The drama might be gone, but the NBA offseason is still not over.
Even late in the free-agency period, there are a number of available players who could still make a big impact for the upcoming year. These contributors can make the difference between making the playoffs or not, or even winning a title.
With the market likely high for each of these players, teams better work to complete the transaction as quickly as possible. Here is a look at the latest buzz around the league for the top free agents still available.
Ray Allen Looks at the Cavaliers
There seems to be a lot of debate as to what Ray Allen plans on doing in the next few weeks and months.
Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported that the veteran guard is leaning toward the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he can play with LeBron James.
On the other hand, the player's agent explained that no decision has been made:
The reports that Ray Allen intends to play for the Cavs are unfounded. He has not yet decided if he will play next season or for which team.— TANDEM (@_tandemse) July 24, 2014
Former teammate Mike Miller is certainly doing his best to get the 10-time All-Star to come to Cleveland. According to ESPN, Miller explained on ESPN Radio's The Herd that a veteran like Allen can make the difference in the playoffs:
With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless. Now it's about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you've gotta bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes. Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.
Allen has won two titles in his career, the most recent one with the Miami Heat. As Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick points out, he can become the latest in a mass exodus from the former champions:
If Ray Allen joins the Cavs, there will be 4 members of the 2013 champions on Cleveland and 6 on Miami. Intrasquad scrimmage.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 24, 2014
Considering it worked the first time around, it would make sense for Allen to try again with some of these players to bring home another championship.
Of course, this is all based on the speculation that the 39-year-old player is not planning on retiring. If he does return for a 19th season, though, Cleveland might make the most sense.
Heat Consider Keeping Michael Beasley
The Miami Heat are looking to get competitive despite losing their biggest star, which means the team has some decisions to make concerning the final few spots on the roster.
One of the choices the organization must make is whether to keep Michael Beasley.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explains the situation surrounding both Beasley and Greg Oden: "Even with at least three roster spots to fill, the Heat continues to be non-committal with free agents Michael Beasley and Greg Oden, with the team neither closing the door on a return in conversations with their agents nor offering them a contract to this point, either."
Beasley saw his production greatly decrease last season as his 7.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 15.1 minutes per game were all career lows. However, he was as efficient as ever with a 49.9 percent field-goal percentage and a solid 16.8 player efficiency rating, per ESPN.com.
Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel argues that the added depth from Beasley could be necessary for next season:
I agree that with the current mix, where Danny Granger currently stands as the top reserve to Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, that keeping Beasley as a wing wound make some sense, for the one-on-one offense that at times is needed. I also think there could be more patience with LeBron James gone, as far as putting up with Michael's lapses. But his defense has to get better, especially with the Heat lacking rim protection when Chris Andersen is out of the game.
The good news is Beasley is still young at just 25 years old. He was the No. 2 pick in the draft for a reason, and he still has the talent to become a very good player at this level.
With room still on the roster, it makes sense for the Heat to keep him under contract and see if he can continue to improve with more guidance.
Limited Options for Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe has proved to be one of the most consistent frontcourt players in the league, but he is not yet getting paid like he should be.
The restricted free agent has not gotten offers from other teams, which has allowed the Detroit Pistons to remain patient in negotiations. Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders provides an explanation of the process:
The issue was, before the available money started drying up, teams being reluctant to tie up valuable cap space while Detroit had three days to match any offer with other free agent options coming off the board.
The prevailing thought still holds that Monroe is a guy Detroit wants in its program long-term.
Teams knew that the Pistons would be willing to match whatever offer was on the table, so it did not make sense to even pursue the big man. Unfortunately, the options are now limited with teams lacking space to make a deal.
Nick Borges of ESPN.com points out the Philadelphia 76ers are the only team with significant space to make a deal, and this is unlikely.
As a result, Monroe now has to either agree to a long-term deal or simply sign the qualifying offer, which would make him an unrestricted free agent next season. This is certainly not something the Pistons want to see happen, so it would be advantageous for the squad to complete a deal.
Meanwhile, team coach and president Stan Van Gundy explained the holdup, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
We’ve tried to make him understand what we’re trying to do and why we think he’s an important part of it. But he’s got some decisions to make, too. Part of it’s to do with us, part of it has to do with his first four years here and everything else, and part of it has to do, I guess, with what he wants in the future, so we don’t have a resolution on it right now.
This means it will likely come down to Monroe agreeing on a deal. Although he might not have much leverage now, the fact that the Pistons do not want to see him walk after next season will cause the organization to budge.
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