Free agency begins July 1, meaning teams have three weeks left to determine which stars they want to target in order to improve their squads and, in some cases, decide whether or not it would be in their best interest to hire a coach before or after the free-agent frenzy commences.
That’s a lot of time for rumors. Let’s discuss three of the latest below.
Lakers Lust Over LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony
The Los Angeles Lakers fall under both categories mentioned above. Pau Gasol is an unrestricted free agent, Steve Nash will return—but who knows how many games he will play—and Kobe Bryant is coming off two major injuries and won’t be around forever.
Coming off a dismal season and Mike D’Antoni’s resignation, the team needs to replenish its star power, and its coach. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the two processes are related:
The slow pace of the Lakers' coaching search that began April 30 when Mike D'Antoni resigned has been timed deliberately with the upcoming free agency period in the NBA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Specifically, the idea that the Lakers could beat the odds and land the likes of the Heat's LeBron James, the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony or any of the other superstars who may be free agents on July 1 has led the Lakers to plod through their process so as to not limit their potential options. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search.
The Lakers haven’t had any trouble in the past luring stars to Los Angeles. The large market, the warm weather and the storied franchise are all appealing for potential free agents. But attracting LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony—who each have player options—will be difficult.
If James wins his third championship with the Miami Heat, there is little reason to believe he will leave. And why would he? His situation is ideal and the team would be fighting for its fourth championship in a row. But if the Spurs win the 2014 NBA Finals, perhaps he chooses to take his talents elsewhere.
Anthony’s situation is a little more complex. Phil Jackson has the power and track record to keep him in a Knicks uniform. Plus, the NBA’s largest market will be tough for Anthony to decline. However, don’t count out Bryant’s ability to persuade. Few players are more intense or persuasive than Bryant.
Either way, the Lakers want to hold off on their coaching search in order to give the stars a voice in deciding whom they’ll potentially be playing for if either sign in LA.
New Big Three in Houston?
The latest and greatest path to compete for an NBA championship has been to assemble a Big Three. Miami has one, San Antonio (kind of) has one and Oklahoma City and Boston had one.
Now, the Houston Rockets want one, per Basketball Insider’s Bill Ingram:
Rockets GM Daryl Morey is not only hoping, but planning to add another All-Star to his roster in order to help Dwight Howard and James Harden get out of the first round of the playoffs next season. Kevin Love is very much on Houston’s radar, and if they could find a way to get him in town they would jump at it. Love is the perfect frontcourt complement to Howard because he stretches the defense out to the three-point line and he is an even better rebounder. With Howard and Love together the opposition would have little hope of getting an edge on the boards, and many games are won and lost on the glass. The rub, of course, is that Houston really doesn’t have much to offer beyond the ending deals of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, and with both owed a $13.5 million balloon payment it’s a hard sell. The Timberwolves don’t need either player, so a third team would almost certainly have to be involved for Houston to get in the mix for Love.
How good would a Rockets trio of Harden, Howard and Love be?
Adding another star to Houston’s lineup would be a scary thought for the other teams in the Western Conference. As Ingram points out, Love would be particularly effective next to Dwight Howard because of his rebounding prowess and ability to shoot from deep.
If Chandler Parsons is a team’s fourth-best player, it’s in great shape. However, Parsons—who could become a restricted free agent this summer—is a valuable commodity and might needed to be included as part of a sign-and-trade in order to sweeten any potential deal.
Cleveland’s Coaching Carousel
The Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of questions that need to be answered, and soon. Is Kyrie Irving deserving of a max contract? Who will the team draft with the first pick after busting on Anthony Bennett just a year ago? Finally, who will coach the Cavaliers?
Cleveland’s list of potential coaching candidates is getting lengthy. According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the team has either interviewed or are interested in Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers assistants Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry and former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.
Add two more to the list.
Per CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper, the Cavaliers plan to give Mark Price an interview. Price, an assistant coach for the Charlotte Hornets, would make for an interesting hire. The former point guard and four-time All-Star spent nine years in Cleveland, averaging over 16 points and seven assists per game. He is certainly a fan favorite, which could add an extra layer of interest and intrigue the team desperately needs and definitely lacks.
In addition, the Cavs also have their eye on another former point guard, per ProBasketballDraft.com:
Cavs have made back channel inquiries about former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, per source.— Probasketballdraft (@Probballdraft) June 10, 2014
Mark Jackson, who recently returned to ESPN as an analyst after three successful seasons as coach of the Golden State Warriors, can still coach if he so desires.
Jackson status with ESPN doesn't preclude him from taking another NBA coaching job.— Probasketballdraft (@Probballdraft) June 10, 2014
With so many questions left to be answered, it will be interesting to see where, and when, Cleveland finds some resolutions.
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