Some notes as we approach the three-hour mark before Free Agent Fun Times 2010:
• In what qualifies as the biggest surprise as the free agency season so far, Richard Jefferson has opted out of the final year of his contract, which would have paid him a shade over $15.2 million. Read that again. Holy crap. Add RJ to the list of “sexy” free agent wings that might be available for the mid-level exception or below. Look: RJ was a disaster as a $15 million player expected to play 30 minutes a game, score 15 or so points per game and play solid defense.
As a mid-level player expected to play 18 minutes a game and score 9 points?
He’s worth a look, particularly from a team desperate for back-up wings who can score—and a team whose star wing player just exercised his early termination clause in order to become a free agent.
• Tyson Chandler has seen the light and decided against opting out of his $12.6 million deal, meaning you can cross him off your wish list of potential big man free agents available at or near the mid-level.
• While Chandler’s out, Ronnie Brewer is in. The Grizzlies declined to tender Brewer his $3.8 million qualifying offer, meaning he’s a free agent in a fairly weak negotiating position. His own team decided he wasn’t worth a $3.8 million qualifying offer even though they dealt away a conditional first-round pick for Brewer just four months ago. Yikes.
• I missed this yesterday, but Randy Foye is also on the free agent list after the Wiz declined to make Foye a $4.8 million qualifying offer. Foye has never really found his place in the league. He’s not a full-time point guard, and he’s not a starting shooting guard on a good team, mostly because he can’t shoot well enough to justify such a role.
But could he be an interesting back-up combo guard for a piece of the mid-level? Maybe.
• Finally: A Sherrod Blakely of Comcast New England just talked to guys on NBA TV and said the Celtics might be willing to give Doc Rivers some unique schedule flexibility next season. Specifically: Blakely said we should “not be surprised” if the C’s allow Doc to take a few games off and hand head-coaching duties over to the lead assistant. Blakely didn’t site any sources, so he could have just been speculating. I’m dubious Boston would let Doc do this—the Lakers refused to allow Phil Jackson a similar accommodation two season ago—but you never know.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Frank, rumored as Tom Thibodeau’s replacement, was sitting silently next to the talking heads in the NBA TV studio as they discussed Boston’s coaching situation….
We’re three hours away, folks. Hold onto your hats.