When Monday morning rolls around and the NBA free agency period continues, the biggest winner over the weekend will not be Metta World Peace and it will not be Jeff Teague.
Brandon Jennings is now the man with much of the power.
Over the weekend, it was reported that the Atlanta Hawks decided to match the four-year, $32 million offer sheet that Teague signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. As a result, Teague will remain a Hawk for the foreseeable future, and will be paid rather handsomely to do so.
The $32 million deal Teague will play under represents fair market value for a young point guard who is coming off of his most productive season, where he helped the Atlanta Hawks to a sixth straight postseason appearance while averaging 14.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists per game.
But now, the Bucks will have to answer to Jennings—who reportedly told the Bucks that it would take $12 million a year for him to re-sign a multi-year extension with them.
The message to Jennings was sent, his team preferred another man. And now that Teague is back in Atlanta, the Bucks face the very real possibility of Jennings, having felt alienated by the club, not backing off from his salary demands. As it stands, Jennings still has the option of accepting the Bucks one-year qualifying offer worth $4.5 million, and may become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Los Angeles Lakers—Jennings’ hometown team—will have cap space to throw at him if they choose to do so.
For the Bucks, herein lies the quandary: attracting young free agents to Milwaukee may prove difficult, and sometimes, especially for a small market NBA team, it is better to love the one you are with if you cannot be with the one you love. In other words, the Bucks may be better off trying to come to a long-term agreement with Jennings rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.
There are arguments both for and against retaining Jennings, though $12 million may be too high of a number. Either way, eyes will now be firmly fixed on Jennings’ free agency and how his situation with the Bucks plays out. Obviously, a sign-and-trade deal remains a possibility, as well. Maybe even the likeliest one.
The other major news to come out of this past weekend was Metta World Peace’s clearing amnesty waivers without being claimed.
As of 5:00pm ET on Sunday, World Peace became an unrestricted free agent and is expected to sign with either the Los Angeles Clippers or New York Knicks. The more time elapses, the more team names seem to be added to the list of his potential landing spots, but World Peace’s father has, Ron, Sr., has been steadfast in saying that he believes World Peace would end up with the Knicks if he cleared. And he did.
The Knicks—who suddenly have a much less talented roster than the Brooklyn Nets do—need to make a splash and their poor cap situation and dearth of tradable assets means they need to get lucky in order to do so. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Jeremy Tyler, both of whom are competing for the Knicks summer league team in Las Vegas, have both had their moments. But the third tier of free agents—such as World Peace—is where the Knicks need to have some sort of success if they are to repeat as Atlantic Division champions for the first time since they won back-to-back division titles in 1993 and 1994.
With Nikola Pekovic all but certain to re-sign in Minnesota on a four-year deal worth $50 million and Monta Ellis agreeing to terms with the Dallas Mavericks, Teague’s offer being matched by the Hawks means that Jennings is now our number one free agent on the market. There still is an abundance of talent out there, though, and quite a few guys are still getting some attention.
Dejuan Blair, No. 21 on our list, is reportedly receiving some interest from the Washington Wizards while Nate Robinson, who has had conversations with multiple teams, sounds to be close to signing with the Denver Nuggets.
Mo Williams, Aaron Brooks, Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand are still out there, as well.
One other name, who is no longer available, is Wesley Johnson. The Los Angeles Lakers, obviously the biggest losers in this year’s free agent market, continue their makeover after losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets. The Lakers are reportedly wooing Lamar Oodom for a potential return and have followed up the signings of Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar with another veteran’s minimum signing—Wesley Johnson.
Johnson was selected with the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, and the Lakers hope to tap into his potential and get something out of him.
In the meantime, how’s about a little love for the biggest winners this offseason? We will rank them soon enough, but after the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets, a round of applause is in order (though in no particular order) for the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here are your updated free agency rankings…