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NBA Rumors: Pau Gasol to the Knicks?

Will Pau Gasol sign with the New York Knicks? … The Phoenix Suns aren’t letting go of Eric Bledsoe … Kyrie Irving wants to stay in Cleveland?

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Pau Gasol to the Knicks?

Pau Gasol felt nostalgic in what he admitted might have been his last day with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. He’s also excited about his impending free agency and is open to a reunion with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who now runs the New York Knicks’ front office.

“I’m happy for him and the position that he got,” Gasol said. “I’m always going to be a big fan and a friend. I would listen.”

Jackson coached Gasol with the Lakers from 2007-10. Since being hired as the Knicks’ president, Jackson has signed former Lakers forward Lamar Odom to a contract and met with former Lakers forward Metta World Peace. The Knicks would be interested in Gasol in free agency, a source said. With the Knicks expected to play Jackson’s triangle offense and more of a half-court, such a style of play could be attractive to Gasol.

via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports

Pau Gasol has made it clear that he’s going to weigh all of his options this summer. The Knicks are an intriguing possibility given his relationship with Phil Jackson and success in the triangle offense.

However, New York doesn’t have much money to offer free agents outside of the taxpayer’s midlevel exception, which is expected to be worth roughly $3.2 million. The Knicks could have as much as $91,978,019 on the books, depending on options.

Jackson will certainly help New York recruit free agents, but he won’t have significant cap space to play with until the summer of 2015, when the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani are off the books.

Gasol will likely receive bigger offers than what the Knicks can extend, so unless he’s willing to take a significant pay cut to reunite with Jackson and join New York, this option seems like a long shot.

»In Related: Carmelo Anthony’s Free Agent Options

Suns Aren’t Letting Go of Bledsoe

That’s what we’re planning on doing,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday when asked if the Bledsoe will be retained, be it via a contract he signs with the Suns or one that is signed with someone else but matched by the team. “I think Eric did a terrific job after he was frustrated with the injury.He came back and played extremely well for us down the stretch.”

“He’s played well enough and is deserving enough of an extension where I think it would be a waste of time for another team to throw an offer at him and tie up their cap space while other free agents are going off the board,” McDonough said. “But you never know; it only takes one.

“We’ll see what happens. There’s also the chance that we try to work it out in advance and just not let it get to that point, where he has to get an offer and we match. Our preference would be just to do an offer with Eric and his representatives.”

via Adam Green of ArizonaSports.com

This isn’t a big surprise, as people around the league have been saying for quite awhile that the Suns wouldn’t let go of Eric Bledsoe this summer when he can become a restricted free agent.

This just confirms it, with Ryan McDonough literally saying that “it would be a waste of time for another team to throw an offer at him.”

The 24-year-old was excellent this season and was a big reason for Phoenix’s surprising success, even though he missed 39 games due to a knee injury. It sounds like the Suns plan on matching any offer sheet that Bledsoe receives, which is smart since he’s clearly a key part of their long-term plan.

This season, Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in his first year as a full-time starter and thrived alongside Goran Dragic in the Suns’ explosive backcourt.

Jeff Hornacek summed up the Suns’ approach to Bledsoe’s free agency recently when he smiled and told reporters, “He can’t go anywhere.”

»In Related: Phoenix Suns Salary Cap Information

Irving Wants to Stay in Cleveland?

[H]e came the closest he has to announcing that he would like to remain in Cleveland.

“I’ve been a part of this and I want to continue to be a part of this,” he said. “We’re making strides in the right direction, especially in this organization. I want to be part of something special, and I want to be part of something special in Cleveland.

“I don’t have a definitive answer to that right now, but it’ll be something special. I can guarantee that.”

The Cavaliers are expected to make a maximum five-year contract extension offer to Irving this summer.

“It’s a big deal for me and my family if they do offer that. It would be exciting, and I’ll make the best decision for me and my family. That’s what it’s going to boil down to for myself.”

via Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer

There have been plenty of rumors about Kyrie Irving wanting out of Cleveland. Irving’s camp supposedly wants him playing elsewhere and there have been reports that Irving has beef with a number of people within the organization.

While he has refused to talk about his future in the past, Irving chose to make these comments at the conclusion of the Cavs’ season, which is a good sign for Cleveland. Whether this is just Irving saying the right thing to help his image remains to be seen, but fans in Cleveland would rather hear this than “no comment” when Irving is asked about what his future holds.

This summer, the Cavaliers can offer Irving a maximum five-year contract extension. There have been reports that Irving may not sign the deal. There have been reports that the Cavs may not offer the deal. This is definitely something to watch over the offseason.

If Irving refuses to sign the contract, it would be to send a message to the organization that he wants out and may demand a trade. However, he really doesn’t have much leverage since he would likely enter restricted free agency the following summer and the Cavs could match any offer he receives. The only way Irving could hit unrestricted free agency would be to sign for the qualifying offer in 2015 and become a UFA the following summer. This is unheard of and, quite frankly, stupid since there are so many risks involved with that scenario. It’s not smart for a professional athlete to turn down a five-year contract worth over $90 million and put off a pay day for two years just to switch teams.

Whether Irving wants to remain in Cleveland long-term remains to be seen, but these comments give the franchise some hope.

»In Related: Cleveland Cavaliers Salary Cap Information

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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