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NBA AM: Free Agency Moves On The Way

While the market awaits LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Hornets offered a max deal to Gordon Hayward

Lang Greene

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Free agency remains stuck in traffic, but moves coming: We’re more than a week into the free agency process and the movement up until this point has not matched the hype before the market opened. The holding pattern is due to the best player in the game, LeBron James, taking his sweet time to evaluate all of his options around the league.

The majority of teams know and fully understand they’re not truly in the race for James’ talents. But if James decided to leave Miami, it would set off a chain of events where a team might need to shed a veteran for cap space, trade a promising young asset or give up draft picks.

So while most teams aren’t in contention for the main free agency feast, they’re in a holding pattern ready to scavenge the market in the aftermath where value might be found.

Here’s where we stand this morning:

LeBron James: According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, James will be meeting with Miami team president Pat Riley in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Erik Spoelstra, Micky Arison and Dwyane Wade will also reportedly attend the meeting today. James’ agent, Rich Paul, has conducted meetings with Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Phoenix over the past week, but the four-time MVP hasn’t met with any team directly during the process.

James opted out of the final two years of his HEAT contract worth around $42 million. He is reportedly seeking a maximum-level contract in his new deal.

Miami lost to San Antonio in this season’s NBA Finals in five games. At season’s end, James noted Miami’s roster needed to improve at all positions. So far this summer Miami has come to agreement with forwards Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, while trading for James favorite, Shabazz Napier, in the first round of June’s draft.

Gordon Hayward: The Charlotte Hornets have reportedly agreed on an offer sheet with the restricted free agent forward. The deal, according to Marc Stein of ESPN, is reportedly worth $63 million over four-years. The Charlotte Observer first reported the deal.

Hayward is expected to sign on the dotted line at Thursday 12:01 a.m., according to the report. Once signed, the Utah Jazz will have three days to match the offer sheet.

The Hornets lost free agent forward Josh McRoberts to Miami this week, but Hayward would be a solid addition to a franchise looking to capitalize off their current momentum.

Talks broke down between Utah and Hayward early last season before the extension deadline. The Jazz were reportedly offering $12  million annually, while the forward was seeking north of $13 million per season. The Jazz opted to allow the market to decide Hayward’s value and they will now have to decide whether they should match. Reports have indicated that Utah will match, even though the offer sheet features a fourth-year player option and 15 percent trade kicker in an effort to dissuade Utah from matching.

Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 77 appearances with Utah last season. Hayward struggled with his shot, however, shooting a career-low 41 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range.

Carmelo Anthony: The high scoring forward reportedly has lucrative offers on the table from Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles (Lakers) and New York, but is still evaluating his options.

Newly crowned Knicks head coach Derek Fisher told the media on Tuesday he believes Anthony can win at a high level in New York and said he communicated the same message in their private meeting last week.

“It’s about winning, from what I could gather,” Fisher said according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “He wants to win. He wants to be successful, and so in the time I had to visit with him, I just shared with him that we’ll be a better basketball team because we’ll play the game in a better way. We’ll play as a team, we’ll play with a system with the format that allows the game to be easier for him and easier for his teammates.

“I’m not sure if we hit home. I guess we’ll find out, but hopefully we’ll find out soon.”

Chris Bosh: The All-Star forward has seemingly been tied to the decision James makes this summer. But Bosh definitely has options to weigh. For instance, Houston is reportedly willing to offer a maximum four-year deal, although the team would need to shed salary in order to make such an offer. For now, the message from Bosh’s camp is that he prefers to remain in Miami with James, but he is open to listen to overtures.

Brian Roberts: The reserve point guard won’t dominate many headlines this summer, but he has developed into a solid rotation player over the last two seasons. The Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies are reportedly interested in the point guard and he has a visit with the Charlotte Hornets lined up soon.

Roberts averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists last season with New Orleans while connecting on a stellar 94 percent from the free throw line.

Charlotte is looking for depth at their point guard position behind the emerging Kemba Walker.

Aldridge Wants To Retire In Portland: All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge has made it clear that although he won’t sign a contract extension this summer, he wants to retire in Portland.

Aldridge told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian he will re-sign with the team next summer rather than signing an extension now. Aldridge, 29, wants the security of a five-year contract and is making the best business decision possible, of course assuming he remains injury free.

What a difference a year makes. Last summer, Aldridge was reportedly unhappy with the direction of the franchise and open to the possibility of trade. But with the team’s recent success, an emerging core and solid front office moves, the forward is now seemingly content in Portland,

Aldridge averaged a career-high 23.2 points  and 11.1 rebounds last season on 46 percent shooting.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics

With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Ben Nadeau

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With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.

Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.

His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.

Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.

Dennis Chambers

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With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.

Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.

A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.

The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.

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