Geoffrey C. Arnold of the Oregonian wrote:
This summer will likely be a season of change for Ime Udoka.
Three weeks into the summer free-agent season, Udoka does not have a contract. But Udoka's agent said the former Portland State star could know where he will play next season by the end of the week.
"We're talking to a lot of teams," agent Mark Bartelstein said, though he declined to name the teams. "I think within the week, there's a really good chance we'll probably do a deal."
Udoka completed his two-year contract with San Antonio and would have liked to stay with the team, but the Spurs have yet to offer him a new contract. That puts Udoka on the free agent market after an inconsistent year last season, though there's still a chance he could return to the Spurs.
"We'll see what teams step up and make an offer," Udoka said. "Whoever comes up with the best offer and the best situation, that's what it will come down to."
Udoka's production dropped off last season compared with his first season with the Spurs. The 6-foot-5 swingman's minutes declined to 15.4 minutes a game -- down from 18.3 minutes during the 2007-08 season. With less playing time, his numbers dropped in every significant statistical category last season compared to his first season (2007-08) in San Antonio.
Udoka, who played one season in Portland before signing with San Antonio, hoped his contract season would be good, particularly after Manu Ginobili was sidelined for the first 12 games of the regular season while recovering from off-season left ankle surgery. But it was Roger Mason, not Udoka, who took advantage of Ginobili's absence and gained the confidence San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and earned extra minutes.
Udoka played sparingly in December, but his minutes gradually increased for the remainder of the season. Udoka played better toward the end of the season, but when the Spurs were eliminated in the first round (their earliest exit since 2000), changes were inevitable.
"I had an inconsistent year and our team had an inconsistent year," Udoka said. "When you get (knocked) out in the first round, changes are gonna be made. That's just part of the deal, especially for a franchise like San Antonio, where championships are expected."
The Spurs biggest move of the summer was acquiring Richard Jefferson in a trade that sent Kurt Thomas and Bruce Bowen to Milwaukee. Jefferson plays small forward, the same position as Udoka.
"I'm not sure what my percentage is in coming back," Udoka said. "The (trade to acquire) Richard Jefferson -- I kind of saw what direction they were going in."
Udoka, knowing he could be parting from San Antonio, hired Bartelstein, a high-profile agent, to represent him. Bartelstein replaced Udoka's former agent Erin Cowan, who remains a close friend. Bartelstein said Udoka's versatility and "team-first" attitude are positive attributes.
"He's a terrific defender and he brings great toughness to a team. His character is a huge piece of who he is. He's a guy you can play 30 minutes a night and he'll help you win big games like he did with San Antonio," Bartelstein said. "He can play a more limited role, and he's still gonna be a terrific teammate. There are a lot of things he can bring to a team."
Udoka said Mason suggested Bartelstein would be the right agent for him, because he specializes in representing players who are not necessarily stars.
"His track record is proven -- a guy who is able to find mid-level guys good deals," Udoka said. "He looks for certain types of clients and I fit that mold."
Udoka has dialed back his usual off-season conditioning program, making sure he remains injury-free during the negotiating period. Meanwhile, he is keeping himself occupied with his Portland-based AAU basketball team that will compete in Las Vegas this week and preparing for his week-long basketball camp, scheduled to begin August 3 at Portland State University.
"I always want to give back to the community," Udoka said. "And it helps take my mind off the basketball business for a little while."