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Buyers’ Market For Many NBA Free Agents

Beware of falling objects. Those may be NBA players hitting the ground.

With a down economy, half of the NBA’s teams losing money, bail out style loans being extended from NBA friendly financial institutions, a reduced salary cap expected for 2010, a luxury tax penalty threshold decrease expected for next season and many teams wanting to stay lean for the better free agents coming available next off season (2010) have created a perfect storm for this year’s class of NBA sellers of talent, meaning the players.

Add to that, some tough negotiations coming forth from the NBA owners with the Players Union on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the following year, and financial reality has hit a league smack in the face that made untold bad financial deals while signing players in the past. The throwing away of money on bad contracts in this league is legendary.

Before someone starts thinking I’m against those hard working players, I’m not. I’ll add that much worse has been occurring in corporate America with numbers that make these players look like dime store robbers. White collar executives are getting bonuses for failure that would make the players’ agents turn red with embarrassment, if not green with envy.

But two wrongs don’t make a right. They make everything cost more than they should for Joe Working Class. And I write about the NBA, I’m not in the business section.

So, this summer has been a revelation of sorts. Call it the start of a market correction that will last for a few years, at least, hopefully.

With the possible exception of a handful of early signers such as Marcin Gortat, Paul Millsap, Ben Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Charlie Villanueva, Chris Anderson, and perhaps Hedo Turkoglu, no other players would be considered over paid this off season. It could be argued that the Detroit Pistons, flush with Allen Iverson money and other expiring contracts, might have overpaid for their talent injection of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Time will tell.

In fact, some big names like Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury are looking at far deeper salary cuts than what forced a starving Latrell Sprewell into retirement. That is, when they actually sign with someone.

There will be a shift to what could be called ‘underpaid’, a somewhat unusual definition for many free agents. That is somewhat of a first for the NBA in recent memory. Yes, rookie contracts are skewed in favor of the signing NBA teams. Kevin Garnett’s enormous rookie contract was one of the catalysts to change the parameters for new comers to the league. After that initial contract, market forces would be to the players’ advantage, and they were….until now.

New York 5 and 10?

Good gracious, even the money printing New York Treasury Knicks, under their new leader Donnie Walsh, are playing the fiscal conservative game for the first time in a long while. Stop the sanity. There is no truth to the rumor that they are thinking of  changing their name to the New York Knick-els….. and Dimes. But you might have a hard time convincing their two free agents of that.

Talented big man David Lee and diminutive fire starter Nate Robinson are still waiting for contracts and it looks like both will accept one year deals if they have to….and like it.  In New York, that is about as normal as an honest Three Card Monty game.

Utah had three players (Boozer, Korver, Okur) all look around and decide to quickly pick up the option on their final year salaries, realizing that….. They aren’t getting any better deal anywhere else.

Throughout the league, signings have been within the realm of logical, and some talented players are still waiting, including point guards Ramon Sessions, Raymond Felton, and Jamal Tinsley.

Celtics Play It Prudently

Did I say prudently? Wyc Grousbeck will have opened his checkbook for about $84 million this season after signing Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis, tieing him with the Jazz for second highest payroll in the league. Only current NBA Champion Los Angeles is higher.

With Rasheed Wallace signing for $5.8 million (3 year deal with 10% increases), Shelden Williams happy to get the veteran’s minimum of  slightly under $1 million,  Marquis Daniels about to settle for the Biannual Exception of $1.9 million (length of deal unknown), and Glen Davis about to get $3 million (second year at $3.3 mil), Danny Ainge has helped strengthen his club while keeping salary expenses down as much as could possibly be expected.

The Celtics still need a back up point guard and there are a ton of them unsigned, though some would not be available for the minimum salary.

Let’s say the Celtics bought out Tony Allen. Are there two players in this list you would want on the Celtics’ roster?

I don’t know how many will be available at bargain prices, but my guess is….a lot. The NBA’s annual Summer Clearance Sale has begun. All prices marked down. Cash and Carry.

Still out in the cold:


Aaron Gray

Johan Petro

Jason Collins

Jarron Collins

Melvin Ely

Robert Swift

Adonal Foyle

Jake Voskuhl

Power Forwards

David Lee (R)

Mikki Moore – remember him?

Joe Smith- remember when Celtic fans wanted him?

Juwan Howard

Brian Skinner

Sean Marks

Stromile Swift

Cedric Simmons

Small Forwards

Ime Udoka

Leinas Klizas (R) – signing with Olympiacos in Europe

Rob Kurz

Joey Graham

Steve Novak (R)

Rodney Carney

Ryan Bowen

Othello Hunter

Point Guards

Jason Williams

Tyronn Lue

Brevin Knight

C.J. Watson (R)

Anthony Carter

Jason Hart

Ramon Sessions (R)

Nate Robinson (R)

Raymond Felton (R)

Jamaal Tinsley

Damon Jones

Stephon Marbury

Jacques Vaughn

Shooting Guards

Keith Bogans

Fred Jones

Von Wafer

Wally Szerbiak

Bobby Jackson

Luther Head

Gerald Green

Desmond Mason

Flip Murray

Rashad McCants

Jerry Stackhouse

Juan Dixon

Thomas Halzack

6 Responses

  1. halzack says:

    Actually Oberto agreed to sign with the Wiz three weeks ago. I wonder what took so long?

  2. halzack says:

    JB- Radja? Hmmmm… doesn’t ring a bell. Jiri Welsch, maybe.

    The guy who should have been on that list was Fabricio Oberto, after being bought out. He is signing with the Wiz. Good move. They are paying him the BAE. If Baby was signed and traded, I wonder if Danny would have been after him

    Jay – Danny locked and loaded on that one from early on, didn’t he? If he was a poker player, he would be pretty good on bluffing others off his hand, I think.

    As you can tell from the article, I’m not against a little common sense in financial matters in this league. It is about time. I think it may get a bit tighter in the next CBA.

    Thanks for commenting.


  3. Jay King says:

    Nice overlook of the economic situation and its effect on the NBA. The Celtics, I think, have played it well this offseason in foreseeing the lack of a market for Big Baby and parlaying that into keeping him at a smaller-than-expected contract.

  4. JB says:

    I keep hearing good things about Dino Radja….

  5. halzack says:

    Don’t forget Vitale Patapenko, phil.

    Nice music. KG likes your stuff.

  6. phil collins says:

    What about Slava Medvedenko? That dude’s a primo candidate worthy of a max contract for five years!