Hello and welcome to the Evening News.
As free agency continues, we’ll keep you updated every night.
What’s happening today?
Finals star Gary Neal will not be returning to the San Antonio Spurs next season:
Hearing: San Antonio in process of withdrawing qualifying offer to Gary Neal, making Neal an unrestricted free agent and sure to speed exit
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 23, 2013
Although the free agent market for Neal has not yet been publicized, sources indicate that he will have no shortage of suitors once he becomes unrestricted. Neal was one of the Spurs’ best players in the Finals, averaging 9.4 points on 47% from three.
The Spurs signed Marco Belinelli at the start of free agency and expect him to replace Neal as the team’s primary perimeter shooter off the bench.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Kyrie Irving Irving is nearly a lock to be part of the 2014 FIBA World Cup team that will compete in Spain next summer.
While nothing has been confirmed, Irving’s impressive resume and close relationship with Coach K give him a leg up on the competition.
Moreover, Lloyd reports that Irving refuted a New York-based radio host who said Irving was anxious to get out of Cleveland.
“I’m a Cavalier right now, I’m happy to be a Cavalier,” Irving said. “I kind of had a sarcastic approach to [the report] because it was a rumor starter. I don’t think he knows anybody in my camp and I don’t know who the guy is. That type of stuff I don’t pay any attention to. Right now I’m a Cleveland Cavalier and I’m happy to be here.”
Greg Oden meets with Erik Spoelstra
ESPN.com reported earlier today that Greg Oden’s camp had narrowed its search down to three teams: the Heat, Spurs, and Pelicans.
Now, reports on twitter are indicating that Oden may be leaning toward signing in Miami:
Erik Spoelstra and Greg Oden met today, as the free agent center’s decision nears.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 23, 2013
While New Orleans has reportedly offered Oden $3 million annually (about twice as much as what Miami and San Antonio would offer), the 25-year-old appears more interested in the idea of playing for a contender.
With the money saved from amnestying Mike Miller’s contract last week, the Heat, in theory, can afford to sign Oden and still save money from what they paid in last season’s luxury tax.
If Erik Spoelstra can convince Oden to sign in Miami, the Heat would potentially have the steal of free agency. Oden, if healthy, would instantly move ahead of Joel Anthony and Juwan Howard in the Heat’s big man rotation.
Scouts have remained impressed with Oden’s conditioning in recent workouts.