We have seen plenty of times over the years that one player in the NBA can completely transform a team. A number of teams will try to capture that ability by signing a star in free agency.
While this year's free-agent class will likely not feature too many big names, there are still a few players capable of making a huge impact going forward. These men have the ability to help get a good team over the top toward a title run.
On the other hand, each organization with one of these impending free agents will try to do whatever is possible to keep them from leaving. Here is a look on the latest buzz on each high-profile player and the likelihood of them staying with their current team.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
This has been one of the bigger stories this season and will likely remain one of the biggest throughout the summer. New York wants Carmelo Anthony to stay, but he is still considering his options.
According to Al Iannazzone of Newsday, the All-Star recently explained that he has "a lot to think about." The Knicks can offer a max deal, but Iannazzone breaks down the situation from the player's perspective:
Anthony said that money doesn't matter as much as playing for a title contender. The Knicks aren't so constituted and may not be next season, depending on what team president Phil Jackson does with the roster. The Bulls are a ready-made contender and could free up money to pay Anthony a max deal.
The Houston Rockets are also considered a possibility to bring in Anthony.
Despite this, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reveals that people believe the veteran is staying where he is:
Most execs feel Carmelo returns to #Knicks as well. Biggest name available could be Pau Gasol. "Never know tho. Lots can change," exec says.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) April 15, 2014
Teammate J.R. Smith also provided his feelings in saying, "In my heart, I believe he’ll still be here," via Ian Begley of ESPN.
No matter what anyone believes, this will come down to Anthony and what he wants in his next deal. Considering his love of New York and the way the city loves him back, it seems more likely that he will continue his career with the Knicks.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
After some up-and-down years with the Los Angeles Lakers, it would appear that Pau Gasol's time with the team is done. He seemed to be the subject of trade rumors every single year and never fit in with Mike D'Antoni's system.
However, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak pointed out that he would like to keep Gasol around, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
There’s great interest in re-signing Pau. I don’t know why there would not be interest. He’s a Hall of Famer. But by virtue of being a free agent, he’s in the market place. By being in the market place, we have to see how things play out.
Gasol was less confident but expressed that there was a possibility of coming back, per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan:
Gasol says there's a chance he'll return to L.A. next season. But..."I have to be picky, put my personal [pro-Laker] feelings aside.”— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) April 13, 2014
Mike Trudell of Lakers.com also reported earlier in the season that Gasol was excited to test the market this summer:
Pau Gasol said he's happy to be staying in L.A. this season, but obviously will consider all options when he's a free agent this summer.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 20, 2014
After posting the worst numbers of his career last year, the big man bounced back with 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game this season. Unfortunately, he also watched the Lakers fall toward the bottom of the standings.
This showed that he can still provide a big help to any team, but it also ensures he will want to find a better squad to help him win. Unless the market runs dry, Gasol will likely be on another team next season.
Luol Deng, Cleveland Cavaliers
While the other two players on this list were a part of trade discussions before the deadline, Luol Deng was the one who actually got traded. He was the leading scorer for the Chicago Bulls before being sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deal involving Andrew Bynum.
Interestingly, it was the Bulls who thrived without him and are now a top contender in the Eastern Conference while the Cavaliers could not even make the playoffs.
Based on the drop in team success, it is hard to imagine Deng wanting to stay in his current situation. Amico provides the latest info:
Deng, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent in July, meaning he is free to sign with any team without the Cavs possessing the option to match. The Cavs are expected to make an offer, but after years of success, Deng may prefer to move on. The Lakers and Suns are among those interested, league sources say.
If Cleveland makes a big offer to keep Deng, it is certainly possible he would like to stick around to grow with a young core that includes Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. However, the team might have to overpay just to keep him.
Instead, Deng should look for a new start where he can be a top scorer and solid all-around player. He has the ability to help a good team win a championship, and he should use this offseason to find that squad.
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