July Moratorium ends tomorrow
In less than 24 hours’ time, the July Moratorium on new contracts will be over and a flurry of money will be spent by the NBA’s GMs in a mad dash for 2012′s best free agents. When the deals are confirmed tomorrow, particularly the issue of whether teams choose to match the massive contracts signed by restricted free agents (Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert, Nicolas Batum, Omer Asik etc), you’ll start to see the transactions emerging on NBAFanCast’s Transactions page.
Unfortunately for many NBA teams, the work has already been done on signing most of this summer’s elite free agents. Steve Nash fills the role left by the non-signing of Chris Paul last year in La La Land; Ray Allen is headed to Miami to hook up with the champs; Eric Gordon and Roy Hibbert have been signed to $50m+ contracts by Phoenix and Portland, respectively, although both New Orleans and Indiana are likely to match those deals. Oh, and Deron Williams got as-near-as-makes-no-difference $100m for the next five years from the newly-renamed Brooklyn Nets.
There is, of course, one guy still waiting to find out where he’ll be playing next season. And though he isn’t a free agent, Dwight Howard is still the biggest story of the 2012 off-season.
Forget the incessant rumors surrounding the futures of veterans Nash, Allen and Jason Kidd; never mind the buzz about where Jeremy Lin will be plying his trade when he signs his first multi-year deal this summer (offered a four-year deal by Houston, which New York will surely match). Howard’s relentless campaign to strong-arm his way out of Orlando and into Brooklyn is dominating NBA.com, as well as every blog and newsfeed you can find about the NBA. It’s featured on our favourite blog, Sekou Smith’s HangTime Blog, every day. Yes, every single day.
Rookie Magic GM Rob Hannigan, in his first month on the job, is doing tremendously to have held out this long, and he appears to be gaining in confidence. Hannigan refuses right now to even speak to the Nets unless the exact package he wants is offered; instead, he’s offering Howard openly to anyone who can put the right bid together, waiting patiently for the Lakers to offer him a package built around Andrew Bynum.
More than any team beside the Nets, its the Rockets who are doing the most work to try to set themselves up for Howard, but their strategy seems flawed to me. Houston currently has two guards and about nine forwards signed, and seems to hope that by throwing all of these and a dozen draft picks (slight exaggeration, but not as much as you’d think) at Orlando, they’ll twist Hannigan’s arm.
As NBAFC contributor Arron MacDonald said to me in an unrelated conversation yesterday: “It’s like trading loose change for a note. You always want the note.” Howard, of course, is the note. But the Rockets are forgetting that Orlando, too, would surely rather keep hold of that note than take the fistful of nickels Houston have to offer.
For now, Howard remains the biggest name not to move in the 2012 offseason. Somehow, I don’t have much faith in that staying true for long.