The 2014 NBA free agency period has begun, and with so many top names on the open market, the excitement level from basketball fans around the world is through the roof.
With bona fide stars becoming free agents this offseason like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and others, the possibility of a seismic shift in the landscape of the league has increased greatly.
Here are the latest rumors surrounding the biggest names in the NBA.
Lakers Heavily Targeting Carmelo Anthony?
The Los Angeles Lakers were awful last season. For a franchise so steeped in championship history, the failures last year made the fans of the organization and the personnel calling the shots behind the scenes want to turn the page as quickly as possible.
One way to make everyone forget the recent slump would be signing Carmelo Anthony.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, Los Angeles is focusing primarily on signing Anthony as the foundation of another big deal:
Lakers' dream is to add LeBron & Melo this summer. If that fails would go for CBosh & Melo, sources say. That's assuming Bosh opts out— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2014
Consider the meeting a warm-up for the face-to-face sit-down the team has scheduled for Thursday with Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles. The Anthony pitch will be spearheaded by Lakers president Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and Kupchak, according to a source with knowledge of the Lakers' plan.
After finishing last season with an abysmal 27-55 record, Los Angeles understands that it needs to make major changes in a hurry. With money to spend (and even more money if the team can trade Steve Nash), adding a piece like Anthony would just be step No. 1.
Anthony could open the floodgates for other free agents.
During the 2013-14 campaign, Anthony racked up an impressive 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, making him one of the most dangerous threats in the offensive zone. With Kobe Bryant returning to full health, the duo of Bryant and Anthony would be unstoppable.
Add in another possible star and Los Angeles will be back on top.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh Taking Major Pay Cuts?
The Miami Heat were one step away from winning another NBA championship but came up just short to the San Antonio Spurs due to the lack of support around LeBron James.
With James, Wade and Chris Bosh all opting out of their current contracts, Miami can now restructure each player’s deal to make it more cap friendly. That should open the door for another possible free-agent signing.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, there is a feeling that both Wade and Bosh could take major pay cuts to bring in a star:
Heat telling free agents they will have $12+ million to spend, indicating Wade & Bosh ready to take huge pay cuts, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 1, 2014
While several outlets are supporting the Windhorst claim, David Aldridge of NBA.com refutes the numbers and even talked to agent Henry Thomas about the situation:
Agent Henry Thomas, on report clients Bosh & Wade will take $12M/per & $11M/per, respectively: "all the BS you are reading is just that."— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2014
When James opted out before any of the other players on the team, he made a statement saying that he does what was best for Miami.
With basketball czar Pat Reilly having the ability to restructure the team, there is little doubt that both Wade and Bosh will be asked to take a pay cut in order to build a better supporting cast.
Regardless of how much they get paid each season, it will be imperative that they all compromise for the betterment of the franchise. The Heat could be one or two pieces away from another title run, and taking a cut now could lead to even more money down the road.
Luol Deng Won’t Take Less Money to Join Miami Heat?
One of the most underestimated names on the free agency market is former Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Luol Deng. There was chatter that Miami would try to lure Deng to the Heat for an affordable price, but that may be easier said than done.
In another report from Broussard, the ESPN NBA insider talks about how Deng may not be willing to sign a smaller deal to play with a contender:
Hearing that Luol Deng will not take significantly less than his market value to join Heat— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2014
There is no doubt that Deng would make the Heat a better team with his scoring off the bench, but overpaying him would hurt worse than not signing him at all. Miami needs the flexibility to add depth and talent at several different positions.
With a plethora of veteran players on the open market looking for a championship who would be willing to take less money, the franchise will not falter due to Deng’s reported decision not to take less money.
The veteran has earned the right to test the free agency waters and would likely make much more elsewhere. It’s a smart move on his behalf.
*Stats via NBA.com.