3 days into NBA free agency and the ball is finally rolling. I touched on player values rising and falling this off-season in my Listmania series during the playoffs (list 1) (list 2) and things have gone pretty much as expected with a few kinks.
Ron Artest (Los Angeles Lakers) – Trying to picture Ron Ron playing alongside Kobe and its damn near impossible. Trying to picture Ron Ron executing the triangle offense and its damn near impossible. Trying to picture Ron Ron conversing with the Zen Master and its damn near impossible. Impossible is nothing though right? Thing is the Lakers got a steal here signing him for MLE. They essentially swapped out Ariza and replaced him with Artest. He may not be drinking from the fountain of youth but he has some years left in him and the Lakers window is NOW. The relationship between Artest and Kobe is often used as fodder on the blog circuit and one of the best bits came in the form of a video via The Basketball Jones
Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons) – Ben Gordon was going to get paid eventually and the Bulls probably would have given him the money he got from Detroit but it seems that relationship had soured to a point beyond repair. Gordon going to Detroit sounds like a good fit but as he did in Chicago it seems he will come off the bench behind Rip Hamilton. Things haven’t been moving in the right direction for Joe Dumars and the Pistons since the Chauncy Billups trade and the team didn’t waste any time in going after the guys they wanted. With a coach yet to be named detroit is still going for the win now approach and with dishing out these new contracts they will not be a player in next summer’s sweepstakes.
Charlie Villanueva (Detroit Pistons) – The Pistons were sure they were going to lose Rasheed Wallace this offseason and right off the bat, set their sights on unrestricted free agent Charlie V. Charlie is also a lot younger than Sheed and has the potential to keep growing. With the signings of Ben Gordon and now CV, it is apparent defense isn’t on the top of their list of requirements for the Pistons, but they now field a team of extremely streaky hot shooters. When the deal was completed Villanueva didn’t wait too long to speak to his fans on twitter and shed some light on this new pairing : Last time I teamed up with BG we won a championship in 2004, can it be possible?
Trevor Ariza (Houston Rockets) – The kid wanted respect?? He left an NBA championship team for a team in shambles. The Lakers were willing to give him the Full MLE and they could have offered higher yearly increases but he settled for the Rockets MLE offer. Sounds pretty bizarre for a young player to leave money on the table but I think this whole mess has his agents dirty hands all over it.
Marcin Gortat (Dallas Mavericks) – Eric Dampier obviously wasn’t the answer but neither is Marcin Gortat. He did a bang up job of playing behind Dwight in the playoffs this year and was bound to get some money thrown his way. I still stand behind the notion that he is a great backup center. The Mavericks obviously see more in him as they have a commitment from Gortat to join them next season with a contract worth the full mid-level exception. From a fans perspective, he will be an instant hit in Dallas and the NBA will live to see more of the Polish Hammer!
IN LIMBO : Hedo Turkoglu (Portland Trailblazers) – ESPN said that hedo has chosen to sign a contract in excess of $50 million over 5 years with the Blazers. As I type this word now is that the earlier reports were premature and he has not agreed. Though contracts cannot be signed until the 8th of July it seems very likely that this is the direction things will go. Hedo will end up in Portland whether his wife likes it or not.
Speculated : Jason Kidd will re-up with the Mavericks for 3 years at $24 Million (via HoopsHype), Shawn Marion has a 4 year $32-$34 million offer on the table from the Toronto Raptors (via Globe & Mail)
Shaquille O’Neal – the man with a nickname for every day of the month – needs a new one! Traded to Cleveland, for Big Ben and Sasha Pavlovic, Shaq comes into Ohio as Lebron’s newest sidekick. Way past his prime, I am not sure how many more wins this pairing will bring but I do know it will make for some very interesting pre-game intro’s.
Vince Carter – Heading home and to a contender. The Magic didn’t want to take the risk of a long term commitment to Hedo and pulling this trade off effectively nixed the idea of having him back. For Vince this may be his best situation yet, but never underestimate the pressure of playing at home. On the plus side this does make visitation with his daughter a lot simpler.
Jamal Crawford -It took a little bit of paperwork (signing off that he would not opt out of his current contract) but Jamal has found a new home to play alongside Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. It seems the Hawks had made up their mind not to bring back Bibby but they are remain heavily stacked with scorer’s and still no one to dish the ball out.
Quentin Richardson, Zach Randolph, Darko Milicic Q went to the Grizz for Darko on draft night and within the week was flipped over to his old stomping grounds (Clippers) in exchange for Zach Randolph. This may not look like anything earth shattering but it filled the needs of the Grizz and Clips pretty well. As for the Knicks, I am still scratching my head as to why they would want to bring on Darko – New GM, Same whacky moves…