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Finley’s free agency affects market

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Michael Finley's arrival on the free agent market Tuesday had an impact on Latrell Sprewell, whose agent said he'll wait at least a week before signing in Detroit, Houston or elsewhere.

The Mavericks' decision to waive Finley late Monday night changed the complexion of the free agent market, throwing a two-time All-Star into the mix at a time when the majority of NBA teams have already made most of their major offseason moves.

The Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets are among the teams who've been holding onto their mid-level salary cap exceptions, and each will have interest in Finley after he clears waivers.

"I don't think much else is going to happen around the league until Finley signs and the Joe Johnson trade situation is resolved," said agent Dan Fegan, whose client, Earl Watson, is one of a few remaining unrestricted free agents whose futures will remain on hold until the marquee players above them find new homes.

That list begins with Finley, whose agent said eight or nine teams contacted him Tuesday.

"He's in the process of narrowing it down and focusing on what teams he'd like to go to," agent Henry Thomas said. "He's most interested in going to a situation where he has a chance to win a championship."

A few of those suitors who still have their full mid-level salary cap exception can offer a five-year deal with a starting salary of $5 million. The Suns and Spurs have interest, too, but Phoenix could only offer the veteran's minimum, and San Antonio has only a portion of its mid-level exception remaining.

The Suns are also still awaiting a resolution of their pending trade of Johnson to Atlanta, which is being held up by a dispute among Hawks ownership that could be resolved by the weekend.

"(Money) will be looked at along with other factors, and ultimately Michael will have to prioritize," Thomas said.

The Mavericks tried to trade Finley before Monday night's midnight deadline for waiving players under the amnesty provision of the collective bargaining agreement, but were unable to reach a deal.

Finley will not clear waivers for seven days, a delay that will keep Sprewell waiting, too.

"If you look at teams like Miami, Detroit and Houston, they're all one player away from reaching the NBA Finals," agent Robert Gist said. "We'll see what happens. The night is still young."

"I think it speaks well of Latrell that two of his former coaches (Flip Saunders and Jeff Van Gundy) want him on their teams. Latrell is the one bargain that's out there right now."

Sprewell turned down a three-year, $21 million extension from the Timberwolves before last season. Minnesota has shown no interest in trying to re-sign him, Gist said, nor have the Timberwolves seemed open to the idea of a sign-and-trade deal.

Sprewell, a 13-year veteran who will be 35 when the season begins, averaged a career-low 12.8 points last season for Minnesota.

Still considered an above-average defender, Sprewell would likely compete with David Wesley for playing time at the shooting guard spot in Houston. If he were to join the Pistons, it would likely be as a bench player backing up small forward Tayshaun Prince and shooting guard Richard Hamilton.

Detroit is one of nine teams, along with the Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, Bulls, Mavericks, SuperSonics, Timberwolves and Jazz, that still have their entire mid-level exception available.

"The mid-level is not an insult to Latrell, but his value is higher than the mid-level," Gist said.

Among the other remaining unrestricted free agents are Indiana's Dale Davis, Miami's Damon Jones, Watson, Atlanta's Tyronn Lue, Boston's Gary Payton and Seattle's Damien Wilkins.

Davis' agent, James Wells, said his client hopes to sign with one of the teams still holding its full mid-level exception, but he, too, expects the process to slow while Finley waits to clear waivers.