The eve of the NBA’s 2013 free agency period is upon us, making this an ideal time to catch up on all the rumors, speculation and other buzz swirling about before players start reaching agreements and inking deals on Monday morning.
There’s already been a groundbreaking report concerning the top player on the open market—Chris Paul—which you won’t want to miss, but there’s also plenty of pertinent and intriguing information leaking out regarding the other superstars.
Let’s take a look at the most exciting and interesting talk in preparation for free agency in Sunday’s rumor roundup.
CP3 Re-Signing with Clips
On Sunday morning, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Chris Paul’s representatives contacted potential suitors around the league and told them not to waste their time trying to recruit the star point guard, as he will be signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
While this move was widely expected after the Clips acquired head coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics, it wasn’t a sure thing until now.
This is a huge victory for the organization, as they took a major gamble in the winter of 2011. The team made the bold move to acquire Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a 2012 first-round pick—which became Austin Rivers.
While Paul agreed to opt in to the final year of his contract, there was no guarantee he would remain with the club beyond the 2012-13 campaign.
Now that Rivers is installed as a key figure in the front office and on the sideline, Paul is ready to forge ahead as a member of the Clippers for the long haul. Expect him to ink a max contract shortly after free agency begins.
Superman Leaning Towards Rockets
With Paul out of the picture, Dwight Howard is now the biggest prize. Unlike CP3, D12 is going to take his time and still has plenty of options to weigh before making his much-anticipated decision.
The latest indication is that Howard is leaning towards joining the Houston Rockets this offseason.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports found that the Rockets are currently frontrunners to land the big man and plan to make their pitch to him later on Sunday evening.
Unlike the “Dwightmare” that ran from the offseason through the trade deadline and into the summer of 2011-12, Howard is reportedly hoping to finalize his free agency saga quickly. Wojnarowski notes his decision should come down not much later than Tuesday—the last day of scheduled meetings.
While that would be an ideal situation for all parties, Howard is notoriously fickle and it would be no surprise if he kept his suitors on the hook for an extended period of time.
J-Smoove Drawing Significant Interest
Josh Smith is one of the more interesting available players, as the longtime Atlanta Hawks superstar is due to make something close to the max and could be a legitimate second or third option on a championship contender.
According to ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne, there are at least five or six teams interested in acquiring the uber-athletic forward’s services. ESPN’s Marc Stein found that the Detroit Pistons are one of those clubs.
Detroit is a great place for Smith to land, as the Motor City squad is lacking production and experience at the 3. They could move him to the wing for some minutes while also providing a steady presence in the frontcourt that already contains Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
However, the team will have to beat out a handful of other interested parties in order to nab the 27-year-old who is still in the prime of his career. A potential bidding war could be on the horizon.