Blog Entry

Free-Agent Buzz

Posted on: June 30, 2010 2:01 am
If you’re all LeBron-ed out … if you don’t care whether there was a free-agent summit or not … you’ve come to the right place. Here’s some free-agent news that has nothing to do with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh:

While those elite free agents prepare for an unmitigated frenzy set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, a certain gentle giant who’s a couple years away from any such courtship is quietly beginning to formulate a plan that he’d like management to execute. And it turns out that Dwight Howard, the most physically gifted big man in basketball, wants to team up with the most physical gifted little guy in basketball: Chris Paul.

On the eve of the most anticipated free-agent signing period since 1996, when Howard was 10 years old, the Magic center has formulated a short list of players he’d like GM Otis Smith to pursue this summer. No. 1 on the list, according to a person with close ties to Orlando management, is Hornets point guard Chris Paul.

Reports in the past week have noted that Orlando was one of several teams to inquire about Paul’s availability – mostly after CP3 was quoted as saying he’d be open to a trade if New Orleans wasn’t committed to investing in a championship-caliber roster. It turns out Smith was either prescient or had a pretty good idea of what acquisition would please Howard the most.

The idea of Paul tossing alley-oop passes to Howard is tantalizing, to say the least. But is it realistic? George Shinn, the Hornets’ lame-duck owner, issued a joint statement last week with prospective buyer Gary Chouest that reaffirmed the team’s commitment to building around Paul but didn’t rule out any avenues to improve the team. Whoever winds up owning the Hornets would prefer not to move Paul, a franchise cornerstone in every sense of the word. But financial and competitive realities – the Hornets won 37 games last season and are due to be a tax-paying team again in 2010-11 – have conspired to put all options on the table. Even trading Paul.

The Hornets have a point-guard-in-waiting, Darren Collison, who would mitigate the loss of Paul on the court, if not at the ticket office. Any team in the mix for Paul would have to agree to take back Emeka Okafor, scheduled to make $11.8 million next season and $53.2 million over the next for season. The last three seasons will come under a new collective bargaining agreement, in which owners are seeking to dramatically slash salaries. So the full magnitude of taking on such a contract is unknown at this point – but certainly not pleasant.

But one Western Conference executive called the scenario “plausible,” if nothing else because the Magic have shown themselves to have “deep, deep pockets,” the executive said.

To soften the blow from losing Paul, New Orleans would likely insist – and the Magic would agree – on the inclusion of Jameer Nelson in any such trade. Nelson was exposed as a liability in the Magic’s conference finals loss to the Celtics, but could bridge the gap to Collison with a cap-friendly contract that pays him $8.1 million in each of the next three seasons. The Magic have internally explored including Vince Carter in various trades they’re considering, sources say, but Carter’s $17.5 million salary next season might require a third team to get involved or force the Magic to explore another deal for him.

Another player on Howard’s short list, sources say, is Utah free agent Carlos Boozer, who would allow Howard to flourish as a defensive and rebounding force without having to handle the bulk of the scoring on the block, too. The capped-out Magic, of course, would have to acquire Boozer via a sign-and-trade arrangement. The Jazz might be enticed by Brandon Bass and free agent J.J. Redick, for starters.

As an aside, Howard and I obviously think alike. Some of you may recall the “Perfect Team” exercise I performed over several weeks during the 2009-10 season – putting together what I deemed to be the best possible roster that adhered to the $57.7 million salary cap. My center: Howard. My point guard: Paul. It’s not clear whether those two teaming up in Orlando would be perfection. But they would be formidable and fun to watch, for sure.

