Posted Jun 21 2010 1:10PM - Updated Jul 22 2010 10:12PM
TNT analyst David Aldridge will be writing during the NBA's free agency period to offer up quick takes on the latest free agency news and breaking news updates as they happen. You can e-mail David here and follow him on twitter. For his complete story archive, click here. For more of NBA.com's Decision 2010 coverage, click here.
• Barnes roulette wheel ends on Lakers
• Daniels returns to Celtics on one-year deal
• Ratliff to sign deal with Lakers
• McGrady to meet with Bulls on Monday
• Hawks close to adding frontcourt depth in Josh Powell
• Jefferson's opt out pays off in new deal with Spurs
• Barnes in limbo, still weighing free agent options
• Magic's Barnes heading north to join Raptors
• Heat agree to terms with James Jones
• Rockets add to depth at center, sign Miller
• Jazz let Matthews go to Portland, agree with Raja Bell
• Free Agent Watch archive
The Los Angeles Lakers won the battle for one of the last fussed-over free agents on Thursday, agreeing to terms with Orlando Magic free agent forward Matt Barnes on a two-year, $3.6 million deal. Barnes turned down more money from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had offered a multi-year deal worth more than $3 million annually. The Celtics and Heat also had pursued Barnes, who finally found a team after a proposed sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors fell apart earlier in the week.
Barnes averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in his one season in Orlando. (The Lakers will be Barnes's eighth NBA team.) But both Miami and Boston could only offer the veteran's minimum of $1.146 mllion for Barnes; the Heat used its remaining cap room to sign forward Mike Miller, and the Celtics used their mid-level exception on Jermaine O'Neal.
Meanwhile, the Lakers had about $1.8 million remaining after signing guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million free agent deal. Blake replaced Jordan Farmar, who took a three-year deal in New Jersey. Barnes will likely back up Ron Artest next season, though league sources say Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wants less drama next season and could be looking to quiet things down in the locker room after Los Angeles' ride to a second straight championship.
Barnes drew attention with his confrontation with Kobe Bryant in a game last March and his subsequent accusation that Bryant threw numerous elbows without punishment and that he would not back down from challenging Bryant in the future. That assertion may have impressed Bryant -- who, a source says, pressed hard for the Lakers to get Barnes just as he had pushed them to sign former nemesis Raja Bell. Bell opted to return to the Utah Jazz with a three-year, $10 million deal earlier this month.
Barnes announced on his Twitter page Monday that he was going to the Raptors, and league sources said it was a two-year, $9 million deal. But either the league shot down the proposed mechanism for making the sign-and-trade work, the Magic or Raptors didn't interpret a cap rule correctly or Barnes simply jumped the gun. Whatever the reason, the deal fell apart Tuesday and Barnes was left with no place to make the money he supposedly was getting in Toronto, with his agent unable to find a suitable landing place.
All Orlando could offer Barnes, even to facilitate a sign-and-trade, was $1.92 million next year, due to his "non-Bird" status; he had only played one season with the Magic.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal between Barnes and the Lakers.
-- posted 7/22/10, 10:05 p.m.
The Boston Celtics have retained swingman Marquis Daniels, who suffered through an injury-plagued season last year, on a one-year deal for $2.5 million, according to his agent, Mark Bartlestein.
Both the Celtics and the 29-year-old Daniels had high hopes for him last season when he signed as a free agent from the Pacers. The plan was for Daniels to be the primary ballhandler on the team's second unit, backing up starter Rajon Rondo. But Daniels tore a ligament in his left thumb in December that required surgery, and he missed the next two months. By the time he returned, the Celtics had traded for guard Nate Robinson, who had taken his minutes.
To add more insult to injury, Daniels suffered a severe concussion in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Orlando, and was limited to four-plus minutes in the Finals against the Lakers.
"He was off to a great start for them, then he ruptured his thumb," Bartlestein said. "He feels like there's almost unfinished business there."
The Celtics lost backup forward Tony Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this month, and Daniels is a candidate to take some of Allen's minutes now that Robinson has also been re-signed by Boston to continue backing up Rondo.
