Latest on the chase for Corey Brewer

March, 2, 2011
3/02/11
3:02
AM ET
Stein By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
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Mike Bibby to Miami. Al Thornton to Golden State. Troy Murphy to Boston.

Those three commitments Tuesday by freshly bought-out veterans left swingman Corey Brewer as the NBA’s hottest available free agent.

Here’s the update, then, on where things stand for the teams after Brewer’s perimeter D:

The contenders

It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that Boston is pushing as hard for Brewer as anyone, given that the Celts tried to trade for Brewer before Minnesota sent him to New York as part of the three-way Carmelo Anthony deal. Celtics president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers are said to be Brewer fans and personally lobbying him. Hard.

But Boston and San Antonio, in this case, can’t compete financially with the Dallas Mavericks, who have their full mid-level exception remaining -- worth just under $4 million as of Wednesday because the figure is reduced daily from its original $5.8 million at this juncture of the season -- to comfortably exceed any offer the Celtics or Spurs could make.

The Celts actually have the least to pitch financially of the three teams, sitting more than $5 million over the luxury-tax threshold and limited to offering a pro-rated share of the league minimum just as they gave Murphy. With the Spurs only about $1 million away from the tax line and likewise only possessing cap exceptions worth $1.5 and $1.2 million, respectively, Dallas would appear to have a clear bidding advantage over their neighbors from the NBA elite, fitting as it might be to see Brewer wind up with the Spurs given the frequent comparisons linking Brewer to Bruce Bowen.

Sources say Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, like Rivers, has been lobbying Brewer to try to seal a deal. There’s a decent chance that Sasha Pavlovic, who earlier this season completed two 10-day contracts with Dallas, will return to the Mavs if they don’t get Brewer ... and possibly land with Boston if the Mavs do.

The upstarts

Two teams no one was talking about Monday when Brewer secured a buyout from the Knicks emerged Tuesday as apparent contenders for Brewer: New Orleans and Charlotte.

Cuban protested loudly when the league-owned Hornets swung a trade for Carl Landry last week. But the Hornets insisted that the Landry move cost them far less than it appeared on the surface and have subsequently registered aggressive interest in Brewer, with New Orleans sitting some $2.1 million beneath the tax line and also possessing its full mid-level exception.

Word is Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, fresh from shedding Gerald Wallace’s contract to Portland, is also interested.

The dormant

Chicago has nearly $3 million in salary-cap space and a recruiter -- Brewer’s former college teammate Joakim Noah -- who can make a bigger impression on the former Minnesota swingman than anyone named above. But the Bulls want to add shooters to their wing rotation, not defensive specialists like Brewer. That helps explain why other teams interested in Rasual Butler have essentially surrendered, convinced that Butler will sign with Chicago as soon as he clears waivers.

The Heat, meanwhile, are $3.5 million under the tax line but have no exception money left to spend, which means Miami, like Boston, can’t offer Brewer more than the pro-rated veteran minimum.

The Lakers? No push yet for Brewer from the two-time champs, suggesting again that Lakers officials are content to start the playoffs with the roster in place after failing to land additional help at the trade deadline because of their limited trade chips.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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