Basketball Insiders Week in Review 7/20

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HEAT Retool With Luol Deng

By Lang Greene

While the balance of power in the NBA was irreversibly shifted by LeBron James’ free agency decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami HEAT were left in a vulnerable position.

When James left the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010, Cleveland finished the following season a dismal 19-63 which in a way signaled the strength, or lack thereof, of the supporting cast surrounding him.

Those expecting a similar decline in Miami, after four consecutive Finals appearances, will likely be disappointed. The HEAT, despite losing the best player in the league this summer, are determined not to fade off the league’s radar without a fight.

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Mavericks Trump Rockets in Free Agency

By Bill Ingram

The Houston Rockets were hoping to be one of the big movers and shakers in free agency this summer after landing Dwight Howard last year. Unfortunately, as the big names start to dwindle and the pool of free agents dwindles down to “tweak” players, the Rockets have taken one significant step backwards. Meanwhile, their biggest rival to the north took a huge step forwards.

As it turns out, it was something of a Texas two-step.

The first step was Houston opting to pick up the option on Chandler Parsons’ contract, making him a restricted free agent. The plan was never to actually let Parsons, who was incredibly instrumental in bringing Howard to town, slip away, but merely to let some other team set the price tag for Houston to match. In the mean time Houston expected to lure Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh to town, then match any offer for Parsons and enter the 2014-15 season as possible favorites to unseat the defending NBA champs in San Antonio.

And then the Dallas Mavericks stepped in.

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Bosh Prevents Power Shift in Western Conference

By Jesse Blancarte

On Friday of last week, LeBron James made his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers official. James’ decision grabbed significant attention, and was the main story on a busy day of free agency activity. But make no mistake, as significant as James’ decision to go home was, former teammate Chris Bosh’s choice to stay in Miami will have more of an impact on the 2014-2015 NBA title race than the King’s decision.

In the days leading up to James’ decision, reports surfaced that Bosh was speaking with the Houston Rockets to establish a landing spot in the event that James left Miami. It seemed like a perfect match.

Bosh is from Texas (Dallas), is a top power forward, and would nicely complement Houston center Dwight Howard in the Rockets’ front-court (Bosh has strongly developed his outside game and three-point shot over the last few seasons, while Dwight continues to work exclusively in the paint). So when James’ essay explaining his decision was published on late last week, it was assumed that Bosh would soon after come to terms with the Houston Rockets.

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Love Willing to Exercise Option if Traded to Warriors

By Yannis Koutroupis

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Golden State Warriors are increasing their efforts to land Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love.

Love has recently been linked to trade talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James has even reached out and voiced his desire to play with him according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Cavaliers are willing to let go of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft Andrew Wiggins, but the Warriors are now willing to let go of Klay Thompson as well.

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The Chicago Bulls made some news on Tuesday by being what should be the last team to use the amnesty provision allowed for in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. The Bulls used the provision on Carlos Boozer, of course, something rumored to have been an inevitability since the moment the amnesty provision became an option for them. It became a necessity this summer, however, after the Bulls came to terms with Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.

Chicago will now pay Boozer $16.8 million to go play somewhere else, but the question is where?

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Is It Time For Kevin Love?

By Steve Kyler

As the free agent dominoes begin to fall around the NBA, there is a sense that the next big fish may already be under contract in Minnesota’s Kevin Love. Love has two more seasons left on his deal with the Wolves, which includes a player option he is expected to decline, making him a potential free agent next July and a prime trade target.

Since LeBron James’ announced return to Cleveland, there have been rampant rumors that the Cavaliers could be queuing up a deal to land Love next.

While the Cavs are very much interested in obtaining Love, there continues to be debate about whether the parts the Cavs can offer are enticing enough to get the Timberwolves off the dime. The Wolves’ stance on moving Love has been that a deal would have to return veteran players that would get the Wolves into the playoffs this year. The problem for Cleveland is they have a mountain of young guys, but not that one veteran talent that makes a deal likely.

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Studs and Duds Day 6

By Moke Hamilton

On Day 6 of NBA Summer League competition in Las Vegas, the field of 16 teams vying for the 2014 NBA Summer League Championship was cut in half. The Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Miami HEAT, [New York Knicks or D-League All-Stars] and [Philadelphia 76ers or Chicago Bulls] were shown the door.

Along the way, as usual, there were studs and there were duds.

Here are those who caught our eye on Day 6.

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Phil Jackson on the Hook for Carmelo’s Massive Contract

By Tommy Beer

Earlier this week, when it was officially announced that the Knicks had re-signed star forward Carmelo Anthony, the responses were wide-ranging and varied.

It seemed the majority of Knicks fans were both exceptionally excited and relieved when they learned the franchise’s best player since Patrick Ewing would spend the remaining prime years of his career in New York City.

However, some pundits, after factoring in the long-term impact of the massive contract and recognizing that salary cap space is such a precious commodity, panned Melo for his unwillingness to give the Knicks a more significant discount.

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