Lebron and Melo Are Handcuffing Dell Demps

Published: July 7, 2014

Free Agency opened at 12:01 on July 1st, but did it really? Here we are on Day 7 and the best players to sign contracts with a new team are Spencer Hawes and Darren Collison. Excuse me for not getting excited about either of those names. But while us fans are annoyed by the lack of transactions, Dell Demps might be even more frustrated.

On June 26th, Demps agreed to a trade in principle that will send a future 1st round pick to the Rockets for Omer Asik and cash. As we have documented numerous times on this site, Demps would have to make a few small moves to accommodate Asik’s salary, but I am sure that when Demps accepted the trade, this seemed like a non issue. But here we are, just two and a half days from the Moratorium being lifted, and the league is at a standstill because of Lebron and Melo.

Teams are waiting for Lebron and Melo to decide because of all the dominoes it can knock down. And agents are waiting as well, because they know that if certain scenarios play out, they know that teams could get desperate if they miss out on a superstar and up their offers. Sure, the Hawks can make a pitch for Luol Deng today, knowing that they are not in the hunt for Lebron or Melo, but why would Deng’s agent sign today? If and when the Mavs, Lakers, and Suns miss out on the superstars, won’t they turn their eyes to a guy like Deng? Won’t that make his price go up?

And this is why the entire league is at a standstill, save for some role players. And as the moratorium lurks on Thursday, Dell Demps timetable to make a move or series of moves to absorb Asik without giving away pieces he deems valuable is getting smaller and smaller. In all likelihood, the Rockets will demand that the Pelicans put in the trade to the league the second that the Moratorium is lifted so that they could have significant cap room.

Ideally, Dell would have liked to put in the Asik trade after he submitted a couple of other moves or put it in as a three-team trade to preserve his MLE, BAE, and Bird Rights. But what if he can’t get anybody else to agree to other moves because the league is at a standstill, waiting on Lebron and Melo? This is the worse case scenario for Demps, and something he couldn’t have predicted back on June 26th. Even when Lebron dragged out ‘The Decision’ in 2010, he announced it on July 8th, and almost all of the other big free agents had committed as well.

But the odds that all this drama will be settled by the 8th or 9th this year seems pretty low as we stand right now. And if the league does sit and wait, it could severely limit Dell’s options. He would love to package Aminu and/or Roberts in a sign and trade that would help facilitate the Asik trade, or maybe even move Austin Rivers for some value to make the trade work and preserve the MLE, which he could use on someone like Jameer Nelson.

But all those dominoes can’t possibly fall until the big ones do. And so Dell waits; handcuffed by two of the league’s marquee stars, hoping that they make their decisions in time to let him do his job.


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