The first few days of the NBA's free-agency period test the elasticity of the 24-hour news cycle.
Sleepless reporters are running around on a combination of coffee, fast food and the supercharged adrenaline that comes with breaking a story. Fans can't take a five-minute break from Twitter or risk missing something—and giving their hot take on whatever is breaking. Go to bed for five hours, and suddenly 16 #Wojbombs have come and gone.
And all of this is regarding free agency. We haven't even began to reach the apex of the trade market just yet. Trades typically take a few days to get rolling in July. Teams target their top priorities in free agency first, and then once big-named guys start coming to terms, then those left hanging begin discussing in hushed tones.
That said, nothing about these last couple days has been quiet. From Jodie Meeks suddenly inheriting the earth—or, at the very least, $19 million to buy parts of it—to the whole Jason Kidd fiasco, this is called the silly season for a reason. There have also been numerous trade rumblings to go along with the free-agency news and Larry Drew being run over by a locomotive.
Since most are probably focused on our latest #Melodrama, let's quickly play a game of buy and sell with the trade rumors you may have missed.
Warriors Still Won't Budge on Adding Klay Thompson to Kevin Love Deal?
Everyone—and I mean everyone—should hope Kevin Love gets traded within the next couple weeks. If you want to avoid the daily updates, traffic-baiting headlines and overwrought coverage that plagued the Melodramas and Dwightmares of years past, then an expedited process is all we can hope for.
Getting a Love deal done now, while there is still free agency afoot and too much news to focus on one thing, is best for all of our sanity. The overflow of NBA speculation usually slows to a trickle by the third week in July. Throw someone like Love, one of the game's best handful of players, onto the market, and suddenly we're recycling the same stories into August, September and October.
The market seems centered on the Golden State Warriors. Talks between the two sides have been ongoing for weeks now, and a relative framework has already been hashed out. Love and Kevin Martin head to the Warriors, while the Timberwolves receive Klay Thompson, David Lee and at least one other asset.
At issue is Golden State's willingness to add Thompson to the trade. Discussions hit an impasse as the Warriors front office had an organizational split regarding the promising young guard. Head coach Steve Kerr and team adviser Jerry West were both said to be against the deal, and everything stalled from there.
Updating the progress of the talks Wednesday, Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News indicated the Warriors' stance hasn't changed: Thompson won't be moving. They're not only concerned about a 24-year-old sharpshooter at one of the league's weakest positions but also adding Martin's onerous contract.
There is little reason to believe Golden State is bluffing at this point. The only incentive for bluffing here is to get the Timberwolves to blink, which it would make zero sense for them to do. They're better off allowing Love to walk for nothing next summer than take any deal with Golden State that doesn't involve Thompson. In that regard, Harrison Barnes' regression last season really hurts the Warriors.
That said, I'm still of the belief that cooler heads prevail. Signing Shaun Livingston doesn't make Thompson expendable because they do different things, but it does help create a theoretical one-two punch where the Warriors could platoon Livingston and Martin at the 2 depending on need.
And, as anyone with two eyes and a working understanding of basketball has pointed out, Thompson and Love are not on the same stratosphere. It isn't even a question of youth either, given that Love is still only 25 years old. The Warriors are playing hardball, and it's understandable why they would.
Eventually, though, a superstar is a superstar.
Verdict: Buy (for now, sell eventually)
Knicks Won't Take Carlos Boozer in a Sign-and-Trade for Melo?
Carmelo Anthony is currently in the midst of getting his Carmen Sandiego on, jet-setting across the United States with his whereabouts constantly being guessed. One moment, he's ordering lobster tempura with Joakim Noah. The next he's inciting a near riot in Houston, where the Rockets used Jeremy Lin's No. 7 on a Photoshopped image of Anthony outside the Toyota Center.
Anthony is the most coveted piece on the free-agent market. And it's not particularly close. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat is inevitable at this point. The only matter left to resolve is who comes along.
Most objective observers believe the Chicago Bulls have the inside track if Anthony is leaving New York. They have a former MVP in Derrick Rose, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Joakim Noah and another rim protector in Taj Gibson. Couple that with promising young players in Jimmy Butler and the soon-to-be-stateside Nikola Mirotic, and adding Anthony arguably makes the Bulls the Eastern Conference favorite.
There's just one little problem: The Bulls are capped out. They have roughly $70 million in salary factoring in a cap hold for Doug McDermott and without considering what Mirotic may demand if he chooses to come over.
The popular theory has involved Chicago amnestying Carlos Boozer, but even shaving the $16.8 million he's owed for next season wouldn't be enough for someone of Anthony's caliber. Hell, given what we've seen this offseason, it might not even be enough for a run-of-the-mill shooting guard.
All of this is to say the Bulls probably need help to land their free-agent coup. The easiest way involves working out a sign-and-trade agreement with the Knicks. The reason Boozer has not received his walking papers yet is because his $16.8 million cap hold works well as a theoretical sign-and-trade chip to match salaries.
Phil Jackson apparently disagrees. ESPN's Chris Broussard reported the Knicks are strident in their stance that they won't take on Boozer to facilitate a sign-and-trade.
