NBA AM: Draft, Free Agency and Trade Chatter

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The NBA Draft is one day away, so naturally there will be plenty of chatter regarding trades, which then in turn impacts free agency. Here’s the latest rumors.

Report: Monta Ellis opting out of contract

Veteran shooting guard Monta Ellis is reportedly opting out of the final year of his deal with the Dallas Mavericks, according to the Dallas Morning News.  Ellis has been a key part of the Mavericks’ rotation the last two years with the aging of future Hall of Fame forward Dirk Nowitzki and the franchise’s inability to land a marquee player in free agency as of late.

Ellis’ decision is not surprising given the multiple reports hinting the team would aggressively shop the guard in trade scenarios if he decided to opt in to the final year of his deal. Now, Ellis heads to unrestricted free agency looking to secure a multi-year deal and in complete control of the next stop in his career.

Roy Hibbert still undecided on player option for 2015-16 season

As we approach free agency, an interesting name to keep an eye on is veteran center Roy Hibbert. According to Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports, the current Indiana Pacers starting center was still undecided on his plans regarding his player option for the upcoming 2015-16 campaign.

Hibbert is on the books for $15.5 million next season and the franchise has shopped his name around the league in trade scenarios in the past. At the end of this past season, the team’s front office hinted that Hibbert’s role in Indiana could change next season.

Hibbert, a former All-Star, performed similarly to his usual production this past year, averaging 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, but the expectation was that he would take on a larger role without injured All-Star Paul George. He did not. Last season also marked the first campaign since 2010-11 where Hibbert averaged less than two blocked shots per game.

More drama in Sacramento

Trade chatter erupted over the past few days regarding All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins’ future with the Sacramento Kings. There were reports that head coach George Karl wanted to deal the center, but the team’s front office reportedly nixed any deals of the sort.

Karl then emerged, denying the validity of the report that he wanted Cousins dealt in the first place.

However, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee recently had multiple sources confirm the validity of the earlier reports implicating Karl in the process.

Cousins is 24 years old and coming off a season in which he averaged 24 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per contest. The center undoubtedly has value, but the situation in Sacramento has gotten messy.

Denver Nuggets issue qualifying offer to Will Barton

Guard Will Barton, acquired by the Denver Nuggets in a draft day deal in February, is headed to restricted free agency after the team issued a qualifying offer. The offer was reported by Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Barton appeared in 28 games with the Nuggets this past season and averaged 24.4 minutes per contest – the most run of his career. The guard responded by averaging 11 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists on 44 percent shooting from the field.

Nets looking at trades, Mason Plumlee is available

It’s no secret the Brooklyn Nets are looking to rebuild their roster but the team has contracts that are difficult to move, such as Deron Williams and Joe Johnson who still have plenty of guaranteed money left on the books.

So one player who is likely to be mentioned as we approach the draft and free agency is center Mason Plumlee.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, sources continue to indicate Brooklyn is entertaining offers for Plumlee on a potential draft day move.

Plumlee appeared in all 82 games for the Nets this past season, registering 45 starts and averages of 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds on 57 percent shooting from the field.

Phil Jackson talks New York Knicks’ draft plan

The New York Knicks were highly disappointed to drop out of the top three in the draft and land at the No. 4 slot after the ping-pong balls didn’t bounce in their favor. Not surprisingly, there has been plenty of talk about the team using the pick and then trading it in order to secure a more established player. Simply put, no one projected at No. 4 intrigues the team like the names expected to be selected in the first three picks.

Despite this thought, Knicks team president Phil Jackson is still hoping a special player falls into their lap with the fourth overall pick.   

“We’re hoping to,” Jackson told Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal. “But it doesn’t jump out at us right away that there’s this consensus [of a player] with the size and physique to [be a franchise player]. But it can come in different ways. It can be a wing player, or a guard.”