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Let the Madness Begin: Baby, House, Dahntay Jones, Etc.

 

This week marks the beginning of the NBA’s free agent season. Here’s a quick round-up of what to expect this, with a focus on some stuff in the news over the weekend:

Big Baby: The Celtics will tender Glen Davis his qualifying offer (about $1 million) by the deadline on Tuesday night, giving Boston the right to match any offer another team makes for Davis. (They will likely do the same with Leon Powe). We’ve gone over the Glen Davis question a dozen times, but just to review: The Celtics can re-sign Davis for any amount without using their mid-level exception because they own Davis’s “Early Bird” rights. That’s good news. 

The bad news, of course, is that Boston is already over the luxury tax, so every dollar they spend on any player is really the equivalent of spending two dollars because of the dollar-for-dollar tax imposed on teams over the luxury tax line (expected to be about $70 million). So it matters if Davis thinks he’s worth, say, $5.5 million as opposed to $3.5 million. 

The Globe’s Marc Spears has reported before that one GM has pegged Big Baby’s value at about $3 or $4 million in the first season of his new deal, an amount I’d be comfortable with Boston spending–provided the deal doesn’t escalate much beyond the $5 million mark by its final season. But now Spears reports that another GM thinks some team might throw something close to the full mid-level (about $5.5 million) at Big Baby.

That, my friends, would give the Celtics something to think really hard about.

By the way, it’s important to think beyond the first-season value of any new Davis contract. Wyc Grousbeck has said he’d like to be in a position to offer a max contract after the 2010 season, and that would be impossible if the C’s sign Davis to a deal that escalates too much in Year Two. 

Other notes on Davis in that article: He’s practicing Muay Tai boxing to keep in shape and working on a three-point shot. Gotta love the work ethic, even if the idea of Baby jacking up threes seems ridiculous. 

• Eddie House has to decide by Tuesday night whether he’s going to opt out of his $2.8 million deal for 2010 and become a free agent. I expect him to sign the original deal. My thoughts on what the C’s should if he actually opts out can be found here

• As for free agents, we know the big guys the C’s are going to be targeting, and we’ve profiled some of them in detail. One guy we haven’t thought much about is Jason Kidd, but Eddie Sefko, the great Mavs beat writer for the Dallas Morning News, thinks Boston is among the teams that will at least take a look at signing Kidd

This seems really, really unlikely considering the Celtics already have Rajon Rondo and don’t have a lot of money to blow on a back-up point guard. Kidd made $21 million last season, and though he’s not going to make that amount, he’s still worth at least the mid-level exception. He’s not the player he once was, but he still played 36 minutes a game for a team that made the Western Conference semi-finals, and he’s been shooting better with Dallas (especially from three-point range) than he has…well, basically, at any point in his career. It’s amazing what playing with Dirk Nowitzki and taking only stand-still jumpers can do for your shooting percentages. 

On the other hand, he’s 36, his assist rate last season was the lowest since his rookie year (perhaps the result of the Mavs’ iso-heavy attack) and he can no longer defend quick point guards well. 

Still: He’s worth at least the mid-level next season, and Dallas can sign him to any amount up to the league max under the NBA’s rules governing how teams can sign their incumbent free agents. 

So basically: Kidd is not coming here as a free agent, and I’m not sure what the point would be in spending big money on someone to play 12-15 minutes per game backing up Rondo–unless the Celtics end up dealing Rondo in a separate deal or in a sign-and-trade involving Dallas, both scenarios I consider unlikely. 

Bottom line: The C’s are going to spend the mid-level on big guys. (Ainge to Spears on Sunday: “The priority is to take care of our big positions”).

• Oh, and according to Screamin’ A’s Twitter account, Dahntay Jones wants a multi-year deal (duh), and the C’s are reportedly willing to shell out $8 million for two seasons of his work. This would be an utterly ridiculous deal, for reasons I explain here. I am highly skeptical of Smith’s report (does a Tweet count as a report? There has been some controversy about this), though, whatever you say about Smith, he has a lot of sources in the NBA.

In any case, free agency starts Wednesday. Let the fun begin.

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