-- posted 7/22/10, 8:20 p.m.
The Los Angeles Lakers are shoring up the potential loss of forward Josh Powell to the Atlanta Hawks by agreeing to terms with veteran big man Theo Ratliff on a one-year deal for the veterans' minimum of $1.35 million, according to a league source.
Ratliff, 37, started last season with the San Antonio Spurs, but was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats at the trade deadline for a future second-round pick. He gave the young Bobcats a boost down the stretch as Charlotte made the playoffs, averaging 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 22 minutes a game. He has been one of the league's best defensive players of his era, leading the NBA in blocked shots per game three times.
The 15-year veteran has played for eight NBA teams in his career, which began as a first-round pick for the Pistons in 1995. Ratliff was a key part of the 76ers' team that went on to make the Finals in 2001, making his lone All-Star team that season, but was traded days after that appearance to Atlanta in a package for Dikembe Mutombo. Ratliff was also part of another major trade, going from Boston to Minnesota in 2007 as part of the Kevin Garnett trade.
The Hawks are expected to sign Powell to a one-year deal at minimum numbers in the next couple of days.
The Lakers' signing of Ratliff would have no effect on their pursuit of Orlando small forward Matt Barnes, whom they would sign with the remaining $1.8 million of their mid-level exception. Los Angeles signed Clippers free agent guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million deal earlier this month and used about $4 million of the $5.8 million mid-level to do so. Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that Barnes has whittled the list of five teams trying to sign him down to the Lakers and Cavaliers. A league source said the Cavaliers are offering a multi-year deal that averages a little more than $3 million per season, while all the Lakers can offer is the $1.8 million.
-- posted 7/22/10, 6:50 p.m.
A source tells TNT's David Aldridge that free agent forward Tracy McGrady will work out for the Chicago Bulls next Monday, his second workout for a prospective team. McGrady worked out for the Clippers on Tuesday.
McGrady could take additional visits after working out for the Bulls, according to the source. A signing is not imminent for the seven-time All-Star, who finished last season with the Knicks after being traded briefly to Sacramento by the Rockets. The 31-year-old only played in 24 games last season as he came back from microfracture surgery on his left knee in February, 2009. would He hoped to come back for Houston but after he and the team disagreed on how much playing time he'd get the two sides mutually agreed that McGrady would stay away from the team until a deal could be made.
McGrady started 24 games for New York, averaging 9.4 points and 3.9 assists in 26.1 minutes.
McGrady wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday, "clippers, bulls, lakers, heat....but that could change by the morning...lol..this is the NBA".
The Clippers said that McGrady had a good workout with them but did not commit to making him a contract offer. Los Angeles has a need at small forward, with rookie Al-Faroqu Aminu not ready to handle major minutes. A league source said Wednesday that the Clippers have asked about Philadelphia forward Andre Iguodala, though there was no indication that Los Angeles has made or will make an offer for Iguodala.
Injuries have greatly slowed McGrady in the last two years; he has played in just 65 games during that time. But McGrady still believes he can return to the form that made him a two-time NBA scoring champion and one of the best late-game finishers of the past decade. He has worked out in Chicago almost non-stop when not playing the last couple of years with famed trainer Tim Grover.
The Bulls have already had a very busy summer, signing power forward Carlos Boozer to a five-year, $80 million deal, shooting guards Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver for three years and $12 and $15 million, respectively, and completing a sign-and-trade earlier this week for backup point guard C.J. Watson from Golden State. McGrady could provide veteran insurance at small forward behind Luol Deng, who has also struggled with injuries in the past few seasons.
-- posted 7/21/10, 10:01 p.m.
The Atlanta Hawks are close to addressing their need for a backup big man by acquiring Los Angeles Lakers reserve forward Josh Powell on a one-year deal expected to be for the veteran minimum $992,680, according to league sources. Powell is expected to pick the Hawks over Cleveland, Chicago and New Jersey in the next couple of days.