Why, you ask? Because of course Jackson wouldn't. It makes no sense at any angle for the Knicks to help the Bulls. The last time I checked, despite his seeming agnosticism in public comments, Jackson's first priority this offseason is to retain Carmelo. Unless the Bulls are willing to attach Mirotic or Butler, it will be and should be a nonstarter.
The Knicks—hold your breath here—actually have their first-round pick in 2015. If Carmelo leaves, Jackson will strip this roster to its core and tank away the season. Adding Boozer would cost New York a ton in tax considerations and is still a functional basketball player. Jackson would be smart to hold tight here, and I think he will.
Lin to Philly?
Speaking of moves tied to one Mr. Anthony. We've already discussed the inanity of the controversy surrounding the Rockets' decision to use Lin's No. 7 to woo Carmelo. No need to rehash anymore in this space.
The fact remains that Houston was willing to use that number because it understands the obvious: For Melo to come, Jeremy must go. Lin and his $8.37 million cap hold are all that stand between the Rockets and having significant cap space. Not quite enough to offer max money to prospective signees, but one or two creative moves might get the job done.
"I don't like that, but that's obviously Carmelo Anthony's number, that's the number he wants," general manager Daryl Morey told Mark Berman of Fox 26. "He told us that. Bottom line, if Carmelo comes Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin have to be traded. It's just math. It's not personal. My job is every day figure out how to win. Sometimes it creates challenging situations."
With Asik already heading to New Orleans, the next question for Morey is figuring out a suitor for Lin. Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported before the draft that the Rockets already have contingencies in place should they need the extra cap room. As for which team is ready to make a deal, Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers cites a source saying Morey's former second-in-command, Sam Hinkie, and his Sixers might be of service.
Philly doesn't need a point guard, but this makes sense for a couple reasons. One being that the Sixers need actual basketball players to play for them at some point. Neither Dario Saric nor Joel Embiid is going to be available in 2014-15. Saric won't be over for at least two years. For all of his foibles, Lin is a wildly popular player who might put a couple extra behinds in seats while toiling away on a terrible team.
Lin, who moved near league average as a three-point shooter last season, could ostensibly trade off roles with Michael Carter-Williams. When the two share the floor, Carter-Williams is big enough to defend shooting guards while Lin handles the point.
More importantly, Hinkie knows his old boss is desperate to get out from under that contract. The Rockets will have to package at least one first-round pick, if not two, to get from under Lin's $15 million balloon payment. Morey and his acolytes are nothing if not collectors of assets.
Buy: Jack-for-Thornton Back on?
Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reported the Nets and Cavaliers have re-engaged trade talks centered on Jarrett Jack and Marcus Thornton. Cleveland wants out of Jack's contract, which is guaranteed through the 2015-16 season. (Only $500,000 of the $6.3 million for 2015-16 is guaranteed.) Brooklyn doesn't care about much beyond competing for a Finals berth and needs a point guard after Shaun Livingston's departure. Josh Kosman of the New York Post's report of owner Mikhail Prokhorov wanting to cut costs to get a higher valuation for the franchise is the only thing that should derail the deal. It's not going to get anyone excited, but maybe Jack can revive his career (again) with the Nets.
Buy: Clippers Shopping Crawford?
The Clippers guaranteeing the 2014-15 season on Jamal Crawford's contract was a no-brainer. Crawford is making relative pittance (especially in this market) at $5.45 million and was in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation for most of last season. He's also the second-most reliable ball-handler on the team at the moment with Darren Collison hitting free agency. But Crawford's cheap deal also makes him an interesting trade piece—one the Clips are exploring, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Cleveland free agents Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes were mentioned as possible targets. Nabbing one of those guys would be fine, and the Clippers do already have a glut of shoot-first wings. Adding a reliable defender like Deng at the expense of losing Crawford might present an ideal scenario. It's a market worth exploring even if it goes nowhere.
Buy: Bucks Shopping Mayo, Grizzlies Looking to Unload Tayshaun, Pellies to Trade Rivers?
These all come from the same source—Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders—so let's lump them all together, shall we? Kennedy says Milwaukee has been active in looking to trade guard O.J. Mayo, Memphis has done the same with Tayshaun Prince and New Orleans is looking to tap out on the Austin Rivers experiment. Please allow me to feign shock about all three. I mean, it's not like Mayo was a complete train wreck last season, or Price is a shell or himself or Rivers has a two-season sample of really poor NBA play or anything. These teams will unload their respective players at the right price. That price is literally anything you may offer.
Sell: Any Team Wanting Mayo or Prince
The Bucks are on the hook for two more years and $16 million for Mayo. Prince is making nearly $8 million in the last year of his contract. Unless Milwaukee or Memphis is willing to take on a worse long-term contract to unload the pair—unlikely given the whole point here is financial—they're both stuck. Maybe if Mayo proves to everyone he can play basketball again, the Bucks can deal him midseason.
Buy: Someone Taking a Risk on Austin Rivers
Dude doesn't turn 22 until August. He's on a rookie-scale contract. He was the No. 10 pick two years ago. Teams will always roll the dice on youth. And his dad is an NBA coach. That may help matters.
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