June 29, 2016, 8:12 am
The NBA moves fast doesn’t it? Just 10 days after the Cavs shocked the world in the NBA Finals, we have already had a Championship parade in Cleveland, watched the NBA Draft and are now less than 40 hours away from the July 1 free agency period. J.R. Smith has barely had time to buy a T-shirt, let alone think about next season. Let’s get to free agency news and rumors.
THE DURANT SWEEPSTAKES ARE NEAR
All eyes are on Kevin Durant. With teams lining up at the door to roll out the red carpet, there are several suitors all but confirmed to host Durant as free agency begins. Oklahoma City will get their chance to make a pitch to their stud, and they are rumored to be joined by Golden State, San Antonio, Boston, Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers. Once Durant makes his decision, the free agency dominoes will fall where they may.
In addition to the six teams, teams with historic basketball meccas such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are vying for meetings with KD. Durant is spending a lot of time with his Team USA buddies, including Carmelo Anthony, who would stop at nothing to get the star on their NBA team or at least get his foot in the door for appearances.
I’d still pit OKC as the favorite to keep their superstar, especially since they were up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals over the Warriors. Not many other teams can offer better. OKC has beefed up their arsenal, too, by fleecing the Magic after trading Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantis Sabonis. Durant even went so far as to opine on the trade by calling it a “good move.” Call me crazy, but he just wants to be wined and dined. Who can blame him? This could be KD’s only chance to date around and feel special before that long-term commitment. I like OKC to put a ring on it.
AROUND THE ASSOCIATION
Defending champion LeBron James will not exercise his player option to return to the Cavs. Nothing to see here. He is staying home.
Lebron’s former teammate Dwyane Wade isn’t getting anywhere in his initial discussions with the Miami Heat. Everyone is taking a backseat to Kevin Durant, as he is obviously this offseason’s most eligible bachelor. He is every team’s primary goal. Things in Miami are in flux, as Hassan Whiteside is testing free agency and Chris Bosh‘s health is still a mystery. Wade is clearly seeking leverage, which is why Wade’s camp is making it know that he’s on the market. It would be hard to believe that he will actually leave, which is why Pat Riley is playing hard ball. This game of tug-of-war will be an interesting watch.
The Spurs are certainly playing musical chairs with their big man this offseason. Tim Duncan has exercised his player option of $5.6 million for the 2016-17 season, but he has not indicated whether he will play or not. Duncan is 40 years young and has been contemplating retirement for a few seasons now. His long time teammate Manu Ginobili is leaning toward playing next season, if that helps shed light on Duncan’s status. With Duncan’s uncertainty and David West testing free agency, the Spurs have made a qualifying offer to Boban Majanovic, which makes him a restricted free agent. They will have to match any offer if any teams want to mess with The Boban.
Unrestricted free agent Pau Gasol is on top of the Spurs’ free agent wishlist, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical. Gasol seems like a great fit for the Spurs (it’s a wonder why he hasn’t joined them sooner), but they might be lacking on defense when they play LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol side by side. Nevertheless, adding Pau Gasol to your contending squad is never a bad thing.
ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Hawks are weighing a run at unrestricted free agent Dwight Howard. The Dwight-to-ATL rumors have flown throughout his career, as he grew up and played his high school ball in Atlanta. With his numbers in decline, it will be interesting to see what kind of money Dwight receives in the inflated market.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said that the Nets will not trade Brook Lopez and that he wants Lopez to be a leader on the team. The Nets don’t have much to work with these days so it might be wise to give Lopez the boot, but to each his own. From a coaching perspective, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to lose your best player.
The Grizzlies declined Lance Stephenson‘s $9.4 million player option. That’s a wise move. Stephenson will have to blow ears in a different jersey.
That will do it for Wednesday’s Daily Dish. For the latest NBA free agency news and rumors, follow @HoopBallTweets. I’m @RiazD on Twitter. Feel free to drop a comment or question about all walks of life. Enjoy the long weekend. Happy Birthday America!