There is a dynamic shift in the NBA this summer. Before the draft, all the talk was around trades and big-name players being dealt from one spot to another. Now, with free agency officially starting, all the focus is on superstars signing their next big contracts.
With the trade winds dying down as fans and teams wait for decisions from players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, it leaves a lot of room for evaluation. Teams believe they are one big move away from being a serious contender, so why not see where the market goes?
Deals between teams will happen at some point. Executives are constantly talking, though it takes time for two sides to consummate a trade. Until they start happening, we can break down the hottest rumors and what they mean.
Warriors Calling Minnesota's Bluff?
When you have two teams at a stalemate in trade discussions, their best course of action is usually just to wait things out because eventually one side has to crack.
In the case of Kevin Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves are stuck between a rock and a hard place because his time with them is limited to one year, at the most. They can't afford to let him get away without receiving anything in return.
The Golden State Warriors, who have been linked to Love for as long as there have been rumors about him wanting out of Minnesota, appear to understand that and are using it to their advantage in trade talks, according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.
The Warriors execs believe the star power forward wants to be a Warrior; they believe there isn’t another hot offer for Love out there (or else he would’ve been traded by now). And they believe Minnesota has to pull the trigger at some point before next summer, when Love can be a free agent.
There's no urgency for the Warriors, who know that they are still a playoff team in the Western Conference and can keep their young core intact hoping it takes the next step to make them a championship contender.
It's a brilliant strategy for them to take, especially since the Timberwolves know that their clock is ticking. They are going to get the best deal for Love this summer, when a team trading for him gets 82 games of control.
Once the season starts, and the control decreases, Minnesota's leverage goes with it. Golden State appears to have the situation right where it wants it.
Paul Pierce Reunited with Doc Rivers?
It's safe to say that no coach in the NBA knows Paul Pierce better than Doc Rivers, who was with the 36-year-old for nine years in Boston. The two went their separate ways last year, with Pierce being traded to Brooklyn and Rivers heading to the Clippers.
Now the duo could be reunited if the Clippers have their way, but they'll have to get creative to make it happen. According to Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com, a sign-and-trade deal is the easiest way to make it happen.
Rivers, the Clippers' president and coach, has had several conversations with Pierce since he became a free agent July 1.
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.
Pierce would be an interesting fit for the Clippers. They have plenty of firepower on offense, leading the league in scoring last year behind Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford.
The one area they struggled offensively was outside shooting, ranking 22nd in three-point field-goal percentage. J.J. Redick can fire it from deep, but they need more dynamic weapons than a catch-and-shoot player.
Even though he's not a star anymore, Pierce proved last year he can be effective filling a key role. The 16-year veteran shot 45 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from three-point range in 28 minutes per game.
There are an excess of small forwards already on the roster (Matt Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Jared Dudley), so you can understand the desire for a sign-and-trade deal. Pierce fills a need for leadership and still adds tremendous value off the bench, so finding a way to make a deal happen would be in the Clippers' best interest.
Jeremy Lin in Limbo
Now that Jeremy Lin has had a few days to breathe following Houston using his No. 7 in a marketing ploy for Anthony, he can start to think about what the immediate future holds.
As it turns out, Lin's future with the Rockets won't be settled until there is some resolution to the Anthony and LeBron sweepstakes, according to Jake Fischer of the The Boston Globe.
Lin has been a lightning rod dating back to his breakout season in New York. He's an effective scorer with the basketball, averaging at least 12.5 points per game each of the last three years and shooting over 44 percent from the field.
Unfortunately, as a point guard, Lin's knack for turning the ball over gets him into trouble. He ranked 45th out of 47 qualified point guards last year in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67), just ahead of Eric Bledsoe and Alec Burks.
The 76ers make sense as a potential destination because Lin's salary explodes this season to $14.9 million, but it's also the final year of the three-year deal he signed in 2012. That expiring money would give them added financial flexibility for the summer of 2015.
Of course, this point seems to be moot unless the Rockets can sign Anthony or LeBron, so the team might have to mend some fences with Lin following the marketing gaffe.
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