It appears one of the top names on the free-agent market is taking matters into his own hands. Finally.
Chris Bosh kicks off the latest updates from this rumor-mad July, which LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have essentially hijacked by opting out of their contracts and forcing nearly every team in the league to await their decisions before moving forward.
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Bosh is in talks to join the Houston Rockets:
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh had his first direct conversation with Houston Rockets management on Monday morning, inching closer to the possibility of a four-year, $80 million-plus contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Bosh's stance on his intentions has remained unchanged: His preference is to stay with Miami on a new deal and play with LeBron James. Nevertheless, James hasn't committed to a return, and Houston has moved aggressively to secure a deal with Bosh, sources said.
Bosh could easily slide into a power forward role alongside Dwight Howard at center. In fact, Bosh might double down on the stretch forward form he flashed last season thanks to his emergent ability to knock down three-pointers.
Bosh moving outside to knock down mid-range jumpers and corner treys could definitely free up Howard in the post. His addition to the roster would essentially create a new "Big Three" in the Western Conference with Howard and James Harden.
If Bosh makes the first move and agrees to terms with the Rockets, he could be the one making waves throughout the league, not Anthony or James.
The Rockets' potential signing of Bosh would definitely take them out of the Anthony sweepstakes. This may not be a problem, because according to a source for Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (h/t CBS Sports' Matt Moore), the New York Knicks star doesn't have a team from the Lone Star State in his top three choices:
Anthony, 30, is still debating his next move with the Knicks, Lakers and the Bulls as his top three choices, the source claims. Chicago is still in the running despite the fact that the Bulls, barring a sign-and-trade, cannot come close to matching the max deals the Knicks and Lakers offered Anthony last week. However, the Bulls do allow Anthony to stay in the Eastern Conference, play in the large market and join a contending team.
If Anthony's main goal is to win a championship, the Bulls offer him the best immediate chance. They were one of the top defensive teams in the league last year, allowing opponents just 97.8 points per 100 possessions, as per ESPN's Hollinger rankings.
Coach Tom Thibodeau runs a highly disciplined defensive system that may clash with Anthony's usual lackadaisical approach on that end. However, Anthony's scoring ability more than makes up for any perceived defensive deficiencies.
ESPN's Marc Stein offered his insight on the Anthony sweepstakes:
To this point, still no firm indication from Melo or his camp telling Bulls, Rockets or Mavs that they're out of the running. However ...— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 7, 2014
Seeing how Bulls, Rockets and Mavs are all engaged with other free agents sure suggests they buy premise Melo is down to Knicks and Lakers— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 7, 2014
He may be more comfortable in New York, and the opportunity to play with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles is tempting, but both teams' rosters are in a turbulent state right now. Chicago offers a solid foundation for winning the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Once Anthony makes his decision, it could free up swingmen like Paul Pierce to start truly engaging teams, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix:
Paul Pierce's representatives have told teams Pierce is seeking a two-year contract in the $9-10 million per year range, per sources.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 7, 2014
Pierce, like most free agents, is waiting until the LeBron/Melo/Bosh dust settles to see if more cash frees up around the league.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 7, 2014
Pierce is coming off his first, and possibly only, season with the Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 2013-14, numbers well below his career averages in those categories, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Pierce made roughly $15.3 million last season with the Nets, per Spotrac.com, so it appears he is aware his asking price will have to come down. Still, $9 million per season may be tough to command for a 36-year-old in a market that features the likes of Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons and Trevor Ariza at small forward.