The NBA's free-agency period has finally started, and as teams begin to prepare making offers, there are already more than a few rumors going around the Association.
With the 2014 NBA draft out of the way, teams now know where they stand in terms of both cap space and team needs. However, considering the fact that names like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are weighing their options, there are also bound to be a few trades to try to clear cap space along with free-agent signings over the next couple of weeks.
Having said that, here are a few of the latest rumors around the NBA at the start of free agency.
Multiple Teams Targeting Chandler Parsons
After a promising start to his career with the Houston Rockets, the team officially declined Chanlder Parsons' option for next season, making him a restricted free agent. Now that teams can make offers for him, he's apparently starting to attract quite a bit of attention.
Marc J. Spears from Yahoo Sports reported that there are multiple teams interested in Parsons, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets are also reportedly interested, and since Parsons is a restricted free agent, they'll have the opportunity to match any offer given to the 25-year-old.
Regardless of where he goes, Parsons feels that he'll be a key addition.
"I feel like I'm in a win-win situation because it's happening a year early," Parsons told Spears about becoming a free agent. "I think a lot of teams could be interested. With the way I play and my versatility, I feel I can pretty much help any team."
Parsons is coming off of a career season, averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He was also a solid defender, posting 2.5 defensive win shares, according to Basketball-Reference.
As a 6'9'' scorer on the wing, Parsons is bound to finally get a solid contract after making just under $2.5 million in his first three seasons. The only thing in question now is where Parsons will end up.
Luol Deng a Potential Target for Atlanta Hawks
Former Chicago Bulls wing Luol Deng probably wasn't thrilled to move to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the middle of this past season, but now that he's a free agent, he'll likely be able to go play for a more legitimate playoff contender.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst, the Hawks were able to trade Lou Williams away for John Salmons, and will likely waive Salmons so that they can have an estimated $15.5 million in cap space for this coming season. Now, as Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski points out, Deng is one free agent the team may pursue with the extra cap space:
One strong candidate for that $15M-plus of fresh salary cap space in Atlanta, league sources tell Yahoo: Free agent forward Luol Deng.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 30, 2014
Before leaving the Bulls, Deng was on pace for the one of the best seasons of his career. Through 23 games, he was averaging 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the floor.
Adding Deng would be a smart move for the Hawks, as small forward is one of the bigger holes for the team. DeMarre Carroll held his own at times, but he'd be much more effective coming off of the bench with a more intimidating scorer like Deng starting on the wing.
The Hawks aren't the only team that will be in the running for Deng, but with the extra cap space, the team may be willing to make an aggressive push to acquire the 29-year-old.
LeBron James Wants a Max Salary Next Season
When he came to the Miami Heat back in 2010, LeBron James didn't get a max deal. However, now that he has a couple of NBA titles and four MVP awards under his belt, it appears that he's ready to get paid as much as possible, at least for a year.
Where will LeBron play next season?
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that LeBron is reportedly asking for the maximum salary next season, which is projected to be $22.2 million. That means that a few teams trying to make a push for LeBron will likely no longer be able to strike a deal with him, but it does make things more interesting for other teams.
The Heat are still most likely the favorite to bring back LeBron, as they definitely have the cap space to afford a max deal after Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted out of their deals as well. However, a max deal for LeBron would likely mean pay cuts for Wade and Bosh, plus the fact that it will be less likely to add more talent around those three players.
While teams like the Bulls and Rockets will be pushing for LeBron as well, one team that's beginning to emerge as a contender in the Phoenix Suns, according to Wojnarowski, saying:
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.
After winning 48 games last season, things are only looking up for the Suns. They have plenty of young talent with players like Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, while at the same time they have just under $30 million in payroll for next season, according to HoopsHype.com.
The Suns are likely going to get even more young talent soon. They had three first-round selections this year and are set to have another three next year, which means that the team will have more young, cheap players to develop around a potential superstar like LeBron.
There's no clear sign of where LeBron is going, so fans will just have to wait and see what happens. However, it now appears clear that he is no longer willing to accept a pay cut as the best player in the Association.
Note: All contract information provided by Spotrac, unless otherwise noted.