Updates from Thursday, July 10
Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports that the Dallas Mavericks are looking to land a veteran free agent for cheap:
Mavs hope they can talk Mo Williams into taking minimum. Why would he do that? Lives in area and wants to be near wife and five sons.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 10, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, July 9
ESPN's Marc Stein reports on a three-team deal involving the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers:
ESPN sources say Brooklyn Nets on verge of acquiring Jarrett Jack from Cleveland in three-team deal— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Boston is third team in deal will acquire Tyler Zeller from Cleveland as well as future first-rounder and Marcus Thornton from Nets— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Three-team trade will see Nets acquire Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev from Cleveland. Boston gets Thornton, Zeller and a first— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Trade can't be completed until Thursday, but Cavs on brink of shedding contracts of Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller & Sergey Karasev in this deal— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Celtics' willingness to facilitate trade enables Boston to pick up Tyler Zeller and a future first-rounder in addition to Marcus Thornton— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Cavs will obviously have to take back future second-rounder of some sort to seal deal but Cleveland obviously doing this solely for space— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Chris Broussard of ESPN adds that the Cavaliers are looking to add a proven talent in the back court:
Sources: Cavs pursuing Ray Allen— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2014
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio also reported that Cleveland is interested in another veteran free agent:
The Cavs are pursuing free agent shooting guard Mike Miller, sources tell @FOXSportsOH.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 9, 2014
According to a friend of Anthony’s, Melo has held out faint hope Knicks president Phil Jackson can pull a miracle and clear out the necessary salary-cap space to get it done, but he is running out of time. Anthony’s decision could come in the next couple of days.
It would require Jackson to ship out Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani’s expiring contracts, and for Anthony and James to take less than the max. Iman Shumpert might have to be dealt, and the rights to Jeremy Tyler renounced.
One report said Jackson conceivably can move $40 million under the cap with a flurry of moves — as long as he doesn’t take back salary.
'He really wants LeBron to come to New York,' the source said. 'That’s his dream right now. Phil is trying to get it done.'
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports on the Charlotte Hornets' pursuit of a backup from Kemba Walker:
Charlotte's planning visit with free agent Brian Roberts, league sources tell Yahoo. He's on top of short list to backup Kemba Walker.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, July 8
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports that the New York Knicks have talked to several teams regarding a potential trade involving Amar'e Stoudemire:
Knicks president Phil Jackson has talked to multiple teams in recent days -– including the Philadelphia 76ers –- about moving Amar’e Stoudemire in an effort to clear more cap space this summer, sources say.
Moving Stoudemire and his $23.4 million contract would allow the Knicks to take back players in a sign-and-trade and could give them more money to offer free agents such as Pau Gasol.
The New York Post, which earlier reported the Knicks talks with Philly regarding Stoudemire, reports that the Knicks are unwilling to include Iman Shumpert in such a transaction.
Houston's Jeremy Lin trade still has not left the tarmac. Source says deal only goes in motion once Rockets secure free-agent commitment.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 8, 2014
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports that Greivis Vasquez is closing in on a deal with the Toronto Raptors:
Toronto waived guard Julyan Stone on Monday and continues to work towards completing a deal with backup point guard Greivis Vasquez that could be done at any time, and officially signed off on Thursday. Vasquez told Venezuelan media that he would consider taking the $3.1 million qualifying offer from the Raptors, making him an unrestricted free agent next summer, because he still wants to be a starter, but that remains unlikely, since he loves the city and has had a more lucrative multi-year offer on the table from the Raptors for days, according to sources.
This much is clear: Riley is confident James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will return, according to people who have had phone conversations with Riley in the last week. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the conversations.
Of course, Riley's confidence doesn't guarantee anything. But right now, he isn't scrambling.
The club is still trying to land its most desired prize, Kevin Love, but according to two NBA sources, the Celts and Timberwolves have not spoken in more than a week. What was reported here before the draft when what little discussion there was between the teams broke down is still the case: the only way the talks get revived is if Minnesota changes its stance on what it will accept for Love, or if the Wolves believe the Celtics can get them the players they want in a separate deal.
Beyond that, at least as of yesterday, all points connecting the two sides were moot.
'Minnesota didn’t want anything Boston had two weeks ago, and it’s crazy to think that’s changed this fast,' said one league source. 'They may change their mind at some point, but I still think that’s going to take some time.'
