Uncontested Shots: The Latest on Marion, Bass, Odom, Hill and More

The NBA free agent period is at it’s halfway point and while many of the top names are signed there are still a number of valuable names still available.

What better time for my latest round of Uncontested Shots? Without further ado, here goes:

Mavs Get Shawn Marion in four-way trade with Raptors, Magic, and Grizzlies

As expected the Dallas Mavericks acquired combo forward Shawn Marion in a sign-and-trade deal with the Raptors that the Grizzlies helped to facilitate. The Mavericks get Marion as well as Nathan Jawai, Kris Humphries, and former Mav Greg Buckner from Memphis, the Raptors get Devean George and Antoine Wright from Dallas to go along with free agent signee Hedo Turkoglu, and the Grizzlies get Jerry Stackhouse from the Mavs along with the cash that will be used to pay Stackhouse’s $2 million buy-out.

When you consider that the Mavs have acquired Marion, Quinton Ross, and Marcin Gortat (once the Magic officially decline to match the offer sheet he signed with Dallas) at the low cost of only having to give up George, Wright, and Stackhouse, this has been a great off-season for the Mavs. (Update: Brandon Bass has signed a four-year deal with Orlando so add him to the list of losses)

Although I still don’t think that the Mavs are good enough to crack the top-three in the Western Conference. The Lakers and Spurs are still clearly better teams on paper but the Mavs still have a chance to pass the Nuggets should Denver fail to bring back Linas Kleiza after having already lost Dahntay Jones to the Pacers.

With Kleiza, the Nuggets get the edge because they have a better team one through eight. But without Kleiza the Nuggets top three bench players would be Chris Andersen, Renaldo Balkman, and rookie Ty Lawson versus the Mavs bench which boasts Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, and Erick Dampier.

If this was 2004 I’d say the Mavs were a better team but I give the Nuggets the edge since starters Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Nene are all ascending players whereas Kidd, Nowitzki, and Marion have all seen better days and Josh Howard just can’t seem to stay healthy.

Anyone else think it’s weird that Chris Bosh wished Kris Humphries luck on his Twitter page but had nothing to say to Shawn Marion?

Speaking of Dahntay Jones

With the news that Dahntay Jones has signed with the Pacers for four years and $11 million the Nuggets have to ask themselves who on their team will get the defensive assignment when they play against the likes Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Roy, and the rest of the conference’s (and the league’s) best guards?

As of right now that assignment would fall on J.R. Smith. While Smith’s defense and work ethic seem to have improved dramatically he just doesn’t doesn’t have the chops or the demeanor to guard any of those guys for forty minutes a game.

Looking at the list of free agent guards that the Nuggets might be interested in to help shore up their defense we’re talking about guys like Desmond Mason and Marquis Daniels. Mason would be a great fit for the Nuggets should Oklahoma City fail in trying to re-sign him.

The Lakers have to be thrilled with what’s happened this off-season. They acquired Ron Artest to defend Carmelo Anthony so Kobe doesn’t have to and then watched as Dahntay Jones, aka “Jack Tripper”, fled to Indiana.

Update: The Nuggets appear to be in trade discussions with the Pistons for the defensive-minded Arron Afflalo.

Hill Stays in Phoenix

Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski (easily the MVP of journalists during this off-season) reports that the Suns and Grant Hill have agreed on a two-year, $3.8 million extension. Hill chose  to stay in Phoenix instead of signing with either the Celtics or the Knicks.

I guess Hill is content finishing his career without ever making it to the second round of the playoffs. Would you believe that Hill has only played in 22 career playoff games? I know he was injured a lot but you’d think he’d at least made it past the first round once.

I heard Hill was going to borrow a page from Ron Artest’s playbook and wear number 0 if he ended up in Boston or New York in honor of the number of weeks his wife Tamia’s albums have been number 1 on the Billboard charts?

Odom Watch 2009

The Lakers and Lamar Odom still appear to be far apart on an extension. As is, the Lakers are already about $21 million over the projected luxury tax threshold for next season. Any contract Odom signs will count double with the luxury tax.

Sure the Lakers can afford to spend the kind of dough it would take to keep Odom around but people seem to forget that the Lakers also employ the highest-paid coach in professional sports. Phil Jackson’s salary for next season is an eye-popping $12 million.

Lakers fans need to be patient. The Blazers appear to be the only possibility to sign Odom for more than the luxury tax but all of the names that appear to be higher on the Blazers’ wish list are restricted free agents. So not only does Odom have to wait for the Blazers to sign one of their desired targets to an offer sheet but then he has to wait another week to see if those offer sheets get matched.

