Nothing free about it in this economy
Blame it on the economy. Or that so few NBA teams are far enough under the salary cap to sign an impact free agent. Or that many more big names -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh among them -- could be available next summer. Whatever the reason, free agency won’t be a free-for-all when it starts Wednesday, even though Lakers fans might expect otherwise since forwards Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are able to sign with any team that winks back at them. Here’s a look at free agency around the league:
The Pistons took a lot of flak for trading Chauncey Billups, especially when Denver came within two games of its first NBA Finals appearance, but the Pistons now get the reward. Allen Iverson’s contract is off the books, as is Rasheed Wallace’s, leaving the Pistons more than $20 million below the salary cap.
Point guards Mike Bibby (Atlanta), Jason Kidd (Dallas) and Andre Miller (Philadelphia) combined to make almost $50 million last season but are all in the 30-and-over club.
Iverson made $21 million last season, Shawn Marion made $18 million and Wallace made $14 million. Good luck getting anywhere near that next season.
Forward Hedo Turkoglu had some memorable playoff games for Orlando, as did guard Ben Gordon, even though his team, the Chicago Bulls, lost three rounds earlier.
Restricted free-agent forwards David Lee (New York) and Paul Millsap (Utah) are double-double machines. Millsap also helped a certain sportswriter finish second in a 14-team fantasy league this past season, for which that writer is eternally grateful.
The middle ground
Houston forward Ron Artest should get a slight raise from the $7.4 million he made last season. He’s still a formidable defender who showed he could score despite some lousy shooting nights.
Utah forward Carlos Boozer has a player option for $12.6 million next season. If he opts out, it’s only because Detroit can sign him for more.
After a draft-day windfall of $6.2 million from selling two picks, the Lakers should feel more comfortable about re-signing Odom and Ariza. There’s also reserve guard Shannon Brown, who will get a raise from somebody. He made only $796,000 last season, nearly $5 million below the average NBA salary.
Not much activity expected here, other than waiting to see if Ricky Davis ($2.4 million) and Brian Skinner ($1.3 million) exercise player options.
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.
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