2014 NBA Free Agents: Latest Rumblings Surrounding Top Players

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2014 NBA Free Agents: Latest Rumblings Surrounding Top Players
Rick Bowmer

For the top players in this year's NBA free-agency class, the thought of exploring options either couldn't be further from their minds or is at the forefront. 

While 16 teams began their playoff aspirations over the weekend, 14 more saw their seasons come to a close. With that comes certain players, or even teams, perhaps giving a bit more of an indication of what the future holds.

There is still plenty left to be decided, but even as we inch nearer toward free agency, headlines and news are both brewing by the hour.

Let's break down the latest NBA free-agency news. 

 

Greg Monroe

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

As restricted free agency looms, young big man Greg Monroe is set to soon figure out whether he'll be continuing his career in Detroit or elsewhere.

David Mayo of MLive.com shared the latest on Monroe in a story on Pistons owner Tom Gores and rebuilding the franchise:

The biggest personnel decision figures to involve Monroe, who made just more than $5 million this year, and figures to see that more than doubled in free agency, though the Pistons can match any offer.

If Monroe receives an offer the Pistons deem excessive, they must try to muster and sign-and-trade deal with another team, or let him go without compensation.

It is generally believed the Pistons will not choose the latter option.

In this excerpt, it's looking like if Monroe does decide to take a qualifying offer from a team that Detroit is unwilling to match, the Pistons are looking to couple it with a sign-and-trade deal similar to Cleveland when LeBron James left in 2011.

Mayo later states that Monroe is looking for "four-year offers upwards of $12 million per year," which isn't surprising and could even rise if some of the top free agents in this year's class opt to stay put. 

Monroe has proved to have the potential to be a top big man in the NBA through his four seasons in Detroit. He's averaged at least 15 points and nine rebounds per game in each of the last three seasons, maintaining a level of success with Andre Drummond becoming a star as well.

The Pistons' efforts this free-agency cycle will center around retaining Monroe, but it looks as if they will at least get some compensation in return if they lose the 23-year-old.

 

Gordon Hayward

Rick Bowmer

At 24 years old, Gordon Hayward has already proved himself as invaluable to the Utah Jazz as they look to finish rebuilding their roster and contend for postseason appearances.

Now comes the tough part for Utah—it's time for him to be paid.

Hayward enters restricted free agency on July 1, and he's been noncommittal on his future with the club, per The Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk after failing to reach a contract extension agreement last offseason.

But Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey was feeling confident about Utah's chances of keeping Hayward.

"We look forward to him being a career Jazz member," Lindsey said, per Falk

The Jazz might have to move pretty quickly to keep Hayward happy. With many of the top free agents—James, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Eric Bledsoe and many more—still mulling over decisions to not change locations, a team may be enticed to overpay Hayward.

Utah has made strides in Hayward's four seasons with the Jazz, but he's also been around for some pretty uninspiring campaigns. The prospect of changing locations could entertain the former Butler star, but Utah could make that go away by landing him with a big deal early on in free agency. 

 

Eric Bledsoe

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When he moved from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Phoenix Suns last offseason, it was obvious Eric Bledsoe was a central part of Phoenix's rebuilding process. That became even more apparent when he formed a suddenly star backcourt with Goran Dragic.

Sun general manager Ryan McDonough told the Associated Press (via ESPN) that Bledsoe is happy to stay in Phoenix and finish the rebuilding. So they're all set, right? 

Not quite. Bledsoe has been mum on the situation publicly, as AZCentral.com's Paul Coro reports:

The only murky part is Bledsoe has not committed himself publicly to the idea of wanting to come back to Phoenix. He deflects repeated questions on the matter, providing answers about spending time with his family and working on his game in the summer in Birmingham, Ala.

He makes slight occasional references to a Phoenix future, as he did when talking about missing the playoffs: "It was a failure that we didn't make it. We've got a little bit of experience going into next year to know what it takes."

His teammates seem to have a better feel, especially his neighbor this season on team flights.

"He wants to be back," Smith said. "He likes it here."

It was smart of the 24-year-old to remain quiet on his intentions throughout the season. When he joined the Suns roster it wouldn't have been surprising if he wasn't happy, considering Phoenix was expected to contend for the worst record in the Association.

Then the season happened. Bledsoe grew a bond with Dragic and the Suns started playing team ball, allowing them to go on a serious push toward the postseason that fell just short.

If Bledsoe knows what's best for his career as a potential NBA star, he will likely stay in Phoenix. He has a chance to make his mark as a franchise player and still hasn't quite gotten to the point where he can join forces with superstar players. 

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