Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free Agency Fallout

Fans love the frenzy that comes with the offseason. Trades are made, draft picks are scrutinized, free agents are pursued and hope is renewed. This is more true in the NBA than in any other sport, as they tend to have the most active market of any professional sport in America. While the fans love it, the players likely have a different feeling altogether in association with the uncertainty that the offseason brings.

For example, what is Phoenix Suns forward Shawn Marion to think when there are trade rumors swirling about, with the most likely destination being Utah? Or how about Cleveland Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao and swingman Sasha Pavlovic, who have yet to be offered contracts by the team, despite interest from other teams during the initial free agent period? It appears they'll be re-signing, but when?

Then there are the ramifications of what happens when a team signs one free agent at the expense of re-signing one of their own or having to trade away a player to free up minutes or avoid the luxury tax. Let's take a look at a few situations where that occurred this summer.

Boston Celtics: Traded for Ray Allen, giving up Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and the #5 draft pick (SF Jeff Green) to the Seattle Supersonics.

Seattle Supersonics: They acquired three SF's (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Wally Szczerbiak), effectively paving the way for Rashard Lewis to leave town, which he did in in a sign-and-trade to Orlando for a conditional 2nd round pick.

Orlando Magic: They signed Rashard Lewis to a monstrous free agent contract (6 years, $110 million), so they had to bite the bullet and withdraw the qualifying offer to Darko Milicic, rather than even attempt a sign-and-trade because they couldn't take back any additional salary.

Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies then signed Darko to a 3 year contract and waived forward Alexander Johnson. Johnson later signed with the Miami Heat, who we'll hear from later.

Milwaukee Bucks: They re-signed PG Mo Williams to a extension, which then led restricted free agent G Charlie Bell to decide that he wasn't needed in Wisconsin any longer. So Bell signed an offer sheet with the Miami Heat.

Miami Heat: Signed Charlie Bell to an offer sheet, leading to speculation that oft-injured PG Jason Williams will be moved, for the purposes of playing time and luxury tax implications. Finding a new home for J-Will could potentially save the Heat millions this season. Perhaps he'll go to Atlanta since Milwaukee just signed Royal Ivey to a contract.

As you can see, transactions in the NBA can have a domino effect that can affect multiple players and teams and lead to many other transactions and deals being made. This was just a small sample that really started with just two teams each making a move, but it involved 6 teams and might not be finished yet. I could go on and on with every transaction made this offseason, playing connect the dots, but I think I've made my point. This is also another thing to consider when factoring in just how difficult it must be a GM in the NBA, when you never know how the Butterfly Effect will touch you.

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