Here’s some more free-agent buzz with less than 24 hours to go before LeBron-a-Geddon:

• As the Knicks put the final touches on their pitch to James, unofficially scheduled for Thursday in Ohio, team president Donnie Walsh continues to ramp up efforts to trade Eddy Curry and his $11.3 million contract. The extra cap space that would be added to the Knicks’ $34.1 million would either facilitate the pursuit of three max free agents – a new wrinkle in the Knicks’ plan – or allow them to get two max players and retain unrestricted free agent David Lee.’s Ian Thomsen wrote that the Knicks plan to allow James to play fantasy GM on Thursday and choose his own sidekicks. The Knicks will suggest, reported, that James consider Atlanta free agent Joe Johnson as a better fit than Dwyane Wade, who like James is at his best when handling the ball the majority of the time. The problem with the plan, short of an unlikely salary dump of Curry’s contract, is all three free agents (James, another wing, and a power forward such as Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire) would have to accept significantly less than the max to fit into New York’s cap space. One rival executive described New York’s attempts to peddle Curry “a tough, tough sell,” and noted that the only way a team under the cap would be willing to absorb Curry is if Danilo Gallinari were included in the trade.

• While Miami completed the anticipated buyout of James Jones to creep closer to the space needed to combine two max free agents with Dwyane Wade, the Nets are on the verge of clearing more space with a buyout of forward Kris Humphries, sources say. If the Nets could trade Humphries’ $3.2 million contract to a team that’s under the cap, they’d achieve the coveted space to import two max free agents. But with no takers for Humphries so far, a mere buyout would require further housekeeping to secure the necessary space.

• There are strong indications that a decision could be coming by the end of the week from Doc Rivers on whether he’s stepping down as the Celtics coach or returning for another championship run – assuming Boston’s core will stay together. That’s an open question, and Rivers’ future and the potential return of free agents Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are as intertwined as they could be. Former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, who would be a strong candidate to replace Rivers if he steps down, had dinner with Donald Sterling Tuesday night to discuss the Clippers’ job for which he’s a finalist with former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey.

Lakers assistant Brian Shaw leaving Cleveland without a job offer from the Cavs – while Byron Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, was publicly congratulating him – provided the latest strange twist in the Cavs’ offseason. A person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday that Shaw and the Cavs were entering the negotiating phase, but it’s not clear how that’s done without a job offer.

• Amar’e Stoudemire and his agent, Happy Walters, sat down with Suns owner Robert Sarver and coach Alvin Gentry in Los Angeles Tuesday in what sources described as a productive meeting aimed at keeping Stoudemire from opting out of his contract and hitting the free-agent market. It wasn’t clear if Sarver, who has taken on the role of conducting basketball business with GMs and agents after GM Steve Kerr and assistant David Griffin left the front office, increased his contract offer to the maximum. Either way, sources with knowledge of Stoudemire’s situation believe there’s a strong possibility that not even a max offer would keep him from opting out and testing the market with teams that have cap space, such as the Knicks, Nets, Bulls and Heat.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: June 30, 2010 1:42 pm

Free-Agent Buzz

I agree with lafatman.  The Magic should invest some money into teaching Howard how to play post up basketball instead of getting taken to task by the likes of Kendrick Perkins.  Let's all say it together now.  Dwight Howard = glorified Dikembe Mutumbo.  Weak excuse for a "superstar".

Since: Nov 2, 2006
Posted on: June 30, 2010 1:06 pm

Free-Agent Buzz

I have to agree 100% with you on this.  Jameer is still a talented player but he is simply not the complete point guard that Paul is and quite frankly never will be.  Heck, if the Celtics could trade Rondo id take Chris Paul on my team too!
Tyson Chandler most definately became a better player as did the rest of their team with the emergence of Paul but can you really imagine them without him?

The mere thought that someone could "replace" Paul is laughable at best and i bet you that franchise sinks faster than the Titanic after his departure. Look what happened to Detroit when they traded Chauncey, they fell off the map because their can't miss prospect is not the mvp that Billups was.  Does that mean he can't develop into one?  No, he can but much like his predecessor it could take years for that to happen.

In the meantime comes alot of hard losses.

When the Celtic fans were freaking out because the Magic signed Vince Carter i said relax he doesnt fit their team the way Turk did but Chris Paul absolutely fits them like a glove. With Paul i believe Howard could avg 27 points a game and win the mvp with ease.

People talk about Bosh, Wade and Lebron James being on the same team but i don't think they compliment each other.  Wade and Lebron would be ball hogging it and blocking each other, but Paul and Howard would be the ultimate teammates as Paul would run the fast break and find howard through the smallest of cracks and Paul is not an interior player so he wouldnt clog the lane for Howard.

