Carmelo Anthony: He visited with the Bulls in Chicago. Included in the sales meeting were the Bulls most important players: Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose. The subliminal message of we need you hit Carmelo straight in the face as he viewed a billboard of himself- his #7- in a Bulls jersey. There was the Bulls marquee of Carmelo with the Larry O’Brien trophy which was a little cheesy but okay, you do what you got to do. The Bulls have a new practice facility that Carmelo toured while the Bulls brass and players pitched him on the concept of living and working in downtown Chicago, an urban feel similar to his New York experience. Later, the meetings moved to Carmelo’s hotel where Scottie Pippen, among others, continued their hard sell of Carmelo in Chicago.
Lebron James: All quiet on the Miami front. Still not taking meetings or saying much of anything. If “The Decision” was a disaster, four years later Lebron has learned his lesson. Less is more. Even when it comes to contracts. He is vying for a 2 year deal at max dollars and not a 5 year deal. Even he is aware Durant is on the market in 2016.
Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh: Reports surfaced that Dwayne Wade was willing to take a 40% pay cut and accept a salary of $12 million dollars a year if it was packaged in a 5 year deal. Chris Bosh would follow the same selfless path and accept $11 million with five years. But Henry Thomas, the agent for both Wade and Bosh, in a conversation with David Aldridge, “vehemently” denied that was the case, indicating his clients would never devalue their worth at such a low price.
Kyle Lowry: He met with the Raptors who were expected to offer him a deal within the $12-$14 million dollar range. He would be the face of the Toronto Raptors. Consider: no one stays in Toronto, everyone leaves and so Lowry, if he accepted the offer, would be a folk hero to all Canadians east of Detroit, north of Cleveland. Lowry would own the city. But his former team, the Houston Rockets, for whom Lowry burned the house down so a trade was inevitable, came hunting too. Both sides (Houston and Lowry) have regrets on how it all ended. Darryl Morey and Kevin McHale made their best sales pitch to the Raptors point guard who they know very well. More than likely there were a lot of apologies on both sides. But this is true. Last year Lowry averaged 18 points and 7 assists which he never did when he was in Houston. How hard could it be selling him on playing with Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons and James Harden? The Lakers and Heat are both interested in Lowry as well and as of last night he is mulling over the Raptors offer before deciding to interview with other teams.
Kyrie Irving: The Cavaliers point guard signed a max extension- 5 years, $90 million. He then tweeted: I’m here for the long haul Cleveland!!! and I’m ecstatic!! Super excited and blessed to be part of something special#ClevelandKID. But will it be enough to interest Lebron James?
Jodie Meeks: This was the first shocker of free agency, the first over pay. It’s not that Jodie Meeks wasn’t going to get a raise; he played for cheap last year and was the Lakers best player. But Jodie is a three point shooter who lacks length or height as a shooting guard and though he tries hard he is overmatched defensively. Offensively, he is a system player which fits in well with Stan Van Gundy who likes shooters on the perimeter, similar to Mike D’antoni. The shock of it all was the amount of money Detroit willingly gave him, $6 million a year. Last year was a career year for Jodie. Is he worth 6 million?
Shaun Livingston: The fact that Shaun is playing at all after that gruesome knee injury that took him away from basketball is itself a miracle and a testament to Shaun’s will and work ethic. Jason Kidd is taking a beating right now but when he put Shaun in the starting lineup last season the Brooklyn Nets turned their season around. The departure of Jason Kidd and the attractiveness of playing for a playoff team, even if it is in the Group of Death Western Conference, has led Shaun to the Warriors as a backup to Steph Curry. The 3 year, $16 million, full mid-level exception didn’t hurt either. The Warriors are desperate for a point guard when Steph Curry goes out the game. They don’t have any facilitators. Enter Shaun Livingston, a 6-7 point guard with length and a nice jumper who plays every game like it is his last. Basketball was taken away from him; he had to love it to want to come back.
Marcin Gortat: The “Polish Hammer” who was responsible for the Wizards making it into the playoffs and getting to the second round spurned the Miami Heat when he re-signed with Washington, accepting a 5 year, $60 million dollar deal. The deal is fully guaranteed with no opt-outs.
Lance Stephenson: The Pacers offered him $44 million for 5 years but Lance wants more, possible in the $9-$10 million dollar range. He is going to survey his options and meet with other teams like Chicago, the Lakers and New Orleans. He may fall into Jodie Meeks territory and get overpaid because of the market.
Paddy Mills: The backup to Tony Parker was one of the reasons the Spurs were able to maintain their high level of play. When Parker went down with a variety of injuries this past season Paddy filled in and had a career year shooting the ball. This allowed Greg Popovich to either not play Parker at all or to reduce his minutes. Furthermore Paddy Mills was an important piece in the Spurs championship run. But he had rotator cuff surgery in Australia and is out 6-8 months. It’s hard to envision any team signing him to a free agent deal for the money he wants other than the Spurs.
Pau Gasol: His fortunes have changed in just a few months. The odd man out in Mike D’antoni’s system, he knows he is coveted by all teams who don’t get Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony. He’s a good fit in Chicago and Dallas and the Lakers are interested as well. Gasol met in person with Mitch Kupchak and he also spoke to Pat Riley on the phone.
Luol Deng: Unbothered by all of this free agent chatter, Deng is still in Europe. He knows nothing will be decided until Carmelo signs. Besides, Deng has informed teams he is not taking a pay cut. He turned down the Bulls $10 million dollar deal so suitors be prepared for a $12-$13 million dollar Luol Deng acquisition.