Michael Finley’s arrival on the free agent market Tuesday had an impact on Latrell Sprewell, who might not decide until the end of next week whether to sign with Detroit, Houston or elsewhere, Sprewell’s agent said.

The Mavericks’ decision to waive Finley late Monday night changed the complexion of the free agent market, throwing a two-time All-Star into the mix at a time when the majority of NBA teams have already made most of their major offseason moves.

The Pistons, however, have been holding onto their mid-level salary cap exception and are all but certain to go after Finley before deciding whether to settle for Sprewell.

Finley’s agent, Henry Thomas, said eight or nine teams contacted him Tuesday to discuss his client’s availability.

A few of Finley’s suitors, including Detroit, Miami and Denver, still have their full mid-level salary cap exception and can offer a five-year deal with a starting salary of $5 million. Phoenix could offer Finley only the veteran’s minimum, and San Antonio has only a portion of its mid-level exception remaining.

Sprewell turned down a three-year, $21 million extension from the Timberwolves before last season. Minnesota has shown no interest in trying to re-sign him.

, Gist said, nor have the Timberwolves seemed open to the idea of a sign-and-trade deal.

Sprewell, a 13-year veteran who will be 36 when the season begins, averaged a career-low 12.8 points last season for Minnesota.

Still considered an above-average defender, Sprewell would likely compete with David Wesley for playing time at the shooting guard spot in Houston. If he were to join the Pistons, it would likely be as a bench player backing up small forward Tayshaun Prince and shooting guard Richard Hamilton.

Detroit is one of nine teams, along with the Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, Bulls, Mavericks, SuperSonics, Timberwolves and Jazz, that still have their entire mid-level exception available.

“The mid-level is not an insult to Latrell, but his value is higher than the mid-level,” Gist said.

Among the other remaining unrestricted free agents are Indiana’s Dale Davis, Miami’s Damon Jones, Memphis’ Earl Watson, Atlanta’s Tyronn Lue, Boston’s Gary Payton, Seattle’s Damien Wilkins and Minnesota’s Eddie Griffin.

AP-ES-08-16-05 1938EDT


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