Free agency in the NBA will begin at midnight, and while the top stars on the market won’t be able to sign until July 11, rumors are still coming out as to what their futures might hold.
Even though organizations won’t be able to officially sign a free agent for a little over a week, they will be meeting with them in order to negotiate. There’s no hurt in talking things out before a player signs on the dotted line. Essentially, the 10-day moratorium allows teams to figure things out and plan their summers.
Then, on July 11, everyone is going to be glued to their TVs and constantly updating Twitter in order to see what’s going on and who is signing where. It’s going to be quite the day, as it appears that several top free agents will be making their decisions right then and there.
The three top free agents this summer are Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala. The trio of All-Stars will have plenty of teams pursuing, and for two of them, their destinations are currently unknown. One of the aforementioned three seems to have made up his mind already.
So, what’s the latest buzz with those three free agents? Here’s everything you need to know about their plans, their potential landing spots and what might happen once the calendar hits July 11.
Pursuit of Howard Begins
At least five teams share one common goal this summer: sign Dwight Howard.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors and Lakers all have interest in landing the free-agent center. The Rockets will have the first opportunity to make their pitch to Howard, and the other four teams will present by Tuesday evening, per Wojnarowski.
The Rockets are the early front-runners to sign Howard because he thinks he has the best shot at winning a title wither them, per Wojnarowski. Houston won’t be losing any big names to free agency and already features the likes of Jeremy Lin and James Harden. Houston would have a dominant roster with Howard on the payroll.
But that’s not to say that Howard’s chances of winning a championship are much lower with the other four teams. The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant, the Mavericks have a strong veteran core, the Warriors are an up-and-coming team, and the Hawks have the money to throw at the center and a lot of talent.
While Howard thinks Houston is his best potential destination, I wrote yesterday that he should sign with Dallas. The Mavericks would have one of the most dominant frontcourts in the league with Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. Dallas would have strong title odds with the center on the low block.
Paul Returning to Clippers
The Clippers can breathe a sigh of relief: Chis Paul is coming back.
Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that Paul’s representatives have told teams to stop calling because once free agency begins, the All-Star will be re-signing with the Clippers. Broussard also tweeted the news:
Los Angeles did everything in its power to retain the star point guard. The Clippers even restarted talks with the Celtics about acquiring head coach Doc Rivers because Paul wanted him in Los Angeles, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Once the deal got done, all focus turned to bringing Paul back.
As Broussard writes, there was really never much doubt that Paul would re-sign, but without a guarantee, there was always a slim chance he signed elsewhere.
Now, the Clippers are bringing back the top free agent on the market and can start putting an emphasis on other parts of their roster. They selected Reggie Bullock, a small forward from North Carolina, in the first round of the draft but will likely need to add a shooting guard before the summer is over.
Iggy Opting Out
While Howard will be getting plenty of attention in the coming days, Andre Iguodala will also be on the radar of many teams. Broussard reports that the forward opted out of his deal with the Nuggets, making him an unrestricted free agent:
Denver would still like to bring Iguodala back, per Wojnarowski. Here’s what CEO Josh Kroenke said about the situation:
We are fully aware of Andre’s intentions and he’s well aware of how much we want him back. Andre is a huge priority for our organization.
Kroenke also said in a press conference that he’s 100 percent optimistic about Iguodala returning and that he’s already have some good conversations with his agent, according to Nuggets.com.
A few of the teams that plan to target Iguodala include the Hawks, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Rockets, Pistons and Pelicans, according to Wojnarowski. By opting out, the forward can sign a four-year deal with any team or a five-year contract with the Nuggets. Dallas, Denver and Houston would give him the best chance to win now.
During the regular season, Iguodala averaged 13 points in 34.7 minutes per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per night. The 29-year-old is one of the top forwards in the league, and the team that signs him will become considerably better. He’s consistent on offense and provides great defense each and every game.