Today is the day in which NBA players can sign with new teams or be traded. The Signing Period has begun. Lets hope for the best.
Lakers, Clippers make final pitches for Bryant John Nadel / Associated Press
Kobe Bryant wasn’t tipping his hand as the clock ticked down on the final hours of the NBA’s two-week moratorium on trades and free agent signings.
Eager to learn his choice but uncertain when that decision might come, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers awaited word from Bryant or one of his agents Tuesday.
Both clubs made formal presentations to the free agent guard on Monday.
The end of the moratorium was to coincide with the league releasing the new salary cap figure for the 2004-05 season, an announcement that will impact the size of Bryant’s new contract – and those of several other free agents.
Bryant will be eligible to receive a starting salary equal to 30 percent of the cap, which was $43.84 million last season.
While Bryant made everyone in Los Angeles wait, and while his agent, Rob Pelinka, again did not return several phone messages, the process of trading Shaquille O’Neal was being set in motion.
The Lakers and Miami Heat were expected to complete a deal Wednesday sending O’Neal to the Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a first-round draft pick.
Among the top free agents whose plans were not yet known were Karl Malone and Derek Fisher of the Lakers.
Martin was weighing whether to sign an offer sheet with Atlanta or Denver after sign-and-trade discussions between the Nuggets and Nets broke down.
Malone, puzzled by the breakup of the Lakers, was being courted by the Spurs.
“Without a doubt I’m serious (about the Spurs),” Malone told the San Antonio Express-News. “I’ve had serious dialogue with them, and more than once. I’ve talked to Coach (Gregg) Popovich two or three times and (general manager) R.C. (Buford) one or two times. They call about every other day. I’ve had great dialogue with them.”
Malone, however, said he will not make a decision on next season until he knows whether he can perform at 100 percent of his capability. He recently underwent surgery on his left knee, which he sprained twice last season.