“Birdman” scores a five-year deal

It looks like Chris Andersen is staying in Denver.

Andersen, who provided shot-blocking, rebounding and energy off the bench for the Nuggets in their run to the Western Conference finals, could make as much as $26 million from the deal, his agent, Mark Bryant, told the newspaper. Andersen could sign the contract as early as Wednesday, when the NBA’s free agent signing period begins.

Andersen will earn $3.7 million next season from the contract, which is back-loaded and sweetened with performance incentives, Bryant said, according to the report.

The deal runs five years, which seems pretty long for a 31-year-old that was previously suspended for substance abuse. But Andersen seems to have turned a corner in his life and in his career, and he was a valuable “energy guy” off the Nuggets bench last season.

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Restricted free agents aren’t getting any love

John Hollinger examines the current free agent market

Because as much as teams are spending in pursuit of unrestricted free agents, it stands in sharp contrast to those of the restricted free agents on the market. Gortat struck a deal for an offer sheet from Dallas, but desirable commodities like Lee, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams, Josh Childress, Ramon Sessions and Nate Robinson have barely gotten a sniff.

Moreover, the market for those players to get anything above the midlevel exception is basically gone. Unless they can persuade one of the above teams to join in the bidding, somebody like Lee or Millsap could end up settling for the midlevel exception or playing on a one-year deal for a scandalously low qualifying offer — $1.03 million for Millsap, $2.68 million for Lee.

In turn, this has to be chilling news if you’re Rajon Rondo, Luis Scola, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andrea Bargnani, Ronnie Brewer or Foye, all of whom will be restricted free agents next summer if they don’t sign extensions by opening day. (Brandon Roy, who is all but certain to get a maximum extension, needn’t worry.) The restricted free agents in the class of ’09 couldn’t get a sniff of big money even in a very underwhelming free-agent market; what can they possibly expect a year from now when the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki and Amare Stoudemire could be available unrestricted?

On the other hand, the unrestricted free agents could once again make out like bandits — perhaps providing a carrot for the likes of Lee, Millsap and Williams to take the qualifier and play for a below-market-value price this season in hopes of recouping the difference next summer.

Detroit and Toronto have already burned their cap space on the likes of Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Hedo Turkoglu, but there are still a few teams — Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Memphis and Atlanta — who could make a significant offer to Paul Millsap or David Lee. The problem with trying to sign an RFA is that their current team has seven days to match the offer sheet, and during that time, the team trying to pry the RFA has that money tied up in that player. Most teams will wait the full seven days just to screw with the other team, and then eventually match the offer. This span should be reduced from seven days to two business days. Really — how long does it take to decide whether or not a contract is too big to match? If they shortened the span, these RFAs would be getting a lot more action.

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