The first big domino may have fallen at the draft in Jimmy Butler shockingly being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that feels more like just a pre-cursor of what’s shaping up to be a lively NBA free agency period.
The moratorium period begins July 1 at 12:01 a.m. ET and the league hot stove just keeps increasing in temperature. Here’s some of the biggest buzz going on around the league.
Wall luring George to Washington
Ironically enough, the hottest name during this year’s free agency period isn’t even a free agent.
As you’re well aware by now, Indiana Pacers all-star Paul George really doesn’t want to be in the Hoosier State anymore and basically told Pacers management that, unless they trade him now, he’s going to be a lame-duck star and then opt out of his deal next summer to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Because of George’s insistence of going back home to play for his favourite team, it makes trading for him difficult as he looks to be more like an elite-level one-year rental more than anything, even though that doesn’t seem to be deterring the Boston Celtics.
According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, Wall is actively recruiting George to join him in Washington.
“I am talking to some guys – Paul [George],” Wall told ESPN. “I know his ultimate goal of where he wants to be. I’m trying to see if we can make something happen.”
Cavaliers attempted a three-way deal with Pacers, Nuggets for George
Staying with George, it’s well known by now that the Cleveland Cavaliers are another team hot in pursuit of the two-way star, but did you know they had serious discussions to get a deal done just before the draft?
ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Cavaliers “engaged in serious three-way trade discussions” with the Pacers and Denver Nuggets that would’ve seen Cleveland land George and ship out all-star forward Kevin Love to Denver.
The trio of teams ultimately couldn’t come to an agreement in time to complete a deal on draft night, but that doesn’t mean they can’t circle back to this eventually.
Carmelo wants to stay in New York, Jackson doesn’t
Kristaps Porzingis stole all the New York Knicks drama last week, but you just knew the Melo-drama was going to pop back up at some point.
In this case, we turn to the New York Daily News.
Last Thursday, just before the draft, Stefan Bondy reported that polarizing Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told team president Phil Jackson that he wanted to remain a Knickerbocker, despite the fact Jackson said he is looking to trade Anthony, or even buy him out.
“We’ve expressed the fact that we haven’t been successful and it might be time for [Anthony] to find an opportunity to go somewhere else. He’s come back and said he’d just as soon stay,” Jackson said.
“There’ll be conversations after the draft and after the free agency as teams start reorganizing their rosters. So there will be other conversations in the process.”
The possibility of an Anthony buyout seems like a pretty good one for all parties on paper. Anthony gets to hit free agency and maybe join LeBron James in Cleveland and the Knicks can finally be done with this poor era. However, as revealed by Frank Isola, it isn’t that easy.
But things are complicated. Carmelo and his actress wife, La La, are estranged and with Anthony having a close relationship with his only son he is reluctant to move out of New York. According to a person familiar with Anthony’s thinking, Carmelo is no longer enamored with playing in Los Angeles if it means having to be away from his son for an extended period of time.
Anthony, according to the same source, was toying with the idea of orchestrating a move to either Philadelphia or Washington, which would keep him close to New York. However, Anthony’s mindset now is to stay in New York and play for the Knicks . . . even though Jackson doesn’t want him.
– New York Daily News
Timberwolves still intent on dealing Ricky Rubio
Despite having just traded their presumed point guard of the future in Kris Dunn to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Butler blockbuster, the Timberwolves are still dead-set on finding a suitor who will take Ricky Rubio off their hands in a trade, Stein is reporting.
The 26-year-old Spaniard has two years remaining on his contract with just a little over $29 million still owed. Though he’s considered an excellent playmaker and fine defender, his poor jump shot, particularly from three-point range, has always held him back from truly blossoming.
Mavericks to decline Nowitzki’s team option
Nowitzki signed a two-year, $50-million deal last summer, but, according to Stein, he prefers to make decisions on a year-by-year basis at this point in his career.
The 39-year-old has accomplished almost everything a basketball player can, being named an all-star 13-times, making four All-NBA first teams, winning an MVP in 2007 and winning a championship and Finals MVP in 2011. He has spent his entire 19-season career in Dallas.
Sixers, Nets making hard push for Redick
Redick will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and given the importance of the three-point shot in the modern NBA and the fact the 33-year-old is a career 41.5 per cent three-point shooter, it makes sense that his services would be in demand.
Although the Sixers and Nets are far from contenders, they will likely offer him more offensive opportunity than he’s getting right now with the Clippers. There’s also the added bonus, O’Connor says, of the fact both those teams are close to where he lives in Brooklyn.