Kyrie Irving has made recruiting pitch to LeBron James, sources say. ESPN reports Kyrie as saying Cavs will get LeBron all the help he needs— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 7, 2014
Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the New York Knicks are waiting anxiously for Carmelo Anthony's decision:
Vibe I get out of New York, meanwhile, is legitimate unease ... given that some in the organization expected a decision from Melo by Monday— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 8, 2014
Popular question raised by last five teams I've talked to: Is Melo holding out in hopes Bosh goes to Houston so he can join LeBron in Miami?— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 8, 2014
Marc Berman of the New York Post adds to Stein's report regarding Anthony's interest in teaming up with LeBron James:
The Knicks expected Carmelo Anthony’s decision by Monday, but heard only crickets. A growing belief within the organization is Anthony is waiting to make sure there is no possible way of hooking up with LeBron James in Miami or Los Angeles.
While Anthony monitors the South Beach drama, James is expected to meet with Heat president Pat Riley. The Post has reported the Big 4 scenario was virtually impossible, but if power forward Chris Bosh is wowed by the money in Texas, either Dallas or Houston, that could open a spot for a new Big 3 of James, Anthony and Dwyane Wadesplitting the remaining cap space.
However, that scenario became trickier with Miami agreeing to terms with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger on Monday, though not impossible. If Wade takes a significant paycut, Riley can be creative in fitting James and his buddy Anthony under the salary cap.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports that Anthony is split between a trio of potential landing spots:
According to a friend close to the Knicks’ All-Star forward, Anthony is still debating his next move, with the Knicks, Lakers and Bulls all regarded as the most likely landing spots. Anthony has not ruled out the Rockets and Mavericks but those clubs are not considered realistic possibilities for Anthony, who last week received a max offer — five years, $129 million — from Jackson despite the team president hinting for weeks that he wouldn’t offer the max.
Updates from Monday, July 7
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com reports on an Eastern Conference team involved in talks with the New York Knicks over a pair of assets:
Speaking on First Take, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said the Knicks and Sixers have had conversations about a deal that would send Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert to the Philadelphia. Although what the Sixers would send back isn't clear, it likely wouldn't be much more than a draft pick or non-guaranteed contract player, as the Knicks would do the deal to clear cap space.
The move would clear roughly $25 million in cap space for the Knicks, and would potentially allow them to chase another prime free agent. Although losing Shumpert would be a loss for the Knicks, it would likely be worth it to rid themselves of Stoudemire's contract.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports on a fascinating twist in the Cleveland Cavaliers' pursuit of LeBron James:
For 4 years, Dan Gilbert's letter after LeBron's decision has been on team website. It appears it was removed today: http://t.co/O256mqVtNs— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 7, 2014
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports details how LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, has given the Cleveland Cavaliers hope of landing the superstar this summer:
At the urging of LeBron James' agent, the Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing a maximum contract salary slot to bring back the free-agent superstar, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Rich Paul, the president of Klutch Sports, has been funneling belief into the organization that the Cavaliers are in strong position to lure James from the Miami Heat, sources told Yahoo Sports.
For years, Paul has confided to people that bringing back James to Cleveland has been something of a mission for him, and he's encouraging Cavaliers officials to offer no restraint in the recruitment of James, sources said.
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports that the New York Knicks remain unfazed despite the Los Angeles Lakers' push to sign Carmelo Anthony:
The Lakers may have emerged as strong contenders in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, but sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard on Sunday that the Knicks “remain confident” in their chances of re-signing Anthony.
Chris Broussard of ESPN reports on two new teams that have displayed interest in Lance Stephenson:
Nearly a week after the Indiana Pacers offered talented but controversial guard Lance Stephenson a five-year, $44 million contract, the two sides remain far apart on a deal, according to sources close to the situation.
Though his desire is to remain with the Pacers, a disappointed Stephenson began exploring the free-agent market after receiving what he felt was a low-ball offer last Tuesday, sources said.
Stephenson has drawn interest from the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, though both teams have other free agents prioritized above Stephenson, according to sources
John Martin of ESPN929.com reports on several teams interested in signing veteran small forward Mike Miller this summer:
As he waits out free agency, Grizzlies' free agent Mike Miller will visit the Denver Nuggets Sunday and Monday, a source told 92.9 FM ESPN Saturday morning.
Oklahoma City, Houston, and Portland are also interested in the veteran shooter's services.
Wojnarowski also reported on Miami's interest in Josh McRoberts:
Charlotte's Josh McRoberts emerging as serious free agent candidate for Miami, sources tell Yahoo. Realistic option at mid-level exception.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Updates from Sunday, July 6
Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report reported on some of the Miami Heat's free agent targets:
In addition to Anthony Morrow & Marvin Williams, Heat is in play for Kris Humphries. Also hearing Wiz, Celtics & Hornets emerging for Kris.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) July 6, 2014
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders provided more information on the chances of Morrow moving to Miami:
source: Marvin Williams likely to sign $5million/ one year deal Miami offered him earlier this morning— Alex Kennedy (@AIexKennedyINBA) July 6, 2014
Since the draft lottery was instituted in 1985, three players selected with a top-four pick have won a title with the team that selected them—David Robinson, Tim Duncan and Darko Milicic.
