Free Agency: Round Two

"New York is back." Are they really?

Since our last update on free agency there have been more agreements between teams and players. Once again it must be said that nothing is finalized until contracts are actually signed. Signings can begin on July 8th. However, there has FINALLY been some major player movement for max money. It was funny when two years ago all the prognosticators were predicting this to be the wildest summer in NBA history. It has so far failed to live up to such a billing. It is far from over though.

In the biggest move of free agency to date, Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks have come to terms on a five-year $99.7 million deal. The above image is one of the first captured of Amar’e as a soon to be Knickerbocker. (Taken by Mark J. Spears of Yahoo!) One look at the price tag on this deal and it would be easy to think that Isiah Thomas was still running things. No, he coaches the men’s team at Florida International. However, his ghost still haunts them. This is the first, of what the Knicks hope to be many, major free agent signings for the struggling franchise. Though nothing has been officially stated, this is clearly the beginning of the end of David Lee’s time in New York. Losing Lee could prove beneficial as it gives Mike D’Antoni and the organization the ability to spotlight the tandem of Eddy Curry and Stoudemire. As for now, the NBA should focus on Amar’e’s blatent tampering in his efforts to recruit Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony. But they won’t, as the prospect of New York returning to relevancy is too strong. Plus, Stoudemire is a player and not a pesky owner or GM.

Amar’e’s payday pales in comparison to the haul that Joe Johnson will pull in. He and the Hawks have agreed to a max deal of six years and $120 million. This grand sum of money has ended up hurting the Hawks sooner than anyone expected since they cannot pursue another free agent until the salary cap, midlevel exception, and luxury tax are revealed. They have had interest in Shaquille O’Neal, but as for now everything is on hold. If this is hampering the Hawks plans now just think about the issues they will face in six years when Johnson is 34 and making more than $20 million.

In a complete break from the norm, the norm being players chasing dollar signs rather than wins, Dirk Nowitzki has recommitted to signing with the Dallas Mavericks for four years and $80 million. This is $16 million less than the max deal that he could have taken. By taking less he has saved the organization around $32 million in luxury taxes over the next four years. It also gives the Mavericks some room to maneuver in their hopes to lure a free agent to come to Dallas via sign and trade. Expect there to be a no trade clause in Nowitzki’s newly structured contract.

In lesser free agency news, the Orlando Magic and point guard Chris Duhon have agreed to terms of a four-year $15 million deal. The Knicks now have a vacancy at point which they need to fill if they want to run with Amar’e. For Duhon, the move to the Magic will certainly see him misused in Stan Van Gundy’s awkward offensive schemes and allow him plenty of time to warm the bench which should allow him to establish great friendships with Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat.

What about the big three? Well, still nothing has been decided by the King or Wade and therefore Bosh has not had to “choose” where to go yet. However, LeBron James is expected to make a choice sometime Wednesday or possibly Thursday. As of now, he is showing no signs of leaning in any particular direction. The Nets can only hope that LeBron’s decision bridge to nowhere actually leads to them and *cough, hack* Newark.

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