New Jersey Nets trade Yi Jianlian to the Washington Wizards for cash: Another straight salary dump. The Nets are positioning themselves to make the biggest splash possible. With Ivan Drago seeming wanting to put his stamp on the team as soon as possible, this makes sense. For the Wizards, Yi has a measure of upside, and Andray Blatche has a broken ankle. Nobody gets hurt here.
So, armed with cash and cap space, we see teams gunning for this unmatched Class of 2010. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki – just a total who’s who of star NBA players of the last decade – and they are all free agents. So the anticipation for today’s first day to talk to free agents has been palpable. Add to it the backdrop of a lockout and drastically changed salary structure next offseason – and for a lot of guys this is the last chance for life changing money. None of the huge chess pieces have moved yet. However, a few deals have been struck, and guess what? NBA GMs are like stupid drunk bachelors at the Cheetah Club, just waving money at any scantily clad FA walking their way. To wit:
Hawks offer Joe Johnson 6 years, $119 million: The Hawks by maxing out Joe Johnson have just tied up their cap, gone up against the luxury tax threshold and have pinned their hopes to a 29 year old who was good enough to lead the Hawks to 8 straight double digit losses in the second round of playoffs. As Charles Barkley would say, turrble … and this was just the beginning.
Milwaukee Bucks sign Drew Gooden for 5 years, $32 million: Gooden for the full midlevel?? Milwaukee needs size, but did they need it this badly? John Hammond is a very smart GM considering the shrewd moves he made last year to get the Bucks to be a legitimately sexy team. Drew Gooden gets a full five year deal – the Drew Gooden who is notorious for forgetting plays – the Drew Gooden who will be on his 9th team in his 9th season in the league?? Him?!!
Minnesota Timberwolves sign Darko Milicic for 4 years $20 million (final year partially guaranteed): Even with the partially guaranteed fourth year, this is an amazing deal for Darko to land – not so much in dollars but in job security. For a guy who had one good half season (and only by his low standards) in Minnesota to suddenly warrant 4 years of job security is amazing. Considering he has been accused of lacking passion for basketball – even worse. Of course this is the team that drafted 18 small forwards last week.
Memphis Grizzlies decline tender on Ronnie Brewer: A starting caliber ace defending two guard can be locked up for a modest league average sort of wage – forcing teams to spend a 1st round pick to sign him … and Memphis let him go why? It is easy to blame Chris Wallace, but petty clearly someone else is doing this.
OK, one piece of good news …
Minnesota Timberwolves sign Nikova Pekovic for 3 years, $13 million: apparently very good in Europe, a former 2nd round pick draft and stash. Good value here. I mean even if he is average, $4.3 million is a good price for average.