The 27-year-old Powell has played the last two seasons for the Lakers after signing with them in 2007. Injuries to starting center Andrew Bynum created time for Powell as a backup forward when Pau Gasol had to move into the middle; Powell appeared in 60 and 63 regular season games the last two years, though his minutes dropped from 11.7 per game in 2008-09 to 9.2 last season. He played in 13 playoff games this past season, including an appearance in Game 6 of the Finals against the Celtics.
Powell was well-liked among his Lakers teammates and Coach Phil Jackson, who respected the 6-9 forward's work ethic in practice and his positive demeanor on the bench. But Powell is seeking an opportunity for more playing time, and is likely to get a little more run in Atlanta behind Josh Smith.
The Hawks have been looking for a veteran big to replace Joe Smith, who fell out of favor with former Coach Mike Woodson's staff last season. They explored centers like Brad Miller, who wound up signing with the Rockets, and looked into free agent Shaquille O'Neal, but weren't willing to promise him the money or minutes he was seeking.
Powell has also played for the Mavericks, who signed him out of the NBA Developmental League in 2005, along with the Pacers, Warriors and Clippers.
-- posted 7/21/10, 8:50 p.m.
Sources tells TNT's David Aldridge that forward Richard Jefferson's new contract with the San Antonio Spurs, officially announced on Wednesday, is for four years and $38.8 million, with a player option for the final season at a little more than $11 million.
Jefferson had opted out of the final year of his contract with the Spurs, which would have paid him $15 million next season, in order to test free agency. But most league officials believed the 30-year-old Jefferson would re-sign with the Spurs, who acquired him from Milwaukee last summer in a deal with the Bucks for Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas. Jefferson struggled for much of last season with the Spurs as he learned Gregg Popovich's system, averaging just 12.3 points, his lowest average since his rookie season.
But veteran players usually take at least a year or two to fully pick up the Spurs' complex offensive and defensive systems, and tend to improve greatly in their second or third season. The Spurs anticipate that Jefferson, a career 47 percent shooter, will return to his normal form next season.
"To him, being able to secure his future under the current set of rules that we're living under, eliminates some uncertainty," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford told The Associated Press.
"He's played well with his last contract. He played more efficiently than his numbers might have shown. I think the option of coming into a new team with three established players, some playing injured during the season, was a difficult time for everybody."
Jefferson will make back all of the $15 million he gave up this year -- he will earn more than $27 million in the first three years of the deal -- and now has some security that he will not be a free agent in a summer where the possibility of a lockout by owners to get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is increasingly likely.
By bringing Jefferson back for almost $7 million less than than he was scheduled the make, the Spurs were also able to bring over their 2007 first-round pick, Brazilian center Tiago Splitter -- considered the best big man in Europe -- and re-sign forward Matt Bonner for less in total than what they would have paid for Jefferson alone under his old deal. Splitter, who should be a significant part of the rotation next season, agreed to a three-year, $10 million deal, and Bonner returned to San Antonio on a four-year deal.
Spurs owner Peter Holt has committed to paying luxury tax again next season and in 2011-12, the final two years of star center Tim Duncan's contract. After that, San Antonio is likely to rebuild around Splitter -- who will be up for a new deal by then -- guards George Hill and Manu Ginobili, whom the team signed to a three-year, $38 million extension last season, and second-year forward DeJuan Blair.
-- posted 7/21/10, 7:35 p.m.
Two days after announcing to the world via his Twitter page that he was going to play for Toronto next season, free agent forward Matt Barnes was still trying to decide Wednesday afternoon whether he'll take more money to play with the Cavaliers or chase a chance at a championship with the Lakers, Celtics or Heat.
The Cavaliers can offer the most money by far of any of the teams that Barnes is considering. Cleveland has its full mid-level exception for next season, $5.8 million, to use to sign players. The Cavaliers also have the $14.5 million trade exception they received from Miami as part of the sign-and-trade deal earlier this month for LeBron James. But Cleveland won't use the trade exception for Barnes, and it's not likely it would use all of the mid-level for the 30-year-old forward. Cleveland opted to take the big trade exception for James rather than renouncing him and several other free agents to clear cap space.
