And we’re off! Free agency officially began at 12:01 EDT this morning, and while teams can’t officially sign players until the 11th, it’s still an incredibly exciting time to be a basketball fan. Here is a roundup of the latest news from around the NBA.
- Dwight Howard is, as he has been for the last several months, a hot topic on the trade market. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Lakers, Nets, and Rockets are interested in Orlando’s All-Star center. “While the Lakers have yet to make a direct offer, there’s no scenario where Orlando would move Howard to the Lakers without getting back Andrew Bynum, L.A.’s 24-year-old All-Star center. Pau Gasol wouldn’t fit the Magic’s desires to rebuild with young players and draft picks,” Wojnarowski writes. With the Nets re-signing Gerald Wallace, their chances to land Howard could be slimming. Ken Berger of CBS Sports has a lengthy (and strongly worded) piece on Howard’s desire to be traded to the Nets, and whether or not the Nets are actually particularly interested. The Magic long ago decided a divorce was necessary — news that was first reported here.
- The Nets, in addition to Howard, are looking at numerous options to bring in talent with the ultimate goal of convincing free agent Deron Williams to remain with the team. The big name being rumored is Hawks guard Joe Johnson. Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted earlier that the Nets and Hawks were looking into a trade, and now Marc Stein and Chad Ford of ESPN.com have fleshed out those discussions somewhat. The current proposal, according to Stein and Ford, “would call for the Nets to send the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams to the Hawks in exchange for Johnson.”The main holdup is believed to be the Nets’ concerns with regards to their future financial flexibility should they take on Johnson’s contract, the richest in the NBA with four years and $90 million remaining. For a rundown of which teams have cap space, and how much, check out Moke Hamilton’s immensely informative column.
- An update to yesterday’s note about Blake Griffin and Chris Paul from Broderick Turner of the LA Times: Griffin agreed to a five-year, $95 million extension, Paul will not agree to one worth $60 million over three years.
- Future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash has drawn interest from several teams already. The Raptors want to bring him home to Canada, and according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, they want him for longer than just his playing career: “Toronto #Raptors not just making a FA pitch for Steve Nash. They’re pitching him on post-retirement opportunities, too,” Deveney tweeted this morning, and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweeted that the Raptors had Wayne Gretzky set to call in while they were meeting with Nash. The rumor mill is currently buzzing with speculation about the offer the Raptors made, best summed up with this tweet from the National Post’s Bruce Arthur: Initial reports all said 3 years, $36 million, but some are saying that’s too high. Nash is also set to meet with the Knicks and Nets and has expressed some interest in returning to Dallas, where he played from 1998 to 2004. If the Knicks land Nash, it will likely be through a sign and trade with Phoenix, as the Knicks have limited cap room.
- If the Knicks can’t get Nash to reunite with Amar’e Stoudemire, they should be taking a close look at Portland point guard Raymond Felton, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “After a down season with Portland, Felton’s market value has fallen, possibly into the Knicks’ range. Former Knicks president Donnie Walsh never wanted to trade Felton, but was under great pressure from owner James Dolan to make the Carmelo Anthony deal happen late last February,” writes Berman.
- The Blazers have an agreement with RFA Roy Hibbert, believed to be for four years and $58 million. Joe Freeman of the Oregonian reports that Blazers GM Neil Olshey says the team is “engaged in negotiations” with Hibbert and intends to “enter into an offer sheet once the moratorium period ends.” Translated, that means they’ve agreed to a contract but can’t announce anything until the 11th. Indiana will have the right to match.
- The Lakers are looking for a point guard, and the first thing they did once free agency opened was call Ramon Sessions’ agent, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cavaliers in midseason. McMenamin reports that while no numbers were exchanged, the talks were “cordial”.
- The Timberwolves will not be bringing back Michael Beasley next season, according to Ray Richardson of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Minnesota did not extend a qualifying offer to the former #2 overall pick, and according to Richardson, “a league source said Beasley’s exit is permanent.”
Dan Malone just completed his sophomore year at University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is spending the summer in Baltimore, where he covers the Single-A minor-league baseball team the Aberdeen IronBirds for OriolesHangout.com. He will be blogging for SheridanHoops this summer.