Monday, July 14, 2008

Free Agent Rumor Mill---Who To Believe?

During my time covering the Hawks, I was stunned at how little the national media knew about the Hawks---the players, the coaches, etc. The information that came from their mouths or keyboard would be one of two things, either the most common of basic opinions about the team or an easy to reach, low hanging fruit punchline.

I also learned that a lot of these so-called experts got a lot of their information from agents and other people with an agenda regarding the latest "news" to report. Guys with draft agendas, coaching agends, and the like would feed these "experts" information to further their own prospects.

I mention this as we get into the free agent period that there could be a lot of "information" that comes out that's just garbage, nothing more than a movement of the cursor for one side of a discussion.

For example, we are hearing from ESPN that Josh Smith wants out of Atlanta.

Now, this could be true---and it could be that Smith's representation understands that the Hawks have put the restricted free agent's bargaining position in an unfavorable position by saying that they will match any offer they get for Smith.

The Hawks did this so publicly because when teams are looking at pursuing restricted free agents, they consider very heavily if the other team will match the offer. After all, an offer sheet ties that money up for seven days. If a team is sure to match, that's an entire week that they can't sign other free agents, virtually removing that team from the free agent process for a week.

Therefore, a player like Smith could be looking at fewer potential suitors (and less money) if teams are convinced there is no chance for that player leaving their team.

So, let's play this out.

That Hawks have said that they will match any offer for Smith.

So if Josh Smith and his representation goes around the country saying how much Josh loves playing in Atlanta, and how much he loved being a part of the playoff run with the guys that he came up with on the team, how much do you think that would tell a team courting Smith that he is likely to leave Atlanta?

Now what would you do if you were Smith's representation?

You would try to inject doubt into the system.

You would focus on the team's ownership issues---could they or would they match an extravagant offer?

You would leak out some dissatisfaction about relationships, particularly coaching.

You would gin up as much possibility for your client being able to sign and leave as a restricted free agent that teams would take the bait, and maybe one will make an offer.

Now choose a channel for this "information". Who would you leak that to? Perhaps the biggest sports information distributor in the land?

All of this because the end game is to get your client the best deal possible---not next year, THIS year. And as a RFA that is tough to get done, so you have to do everything you can to make that happen.

So while everything we hear could very well be true, don't get wrapped around the so-called scoop of others, because it's a coin flip whether the info is right or not.


Unknown said...

Jay - love the blog...would you be willing to syndicate it over at a the new

Traceman said...

Good stuff as always J. I think the situations with Smoove and Chillz will go on until one of the other teams with a RFA comes to terms with that RFA. In other words, once Iggy, Okafor, Deng, Gordon or the like signs, the situations with our guys could be resolved shortly thereafter.

Jason Walker said...


Thank you! Shoot me an email @


That could very well be---though it may be just as much the Clippers deciding what they want to do. We might see more teams involve themselves with trying a sign and trade with Childress rather than massive interest in Smith because of his price tag.