LAS VEGAS D.J Augustin is gone at point guard, free agent Ramon Sessions will replace him, and power forward Kris Humphries and center Brendan Haywood could end up Charlotte Bobcats, too.
The Bobcats came to terms with Sessions Thursday, then rescinded a $4 million-plus qualifying offer to four-year Bobcat Augustin. That made Augustin an unrestricted free agent, and immediately Augustin signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Indiana Pacers.
Restoring $4 million to the Bobcats salary cap will help them pursue Humphries, one of the top free agents left on the market, and free-agent-to-be Haywood, a Greensboro native whos being waived under the amnesty clause by the Dallas Mavericks.
Point guard, power forward and center are the Bobcats three areas of need, particularly with Augustins departure. Signing those three could be a start on restoring some competitiveness for a franchise that just went 7-59 worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history.
An informed source told the Observer Thursday that the Bobcats are back in pursuit of Humphries. He could have landed here in a multi-player trade sending Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets. But that deal unraveled, and now Humphries is an unrestricted free agent.
While Humphries is best known as the ex-husband of reality show diva Kim Kardashian, hes coming off his best of eight NBA seasons. He averaged 13.8 points, 11 rebounds and 48 percent shooting for the Nets. After signing center Brook Lopez and ex-Bobcat Gerald Wallace to lucrative contract extensions, the Nets might not have the financial flexibility to retain Humphries.
Facilitating a Humphries signing could entail clearing additional cap room by using the NBAs amnesty clause. That clause allows each NBA team to cut one player and stop counting his remaining salary against the cap. Potential amnesty candidates would be center Gana Diop, shooting guard Matt Carroll or power forward Tyrus Thomas.
Humphries would address the Bobcats rebounding and low-post scoring issues. The question could be his contract demands, both in annual salary and length of guaranteed years.
Haywood could be available in the next few days, assuming he clears waivers. The Bobcats could offer the former Tar Heel a likely starting spot at center
Regardless of what else happens, Sessions will sign soon, an informed source said. A 6-3 guard who finished last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Sessions would likely back up second-year pro Kemba Walker.
Augustins departure means the Bobcats have lost another former lottery pick without compensation, as they did with Sean May and Raymond Felton in the past. Augustin was the ninth pick of the 2009 draft, when the Bobcats chose him over Lopez.
There were brief discussions earlier in the week between the Bobcats and Pacers about a sign-and-trade deal that never materialized. However, any such trade would have reduced the Bobcats cap flexibility.
Augustin turned down a lucrative contract extension last season, then was a topic of discussion at the March trade deadline. An informed source said the Bobcats had offered him roughly $6 million a season for multiple years.
Sessions, a Myrtle Beach native, played last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers. At 26, hes already played for four franchises in five NBA seasons.
Originally drafted in the 2007 second round by the Milwaukee Bucks, Sessions has averaged 11.1 points and five assists over his NBA career, shooting 45 percent from the field.
Sessions has had the occasional spectacular game: He holds the Bucks single-game assist record with 24 along with 20 points and eight rebounds against the Chicago Bulls in a 2008. He also scored 44 points in a 2008 game against the Detroit Pistons.
Sessions, who played college ball at Nevada, is known primarily for his driving ability. Early in his career his jump shot was considered suspect, but he made over 40 percent of his 3-pointers the past two seasons.