FREE AGENCY PREVIEW (part 1)
THE BIG EXPENDERS
- TORONTO DINOS. 5 roster spots, 46.0 23.0 M of salary cap
The Dinos can go either way they want. Jason Donovan and Latrell McDyess are the only players with a future in the team, and that 4th pick should add a new building block. They could add 2 max salaries via free agency, but you never know if a player is willing to sign for a team that played so bad last season, the Warriors’ success was a rarity last season, but Toronto could try to show the money to some aging stars. They could try to facilitate a trade with a team looking to free some money too. At least they have a competent GM who is not afraid to be imaginative when needed. Anyway, Toronto needs big men in the worst possible way, so you can expect them to fill offers for Trentesols, Ryan Rogers and Walt Jackson.
DRAFT DAY UPDATE: With the acquisition of Damian Bohn for the 4th pick, Toronto has its star. Now they need to use those 23 million they have left to sign some good big men.
- MEXICO CITY HELLCATS. 4 roster spots, 35.2 M of salary cap
35 million sound pretty spectacular, until you realize that they need to resign Chris Dao and Ryan Rodgers. Assuming they are capable of it, the cap room would be reduced to under 10 million. It will not be an easy task, as Dao will be one of the most sought after players. Replacing them would not be easy even with that money, and they need a power forward capable to start too. We can say that the Hellcats’ future is in its key moment.
- ALBACETE BURNING HELL. 8 roster spots, 36.4 M of salary cap
Just five players under contract, only 3 of them playing last season. Of course, they are Lonnie Jordan, Edgardo Blanco and Lazaro Hendricks, but they have to decide if they resign Dan Kincaid and Sherman Mahara, as well as Ahmed Dougherty. That’s a 6 players core that was close (not that close) to challenge Brooklyn in the Finals but fell short. They will go after every big name like Trentesols, Dao and Alston Irving and try to steal them in the very first days and then resign Mahara and Kincaid after that. That strategy has failed in the past for other teams like Colorado, but who knows. Add one more star to this squad and Albacete becomes the top team in the league. Easier said than done, but still…
In an alternative universe, Albacete sacrifices for the league and give a 150 M offer to Mario Bailey, just for the laughs.
- SALT LAKE CITY FANATICS. 1 roster spots, 32.5 M of salary cap
GM Bangerter has filled a whole team of talented youngsters in rookie contracts. But the time to pay has become. Demarcus Walton and Alston Irving did not commit to sign an extension, and while Walton is still learning the fundamentals and somehow, he is a pair of years away, Irving is a very desired player all around the league. Of course, he will receive a max offer, and the good news for SLC is that they have room to try to sign another small forward with a big contract. But we are sure that Irving will receive at least 10 max offers and you never know when a young player has had enough with Utah.
- SEATTLE RAINMAKERS. 4 roster spots, 29.6 M of salary cap
Seattle has made a great work and has some young talent at every position with Justice Grant at the centre being the only player over 30. They can choose what strategy they want. They could resign Pat London who is a great player, but do the Rainmakers really need him for a big contract? They have Brice Oliver and Scooter Baylor as a projected starting backcourt and while London would easily start as a shooting guard, we should not take for granted that Seattle will sign him. A sign and trade for a younger centre could be an option, as the marker for centers is really weak this season. The problem for Seattle is that free agents don’t see the Rainmakers as an exciting landing spot after years of losing, so maybe signing London is a way to stack some assets to make a trade later
- NIGERIA PIRATES. 4 roster spots, 26.1 M of salary cap
Nigeria is a team heading in a good direction right now. If they want to be significant, resigning Stephen Harrelson is a priority. Unfortunately, Harrelson is the best power forward available, so you can expect some fight for his services. Other than that, the Pirates need some starting caliber players at the frontcourt, and there aren’t a lot of them this year as free agents. Maybe a trade of one of their young point guards could help.
- LONDON DISCO. 4 roster spots, 25.6 M of salary cap
London was 4 consecutive years winning less games than the year before. So, with an aging roster, a top 3 pick and close to 10 million in cap room, and having won just 23 games last season, they didn’t hesitate to hit the reset button. Matias Gutierrez was the most valuable asset they had, but he’s not a star, so they went after the only super-duper star player in next draft. It didn’t come at a low price, but Benet De Gama will fit well with the Disco. In addition, they have now 25 Million in cap room to help shaping London’s roster around Da Gama. They would be wise to try to pack some of their veterans like Juwan Bixby for some young player to faster the retooling process.