Still, even half of the mid-level is more than the Celtics, Lakers or Heat can offer Barnes, and Cleveland, according to a league source, was hoping to get a deal done as soon as possible.
The most that the capped-out Celtics and at-the-cap Heat can offer Barnes at the moment is $1.146 million, the minimum for veterans with seven seasons of NBA experience. The Lakers have about $1.8 million remaining of their mid-level exception after signing free agent guard Steve Blake from the Clippers earlier this month. (Monday night's NBA.com report on Barnes incorrectly stated the Lakers had $2.3 million of their mid-level remaining.)
It is still unclear exactly what happened Monday night, when the Raptors believed they had a deal with Barnes for two years and $9 million, and Barnes promptly informed the world of his intentions. There is no doubt that Toronto thought it had a sign-and-trade deal with Barnes in place, with the Magic facilitating the trade, and was just finalizing details. But Tuesday, the deal was off. Either someone misinterpreted the league's salary cap rules and the deal was quickly scotched by the NBA's lawyers, or Barnes jumped the gun, or maybe both.
At any rate, because Barnes played just one season in Orlando before opting out of his two-year, $3.2 million deal, he is what is known as a "non-Bird" free agent. That is a category of veteran free agents that do not qualify for either the regular "Larry Bird" exception to the cap because they have not played three consecutive seasons for their current team, or the "Early Bird" exception (two consecutive seasons). As a non-Bird free agent, the most Barnes can get from the Magic for next season, even to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal elsewhere, is $1.92 million, or 120 percent of his previous salary of $1.6 million.
Barnes averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds for Orlando last season, starting 58 games. The Magic essentially replaced him in its lineup when it agreed to terms with veteran swingman Quentin Richardson and matched the three-year, $19.5 million offer sheet that the Bulls had placed on restricted free agent guard J.J. Redick. It is conceivable, though not likely, that Toronto could rescucitate talks with Orlando, or that Orlando could even re-sign Barnes itself. But the greater likelihood is that Barnes will call neither place home next season.
-- posted 7/21/10, 4:00 p.m.
-Orlando Magic free agent forward Matt Barnes said on his Twitter account Monday that he's accepted a deal to play for the Toronto Raptors next season. The deal is for two years and $9 million, according to a league source.
Barnes had been courted by several contending teams, including Boston, Miami and the Lakers, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers, but opted in the end to take a bigger contract with the Raptors, who dealt starting small forward Hedo Turkoglu to the Suns earlier this month for guard Leandro Barbosa.
On his Twitter feed, Barnes wrote: "I wanted to thank the fans in orl. you guys were amazing the way u (accepted) My family & I and the tremendous support you showed the team."
The handwriting was on the wall for Barnes in Orlando when the Magic signed veteran swingman Quentin Richardson to a contract and matched the three-year, $19.5 million offer sheet for guard J.J. Redick given by the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers came hard after Barnes, who averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Magic last season. Barnes got into a celebrated row with Kobe Bryant during a late regular-season game and then accused Bryant afterward of throwing numerous elbows and said he would not back down from challenging Bryant in the future.
That assertion may have impressed Bryant--who, a source says, pressed hard for the Lakers to get Barnes just as he had pushed them to sign former nemesis Raja Bell. Bell opted to return to the Utah Jazz with a three-year, $10 million deal last week.
A source said that Barnes wanted to return to Orlando but didn't get an offer from the Magic, which had signed him to a one-year minimum deal last summer.The Raptors will be Barnes's eighth NBA team. Miami and Boston could only offer the veteran's minimum of $1.146 mllion for Barnes after the Heat used its remaining cap room to sign forward Mike Miller, and the Celtics used their mid-level exception on Jermaine O'Neal.
Meanwhile, the Lakers had about $2.3 million of their mid-level exception remaining after signing guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million free agent deal earlier this month. Blake replaced Jordan Farmar, who took a three-year deal in New Jersey.
