Now that a number of teams have flexed their muscles in free agency and used up a lot of their cap room, expect the second wave of free-agency moves to begin this week -- the sign-and-trade.
For free agents who want to change teams, but don't have suitors with cap room that they want to play for, the sign-and-trade is their best shot of getting a big deal and a change of address.
The sign-and-trade is a complicated process. It first requires a free agent to find a team willing to offer him an acceptable contract. Once that part is out of the way, the team wanting to sign the free agent must begin negotiating a trade that conforms with league rules with the free agent's former team. All three parties (the two teams making the trade and the free agent) must agree before the trade is completed. It's often a lot harder than it looks.
This year there are several top free agents in that situation. Right now Kwame Brown is the first to get a sign-and-trade worked out.
Two sources close to the negotiations told Insider late Wednesday that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards agreed in principle on a trade that would send Brown, via sign-and-trade, to the Lakers for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins.