The day every hopeful NBA franchise has waited for is finally upon us.
Free agency is officially underway, and every team has a wish list of players it wants to boost its roster for the next several seasons. With talks finally getting started, each franchise will wine and dine the numerous names in hopes of shoring them up to make a run next season.
Superstars like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are the clear-cut favorites for every team, but the likelihood of landing either is slim. Meanwhile, other emerging stars and wily veterans could be in search of new homes for the foreseeable future.
With the next stage in the NBA offseason finally here, let's take a look at some of the most recent rumors about top players this summer.
Kyle Lowry Courted by Multiple Suitors, Including Heat and Lakers
It has been speculated for a while that the Miami Heat and Kyle Lowry might have mutual interest, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN, but now the rumors appear to be coming to a head.
The Toronto Raptors breakout point guard has been a popular target early on and has gotten looks from several franchises. Sam Amick of USA Today notes the market for Lowry at this point:
The ever-popular Kyle Lowry received interest tonight from Miami, the Lakers, Rockets, Dallas, and - of course - incumbent Raptors, I'm told— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 1, 2014
What was once believed to be a two-horse race between the Heat and Raptors has now blown up into an all-out war. That should be expected for a 28-year-old point guard who had career highs in points (17.9), assists (7.4) and rebounds (4.7) per game last year and led Toronto to the postseason.
But with the Miami Heat dealing with a struggling Mario Chalmers, there's a clear urgency to secure a consistent player to lead the offense. After trading for Shabazz Napier in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft, securing Lowry would give them three options at the position along with Norris Cole.
As for the other suitors, the Los Angeles Lakers are rebuilding but still have the notoriety of a big-name franchise. Both the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are competing in the Western Conference but don't have players like James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to help rack up assists.
Celtics Looking at Young Point Guard
The Boston Celtics are in full rebuild mode, with the exception of one player—Rajon Rondo.
After emerging as the top player outside of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen years ago, the lone leftover from the once-dominant team might be on the move. Brian Windhorst of ESPN has the latest on the Celtics' summer plans:
The Celtics reached out to Isaiah Thomas tonight. Interesting, the Kings and Celtics had recently been in talks on Rajon Rondo deal.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 1, 2014
Though Isaiah Thomas is a young point guard, the 25-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance with the Sacramento Kings. The former Washington Huskies star, much like Lowry, put together career highs with 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game last season.
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders also chimes in with news about Boston's rumored interest in Thomas:
The Boston Celtics were first team to call restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas when free agency started, per source. Danny Ainge called.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2014
After drafting Marcus Smart in the first round, the Celtics are clearly looking to go younger at the position. By bringing in Thomas, they would have two potential starters 25 or younger next season.
Though both teams might still be in the opening stages of the deal or Boston might just be starting talks with Thomas, this could be a huge deal for the Celtics.
Clippers Might Have "Real Shot" at Paul Pierce
To quote the famous Peaches & Herb song, "Reunited and it feels so good."
The fallout from the Jason Kidd trade for the Brooklyn Nets, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports, is just beginning, and one casualty might be losing veteran Paul Pierce. Marc Stein of ESPN provides the most recent rumblings about Pierce:
Clippers, I'm told, believe they have real chance of stealing Paul Pierce away from Nets now that Jason Kidd no longer coaching in Brooklyn— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2014
Which is most likely to happen?
Now back to the Peaches & Herb song. With Pierce potentially becoming a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, he would, of course, be reuniting with his former coach Doc Rivers.
Both men led a huge charge in Boston that brought back an NBA championship and multiple late playoff runs. Already equipped with a great offensive trio in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clips would add a veteran presence with postseason experience.
But Rivers and the Clippers might not be the only team in the running for "The Truth," as Stein explains:
Blazers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Mavericks, Rockets ... teams I'm told called tonight to register interest in Brooklyn's Paul Pierce BESIDES Clips— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2014
After one year of playing with the Nets, Pierce might just have a chance of going out on top with a number of those franchises. If he does ultimately reunite with Rivers and become a Clipper, it could be the perfect fit for both sides in their search for a championship.
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