2014 NBA Free Agents: Latest Rumors on LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and More

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2014

Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the second half Game 6 in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The NBA offseason is only 48 hours old, so the fact that there hasn't been a lot of movement with the top-tier free agents isn't alarming. But you can sense teams waiting out the market before making any major moves. 

Of course, the biggest domino that will fall is LeBron James. The four-time MVP is going to make the Miami Heat work to retain his services, which opens the door for a world of options if another team has a better opportunity to win a championship. 

There are so many intriguing story lines and players on the market this summer that Hollywood screenwriters couldn't come up with a logical way to carve out so much drama. The rumors are flying out fast, so keeping it all straight is virtually impossible. 

We will do our best to parse through all of the notes, letting you know where the top available players are at right now. 


LeBron James Making Teams Work

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat calls a play against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In most free-agent scenarios, the player will take trips to visit teams who have spent weeks building a sales pitch. For LeBron, normal scenarios don't apply. He's the best player on the planet, a franchise-altering talent who can carry a team on his back. 

Given LeBron's standing in the league, not to mention his opportunity to cash in with a long-overdue max contract, he's taking advantage of teams this offseason. 

According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, LeBron isn't doing anything or going anywhere right now. 

However, just because the player is sitting on the sidelines doesn't mean the agent has to be. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported that LeBron's agent, Rich Paul, has three meetings set up. 

This seems like a case of LeBron putting pressure on Pat Riley to figure out how to build a roster that can help the Heat compete for championships. Paul can take the sales pitch from Phoenix, Houston and Dallas, then present it to his client. 

If nothing else, it's a brilliant strategy on LeBron's part. Everyone with cap space will go all out to sign him. Depending on how long this contract ends up being, it could be the last big-money deal of his career, so he might as well milk it for all he can. 


Lakers Bring Out Big Guns For Carmelo Anthony

The Los Angeles Lakers are either in a great position or setting themselves up for a massive disappointment this summer, depending on your perspective.

They are locked into five contracts, if you include Julius Randle's rookie deal, valued at approximately $38 million this season, leaving the team with roughly $25 million in salary cap space.  

With Kobe Bryant in the twilight of his career, the Lakers are still trying to win now despite coming off a 27-55 season. It's no wonder they are being linked to every major free agent available, including Carmelo Anthony. 

It turns out that when a player like Anthony is in play, Bryant wants to help the Lakers put their best foot forward at the negotiating table. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, No. 8 ended a vacation to be present when the Lakers hosted the 30-year-old superstar. 

Bryant has a long history and friendship with Anthony and has been courting him for some time, but he felt it was important to be there when the Lakers made their pitch to him at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles.

Despite being one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, you wonder how appealing the Lakers are right now. Bryant is the only proven star on the roster, but even he has a lot of questions to answer coming off two major injuries. Steve Nash can't stay healthy and will turn 41 next season. 

Anthony can get paid by the Lakers, not as much as he can from New York, but still a good amount. For someone his age and at this stage of his career, money doesn't have to be the only factor in his decision. 

It's certainly a feather in Los Angeles' cap that Bryant made a point of being there. Anthony has to decide if that on its own is enough. 


Clippers' Plan To Secure Paul Pierce

Uncredited/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers have been on the upswing for years, culminating with a franchise-best 57 wins in 2013-14. Now the trick is to make it beyond the Western Conference semifinals. They've got the star power with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and quality depth, but they need more. 

Their answer could come in the form of Paul Pierce, though it will likely require some assistance from the Brooklyn Nets.

According to Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com, the Clippers and Nets are discussing a sign-and-trade for Pierce. 

And while the Clippers could simply sign Pierce as a free agent using their midlevel exception at $5.3 million, they are interested in pursuing sign-and-trade scenarios that would allow Brooklyn to get something in return for the 10-time All-Star and because the Clippers already have so many small forwards.

Small forward is definitely a loaded position for Los Angeles, so you can understand the club's desire to get rid of some unnecessary pieces and contracts to bring in Pierce. 

It's not a surprise the Clippers would be after Pierce. Doc Rivers coached the 36-year-old for nine years in Boston. Pierce was rumored to be part of a deal last year that would have sent him, Rivers and Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles. 

While that trade never materialized, Pierce might very well find himself in Hollywood with a great chance to win another championship before calling it a career. 


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