NBA AM: Free Agency Moves On The Way

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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.