Sorting out the free-agent market

Updated: July 14, 2004, 9:36 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
The NBA's free-agent wooing period began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Offers can become official. Trades finally can be completed. General managers, frightened by what happened to the Cavaliers with Carlos Boozer, can breathe a little easier knowing the oral commitments they've received will become binding.

The movement over the past 14 days has been unprecedented. Almost all the top free agents have agreed to deals. Several blockbuster trades are in the works. The going rate for free agents hearkens back to the dot.com days when money grew on trees.

Kobe Bryant
Bryant
Ironically, Kobe Bryant, the guy at the top of the free-agent list who was supposed to gum up the whole process, is still undecided. While almost everyone believes he'll choose the Lakers now that they've dumped Phil Jackson and are on the verge of trading Shaquille O'Neal, the Clippers are still in the hunt.

Erick Dampier
Dampier
Other top free agents without a home? Erick Dampier is struggling to get the Warriors to OK a sign-and-trade. Numerous teams have made offers, but the Warriors are reluctant to help Damp out unless they get a great offer in return. Jamal Crawford, Darius Miles and Stromile Swift are struggling through the doldrums of restricted free agency. The Bulls and Grizzlies are claiming they'll match any offer, forcing potential suitors to work out sign-and-trades.

After that group, the pickings are pretty slim. Vlade Divac, Derek Fisher, Eric Williams, Karl Malone, Greg Ostertag, Jon Barry, Toni Kukoc, Bob Sura, Michael Doleac, Rodney Rogers and Keon Clark top the unrestricted free agents still on the board. Mo Peterson, DeShawn Stevenson and Chris Mihm top the restricted free agents still looking for a home. Several top international players, including Andres Nocioni and Fabrico Oberto, are also drawing considerable interest.

Here is Insider's team-by-team take on who has done what, and who has money left to spend.


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Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider

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