Join Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders’ senior NBA editor and writer, for his free agency chat at 3 p.m. ET. Any questions are welcome. The earlier you submit your question, the more likely that it will be answered because these chats fill up fast.
NBA Free Agency is among us! How come my Phoenix Suns are not the main focus of LeBron James coming to Phoenix? LeBron would really enjoy our team and we would become a title contender. What is holding LeBron back?
Hey, what’s up everyone? Thanks for submitting all of your questions and stopping by to chat. Let’s get started.
I love what Phoenix has done. Ryan McDonough is proving that he’s one of the best executives in the NBA, Jeff Hornacek did an incredible job last year and their young core is terrific. With that said, I think it’s hard to make that jump from promising, up-and-coming team to legitimate contender in the eyes of superstar free agents. I do think Phoenix is an intriguing option for James since they also have money to sign a second max-level player. But even the Suns realize that it’s a long shot. If you’re LeBron, it’s tough to leave Miami – where you won two championships, trust the front office and have experienced success on and off the court – for a team like Phoenix that hasn’t been to the playoffs and that is still trying to come up in the league. I do think the Suns are a sleeper team to watch in free agency (as I mentioned in yesterday’s NBA PM video), so they could make a big move or two even if they can’t land LeBron.
What’s the possibility that the Pistons interest in Isaiah Thomas will lead to a S&T to send back Josh Smith and/or Brandon Jennings? Please tell me it’s Christmas in July!
The Kings were mentioned as a landing spot for Josh Smith just before the draft. I know for a fact that the Kings and Pistons discussed a potential deal centered around Smith, so it’s definitely possible that those talks could start back up. Detroit was one of the first teams to contact Isaiah Thomas last night, so there’s no doubt there’s interest on their end.
Hey Alex! Big fan my friend thanks for all you do! I am a big fan of the Cavaliers, they are a stacked team with a talented roster. How come they are not winning?
Coaching was definitely an issue last year. I think bringing David Blatt in is going to be huge for that team. I recently did an article on Blatt and, after talking to his former players and some NBA executives, it sounds like he’s a terrific coach. I think he’s going to make the most of that team, because you’re right, they’re a very talented group. Adding Andrew Wiggins and a significant free agent or two (maybe Trevor Ariza) could make Cleveland a very good team next year. The East is depleted, so the Cavs could be poised to make a big jump.
What could Isaiah Thomas bring to the Lakers
I’m a big Isaiah Thomas fan, so I think he could really help the Lakers. People don’t realize how good Thomas was last year for the Kings, averaging 21.2 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 boards and 1.2 steals. He had the fourth-best PER among all PGs. Not bad for a guy in his third season (who was drafted last overall). Thomas is drawing interest from a lot of teams, including the Lakers, and I think he brings scoring, energy and leadership. His teammates rave about him and he’s definitely a positive presence in the locker room. We’ll see what happens with Thomas.
Where will Jeremy Lin ends up next season?
That’s a great question. Utah has been mentioned as a possibility since they’re willing to take back contracts if it helps them get a pick or young asset in return (just like they did last year with their Golden State Warriors trade). I have heard that Houston has a landing spot for Lin ready to go, but I haven’t been able to confirm where that is. It sounds like if Houston needs to move Lin to clear the cap room to sign a top free agent, they have an arrangement in place to make that move happen.
Who (free agents) specifically have the lakers contacted?
Oh man, the Lakers contacted everyone last night. They were extremely active. It would probably be easier to run through the players they didn’t contact. Check out our free agency diary for all of the specific players, because it was added in there throughout the night.
