with Portland, meaning they could give Abdur-Rahim more money than most teams.

The situation at two guard is also an issue. Simmons would be a great fit if they could afford him. So would Jaric, though he may have a hang-up about not playing the point full-time. Macijauskas, Parker and Hansen would all be excellent additions at the two from across the pond.



SAN ANTONIO SPURS Players they might lose: Devin Brown (R), Robert Horry, Glenn RobinsonPlayers they might pursue: Luis Scola, Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Current cap position: $54.8 million ($5.3 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Spurs want to re-sign free agents Brown and Horry but their No. 1 priority this summer is finding a way to get Scola, a 2002 second-round draft pick, on the team.

Scola is considered the best young power forward in Europe and will command much more cash than most second-round picks. The Spurs will have to dig deep into the mid-level exception to bring him over. Expect him to settle for a minimum of $2.5 to $3 million starting salary.

That really limits what else they can do in free agency. There's some thought that the team may make a run at Abdur-Rahim, offering Rasho Nesterovic to the Blazers in a sign-and-trade, but Abdur-Rahim (and the Blazers) might have better options elsewhere.





SEATTLE SUPERSONICS Players they might lose: Ray Allen, Antonio Daniels, Reggie Evans (R), Jerome James, Ronald Murray (R), Vladimir Radmanovic (R), Damien Wilkens (R)Players they might pursue: Everyone

Current cap position: $25.8 million ($23.7 million under the cap)

Analysis: No one is in a bigger free-agent quandary than the Sonics. They have six significant players heading into free agency and they can't afford to pay them all. Negotiations with Allen have been rocky for months, and with the Clippers putting on the full-court press, the chances of losing Allen are very real.

Daniels and James are also likely to leave. Daniels wants a starting point-guard gig somewhere and James feels like he needs a fresh start.

Radmanovic is trickier. He's a restricted free agent who needs to get an offer significantly above the mid-level to convince Seattle not to re-sign. The Hornets may be his best option. If he gets a big offer there, the Sonics probably won't match.

If all of those guys leave, the good news is that the Sonics could have as much as $22 million to spend in the free-agent market. They could make a run at a top shooting guard like Michael Redd, Larry Hughes or Joe Johnson. Or they could decide to just hang onto Murray and use the money on a big like Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert or Eddy Curry. They've been making a lot of calls lately, telling agents that the chances of re-signing Allen are 50-50. If Allen bolts look for them to start over.



TORONTO RAPTORS Players they might lose: Matt Bonner (R), Donyell Marshall, Milt PalacioPlayers they might pursue: Dan Gadzuric (R) or Zaza Pachulia (R).

Current cap position: $56.2 million ($6.7 million over the cap)

Analysis: The Raptors will make a strong run at re-signing Bonner, but will likely lose Marshall and Palacio in free agency.

The Raptors know that free agents won't flock to Toronto. They need a center badly, but there isn't one on the free-agent market, other than someone like Gadzuric or Pachulia.

Toronto's real work this summer will be trying to work on some trades that move players like Eric and Aaron Williams, Lamond Murray and possibly Rafer Alston. They need depth everywhere and trades may be the best option for Toronto.



UTAH JAZZ Players they might lose: Raja Bell, Howard EisleyPlayers they might pursue: Earl Watson, Brevin Knight, Chris Duhon (R), Dan Dickau, Dan Gadzuric (R)

Current cap position: $48.7 million ($810,477 under the cap)

Analysis: The Jazz landed Deron Williams in Tuesday night's draft, but still need help at the point. With Raul Lopez and Howard Eisley leaving, they're still thin at the position. The plan before landing Williams was to make a run at Marko Jaric and Watson. With Jaric unlikely to come now that they've drafted Williams, they'll probably have to set their sights a little lower. Guys like Knight, Duhon and Dickau come cheaper and might be willing to share time with Williams.

Their other real need comes in the paint, where they could use a legit center to play alongside Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer. Only one guy, Gadzuric, makes a lot of sense for them right now.



WASHINGTON WIZARDS Players they might lose: Steve Blake (R), Kwame Brown (R), Juan Dixon, Larry HughesPlayers they might pursue: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stromile Swift, Donyell Marshall

Current cap position: $40.6 million ($8.9 million under the cap)

Analysis: The Wizards' top priority is re-signing Hughes. Hughes will generate significant interest in the free-agent market and the Wizards likely will have to pay big to keep him.

Next, they have to figure out what to do with Brown. Brown caused enough disruptions during the playoffs to secure his departure from the Wizards this summer. Washington would like to get something back in return for him. They've had their eye on Abdur-Rahim for a while and it's possible that a sign-and-trade sending Brown to Portland could work out. The Knicks are also after Brown and are dangling Michael Sweetney. Brown, however, could just decide to bolt to a team like the Hawks that already has the money to pay him.

If they can't work out a good Brown trade, guys like Swift and Marshall could be targets.




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sunsfn

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Unbelievable, with the players they have now..........!
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NEW YORK KNICKS

Current cap position: $114.3 million ($64.8 million over the cap)
 

elindholm

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Given that Richardson has already been moved for a big man, I think there is basically no chance that Marion will be traded this summer. I know Joe Mama has insisted all along that it wouldn't happen, but I thought it was possible -- unlikely, but possible -- until the events of the last few weeks played themselves out.
 

HooverDam

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Ug why in the world wold the Suns trade Marion, thats just silly. They dont want to blow up what won them 62 games. Trading the 5th option (Q) wont change things too much, but trading Marion would.
 

coloradosun

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According to this the Suns were 3.8M under the cap, I am guessing that may be the amount that Raja Bell will sign for. That gets them to the cap so that they can use their exemptions.
 

George O'Brien

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Akron paper states that Redd was offered $72 million by the Cavs over 5 years. Pricy, but that will help set the market price for top guards.
 

Joe Mama

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coloradosun said:
According to this the Suns were 3.8M under the cap, I am guessing that may be the amount that Raja Bell will sign for. That gets them to the cap so that they can use their exemptions.

:lol:

You have apparently missed the 10,000 posts in the last week explaining how the exceptions and room under the salary cap work.

Joe Mama
 
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