So yes, NBA free agency is a bigger deal than the draft.
Of the trends outlined above (kudos to the San Antonio Spurs for utter dominance of this thing called basketball), the important thing to take away is that championships can be won and lost in this period after the draft where key free agents find new homes.
With guys like LeBron James on the market, the NBA spectrum is alight with alleged pieces of info. Here's the latest.
Norris Cole on the Block
After such a dramatic start, it may seem funny to kick things off with a role player like Norris Cole, but understand that his future very much has an impact on the rest of the league for years to come.
A rotational piece behind Mario Chalmers, the Cleveland State product averaged 6.4 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game last season and is due in the neighborhood of $3 million next year, per Spotrac.
As Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders notes, that is a chunk of change the brass in Miami would love to spend elsewhere:
Executives continue to say that Miami is making Norris Cole available. If they can move him, they could have even more money to spend.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 29, 2014
With the news that the Big Three have opted out for the greater good, which means bringing on better talent to push for a fifth straight Finals appearance, Cole has become expendable—especially after the team selected UConn's Shabazz Napier.
Cole offers plenty of value at just 25 years old and three seasons into his pro career, although his inability to better push Chalmers for playing time, let alone flourish with so much talent around him, has to be taken into consideration.
The guilt another team would feel for helping Miami get even stronger has to play a factor as well, right?
Los Angeles Has Plenty of Backup Plans, Including Trevor Ariza
The Los Angeles Lakers are serious about turning things around after a miserable campaign, and the future of their own free agents such as Pau Gasol and Nick Young remain up in the air.
But general manager Mitch Kupchak is so serious about righting the ship that he has his eyes on names like James and Carmelo Anthony.
"We're prepared," he said, via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin. "If any of those players do want to make a move, we're prepared. And if we get word, when we're allowed to get word, we will go all out."
Kupchak and Co. even committed a move the Heat only wishes they could do with Cole, as explained by Bleacher Report's Ethan Norof:
#Lakers not extending a qualifying offer to Kent Bazemore to make him RFA is surprising, but LAL wants all cap space available. Big dreams.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) June 29, 2014
But what if the plans to nab a major star fail? ESPN's Ramona Shelburne has the details:
If they are unable to land Anthony or James, the Lakers are also expected to have a strong interest in Washington free-agent forward Trevor Ariza, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Detroit center Greg Monroe and Phoenix forward Channing Frye, according to sources.
While Kyle Lowry and Greg Monroe should raise some eyebrows, both are going to incite a major bidding war, and the former is restricted as is.
Now Ariza? That makes some sense.
The UCLA product was a key cog in the Lakers' 2009 NBA championship team before experiencing up-and-down seasons around the league, but he is coming off a career year:
Ariza is more affordable than other names, familiar with the organization and perhaps most important of all, knows what it is like to play next to Kobe Bryant.
While he is but one part of a much bigger equation, Ariza gives the Lakers instant production and a veteran to lead the likes of Julius Randle into the next era. Perhaps it makes too much sense to work out.
Suns Have Master Plan That Involves Carmelo and LeBron
Fans may have heard about the Phoenix Suns. A surprise 48-34 season and three first-round selections later, they figure to not only be a rising power in the superb Western Conference, but in the league as a whole.
Yet the front office might be hungry for more.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski explains that the Suns brass understand what they have in mind is a long shot, but reeling in both Anthony and James seems to be the idea:
Phoenix is determined to emerge as a legitimate destination for James and Anthony, who have privately shared an affinity for playing with each other in the NBA. Salary-cap structures make it prohibitive for teams elsewhere to fit these two stars together without completely gutting a roster, but Phoenix's general manager Ryan McDonough has constructed a far different reality to sell them in potential meetings next week, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
To be fair, it's not all that horrible of an idea. The young nucleus in Phoenix almost made the playoffs last year, there's plenty of cap room to bring on both players and the team has three more first-round draft picks in 2015 after adding T.J. Warren, Tyler Ennis and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Wojnarowski notes that the Suns are banking on James' elite marketing ability, meaning he knows full and well he does not have to be in a major media market to find success, among other things:
The Suns are banking on James' basketball acumen and business intelligence to see the roster, financial flexibility that could sustain the Suns' success for years. Phoenix officials believe the best chance to get Anthony away from his preferred free-agent destinations – Chicago and Houston – will be to turn James' attention toward the Suns, and get Anthony on board with his one true chance to play with James, sources said.
In all seriousness, this is almost too good to come to fruition. Anthony wants to stay in a major city barring teaming up with another superstar, and James is entrenched with his Big Three in Miami.
Could James take his talents to the Valley and bring Anthony with him? Sure. Would he win more rings along the way? More than likely.
The Decision Pt. II just got a whole lot more interesting.