What are the chances that the Lakers can get lebron and melo as well as a decent supporting cast
They’re going to try, but I think it’s a long shot. Even if they were able to get LeBron James, they would need to sell Carmelo Anthony on taking a pay cut to team up with King James, and then putting together a decent supporting cast alongside them would be very hard. They would basically be in the same boat as Miami in recent years, where they’d only have minimum contracts to offer and they’d be crossing their fingers that some guys would want to come chase a ring with LeBron, Melo and Kobe. The Lakers’ situation is interesting since they do have significant cap room, all of the perks that come with playing in Los Angeles and a head coaching vacancy (so one of those top free agents could help choose the coach), but I think it’s a long shot that they do what you said. That’s the dream scenario for L.A. but it’s not happening outside of 2K.
What’s the big deal with everybody bashing Derrick rose for not “publicly” recruiting Carmelo?
That’s a great question. People get so worked up over it. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Derrick Rose is a quiet, shy guy. If he doesn’t want to be out there recruiting, he doesn’t have to. It’s not like it’s part of his job description as a player that he has to go out and recruit stars. Fans just get frustrated because they think he’s the only player who isn’t recruiting guys and trying to team up with stars in this day and age. But it’s not like Chicago doesn’t have a recruiter. They have Joakim Noah, who is going hard after Carmelo Anthony, just like he went hard after Carlos Boozer in 2010 and used to do for Urban Meyer and the Gators’ football team when he was at Florida. I wrote about that last night. Rose is getting criticized a lot, but I don’t think it’s a big deal that he doesn’t recruit.
What free agent(s) do you see going to Cleveland?
Trevor Ariza is the name that I keep hearing. Right before the draft, I started hearing that Cleveland liked Trevor a lot. They see Andrew Wiggins as a two-guard, so they like the idea of playing Kyrie Irving, Wiggins and Ariza together. It makes sense, since Ariza is a veteran who can contribute on both ends of the floor and who has championship experience. He was huge for Washington last year and really helped them make the jump into the playoffs, which is what Cleveland is trying to do. Ariza is definitely the guy to watch, from what I’m hearing, but it may be tough for the Cavs because A LOT of teams are expressing interest in him.
If the rockets fail to land carmelo or lebron do you believe they will target bosh and bring back parsons which would be a great starting lineup in a very strong west?
Yeah, that would be an excellent backup plan for Houston. I think Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard would complement each other extremely well and that lineup would be scary.
Have the Chicago Bulls expressed any interest in signing Anthony Morrow?
Yes, I believe the Bulls have reached out to Anthony Morrow, as have a number of other playoff teams. He’s going to receive a lot of interest over the next few weeks because he’s a three-point specialist who is a great locker room guy. He’ll have to wait for some of the bigger dominoes to fall before he inks a deal, but there has already been significant interest in Morrow and I believe Chicago is one team that’s pursuing him (which makes sense since they need three-point shooting so badly).
Where do you think free agent Kyle Lowry will end up and if raps can resign him where do you see raptors heading into next season?
I think the Raptors will re-sign Kyle Lowry. They’re very confident that they can bring him back and Kyle speaks very highly about the organization, roster and front office. He really enjoyed playing on that squad last year and he realizes that Toronto has a bright future. Miami is definitely a possibility, but I just don’t know if they’ll have the money to lure him away from the Raptors. If Lowry returns to Toronto, the Raptors could be very good next year. They’ll pick up right where they left off last year, and should see some more improvement from their young guys DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, etc. so they could be even better.
Have you heard any news of the Grizzlies reaching out to any free agents, besides their own?
The Grizzlies are primarily focused on re-signing their own guys right now. They kept Zach Randolph and now they’re focused on Mike Miller and James Johnson. They have talked to a few backup point guards, from what I’ve heard, but nothing too serious. Miller and Johnson are the focus.
Do you see Kevin love getting traded in July or at the NBA trade deadline
I think he gets traded in July. Once some of these teams miss out on LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, they’ll turn their attention to acquiring Kevin Love. For awhile, the Timberwolves were holding out hope that they could persuade Love to stay (like the Portland Trail Blazers did last year with LaMarcus Aldridge), but I think they realize now that his exit is inevitable. There’s no reason to bring him in and have him spend half of the season in Minnesota; it just makes things messier and there’s too much drama. The easier thing to do would be trading him this month and just moving on.