-- posted 7/19/10, 9:47 p.m.
-A league source says that the Miami Heat have convinced forward James Jones -- who they just bought out two weeks ago to clear additional cap space for LeBron James and Chris Bosh -- to return to the Heat next season. Terms of the new deal were not immediately available.
Miami bought out the final three years of Jones's five-year, $23 million deal, paying approximately $1.8 million to Jones this year to get out of the rest of his old deal, which would have paid him $4.65 million next season. The savings gave the Heat enough cap space to convince James and Bosh to take less than maximum deals to join Dwyane Wade next season. The 29-year-old Jones had played his last two seasons in Miami but was injured for large stretches of the last two seasons.
When healthy, Jones has been a strong 3-point shooter, including a career-high 44 percent from behind the arc in 2007-08 with Portland. He would provide Miami with a solid role player who could relieve either Wade or James at either wing position.
After using the team's remaining cap space to sign free agent Mike Miller and re-sign forward Udonis Haslem, Miami can only offer veteran minimum contracts to other players as it fills out its roster. A seven-year veteran like Jones would be eligible for a minimum of $1.146 million next season. The Heat signed former Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to a two-year, $2.8 million deal earlier this week, with a player option for the second year, and agreed to terms with veteran center Joel Anthony, who had opted out of his old contract before the July 1 start of free agency.
-- posted 7/18/10, 3:27 p.m.
-A league source confirmed Saturday that the Houston Rockets have agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract with free agent center Brad Miller. The 12-year veteran played the last two seasons in Chicago and was a major part of the Bulls' success getting to the playoffs the last two years. The third year of Miller's deal, which should pay him around $5 million, is only partially guaranteed.
The Bulls wanted to re-sign Miller, 34, to continue his backup role behind starter Joakim Noah, and Atlanta and Denver also had great interest. But Miller was one of Houston's primary targets after the Rockets failed to get Chris Bosh, their top priority this offseason. Yao Ming is expected to be ready for the start of next season after missing all of last year following foot surgery, but the Rockets wanted a veteran backup just in case Yao's recovery is slowed for any reason.
Miller played in all 82 games last season, averaging 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in just under 24 minutes a game for the Bulls, who have signed Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer this offseason.
ESPN.com first reported Miller's agreement with the Rockets.
-- posted 7/17/10, 3:05 p.m.
- A league source confirmed a Salt Lake Tribune report Wednesday that the Utah Jazz will not match the five-year, $33 million offer sheet on guard Wes Matthews, allowing the rising second-year guard to go to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Jazz will replace Matthews in the starting lineup with veteran guard Raja Bell, who agreed to a three-year deal.
The Jazz's decision to acquire Al Jefferson on Tuesday from the Minnesota Timberwolves pushed their salary commitment for next season to more than $72 million, making Utah a luxury tax payer next season if it keeps its current payroll. Adding the additional $9 million in Matthews's first-year salary would mean an additional $9 million in luxury tax payments, for a total of $18 million to keep the undrafted guard on the team.
So despite getting Jefferson, Matthews was probably too expensive from the get go, the source said.
With Matthews in the fold, Portland adds a player averaging more than $6 million who will likely be a backup behind All-Star Brandon Roy, or small forward Nicolas Batum. However, Batum's history of shoulder injuries may be a factor in the decision to sign the 23-year-old Matthews, who appeared in all 82 games last season. Matthews averaged 9.4 points last season for Utah, and became a starter after the Jazz traded Ronnie Brewer to Memphis.
The 33-year-old Bell was heavily recruited by the Lakers and his old nemesis, Kobe Bryant. The two famously feuded in the 2005 playoffs, when Bell was suspended for a game of the first-round series after elbowing Bryant. Bell, who played with the Bobcats and Warriors last season, played in just six games after suffering a wrist injury. When healthy, Bell is still one of the league's best on-ball defenders, who has had success guarding the likes of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in recent years.
-- posted 7/14/10, 11:33 p.m.
To read the rest of David Aldridge's 2010 Free Agent Watch archive, click here.