Moratorium likely will last until Monday or Tuesday

NEW YORK -- The NBA pushed back the free agency signing date
again Monday, forcing dozens of players to wait another several
days before they can begin signing contracts.

The moratorium on signings was supposed to end Thursday at 6
p.m., but now will likely last until Monday or Tuesday.

"The NBA is continuing to make progress with the players'
association toward finalizing the collective bargaining agreement,
and both sides are optimistic that the agreement will be signed by
the end of the week," league spokesman Tim Frank said. "Once the
agreement is completed, the league and the union will take 48-72
hours to educate teams and players as to the details of the
agreement, after which player signings will begin."

Originally, the moratorium was due to expire last Friday. It was
delayed to allow attorneys for the league and union to finish
drafting a written version of the new six-year collective
bargaining agreement.

Teams have been negotiating with free agents throughout July,
and many of the most prominent players have already reached
tentative agreements on new contracts.

Among those still on the market are Miami guard Damon Jones, Los
Angeles Clippers guard Marko Jaric, Portland guard Damon
Stoudamire, Minnesota's Latrell Sprewell and Atlanta's Tyronn Lue.

Among players planning to change teams, guard Larry Hughes is
moving from Washington to Cleveland, forward Donyell Marshall from
Toronto to the Cavs, center Jerome James from the SuperSonics to
the Knicks, guard Antonio Daniels from Seattle to Washington,
forward Stromile Swift from Memphis to Houston, swingman Bobby
Simmons from the Clippers to the Bucks and guard Keyon Dooling from
Miami to Orlando.

Also, former overall No. 1 draft pick Kwame Brown will be dealt
from Washington to the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal
for Caron Butler, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim will go from Portland to
New Jersey in another sign-and-trade.

Two of the teams with the most available salary cap space,
Atlanta and New Orleans, have been unable to secure any prized free
agents. The Hawks have reportedly made a $70 million, five-year
offer to the Suns' Joe Johnson, which Phoenix would be able to

Under one provision of the new collective bargaining agreement,
teams will have a one-time chance ending in October to waive a
player under contract and be relieved of any luxury tax liability
for that player. Waiving Michael Finley could save Dallas at least
$51 million in luxury tax payments, and the Mavs would be barred
from re-signing him until his contract expires after the 2007-08

The New York Knicks are considering using the so-called
"amnesty clause" to rid themselves of injury-plagued guard Allan
Houston, who is due to earn about $40 million -- which would be
subject to the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax -- over the next two
seasons, and there has been speculation that the Lakers might do
the same with Brian Grant, who is owed nearly $30 million over the
next two seasons.