So what if Lebron wants the max deal? Sounds to me he may Leave Miami.
It definitely makes things harder on Miami, because it’s tougher to put a quality supporting cast around LeBron, Wade and Bosh if he’s not taking a pay cut. If I’m a team like the Lakers, Mavericks or Suns, that has the money to offer the max, I’m feeling much better about my chances at LeBron today than a week ago. For teams like the Rockets, Clippers, Bulls and Cavs, that were mentioned as possibilities if he was open to a pay cut, this news is bad because it means he’s likely not coming since they can’t offer the max. I still think Miami is the frontrunner – Pat Riley is excellent at his job – but this definitely makes things more interesting (and tougher on the HEAT).
So Dirk and the Mavs come to an agreement in the coming days, yet they don’t land any of the top FAs, where do they go from here? They’ll never be contenders again in my opinion.
It’s been tough for the Mavs, as of late. Dirk Nowitzki is loyal to that franchise and Mark Cuban so I don’t think he’s going anywhere, but it sucks that these last few years of his career have been wasted since Dallas hasn’t been able to put another star or two around him. The Mavs may be able to make a splashy move in free agency this summer, but I just don’t see it happening. Free agents just don’t seem to be seriously considering Dallas for whatever reason.
If Melo and Lebron want to play together, where is that place to play, other than Miami?
Well, Phoenix can sign both to max deals and put a nice supporting cast around them. I think that’s probably the best place for them to team up. But do they want to play in that market and would they join an up-and-coming team like that?
Think Dwyane Wade is better off elsewhere? I think he’d be a good for in Phoenix. They have the best training staff over there that can revitalize his career and save his knees.
I’d love to see what Phoenix’s training staff could do with Dwyane Wade, but I’d be stunned if he left Miami. That franchise is so loyal to him and I think he finishes his career there.
If Pau Gasol remains with the Lakers, I’d be stunned. Wouldn’t you agree? Please tell me he’s leaving LA?
Yeah, I’d be pretty shocked if he ended up back in Los Angeles, especially now that they drafted Julius Randle. I think he wants to play for a contender at this point in his career, even if it means taking a pay cut to win. I think San Antonio, Miami, Chicago, OKC, etc. would be perfect for Gasol. It would give him a chance to add to his ring collection and go out on top.
What makes players like Wade, Dirk, Kobe and Duncan stay with one team, even though they’ve all experienced free agency in the past? Do they ever think of playing elsewhere?
Every player is different. For some guys, staying with one team is really important to them. Jabari Parker just said that the other night after being drafted – that he wants to be “a throwback player” and remain with one team for his entire career. For some guys, it’s not as important; they just want to go to the best destination for them and don’t care about wearing one jersey for their whole career.
I think it also comes down to the situation. Some players get drafted into a crappy situation and it’s no surprise when they leave. But if you’re drafted into a great organization that is successful, why leave? The four guys you mentioned have all had amazing careers and 100 percent support from their organizations. They’ve all won a championship and made a ton of money. Really, there was no reason for them to leave.
But keep in mind that those guys did consider leaving at different points. Wade met with teams in 2010, Kobe demanded a trade awhile back and Duncan thought about joining the Magic as a free agent years ago. All of those guys have been tempted at some point to leave (as all players inevitably are) and have considered it, but they decided to stay.
What’s a realistic return the Celtics could get for Rajon Rondo, assuming he isn’t in their future plans.
I’ve heard that they want multiple first-round picks and attractive young assets. That’s what they were asking for at the trade deadline last year and I hear that they would want a similar package if they were to trade him this summer. I’m really curious to see what happens with Rondo. The fact that Boston drafted Marcus Smart and then contacted Isaiah Thomas at 12:01 last night is strange to me, and makes me think a Rondo trade may be coming.
