At this point in the NBA offseason, the only way for basketball fans to keep up with the very latest rumors and updates is to sit at their computer and constantly refresh their Twitter page.
Even that probably wouldn’t be enough.
Everywhere you turn, there is another development and breaking story as some of the best players in the NBA have flooded the free-agency market. Throw in the possibilities of trades involving All-Stars like Kevin Love, and the entire league could look different next year.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the latest updates and rumors regarding Carmelo Anthony, Eric Bledsoe and Lance Stephenson.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports updated fans on some of the most recent rumblings from the Anthony camp:
All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony probed New York Knicks management on the franchise's plan to restore a contending roster and left his final free-agency meeting largely aligned with president Phil Jackson's vision, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Anthony had direct questions for Jackson and coach Derek Fisher during a Thursday meeting in Los Angeles, and Anthony's increased confidence with the Knicks' direction – which includes a maximum contract offer of five years and $129 million – has strengthened the franchise's chances of re-signing Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Anthony’s best chance to win is likely outside of New York, at least in the immediate future, but that is an awful lot of money to turn down. Still, other suitors like Chicago or Houston could offer loaded cores that include players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Dwight Howard and James Harden, so there are also compelling reasons for Anthony to look elsewhere.
One official was quoted by Wojnarowski as saying, “He just wants to feel like he’s not all alone on the court.”
If you were Anthony, which team would you choose between Chicago and New York?
That is interesting since this is partially being framed as a battle between winning and money, but Anthony’s presence would make New York much more attractive as a potential free-agent market for the likes of Pau Gasol or another impact player or two.
The Knicks may not have players the caliber of Rose, Noah, Howard and Harden next to Anthony, but they could be a piece or two away from reaching the playoffs in a watered-down Eastern Conference. That is why they are more than willing to offer Anthony a max contract.
Sam Amick of USA Today shared some of the latest buzz about Bledsoe, and it came with an interesting twist:
Example No. 2: LeBron's agent also reps Eric Bledsoe, & some skeptical these talks w/ teams largely motivated by desire to help EB's cause.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 4, 2014
Of course, the biggest takeaway from that on a macro level is what it means for LeBron James and how much sway he has on the entire league and how the rest of this offseason develops. Still, there has been and will be plenty of ink spilled on the King, and the Bledsoe angle is worth exploring.
Bledsoe is one of the most underrated guards in the league, and it isn’t difficult to envision the Phoenix Suns making the playoffs last season if he didn’t get hurt. He posted nightly averages of 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals behind 47.7 percent shooting from the field, 35.7 percent shooting from downtown and 77.2 percent shooting from the free-throw line.
All that came in an injury-plagued year.
Bledsoe could offer an offensive boost in the backcourt for any team, and his versatility in being able to play point or shooting guard makes him all the more valuable. If James and Anthony are option No. 1 for a lot of teams, Bledsoe represents a solid option No. 1A or 2.
Chris Broussard of ESPN provided an update on the status of Stephenson and a potential stalemate with the Indiana Pacers:
Source: Pacers spoke with reps for Lance Stephenson earlier today. Sides no closer to agreement than b4 on 5-yr/$44 million offer— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 4, 2014
Stephenson may be best known in some basketball circles for his antics during Indiana’s loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, but we are talking about an impact player on both ends who has the talent level to be an All-Star in this league.
He averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists a night last year and was a triple-double threat every time he stepped on the court. Throw in the harassing defense he can play, and he is an all-around guard.
Interestingly enough, though, the Pacers already landed C.J. Miles at the shooting guard position this offseason as a potential backup plan if they can’t bring back Stephenson for the right price. That could leave Stephenson with a number of other suitors, especially those squads that strike out on Anthony or even James.
Indiana was a shell of itself during the late season, so perhaps some change may not be a bad thing, but Stephenson was one of the few spark plugs on the offensive side this club had at its disposal.
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