LAS VEGAS — Out here in the steamy desert, it’s been difficult to keep track of all the coming and goings. One day, New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower is sitting in the stands watching the action at summer league. The next day various Hornets assistants were scrambling for an impromptu meeting in the same section to discuss what they’re going to do now that they don’t have a general manager anymore.
The free agent market typically has a defined rhythm to it. The top players go first, along with a handful of role players who actually set the market — Drew Gooden, Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, etc. Then come the secondary players along with the sign-and-trades and restricted free agents.
This can take as long as a month, but in the wake of ‘The Decision’ things have happened at a breakneck pace. When LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amar’e Stoudemire signed with new teams, they didn’t just take their talents with them. They also left parting gifts in the form of trade exemptions, which shifted cap space from one franchise to another.
So while the Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Nets have used their cap space to varying degrees, the Raptors, Suns and Jazz have also remade their teams.
(Somewhat hilariously, the Timberwolves picked up up a sizable trade exception after they gave away Al Jefferson to Utah. The only problem is, they can’t use it unless they are over the cap. They used some of that cap space on Luke Ridnour and now seem intent on giving away Ramon Sessions, who they signed last year. There appears to be no method to the madness that is [David] Kaaaaahn.)
While all this has gone down, the Celtics have basically been forced to sit and watch with nothing but the veteran minimum left to offer.
Danny Ainge did almost all of his work before July 8 when he agreed to contracts with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and used the full mid-level exception on Jermaine O’Neal. The consensus out in Vegas is that the Celtics did well with those deals, particularly with O’Neal who will probably have to start at center for most of the season while Kendrick Perkins rehabs from his knee surgery.
But the Memphis Grizzlies threw them a curveball when they signed Tony Allen to a three-year deal. The issue wasn’t the money. It was the years. Having lived with T.A. for this long, they felt that three years was just too long to commit to a player with his inconsistencies and injury history.
The minimum offer from the Celtics has more cache then say, the minimum offer from the Pacers, because they can also offer a chance to play for a championship with a universally respected coach like Doc Rivers. But, money is money and there is still some of it out there to grab before the market settles back down.
So, where do they go from here? The operative word from people here in Vegas is time, as in it will take some before the market comes back to them. (more…)