HAWKSVILLE - From Athens to Milwaukee and back to Atlanta, the name Josh Childress is being tossed around in every direction these days.
Childress is in Milwaukee today visiting the Bucks with his agent, Jim Tanner.
What that means for the Hawks is that they might get a do-over with Childress, a restricted free agent again this summer as he was last summer.
Last summer they lost him as an asset when he chose to sign with Greek power Olympiakos (for $20 million post taxes). What the Hawks didn’t lose was the right of first refusal on Childress if he decided to return to the NBA this summer.
And two of my spies have made it clear that were Childress to receive any sort of “reasonable” NBA offer (the $5.6 million mid-level exception or below), the Hawks would match it before Childress finished signing his name on the offer sheet (the aim, however, is to work out a sign-and-trade deal to appease both sides since Childress has made clear his desire to play elsewhere, per a source).
Still, no player on the free agent market has more intriguing options than Childress. He has until July 15 to decide if he wants to return to the NBA (he’d have to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with Olympiakos). So he has a window now that allows him to gauge his current value around the NBA while also holding on to the safety net that is his lucrative contract with Olympiakos.
Childress was in Atlanta last Sunday to meet with the Hawks’ brass and made clear that he would do his due diligence in evaluating his NBA options before deciding whether to return to Greece or not. It’s smart business yet again on the part of Childress, who had drawn interest from a number of other teams (Lakers, Clippers, Cavaliers and Spurs are included in that list, according to my league spies) curious to explore the potential of him making an return to the league now as opposed to at the end of his contract with Olympiakos.
“It’s a tough free agent market right now,” a former player now working as an analyst told me by phone Thursday morning. “I can’t imagine [Childress] could do better financially than he would by going back to Greece. But you never know what might go on in free agency, so he’s wise to explore his options.”
MOSTLY QUIET ON THE FREE AGENT FRONT: Things are quiet where the Hawks’ other free agent targets are concerned. Neither Zaza Pachulia nor Marvin Williams is scheduled to visit anywhere as of right now.
Plenty of teams are interested, from what I’m hearing, but no face-to-face meetings have been set up as of yet. Williams is a restricted free agent, so it’s expected that his summer will last a little longer. Pachulia’s summer could heat up rather quickly if one of the big man dominoes on the summer circuit (Rasheed Wallace, Marcin Gortat, etc.) were to commit to a new team.
Several sources inform me that the Hawks have moved into the “common ground” phase of their talks with Mike Bibby’s camp. Nothing has been announced yet, but those sources insist that a deal is closer to getting done than people might think. I’ll be curious to see how things progress through the July 4th weekend and into early next week, when the salary cap numbers come out on the 8th.
Rumors are flying around about what teams are doing. It’s almost too difficult to keep up with it all, since there are so many different outlets reporting (fact and fiction). But my man Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports does as good as job as anyone at keeping his finger on the pulse of what’s happening out there. Check out his latest buzz.
RECESSION? WHAT RECESSION?: While most of us working class folk are struggling to make ends meet during these tough economic time, there is a segment of the population that’s doing just fine. Check out some of the NBA players on Sports Illustrated’s list of top “ballers” in sports.
Steve Francis should be your new hero, since he clocked $20 million last year without playing a single second of basketball. How’d that song from the 90s go, “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller.” Dang skippy!
NORTH OF THE BORDER: Both Cousin Doug up in Toronto and my man Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com are reporting that David Lee has become the object of the Toronto Raptors’ affection now that it appears Hedo Turkoglu could be headed to Portland.
Turkoglu agreeing to a deal could open the floodgates for guys like Williams, especially, considering Charlie Villanueva’s deal with Detroit (5-years, $35-$40 sounds reasonable, though it raises some issues for the Pistons, per my man David Aldridge of TNT) has already set a benchmark for players of that ilk.
Stay tuned folks. There’s no telling where this free agent roller coaster goes next.