With the NBA Draft over, the Utah Jazz now turn to the business of signing veterans Jeff Malone and Mike Brown to contracts. But soon that business could get tougher. Monday is the NBA's official date when a player with an expired contract becomes a free agent, and can entertain offers from other teams.
Though the sides have talked several times in the past year, no significant progress has been made. "We're at a standstill," said Malone.Malone, an eight-year NBA veteran, is a restricted free agent. Thus, the Jazz can match any offer another team makes, and retain his services. However, Brown is an unrestricted free agent and can take the best offer available.
Malone, who made $916,000 last year, is seeking a four or five-year contract paying between $2 million and $2.4 million per season. Brown, who made $600,000 last year, is reportedly looking for a contract that will pay about $5 million over 3 years. He has already received an offer of $2 million per year from an Italian team.
"I'm in a wait and see mode," Malone told the Deseret News. "July 1 is coming up soon. The way things are going, I'm going to end up somewhere else. We've (the Jazz and Malone) been talking, but we're not together on money or the amount of years. I'll just have to sit back and see what happens. I did my part and now it's time for them to do theirs."
Brown, who is expected to go to Italy in July to visit friends and relatives, was out of town and unavailable for comment.
Malone was acquired by the Jazz a year ago in a trade that sent Bobby Hansen and Eric Leckner to Sacramento and Pervis Ellison from Sacramento to Washington. He went on to average 18.6 points a game - second high on the team. Malone missed 13 games due to injuries.
"I'm happy with the way things went. I had a lot of pressure on me," he said.
He continued, "You look at the market. Look at (Scott) Skiles (who is making $2 million playing for Orlando). I've been in the league eight years and I'm a two-time All-Star. I like it there (in Utah). But I'm a little disappointed. My thinking is if it's not worked out, I'll probably be playing somewhere else."
Brown, a five-year NBA veteran, averaged 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds during the regular season, but improved to 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in the playoffs.
Although no new agreements have been reached, Jazz Director of Player Personnel Scott Layden said discussions are continuing. "I think we're encouraged that we're still talking with them," said Layden. "Both players have expressed a lot of interest in playing here. We're just hoping we can get a deal done."
While Jazz officials say they aren't going on the premise that either player will be gone next year, they are looking at options. The Jazz are talking with the agent of former Jazz forward Raymond Brown. Brown, who averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds a game in Spain last year, has two years remaining on a $275,000 per year contract. But he told the Deseret News that he would love to return to his former team. "If they'll guarantee anything, I'll be willing to come back," said Brown.
Raymond Brown said he would be willing to sign with the Jazz on a one-year guaranteed contract.
The next important date related to free agency is Aug. 1, when the salary cap adjustments go into effect. The current cap is at $11.875 million, but will increase to an estimated $12.5 million. However, a team can exceed the cap when re-signing its own free agents.
Free agents often wait until August to make a decision, because other teams then have a higher cap and can offer more money.