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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 6/29

Basketball Insiders looks back at some of the articles from last week in case you missed them the first time around.

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LeBron James’ Best Free Agency Options

By Bill Ingram

Now that the 2014 NBA champions have been crowned, the countdown is officially on for the NBA draft. The festivities in San Antonio are just starting to wind down, and while fans in South Texas are still buzzing about the stunning performance of their Spurs in postseason play, fans in South Beach are wondering if they have seen LeBron James play his final game in a Miami HEAT jersey. Thankfully, LeBron himself has been quiet about his intentions, so the endless speculation has been somewhat limited, but the time for him to decide is coming soon. Here’s a look at the different situations that offer the best chance for him to get back to the NBA Finals.

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Lakers Moving On Kevin Love?

By Steve Kyler

A report over the weekend pegged the L.A. Lakers as the potential front runners for Minnesota’s Kevin Love. On the surface it seems like the Lakers wouldn’t have the assets to acquire a player like Love in trade, especially with teams like Boston and Golden State offering real value in return. However, there continues to be a sense among NBA executives that the Lakers are very much in the hunt. Last week, the Lakers were linked to a potential deal with the Philadelphia 76ers that would have involved sending the number seven pick and Steve Nash to the Sixers in exchange for Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young; at the time, that deal seemed somewhat lopsided in the Lakers’ favor. However, some are saying that the deal was potentially part of a three-way trade that would be consummated around the draft and get finished in July, when the Lakers could absorb salary.

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Meteoric Rise: Elfrid Payton Climbing into Top 10?

By Alex Kennedy

Two and a half months ago, Elfrid Payton was unsure if he should enter the 2014 NBA Draft. The 20-year-old was coming off of an impressive season at Louisiana-Lafayette in which he led the Ragin’ Cajuns to the NCAA Tournament while averaging 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals.

However, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be a top-30 pick, as most mock drafts had him as a fringe first-round selection. He submitted an application to the NBA Advisory Committee, which informed him that his projected range was between No. 20 to No. 40.

Payton admits that he considered returning to ULL for his senior season, in an effort to solidify himself as a first-round pick and try to win another Sun Belt title.

Well, it turns out Payton made the right decision when he declared for the draft, as no player has improved their draft stock more than the 6’4 point guard in recent weeks. He has been the big winner of the pre-draft process, and the thought of Payton being available in the second round is ludicrous now. He is receiving serious interest from multiple teams in the top 10 (including the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings) and it seems like his floor is the Orlando Magic at No. 12.

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Julius Randle Scouting Report

By Nate Duncan

Of all the players in this draft, the Dallas product Julius Randle is probably the second-most likely to average 20 points per game in a season behind Jabari Parker. The assumption is that the surgery Randle will reportedly need (which he disputes) will not be career-altering, and therefore it is not being considered in this evaluation.

While many have complained that Andrew Wiggins’ skills were neutered by Bill Self’s system at Kansas, Randle is the one who really has a complaint. He was almost invariably paired with another big man, so there was no space for his drives or postups. Randle had less than 20 possessions all season as a roll man going to the basket, and took less than 10 open catch-and-shoot jump shots. His horrible percentage on J’s was the result of shots off the dribble or with a hand in his face, as he had few designed plays from outside. The few catch-and-shoots he had looked good, and his 71 percent from the line is outstanding for a freshman big man. I expect him to be a threat shooting long twos almost immediately, with the ability to either pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop and the potential of occasional three-point range. He was 3-8 on college threes that were actually open, with all of the misses close. In fact, Randle was criticized for being too perimeter-oriented in high school.

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Pistons to Lock up Monroe, Trade Smith?

By Lang Greene

The top of the 2014 NBA Draft is widely believed to be one of the best in recent memory. Barring a trade, the Detroit Pistons will be on the outside looking in as the lottery picks come off the board Thursday night. The Pistons sent their first round pick to the Charlotte Hornets two years ago in the Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette swap. The pick was top-eight protected, but the Pistons fell to ninth in last month’s draft lottery causing the forfeiture to the Hornets.

