Point guard roulette should be the title of the 2012 NBA Free Agency period so far, as Jeremy Lin is the latest big name to probably make a switch of teams, getting the offer he wanted from the Houston Rockets, which will be very hard for the New York Knicks to match due to the salary cap restrictions.
The interesting thing about the whole situation is that both Lin and the Knicks want to stay partners, as both sides have repeatedly said. The problem is the money issue, which seems to be important to Lin, although the differences are only $6 million spread over four years. The Rockets offered Lin a four-year, $30 million deal, giving him just under $10 million in the final two years of the contract. The fourth year will be a team option.
The Knicks can’t offer anything more than $24.5 million for the same period, because matching such an offer might turn very problematic for them due to their obligations to Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
While the Rockets have already lost one point guard (Goran Dragic) via free agency to the Phoenix Suns, they’re shipping their other point guard, Kyle Lowry, via trade, to the Toronto Raptors. Lowry, despite having a very good season for the Rockets with 14.6 points and 6.6 assists, wasn’t pleased with the coaching situation (Kevin McHale) and wanted out. The Raptors gave back Gary Forbes, who averaged 6.6 points in 15 minutes a night last season. They also gave away a protected future first-round draft pick.
With this move it seems clear the Rockets, from being a borderline playoff team in the West, are falling back to a lower level of ambition and expectation, at least for next season, unless their planning on making a big move for Dwight Howard with is still someone on their radar.
Another point guard who seems to be flip flopping between teams is Jason Kidd, who once again looks like he’s not staying with the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs were willing to offer him a three-year, $9 million offer, but it seems the lure of helping the Knicks in their playoff aspirations or even getting a starting job because Lin might be on his way out. Kidd is coming off the worst season in his career, averaging 6.2 points and 5.5 assists, obviously NOT looking like starting material.
That leaves the Mavs wanting a point guard, which just might be Ramon Sessions who decided to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Lakers, looking for a starting job and security. The Lakers, obviously, now that they have Nash, aren’t going to pursue Sessions to return.
He averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists for the Lakers during the regular season, although his production and importance seemed to decline a bit in the postseason. It’s not easy playing next to Kobe Bryant in crunch time. He would have made $4.5 million in the final year of his contract had he stayed with the Lakers.
But now enough about point guards – other things are hapenning as well. Brandon Roy agreed to make the Minnesota Timberwolves his comeback team, agreeing to a two-year, $10.4 million deal, which has a bit of poetic justice to it. Roy was actually picked by the Timberwolves in the 2006 NBA Draft, but traded to Portland in exchange for Randy Foye; a trade that didn’t really work out.
Roy missed all of the 2011-2012 NBA season after announcing his retirement for the game and the league after having too much trouble with his repeatedly injured knees. He averaged 12.2 points per game during his last season, missing half of it due to one of these injuries. Roy made the All-Star game three times in the past.
Last but certainly not least is Nicolas Batum, a restricted free agent, who has spent the first four years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, who agreed to a four-year, $45 million offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves, with bonuses pushing it more to the $50 million mark. The Blazers are expected to match the offer for Batum, who averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Blazers last season, developing into one of the better two-way small forwards in the league.