- GABON GIANTS. 4 roster spots, 24.2 M of salary cap
Looking at the roster, the Giants should have had some more wins last season, but a mix of bad luck with injuries and some underperforming from certain veteran players ended with the team out of the playoffs. But the new season is here, and Gabon is ready to make some noise. They are pretty much set at point guard and center, and the rumour is that one of their guards is being traded for some depth at the forward spots. Now the question is how much effort are they using to bring Arturo Fonzarelli back. GM Drapeau has been really critical with him recently, and while they wouldn’t mind a reunion, don’t expect the Giants to break the bank for him. If a player like Harrelson or Dao chooses Gabon, they won’t hesitate to show Fonzarelli where´s the door
- OSAKA FUGU. 4 roster spots, 23.3 M of salary cap
The new GM needs to start working as fast as possible to balance this team. They have holes almost at any spot, and while Pedersen and Gutierrez are good starters, they are not players capable of leading a team to the playoffs. Hopefully, that 8th pick will land a competent player, and them using those 23 million to sign at least a starting power forward and Shooting guard. If they don’t mess with those 3 players, Osaka could be back to the postseason.
- FRANKFURT FURY. 5 roster spots, 23.2 M of salary cap
Frankfurt is a team with a good mix of veterans and young players waiting to explode. They are trading out of the drat for some depth at the point guard with Napoleon Carter. Len Marella’s contract ended but he can be replaced easily. They need some big men to play from the bench, or they could explore trading Omar Raoumbe for a younger center. If they decide to let marella go, you can expect them to add player to the bench for a second unit before going for a star.
- BOSTON MASSACRE. 4 roster spots, 22.5 M of salary cap
Like Albacete, Boston is in a good position here. They have a great 4 players core signed long term and 22 million to round it. Casey Pointer needs to be resigned, but GM Lawrence (the bad one, you guess) need to address if he wants to choose another route. Pointer is close to be 30 and he will receive some lucrative offers for sure. Michael Askins’ versatility will be very much needed if they fall short in the point guard position
SOME ROOM TO MAKE OFFERS BUT NOT ENOUGH FOR A MAX OFFER TIER
- MIAMI XTREME. 3 roster spots, 16.4 M of salary cap
Miami has missed the playoffs in the past 3 seasons, and the situation is going to be worse next season. With a pair of picks in the mid of the first round, and Jesus Morell kidnapping the franchise’s soul, it is a matter of time to see Omar Rozier botch the team and look for greener pastures. He already has said that he wants to win titles and Miami is really far from contending. The Xtreme should be a good candidate to rebuild the team. Rozier would net a great package and Morell still has a market. But you can bet that Brent, as stubborn as he is, will keep the team together, even if it means overpaying Rufus Castellano.
- BARCELONA COUNTS. 4 roster spots, 16.3 M of salary cap
Barcelona has a nice collection of young players, good enough to be in the postseason for years but not that good to contend. At some point they will need to pack some of these players to net a big fish. And while 16 million seem like a good amount of money, we are pretty sure that task number one will be resigning Ira Redwine, and sadly for the Counts, there are some teams rumored to be offering the max for him. Ajani Valantine will receive some offers for the full exception for sure.
- MOSCU SNOW WARRIORS. 0 roster spots, 15.2 M of salary cap
Being the GM in Moscow is a really good place to be right now. They have probably the best combo of young forwards with Davidson and Acklin still in their rookie contracts. They Have Comas Neetar to score at will when Acklin needs some rest….and they have no one to resign with some veterans to play from the bench. The best part is that they have still more than 15 million to pick some really good player, probably a guard, Charlie Meyers is 32 and his legs are not the same anymore. Anyway, we need to remember that this franchise is damned, with Robert Williams and Pablo as the previous GMs, so, don’t be mad if they end signing Wu Dian Fan for the max.
- KANSAS CITY BLUES. 6 roster spots. 14.3 M of salary cap
With the resignation of veteran GM Dave Williams, the Blues find themselves in a deep hole of mediocrity and future commitments. They have one of the best centers in the league in Jeremy Sims and that’s a good start. BUT (yes, capital letters) they traded for Omar Jefferson and his contract (72 million left in the next three seasons). Jefferson and Sims combine for 70 per cent of the salary cap, so it is not really hard to find out the margin they have to improve the team. Adding insult to the injury, Walt Jackson’s contract is over, and while he is still a great player, at some point he is going to start fading. Do the Blues go after him or do they look for some young blood? With no GM at command expect this team to do nothing, losing Jackson and be in the lottery soon. A shame for Jeremy Sims, of course