GMs on a spending frenzy

Updated: July 6, 2004, 12:41 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
After two years of relative fiscal restraint in free agency, it seems GMs have been given blank checks by their owners this summer.

Two of the top available big men -- Mehmet Okur and Adonal Foyle -- agreed to lucrative deals late Monday night, according to sources. Both players are expected to sign multi-year contracts for in excess of $40 million each, reinforcing what has become a growing theme this summer: GMs gone wild.

Of the five players who appear to have deals in place in advance of the July 14 signing period, all five have agreed to contracts that exceed even the most liberal predictions of a month ago. Steve Nash's five-year, $65 million contract was so steep even Mark Cuban wouldn't match it. When Cuban won't match, you pretty much know you've broken the bank.

Cuban responded by offering Marquis Daniels a six-year, $38 million dollar deal. Daniels, who went undrafted last year, played for the league minimum last season. Marcus Camby, who has a long history of injuries, agreed to a long-term deal believed to be worth $50 million to $60 million. Okur and Foyle, both role players on their teams last year, will get multi-year deals with starting salaries in excess of $6.5 million next season.

Of the five, only Nash averaged more than 10 ppg.

The free spending might not be finished. There's talk the Nuggets are readying an offer for Manu Ginobili with a starting salary in excess of $8 million. Ginobili, too, was a sixth man on his team last season. Erick Dampier is looking at lucrative sign-and-trade options, despite a very checkered history. Mark Blount, who didn't have a pulse until mid-season, is looking for a deal in excess of the mid-level exception, and it appears he might get it.

What in the name of Donald Trump is going on? Has the rest of the NBA caught Mark Cuban fever? What happened to the luxury tax fears that were throttling the market.

"This is absolute craziness," one NBA GM told Insider. "Teams are so desperate for help, so desperate for big men and point guards, that they're almost bidding against themselves."

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer