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Don't expect Spanoulis to be released
Rockets view unhappy guard as an asset - as an NBA player or otherwise
SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2007   1:14 PM CST
By Clutch
Copyright 2007
Don't expect Spanoulis to be released
Much was made about the Houston Chronicle article earlier this week that reiterated what Spanoulis has been wanting all along: Out of Houston and back in Greece.

"I want to stay in my country," said Spanoulis. "My hope is to play for one team in my country."

V-Span's agent, Miodrag Raznatovic was more blunt about the situation, saying the Greek guard has told the Rockets "10 times" he's not coming back and likened the Rockets' stance to making Spanoulis a "slave".

If both parties want out of an NBA contract (in this case Spanoulis and the Rockets), that contract can be voided and wiped off the cap. That is what the Spanoulis camp wants from the Rockets -- they are looking for a release from his contract.

They're not likely to get it.

A league source has informed ClutchFans that the Rockets do not view that as an option, that either as an NBA player or as an expiring deal, Spanoulis' contract has value to them.

In fact, Spanoulis' desire to be released could increase the trade value of his contract, which is a 2-year deal with a team option to pick up a third season. Any team that trades for him could come to terms with Spanoulis to wipe the deal off the books. At roughly $2 million for next season, his contract could be combined with others, such as the $3.8 million expiring deal of Bobby Sura and $2.4 million for Kirk Snyder, to land a bigger talent with a less cap-friendly deal.

If Spanoulis gets his wish, he will re-join his old team Panathinaikos out of Athens, making October 11th a date of note for your calendars. That's the Rockets pre-season home opener ... against Panathinaikos.

Amir Johnson in Houston? Not likely
It's hard to believe that a player who has spent most of his first two seasons in the NBDL is a hot commodity, but that's the case with Amir Johnson. At just 20 years old, Johnson is one of the more interesting free agents available on the market.

Amir Johnson
Since being drafted with the 56th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Johnson has grown from 6-foot-9 to 6-foot-11 and has dominated the D-League, putting up 18.9 points per game (62.3% shooting), 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks a night in 22 games.

The power forward is also buried in Detroit's depth chart behind Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell. On the other hand, the Rockets sorely need help at the four spot.

So what's the holdup?

The problem is Johnson is a restricted free agent, giving Detroit power to match and keep Johnson, and the Pistons have communicated exactly that to the Rockets: They will match any offer sheet that Amir signs.

Bluffing? Possibly. After signing Chauncey Billups to a $60 million deal, Detroit has very real luxury tax concerns, and their owner has stated in the past that he doesn't want to pay it.

But they don't want to lose a potential asset like Johnson and even if he gets a bigger deal, Detroit could match and try to unload salary before the end of the 07-08 season (when the luxury tax would have to be paid).

The Rockets would also be taking a big risk on attempting to call that bluff as signing Amir to an offer sheet locks in the Rockets money for 7 days while the Pistons can consider matching. Other free agent options could be lost during that time.