While the Pistons may be missing from the top of the draft this season, the franchise has huge decisions looming this summer regarding their future.

Emerging big man Greg Monroe is headed toward restricted free agency and there will be plenty of teams lining up ready to pounce on the 24 year old standout who averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds this past season.

Newly crowned pistons team president Stan Van Gundy says the decision has already been made regarding Monroe’s future with the franchise based on every possible scenario that may arise when free agency opens.

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Phil Jackson Begins Revamping Knicks Roster

By Tommy Beer

The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks have officially agreed to a deal. Here are the particulars: Dallas sends point guard Jose Calderon, center Samuel Dalembert, point guard Shane Larkin and guard Wayne Ellington, along with the 34th and 51st picks in Thursday’s draft, to the Knicks in exchange for center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton.

Mark Cuban has openly admitted he regretted letting Tyson Chandler skip town the summer after the Mavs won the 2011 NBA championship. Well, now Cuban has his prized defensive-minded, game-changer back in Dallas. The Mavs took the eventual world champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games during their tightly contested first-round matchup this past postseason, which was something neither the OKC Thunder nor the Miami HEAT could claim. Clearly the Mavs feel they can make another realistic run at a title while Dirk Nowitzki is still near the top of his game.

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Knicks/Mavericks Deal by the Numbers

By Eric Pincus

The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks executed a six-player trade on Wednesday, returning Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks along with Raymond Felton.

The Knicks picked up Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington, in addition to the 34th and 51st overall picks on Thursday’s NBA Draft.

In the deal, Dallas added up a $1,536,960 trade exception for Larkin; the Knicks have a new $3,637,073 trade exception for Felton.  Both are good for one full year.

The Mavericks technically acquired Chandler and Felton by trading Ellington, Calderon and Dalembert ($13,144,318 in salary).  The trade exception is for Larkin’s full salary, which has yet to return a player.

Under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, when a non-taxpaying team deals out $9.8-19.6 million in salary, they can acquire up to an additional $5 million in payroll — enabling Dallas to take in up to $18,144,318 from New York.

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Vonleh Reaching NBA After Refusing to Leave Gym

By Jessica Camerato

There were never enough hours in the day, not when the athletic club closed around nine o’clock and he could have stayed on the court all night. Not when every minute he wasn’t practicing was 60 seconds that passed without improving.

“In any given day, you either get better or worse. You never stay the same,” his AAU coach told him.

Noah Vonleh didn’t just believe that mantra, he lived it.

Vin Pastore met Vonleh when he was in the seventh grade, a tall teenager with length and noticeably large hands from Haverhill in northern Massachusetts. Pastore coached the Mass Rivals, an AAU team that Vonleh would join. He had seen plenty of height and athleticism over the years; Vonleh had to possess more than just physical attributes to stand out from the rest.

It didn’t take long for Pastore to realize Vonleh was different. He didn’t work out to play, he worked out to get better. With a long-term goal in mind, Vonleh was fiercely determined to put in the work make it to the NBA.

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McDermott Trade Costs Bulls Cap Space

By Joel Brigham

When it was first announced on Thursday night that the Chicago Bulls had made a trade that would send the No. 16 and No. 19 picks in the draft for the rights to Creighton forward Doug McDermott, the initial response was pretty much this:

“Oh good. The Bulls traded two first-round picks for one so they can amass as much cap space as possible in a potential free agency push for Carmelo Anthony. Let all of us in Chicago rejoice!”

The truth, though, is something quite a bit different, and that truth became clear once it was made known that forward Anthony Randolph and his $1.825 million salary would also be coming to Chicago in the deal.

According to Mark Deeks of Sham Sports, by adding that money to McDermott’s $1.898 million cap hold as the 11th pick and a roster charge of over $500,000, the Bulls actually added money to the payroll in this deal rather than create more space for Anthony by consolidating picks. All told, Chicago has about $1 million less to offer Carmelo in free agency (assuming they amnesty Carlos Boozer) than they would have had they drafted Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris themselves.

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Kyle Cape-Lindelin is based out of Portland, OR covering the NBA while being one of the newsline editors and contributor to "Out of Bounds."

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