While the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets made the first splash as detailed by louismg below, the Los Angeles Lakers wasted little time in making a splash in free agency by signing Vladimir Radmanovic for $31 million over 5 years.
The Clippers didn't waste much time either, keeping AARP member Sam Cassell in town by promising $13 million over two seasons. Also, to fill the Radman void, the Clips signed Tim Thomas - late of Phoenix - for $24 million over 4 years.
Both L.A. rivals get stronger with the moves, though I'd say the Lakers did better - they got a damn good shooter at half the price of Peja. I wouldn't sign Tim Thomas for anything more than 10-day contract, just to insure he kept playing hard, but $6 million a season isn't bad if he plays close to the way he did in Phoenix the last few months.
The interesting note is that Phoenix was bidding on both Radmanovic and Thomas. They lost out on both. Phoenix loves to work quickly in free agency - Jerry Colangelo is one of those guys who knows what he wants at what price before the market shakes out. Last year, the Knicks trade involving Kurt Thomas and Quentin Richardson went down very early in free agency. Raja Bell was the first notable signee. Even back when Steve Nash was a Maverick, Phoenix made a huge splash by pulling him right at the start of July with that massive offer.
Mike D'Antoni has more pull in the organization now. Did that hurt them in trying to get their men? Or was this a ploy, Radman and TT just pawns that Phoenix was trying to raise the pricetag on, especially considering that division rivals were the biggest threats to sign them?
I don't think Phoenix needs a whole lot more than a backup PG and a healthier Amare to be a threat again next season. But they seem to be trying to get something. Is something big - a Marion trade, perhaps - going on down there?
Oh, and yes, I'm glad Peja didn't go to the Lakers. It's been a big fear of mine. But I am nervous about Radmanovic, who immediately becomes the team's third-best player. He's a slightly better shooter than Smush Parker, and by slightly better I mean "hella better."
Could this be the season the Clippers beat the Kings one time? Yes. Could the Lakers finish one game over the Kings again? Yes.
Here's to hoping Geoff Petrie gets what he's after.