With the draft in the rearview mirror, July 1 is the next big day on the NBA calendar. That’s the day teams can start negotiating contracts with free agents. And every year, the few days right at the end of June are a unique window where teams’ plans start coalescing and reliable information about where some of the top names might be headed starts to leak out.
We’ve already seen indications that LaMarcus Aldridge is preparing to leave the Blazers. LeBron James and Kevin Love have opted out of their contracts with the Cavs, but the common assumption is they’ll both be back in Cleveland this fall.
Meanwhile, there are a few big-name free agents about whom we’ve heard very little. In the case of Marc Gasol, that might be an indication that he’s staying put, in the sense that if he’s going to leave, he (and the Grizzlies) will send out smoke signals, in the same way the Blazers and Aldridge have.
Here’s the rumors that are floating around right now as we’re a few days out from free agency:
BRANDON KNIGHT TO STAY A SUN
Here’s Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times on the point guard, who was traded from Milwaukee to Phoenix at this year’s deadline:
Brandon Knight’s ship is about to come in.
Knight, whom the Milwaukee Bucks traded to the Phoenix Suns in February in a multiple-team deal, appears on the brink of signing a lucrative long-term contract to remain with the Suns.
I’ve been told by an NBA official that Knight, who’ll become a restricted free agent on July 1, will sign a five-year, $70 million contract with the Suns.
Knight, who is 23, was enjoying an All-Star caliber season – 17.8 points and 5.4 assists — before the Bucks surprisingly sent him to the Suns.
He then played 11 games for the Suns, averaging 13.4 and 4.5 assists. After suffering an ankle injury March 9, Knight missed 16 of the Suns’ final 17 games. He underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in April.
DEANDRE JORDAN EXPLORING OPTIONS
Sam Amick of USA Today reports on the Clippers’ star center, who might be the best player after Aldridge to truly hit the open market, if that’s what this is:
The 26-year-old free agent center who spent his first seven seasons with the Clippers is clearly giving serious thought to changing jerseys, as three people with knowledge of his situation said he is expected to meet with at least four teams — the Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks — in the first few days of free agency. The meetings are expected to take place in the Los Angeles office where Jordan’s representatives, Dan Fegan and Happy Walters of Relativity Sports, are based. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the process.
The Milwaukee Bucks have interest in Jordan, but a person with knowledge of their situation deemed the notion of landing Jordan “a long shot” and said it was unlikely they would meet with him. The Mavericks are expected to meet with Jordan on Wednesday, while the Knicks and Clippers are expected to meet with Jordan on Thursday. The timing of the Lakers meeting is unclear.
DRAYMOND GREEN ‘WANTS TO ENJOY’ FREE AGENCY
Draymond Green said that during an all-day NBA championship celebration given in his honor in Saginaw, Mich., on Saturday, there were “a lot of people talking” to him about signing with the Detroit Pistons. The restricted free agent also noticed, however, that his Golden State Warriors have created a “huge fan base” in his hometown, too, with many of his fans wearing their gear.
Despite the expected interest from Golden State and Detroit, Green told Yahoo Sports he would do his due diligence with all suitors when free agency arrives Wednesday. The Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets are also expected to be among the teams interested in Green, a source said. The 2015 first all-NBA defensive team selection said he is open to face-to-face team visits with any serious free-agent opportunity, too.
“The one thing I’ve been taught is to go into this thing with no expectations,” Green told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview on Sunday. “When you do, that’s when it gets frustrating. That’s when it gets stressful. I just want to have fun and enjoy this process.
“So I’m not going in there with no expectations for this or expectations for that. That would take away the enjoyment. And that’s what I want, I want to enjoy this.”
TIMBERWOLVES UNLIKELY TO MAKE MAJOR SPLASH
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
The NBA’s free-agency period begins Tuesday night, but don’t expect Saunders to go out hunting with checkbook in hand.
For starters, the Wolves are in no position to be big spenders, beyond two internal moves: Signing 39-year-old free agent Kevin Garnett to a new contract and signing European prospect Nemanja Bjelica, drafted by predecessor David Kahn in the second round five years ago.
Just as important, Saunders likes the results of draft night Thursday: The Wolves selected Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick and then nabbed hometown hero Tyus Jones in a secondary move that possibly overshadowed the highest draft selection in franchise history.
“I’m actually, right now at this point, pretty comfortable,” he said.
Pretty comfortable and pretty giddy after Thursday’s maneuverings left his team with what he calls clearly the draft’s best player and another pure point guard whom Saunders believes resolves the need for a dependable backup to starter Ricky Rubio.
COULD LIN RETURN TO THE KNICKS?
There have been rumblings from league sources that the Knicks may pursue free agent Jeremy Lin this summer. No word what they would offer.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 29, 2015
No, I’m not going to talk about Linsanity Part Two, but Lin was clearly not any sort of fit in Byron Scott’s system last season. He may not be a perfect fit in the triangle either, but the Knicks aren’t going anywhere next season, so might as well go nowhere with a guy who, for all his flaws, can be pretty fun to watch, right?