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NBA AM: Free Agency Still Waiting On The King

The free agent world continues to wait for LeBron James. Isaiah Thomas and the Suns? Warriors allow TPE to expire



The King Exerts His Power: To say the 2014 free agency period is moving slowly would be a gross understatement. The league is in a holding pattern until four time MVP LeBron James chooses his next destination that will take him through the prime of his career.

James’ slow and methodical selection process has even impacted arguably the second best free agent on the market this summer, Carmelo Anthony, who has continued to delay his own choice despite having multiple lucrative deals ready to be signed, sealed and delivered.

Make no mistake, the NBA is James’ personal playground.

Much like Kobe Bryant before him or legends such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan from yesteryear. No player in the game today can shift the balance of power in the league like James and it comes to no surprise the All-Star forward is using all of his leverage before signing on the dotted line.

Waiting for James to announce his decision has pushed to the forefront the crazy part of the free agency chase. We’ve had people tracking private jets, watching where James keeps his personal fleet of automobiles, nightclub sightings and even police protection at his doorstep.

But no one, publicly, has heard from James himself.

James is reportedly leaving Las Vegas and headed to Miami before flying out to Brazil to watch the finale of the World Cup this weekend. A decision could be announced before then, but at this point it wouldn’t shock anyone if the process extends longer into the summer.

Simply put, there is a good chance James will never again have this type of leverage so he’s making completely sure that his next destination is going to give him everything he wants.

Here’s where we stand this morning:

Isaiah Thomas Meets With Suns: While some of the bigger available names pace themselves this summer, the restricted free agent market has been sizzling. Forwards Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward, whichever team they end up on, are in for huge pay raises and were able to snag eight figure salaries per year in the market.

Please believe other restricted guys are looking at those lucrative deals and salivating.

Thomas is another player who is set to receive a strong financial package at some point this summer.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Thomas visited with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday to engage in exploratory talks.

Phoenix shocked the league last season challenging for a playoff berth in the competitive Western Conference until the waning moments of the campaign. The Suns are reportedly interested in building a deeper backcourt, but also have their own free agency issues to manage in the coming weeks.

The positive spin is he still produced 17.7 points per game and proved to be a legitimate full-time starter. Word is the Suns have also started contract talks with Bledsoe, but the guard is represented by agent Rich Paul, who has the market currently stalled handling LeBron James’ free agency decision.

Thomas was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the last overall pick of the 2011 draft. The guard has never seemed to be the guy the Kings wanted to entrust with the keys of their future. Jimmer Fredette was the first round talent selected ahead of him in the same draft, then the following season Sacramento signed veteran guard Aaron Brooks and before the start of last season the franchise traded for point guard Greivis Vasquez.

Thomas was able to outlast them all and put up a stat line for the 2013-14 campaign which rivaled many of the elite point guards in the league. The guard averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists on 45 percent shooting from the floor this season.

Carmelo Anthony playing the waiting game: Unlike LeBron James, Anthony went on the free agency world tour and met with Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles (Lakers) and New York. At one point Anthony had pending offers from all of these teams, but the Mavericks and Rockets are seemingly out of the sweepstakes.

Chicago is still in consideration for Anthony, according to numerous reports, but the expectation is the forward will return to New York who can offer him the sweetest financial package (years and money).

The Bulls are seeking Anthony to pair alongside former MVP Derrick Rose and All-Star center Joakim Noah. In order to pull off the signing, former All-Star forward Carlos Boozer will have to be amnestied.

Warriors Let Traded Player Exception Expire: According to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Golden State Warriors have allowed their traded-player exception to expire. The exception was worth $9.8 million.

The franchise now sits roughly $6 million under the luxury tax threshold with three roster spots currently remaining to be filled.

The team used their full mid-level exception early in free agency to snag reserve guard Shaun Livingston to backup All-Star Stephen Curry.

Anthony Morrow in high demand? Shooters are in high demand this summer and the money will continue to flow in their direction. One player who is reportedly receiving plenty of interest is three-point marksman Anthony Morrow.

According to David Aldridge, Morrow has received interest from Los Angeles (Clippers), Miami, Phoenix, Toronto and Washington.

Morrow averaged 8.4 points per game in 76 appearances with New Orleans last season while connecting on 45 percent of his three-point shots.

Moves will continue to become official in the coming days. For all of the latest news and rumors surrounding the NBA’s free agency period, be sure to follow Basketball Insiders’ free agency diary.



Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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