While the 2015 NBA Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will dominate the media landscape, the start of free agency is less than a month away and nuggets of information have already started to rise to the surface.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest buzz surrounding guys headed to free agency this summer:
Marc Gasol, Center, Memphis Grizzles
Depending on your individual preference, you can certainly make an argument for Gasol being the most coveted big man on the open market this summer. The former Defensive Player of the Year has spent his entire career in Memphis and will have a plethora of suitors this summer.
However, the big man is keeping his thoughts close to the vest, hinting that Memphis will have the advantage once the period begins on July 1.
“The reality for me at the moment is Memphis,” Gasol said according to an article by Eurohoops.net. “I got there when I was 16 and I’m 30 years old. It’s important for me, personally and in sports terms. I’m in front of an important decision for the upcoming 4 or 5 years. I’ll take it quietly, without drama. There are many things to evaluate: personal goals, the ring… The city isn’t so important like it was in Pau’s case. My brother had other needs. People with sons know how this works. I don’t have time to go to the opera, or to the theater. New York is nice but it was very cold during the All Star Game. San Antonio, L.A, Atlanta… there’s good things everywhere. I have a simple life: at home, the arena, the supermarket. Memphis is quiet. In Fort Yukon, Alaska, I would also be happy.”
Smart business for Gasol to evaluate his options fully, but the center has consistently mentioned his ties to the community in Memphis, giving the Grizzlies an advantage.
Paul Pierce, Forward, Washington Wizards
One of the most puzzling situations last summer was the Los Angeles Clippers failing to sign future Hall of Fame forward Paul Pierce in free agency. The team desperately needed depth at small forward and Pierce had a great relationship with head coach Doc Rivers. But the Clippers opted to use most of their available funds to sign center Spencer Hawes and Pierce landed in D.C. where he starred in this season’s playoffs.
Pierce has a player option for next season worth $5.5 million. Should he elect to opt out, the Clippers will be one of the suitors for his services according to the Los Angeles News Group – citing a league source.
On paper, the situation still makes sense. But Pierce has hinted at retirement, while at the same time praising his young charges with the Wizards. So it’s not exactly like he’s chomping at the bit to leave his current situation.
However, the Clippers seem to be ready to pounce if the forward elects to evaluate his options.
Patrick Beverley, Guard, Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets manage to reach the Western Conference Finals, but the absence of injured starting point guard Patrick Beverley became magnified versus the Golden State Warriors. Beverley doesn’t put up huge box score stats on a nightly basis but there’s no denying his toughness, tenacity and fight he brings to the court.
Rockets forward Chandler Parsons has already begun his retention pitch but Beverley is headed to (restricted) free agency and for a guy drafted No. 42 overall back in 2009 it will be a time to secure a lucrative long term deal for his future.
“I hear from Chandler every day,” Beverley said according to the Houston Chronicle. “It’s hard, but I try not to think about it. I can’t talk about contracts. It’s going to be a fun summer. I have put myself in a position to be set for life and that’s something that I never thought was possible growing up.”
Houston is a solid situation and the franchise will have the right to match any offers for his services. He is the team’s starter and the squad has MVP candidate in James Harden entering his prime already in the fold.
“This is the only team in the league — I am very loyal — only team in the league that really took a chance on me,” Beverley said. “At the end of the day, I understand it’s a business.”
Marco Belinelli, Guard, San Antonio Spurs
Belinelli could be an attractive option for a team looking to stretch the floor due to his shooting prowess. The veteran connected on a total of 212 three-pointers over the past two seasons with San Antonio.
“From July 1 I will have the chance to choose my future,” Belinelli said according to Sportando. “I may return to the Spurs, obviously considering their economic proposal. There are chances for me to re-sign with the Spurs. There will be also the possibility to move to another team. As I’ve always said, San Antonio is a very strong team, an incredible organization. The best I’ve played for in the NBA. The free agency opens on July 1, we’ll see what happens. I think I will know my future the 1st or the 2nd week of July.”
Keep in mind Belinelli will turn 30 during the 2015-16 campaign and won a title with San Antonio. This summer will mark one of the last opportunities for the guard to secure a final lucrative multi-year. So while Belinelli is speaking of the Spurs from a loyalty standpoint, it’s smart money that his agent will try to move him toward the financial situation that makes sense for a player his age.
Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn’s frontcourt could look totally different next season if former All-Star Brook Lopez and forward Thaddeus Young elect to opt out the final year of their respective deals.
Brook is owed $16.7 million next season, while Young is owed $10.2 million. Both can elect to test the free agency waters in order to secure a multi-year deal and more long term security.
Brooklyn has been cash strapped, in regards to the cap, the past few years and the team figures to have plenty of room available in 2016-17. That is, if they can protect the space until then. Re-signing Lopez and Young to new eight figure per year deals would put a serious dent in those plans.
According to Nets Daily, the players must declare their intentions over the next few weeks.
King saying Nets intend to re-sign Lopez and Young seems to indicate both have told him they're opting out.
— NetsDaily (@NetsDaily) June 3, 2015
Young has to tell #Nets his status on June 22; Lopez on June 29.
— NetsDaily (@NetsDaily) June 3, 2015
Jameer Nelson, Guard, Denver Nuggets
The 2014-15 campaign was a tough one for veteran guard Jameer Nelson. After playing his entire career with the Orlando Magic, Nelson signed with the Dallas Mavericks last summer during free agency.
However, his stay was short in Dallas playing in just 23 games for the franchise before being dealt to Boston where he made only six appearances. Ultimately Nelson was traded again, this time to Denver, where he played in 34 contests primarily in a reserve role.
Nelson holds a player option for the 2015-16 campaign worth roughly $2.9 million and according to a Real GM report, the veteran plans to opt out in order to test free agency.
The league is dominated by strong point guard play and Nelson, while past his physical prime, is still a steady contributor who could carve out a role on a veteran franchise.
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