Hamilton: NBA Free Agency, Week 1 in Review; Week 2 Ahead

Deron Williams stayed.

Jason Kidd left.

Steve Nash was traded, and so was Kyle Lowry.

Thus far, the NBA’s free agency season has been dominated by point guards, but as we count down the days to the end of the moratorium on July 11, there are plenty of other deals, signings, and trades being made.

On Friday, the Celtics were dealt a crushing blow (exactly how crushing will be determined in part by Jason Terry) when Ray Allen decided to join the Miami Heat. The Philadelphia 76ers, on the other hand, took out the dynamite severed ties with Elton Brand and Lou Williams.

Meanwhile, after agreeing to terms with Jason Kidd, the New York Knicks are still pretty active in the free agent market.

And although there’s still some time before July 11, it seems as though the fates of Nicolas Batum and Eric Gordon are settled  — their personal wishes be damned.

We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but here’s a rundown of the major stories from the recent past:

Ray Allen Joins The Heat

After the Celtics were knocked out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat, I got word that Ray Allen was probably on his way out of Boston. I took to Twitter and relayed what I’d heard, mainly that Allen’s relationships with Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, and Rajon Rondo had all deteriorated to the point where it was very likely that Allen would seek employment elsewhere once he became a free agent.

Ainge tried to trade Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies last April, and it’s something Allen wasn’t able to forget. In the end, the Celtics final contract offer to Allen was a two-year, $12 million deal and it included a no-trade clause. So there’s your confirmation.

Despite the fact that the Celtics reportedly offered Allen more than any of the other teams courting him—the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, and Miami Heat among them—Allen ended up settling for half the money that the Celtics offered.

In the end, Allen agreed to join the Miami Heat on Friday, ending his five-year run as a member of the Boston Celtics. Allen is expected to accept the Heat’s $3.09 million taxpayer midlevel exception, though it’s unclear whether Allen will receive a two-year deal or a three-year deal.

Fresh off of winning the 2012 NBA championship, the Heat unequivocally offered Allen a chance to join a team on the rise with something that the Celtics wouldn’t offer — a starting job.

Allen just turned 37 years old, but the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point makes just shot the best percentage of his 16-year career this past season and still believes he’s still a starter. From what I hear, Allen didn’t feel as valued by the Boston Celtics as he once did, and the signing of  Terry didn’t help much. Terry will play a very similar role in the Celtics’ offense as Allen did, and with Avery Bradley expecting to return next season, Allen saw the Celtics’ backcourt getting more crowded.

First, Steve Nash was traded to the Lakers and now, Allen signs with Heat. I guess all we need now is for Tony Parker to be traded to the Mavericks.

The lesson in all of this? The NBA is a business. Fans takes rivalries much more seriously than the players do. At the end of the day, most players want an opportunity to win and want to feel as though they’re needed.

Allen got that from the Heat, and that’s why he ditched North Station for South Beach.

Sixers Sever Ties with Elton Brand and Lou Williams

In a move that shouldn’t surprise many, the Philadelphia 76ers decided to use their one-time amnesty right on Elton Brand. He was due to earn over $18 million this coming season and though he will still be paid, his salary comes off of the books and allows the team to sign Nick Young to a one-year deal for $6 million.

The Sixers have also decided to part ways with Lou Williams. Williams had spent his entire seven-year career as a Sixer prior to announcing on Twitter that he wouldn’t be returning to the team.

This past season, Williams averaged 14.9 points per game off the bench and accomplished the rare feat of leading his team in scoring, despite being a reserve.

These moves indicate that the club is looking to build around the young nucleus of Jrue Holiday, Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes—whom the club recently re-signed to a two-year extension worth $13 million.

What’s more interesting is where all of this leaves Andre Iguodala. Iguodala is one of the game’s best perimeter defenders and has an all-around basketball game and IQ reminiscent of a poor man’s Scotty Pippen. Each year, his name comes up in trade rumors and if the Sixers are cleaning house, this may be when he is finally moved.

Last June, the Lakers and Sixers discussed a trade that would have sent Lamar Odom to the Sixers for Andre Iguodala, but the Sixers backed out. At this point, the Lakers probably don’t have the assets to complete any such trade, but there will always be a market for a player like Iguodala.

For that reason, you should keep your eyes on this situation.

Knicks To Sign Kidd, Match Lin, Meet With Camby

After losing out on Steve Nash, the Knicks rebounded nicely and agreed to terms with Jason Kidd. Kidd is expected to back Jeremy Lin up next season. Lin agreed to a four-year, $28 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, but the Knicks are believed to be prepared to match the deal.

Though Kidd can’t officially be signed until July 11 the Knicks will sign him to a three-year deal worth $9 million and would like to execute a sign-and-trade deal with the Mavericks so that they can preserve their taxpayer midlevel exception of $3.09 million and offer it to another free agent.

That other free-agent may very well be a former Knick, Marcus Camby. Camby is expected to meet with the Knicks over the weekend, but probably not until after he’s met with the Miami Heat. Fortunately for the Knicks, the Heat have agreed to terms with Ray Allen for their taxpayer midlevel exception, so they would only be able to offer Camby the veteran’s minimum salary of about $1.4 million. Camby is said to be looking for a bigger payday, but the fact that the Heat could offer him a starting role and a serious chance at winning a championship probably improve their chances.

The Knicks are still very active in the free-agent market, more so since they are not expected to match the Toronto Raptors’ three-year, $20 million offer for Landry Fields. Though Fields spent most of his two-years as a Knick as a shooting guard, coach Mike Woodson favored Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith.

Fields, in my opinion, was always a small forward playing out of position and his departure leaves questions as to who will be Carmelo Anthony’s primary reserve. On Friday, news trickled out from Portland that the Trail Blazers have reached a buyout agreement with Shawne Williams. Bringing Williams back might make some sense for the Knicks, especially with the uncertain contract status of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak.

Nicolas Batum and Eric Gordon Likely To Be Matched

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Phoenix Suns made news when they agreed to offer sheets with Nicolas Batum and Eric Gordon, respectively. Batum’s Timberwolves offer sheet is for four years, $45 million, while Gordon’s offer sheet with the Suns will pay him $58 million over four years.

Batum and Gordon were two of the more coveted restricted free agents on the market, so the following should come as no surprise: all indications are that each of their offers will be matched.

The Trail Blazers’ matching of Batum’s offer sheet makes a lot of sense considering last season’s trade that sent Gerald Wallace to the Brooklyn Nets. The move was done in large part to clear the way for Batum to be Portland’s small forward of the future and at this moment, it appears that’s what’s going to happen.

The same can’t be said for Gordon, however. Gordon was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers, but the Hornets failed to sign him to a long-term extension when they had the opportunity to do so earlier this year. Now, after drafting Anthony Davis with the first overall pick in last month’s draft and Austin Rivers with the 10th overall pick, I wonder how well Rivers and Gordon will be able to co-exist.

The Suns—who have agreed to terms with both Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley—are hoping that the Hornets elect to not match the offer sheet to Gordon so that the rebuilding effort in the dessert can be short-lived. Dragic and Beasley couldn’t ensure that, but if you add Gordon to those two, the Suns would probably have a fighting chance at securing a spot in next season’s NBA playoffs.

There’s still a long way to go, but stay plugged in to SheridanHoops.com. We’ve got you covered.

Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com and will be providing the latest news and commentary during the NBA’s free-agency period. Follow him on Twitter to stay up-to date.

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