Thank you for your insight and dedication to covering every aspect of the game I love. With that said, do you think that Melo will sign with the Bulls? If not who would be a better #2 option? I prefer Gordon Hayward, are the Bulls reaching out to Pau as a back up if they must give up Taj in a sign and trade? Thank you in advance.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate it.
I do think Carmelo Anthony will join the Bulls. I’ve been predicting that for awhile. I think he lands in Chicago, because the situation is just too attractive to pass up. He would be able to play with Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and a nice supporting cast. Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the league and would be able to use ‘Melo correctly. He’d also be able to contend, which is very important to him. The East is so depleted that Chicago would instantly be one of the top teams in the conference and have a legitimate shot at making the Finals. ‘Melo is meeting with the Bulls today and then he may be talking with Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose afterward. I may have something to report on that in a few hours, so keep an eye on Twitter.
As far as a second option, I would turn my attention to Kevin Love and try to trade for him. Gordon Hayward is tough because I think the Jazz will match any offer he receives. Love would be awesome in Chicago and I think he’d be open to signing a long-term deal there.
What does he extent of Boston’s interest in Isaiah Thomas appear to be? Anything related to Rondo?
Well, they were the first team to contact Thomas last night and they seem very interested, which is strange given their current personnel. I think it may mean they’re weighing their trade options with Rajon Rondo. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sacramento and Boston worked out a deal where Thomas gets signed-and-traded to Boston and packaged with young assets (like Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, etc.) and picks for Rondo. The Kings clearly want to win now and have shown interest in a number of veteran players. They would love to get their hands on Rondo to put him alongside Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. They expressed interest in Rondo at last year’s trade deadline and on draft night, so there’s definitely something there. This could just be Danny Ainge doing his due diligence and gauging interest in Rondo to see what offers are out there, or the C’s could be legitimately interested in Thomas and ready to work something out. We’ll see.
What’s the deal with the Magic? Do you think they will make a pitch to Monroe or are they going to only add small pieces and wait for next year?
I think they’re very interested in Greg Monroe. They’ll definitely meet with him. I’m not sure if they’ll make him a max offer, but they need to throw a lot of money at him in order to pry him away from Detroit since he’s restricted. If they miss on Monroe, then they’ll turn their attention to some smaller pieces. I think they could add a veteran or two so that they have some experienced guys in the locker room. With Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson and Jason Maxiell gone, they’ll need some leadership in there. They claimed Willie Green off of waivers, but they’ll need another guy or two like that to have around this young core. By the way, I just did an interview with Elfrid Payton and I’m going to be running a big article on him soon. Keep an eye out for that (and sorry for the shameless plug).
with the $55 million set to be cleared by Miami’s Big 3 opting out. Which free agent will they attract to Miami?
They’re talking to a lot of guys – Kyle Lowry, Marcin Gortat, Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza, Steve Blake, Shawn Marion, etc. It’ll be interesting to see what Pat Riley can do. There was just a report that came out that said Wade and Bosh may be willing to take pay cuts, so that would allow Miami to give LeBron the max and still add a quality free agent. That would be huge for the HEAT.
Who do you think is the most realistic signing the hawks ?
It seems like their top targets are Luol Deng and Greg Monroe. We’ll see if Danny Ferry can snag either.
What are the chances the phoenix suns don’t resign eric bledsoe
I’d be stunned if the Suns let Eric Bledsoe walk. They have made it clear that they will match any offer he receives and the organization loves him. At the very least, if for whatever reason they wanted to move him, they would probably match his offer sheet and then try to trade him later. You don’t let an asset like Bledsoe leave for nothing. I think he’ll be back in Phoenix next year.
Thanks for all of the questions! I really appreciate it! Keep checking out our free agency diary for the latest news and rumors, and follow me on Twitter (@AlexKennedyNBA) for updates. Enjoy free agency, everybody!
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