It's certainly an interesting time to follow the NBA. This figures to be the craziest offseason the league has seen since LeBron James' decision to take his talents to South Beach four years ago, which makes every bit of news so rich and compelling.
LeBron once again dictates the market, but he's hardly alone with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Eric Bledsoe all waiting to hear the best offers teams can make.
With so much happening in free agency, the trade market is getting the shaft. Even the biggest swaps being talked about now are sign-and-trades, which makes sense because it gives teams more financial flexibility.
We've got the latest buzz on the trade market and what the potential trades mean for both the players and teams.
Bulls After Pau Gasol In Sign-And-Trade
There was a time when the Chicago Bulls seemed like they could come out of the offseason in significantly better shape than when their season ended. Now, though, they have their work cut out for them to add any marquee talent.
The Bulls did make a hard sales pitch to Anthony, according to the Associated Press via NBA.com, but the New York Knicks have reportedly offered him a max contract that Chicago can't come close to matching.
Instead, a Plan B for the Bulls appears to be Pau Gasol in a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
A source said the Bulls would hope to engage the Lakers in sign-and-trade possibilities should they get a verbal commitment from Gasol. The Bulls would dangle the expiring $16.8 million contract of Carlos Boozer and likely would have to include sweeteners, possibly in the form of draft picks. Steve Nash has an expiring deal the Lakers have shopped in the past.
There have been rumblings, notably from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, that Boozer will be amnestied to clear the $16.8 million salary from the budget. If that's the case, the Bulls have little leverage in a sign-and-trade.
Gasol would certainly give the Bulls more versatility since he can play inside and outside. The Bulls' offense is limited as presently constituted. Even if Derrick Rose remains healthy and the drafting of Doug McDermott helps, they still need more versatility with their offense and will have to get creative with their roster to improve.
No Reunion For Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers?
Paul Pierce is the kind of player that every team wants to have. He's certainly not the dynamic athlete we knew in his prime, but a 36-year-old who shoots 45 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range is going to be in high demand.
One spot that makes a lot of sense for Pierce is Los Angeles with the Clippers. First, it would be a nice reunion for the 10-time All-Star and head coach Doc Rivers from their days in Boston.
Second, even though the Clippers have an overabundance of small forwards, Pierce adds dimensions on the court and a mental toughness that this young, talented team can build off to get over the hump.
According to Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com, the Clippers were in discussions with Brooklyn about a potential sign-and-trade for Pierce.
However, recent developments make such a deal appear unlikely. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported free-agent center Spencer Hawes agreed to a four-year deal with the Clippers.
With Hawes poised to sign a deal when he's allowed to on July 10, the Clippers will lose what little cap flexibility they had. Wojnarowski also noted Los Angeles now has to get more creative if Pierce is still in the plans.
The good news is Hawes gives the Clippers an added dimension. He's a versatile big man who can stay inside but is comfortable shooting from the outside (41.6 percent from three-point range last year).
Pierce would be a good fit in Los Angeles, but the Clippers were smart to look at alternatives given where they are and how volatile the market tends to be.
Luol Deng On Clippers' Radar?
Speaking of the Clippers, Wojnarowski reported Rivers was going to speak with Luol Deng on Thursday.
Once again we arrive at the conundrum for Rivers and the Clippers. They want to upgrade the small forward position, but have to create room—financially and on the roster—to make something happen.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times noted that Rivers wants to trade Matt Barnes, who will make $3.4 million next season.
Deng is a volume shooter who averaged 16 points on just under 14 shots per game last season. However, that's a ratio one could reasonably expect to get better playing with a point guard like Chris Paul.
Again, though, the agreement with Hawes changes Los Angeles' outlook unless a sign-and-trade takes place. It's easy to say the Clippers want to upgrade a position, but now they have to change their current roster for it to happen.
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