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The Domino Theory

So for now we'll stick with the dominoes analogy as it relates to free agent point guards.

Billups has re-upped with the Pistons.  (BTW, was I the only one who found it hilarious that his agent called a somewhat premature report of 5/$60M a 'vicious rumor'?  It's vicious?  Really?  We're reporting that he's going to make $60M and that's vicious?  And two days later when he signs, sure enough, the earlier report was erroneous.  He signed for 5/$60.5.  That extra .83% apparently being the demarcation between fair market value and vicious.)

Next in the pecking order is Mo Williams.  Mark Stein is reporting that the Heat are close to landing him, despite the fact that they have only the mid level to offer.  Apparently, Williams will either sign with the Heat for a chance to play with DWade and Shaq (and compete for a place in the Finals, if not a title) or take the money from the Bucks.

Williams is said to be leaning toward Miami and the persuasive recruiting trio of Shaquille O'Neal, Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, even though the Bucks are positioned to offer more guaranteed money.

Meanwhile, as most people might have guessed, the Lakers will likely end up with Derek Fisher back in purple in gold.

Fisher, according to NBA front-office sources, is no longer even considering other teams and is on track to re-sign soon with the Lakers -- who drafted him in 1996 -- barring an unexpected snag in negotiations.

If indeed those two things play out as anticipated, it eliminates two rival suitors in the Clippers' pursuit of Steve Francis.  The teams that have point guard needs and reasonably compelling pitches are the Lakers, the Heat, the Nuggets and the Cavs.  If you take the Lakers and Heat out, that leaves Denver focused on Steve Blake while the Cavs don't appear to be shopping in the same price bracket as the others (I've only seen them linked to guys like Navarro and Papaloukas - the emergence of Daniel Gibson in the playoffs probably has something to do with that).  

Here's what Stein had to say about Francis and the Clippers:

If Williams indeed winds up in Miami and if Fisher returns to the Lakers, that will only enhance the Clippers' chances of signing Steve Francis when Francis' all-but-done Portland buyout is complete.

Francis is close with Shaq and is said to have had strong interest in the Heat and Lakers. The Clips, though, were in the lead from the start, with age (Sam Cassell at 38) and injury (Shaun Livingston) concerns at the point and Francis' close pal Cuttino Mobley as their lead recruiter.

Denver has reportedly expressed interest in Stevie Franchise as well, but the Clippers are arguably a better fit (Francis and Iverson in the same backcourt?  That's as crazy as Francis and Marbury), and Mobley should be able to seal the deal.  

While we're on the point guard topic, Papaloukas has reportedly re-signed with CSKA Moscow - tax free salary, an apartment, a car, a driver and multiple other perks apparently being significantly more lucrative in total than the NBA mid-level exception (I've also heard that Moscow girls make him scream and shout, but I have no confirmation on that).  

At any rate, with the moratorium ending soon, when free agents are actually allowed to sign deals, all of this will shake out very quickly.