Raja Bell clears waivers today. Donnie Walsh, president of the Nicks, has said he plans to talk to Bell's agent this afternoon. The Nicks are interested in signing Bell next season during the Free Agent Sweepstakes. As a goodwill gesture, Walsh plans to offer Raja a 10 day contract so Bell can still play some this season if he wants to. Naturally he's also hoping that if Bell gets a couple of games under his belt in a Nicks uniform, he'll be more likely to stay with the team when they make him an offer in Free Agency.
The Nicks are in an interesting situation. They look to have between 30-35 million dollars free under the new cap and have made no secret they plan on blowing most of that wad on Lebron James. But one player can't win a championship - not even King James. The Nicks have more holes right now than Lady Gaga's costumes. Lebron can carry the team to enough wins to make the playoffs and start packing the arena again, but they're gonna need more if they are serious about a title. Raja isn't the magic answer, but he'd definitely help the squad. The face of the Eastern Conference is going to change next season and several doormat teams are going to get a lot tougher - at least on paper.
There are some who will say this spells doom for teams with money restrictions like the Bobcats. But my opinion is that a solid and reasonably deep team can survive better than a team that carries all its eggs in one basket. Raja has made some statements that he's not interested in coming back to Charlotte and that's fine. But right now the biggest question in front of the Cats is what to do about the starting point guard slot. Jordan is already looking at that situation and realizes that he can reasonably expect to have between 5 and 7 million under the luxury cap (depending on where the league sets the limit) but also knows it might take a few million more than that to keep Felton on board. There are options. He can offer a smaller first-year deal to Felton with a very large bump from the second year on because there will be quite a bit more cash available once the big contracts like Chandler's expire for example. It's gonna get interesting to be sure, but it looks like most of the core that has made the Cats a success this season will be returning. I do like our chances even if the Nicks manage to land both a King and a Raja.