Update: The Blazers signed Paul Millsap to an offer sheet Friday night.

If it’s any consolation to Lakers fans, HoopsWorld.com’s Eric Pincus (easily the Most Improved Player of b-ball writers this off-season) feels pretty good about the Lakers chances of bringing Odom back.

His rationale is that the Lakers could have worked out a sign-and-trade with the Rockets for Ron Artest that would have allowed them to maintain their mid-level exemption in case Odom chose to leave. By not doing so he believes the Lakers seem pretty confident.

Quick sidenote: Pincus and I both attended Beverly Hills High School albeit about six years apart. He’s not only been on top of everything this off-season but he’s been as accessible as any b-ball writer on Twitter as far as answering questions is concerned. Just wanted to give him a quick shout-out.

Return of the Luxury Tax Amnesty Provision?

Back in 2005 the NBA instituted a one-time Luxury Tax Amnesty Provision (more commonly referred to as “The Allan Houston Rule”) that allowed teams to waive one player and avoid that player’s salary from counting against their luxury tax number.

Teams were still responsible for honoring the player contracts but were just exempt from having to pay the luxury tax.

With the current state of the economy and the league’s salary cap and luxury tax to decrease even more next season, is there a chance that we might see another type of provision next season before the final season of the current collective bargaining agreement? The players and the agents wouldn’t have a problem because the players would still get paid.

The only person that might oppose to it is a cheapskate owner like Donald Sterling who relies on his luxury tax payment each year to pay his legal bills and settle disputes with minorities.

Hero of the People

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News seems to be the only person in the Bay Area that has any sense of reality when it comes to what’s going on with the Golden St. Warriors and yet he constantly receives hate mail from Warriors fans when he’s only reporting facts.

Kawakami wrote a piece on his blog entitled “NBA salary cap goes down, with dire warning: Yes, that means you, Warriors” about how the Warriors are one of the few teams with huge salaries already committed for the 2012-13 season in an economic climate which forecasts a continuously declining salary cap.

He writes that the Warriors already have close to $41 million committed to only four players for that season (Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Andris Biedrins, and Corey Maggette)—about 77 percent of today’s cap figure. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the Warriors weren’t terrible. They have huge escalations in team payroll at a time when the salary cap is declining.

No wonder there are reports—also from Kawakami—that Warriors owner Chris Cohan might be interested in selling the team. Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says he’ll believe it when he sees it.

Gotta Love the Mad Dog

Mark Madsen might not be one of the NBA’s top 200 players but he is easily one of it’s brightest. Madsen, who spent two years between high school and college on a Mormon mission to Spain, devoted his latest blog entry to writing a letter in Spanish to Wolves draft pick Ricky Rubio.

Also worth checking out on Madsen’s blog is his response during the playoffs to Alonzo Mourning’s claims that Phil Jackson is overrated as a head coach. He lists all of the reasons that he feels make Jackson a great coach.

Uncontested Shots will run every Tuesday and Friday from now until at least the start of the season. For up to the minute updates on all free agent happenings follow Andrew Ungvari on Twitter.

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  • http://shawnkempskids.com Drew

    That sidenote about Pincus is interesting. However, I’m sure all SCIC readers want to know if you ever hooked up with Alicia Silverstone. What say you, Mr. Ungvari?

  • Andrew Ungvari

    What’s funny is that we were there at the same time but I’d be lying if I said I knew who she was. I don’t think she spent a lot of time there. I guess she had better things to do—like Aeorsmith videos.

    Interesting tidbit though: the guy who played the principal in Clueless, Herb Hall, was the public speaking teacher and a good friend of Clueless writer/director Amy Heckerling.

    She used to sit in on his classes while writing the movie so there are various theories as to which one of my classmates each of the characters is based on. She even named Wallace Shawn’s character Mr. Hall.

    Jolie and I went to junior high and high school also but she ducked out some time around 1993 to start her overrated acting career.

  • http://davissportsdeli.com/wordpress/ Patrick Crawley

    Love the Tamia Hill joke. Pretty much seals the deal that we’re never getting cooperation from Grant Hill on anything in the future. But I don’t care. It was worth it.

  • Andrew Ungvari

    I thought about that. But a lot of artists haven’t been to number one. It’s not like I said he was going to wear the number 6 for the number of albums she sold.

    That would have been horrible. But funnier.