The magic would only have 3 guys who all try and run in the middle for a dunk, that isn't chemistry.

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: June 30, 2010 12:56 pm

Free-Agent Buzz

Making a Christmas list is fun when you're 10 yeas old, but he's a professional athlete.  If he doesn't like the team around him, then he needs to be traded as he's not being a good teammate.Its even worse when the player who is making such stupid statements is the franchise player.  Why does Howard need the best PG in the game when all he requires from a PG is a decent entry pass?  

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: June 30, 2010 12:45 pm

Free-Agent Buzz

Maybe Dwight Howard should buy his own team.  Then he can sign all the players he wants.  Until then, he is a member of the Orlando Magic.  Making a Christmas list is fun when you're 10 yeas old, but he's a professional athlete.  If he doesn't like the team around him, then he needs to be traded as he's not being a good teammate.

I understand that all players want to win.  I also understand that one player cannot carry the team all the time; they need help.  But, when will they understand that whining,complaining, Twittering, Facebooking, ect. about the situation is not going to be the answer.  How about growing up and talking with management about what would make the team better and then listening to thier side about finances.  Then, the two sides could come to an agreement and a solution can be found.  This is called maturity and the grown-up way of dealing with situations.  It's called being a leader.  Most of these athletes choose to be cry-babies. 

Before anyone says that Dwight Howard is not crying, he just stated his opinion, he stated his opinion to the press for it to be published.  That is crying and whining in my book.  That is not being a leader. 

Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: June 30, 2010 12:44 pm

Free-Agent Buzz

Apparently you have no idea what physically-gifted means.

Since: Dec 30, 2007
Posted on: June 30, 2010 9:41 am

Free-Agent Buzz

Ok, Chris Paul is the best poing guard in the NBA.....................EVERY team would love to have him! It's not throwing anyone under the bus. Everyone, including Nelson know's Paul is better. That's not throwing someone under the bus. An example of that would be Howard blamming Vince Carter or Nelson for not repeating as Eastern Conference champs.

Since: Sep 19, 2007
Posted on: June 30, 2010 9:39 am

Free-Agent Buzz

This is apparently a fun subject to discuss, but it is purest fantasy.  The Magic want to trade dog food for steak.  Simply taking on a bad contract is not enough for a once in a generation talent like Chris Paul.  And it's not like great free agents are lining up to come to New Orleans, so the Hornets will be extremely reluctant to part with the best player they will ever employ.

New Orleans management has had its ups and downs, but the braintrust is fully aware that Chris Paul IS the franchise.  Moving CP3 for peanuts would guarantee the failure of the team in New Orleans.  The public would be outraged; ticket sales would come to a grinding halt. 

If the Magic want CP3, then they'll have to be willing to part with a same eschelon talent - Dwight Howard.  And that makes no sense for anyone. 

Since: Oct 31, 2008
Posted on: June 30, 2010 9:31 am

Free-Agent Buzz

He built a perfect 5 based on salary cap.   Its not as easy as it might seem.  

Since: Aug 14, 2006
Posted on: June 30, 2010 9:31 am

Free-Agent Buzz

Trading one undersized PG for another undesized Pg with slightly better passing does not address the following problems of the Magic.

1. They are undersized as a team
2. They have no one who commands a double team in order to force the other team out of basic defense.
3. They have no Plan B offense.
4. SVG does not have the respect of, inspire or awe his players.
5. D12 is a #2 not a #1

Since: Dec 12, 2006
Posted on: June 30, 2010 9:22 am

Free-Agent Buzz

Saying you would rather have Chris Paul than Jameer Nelson isn't throwing him under the bus. I'd rather have Kobe Bryant than Vince Carter too. Lebron over Lewis, Chris Bosh over Brandon Bass. There are certainties in life, one of these is that Chris Paul is better than Jameer. I like Jameer, I think he's good, pretty dang good, but Paul is GREAT. Arguably the best PG in the NBA when he was healthy. So not tossing anyone under the bus but wouldn't you get rid of your team's SF to get Lebron? Your point to get Paul or Derron Williams? Your center to get Howard? Thought so.

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