Monday, August 15, 2005
Grant likely to sign two-year deal with Suns
By Marc Stein
The Phoenix Suns are on the verge of at least one big-name score from the waiver wire.
The agent for Brian Grant told ESPN.com on Monday night that the veteran big man, released via the new amnesty clause by the Los Angeles Lakers last Wednesday, plans to sign with the Suns later this week.
"Unless something changes dramatically, [Phoenix] is where Brian wants to be," said agent Mark Bartlestein.
The Suns, one of an estimated 20 teams to show interest in Grant since his L.A. release, are expected to sign the 33-year-old to a two-year deal starting at $1.67 million after he clears waivers Wednesday.
Phoenix will then try to complete its dream haul by signing Michael Finley, although that task figures to be much tougher.
The Dallas Mavericks were expected to make Finley their amnesty player by midnight Monday -- after dogged attempts to trade him away first -- but the Suns will have the least to offer financially of the elite teams hoping to land Finley: $1.1 million next season.
The San Antonio Spurs have just over half of their $5 million mid-level exception remaining to woo Finley, and the top two teams in the East are offering more. The Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons will be offering Finley a contract starting at the full mid-level exception, as will the on-the-rise Denver Nuggets.
The Suns clearly have a great need for Finley, with Joe Johnson headed to Atlanta in a sign-and-trade deal that was agreed to late last month and which should finally be completed by Friday. Yet they're also eager to land Grant as part of a revamped front line that also features newcomer Kurt Thomas.
Thomas and Grant are smaller than the ever-improving Amare Stoudemire, but both bangers have considerable experience playing center. That means Suns coach Mike D'Antoni will now have two veteran options to play alongside Stoudemire, who emerged as an All-Star center last season but who prefers to play power forward.
Grant was one of three players acquired by the Lakers last summer in the Shaquille O'Neal trade with Miami. Knee and neck injuries, though, limited the 6-9, 250-pounder to career-lows in scoring (3.8 ppg), rebounding (3.7 rpg) and minutes (16.5 mpg).
The introduction of the amnesty clause gave the Lakers an opportunity to release Grant without paying any further luxury tax on his contract. With two years left on that contract, Grant is still owed nearly $30 million from the Lakers.
Grant's offer from the Suns comes with a one-year guarantee and a player option for the second season as the 11-year-veteran tries to re-establish himself after his '04-05 misery. Grant has career averages of 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.