ProBasketballTalk's top 25 free agents tracker

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Free agency is almost over. LeBron is going to the Heat. Most of the top 25 are set, and the ones that aren’t will be soon.

So here is a little wrap up, with a few loose ends out there. What follows is a list of the top 25 free agents on the market (by our estimation), each with a little note about where they stand right now. Bookmark this post, because we will be updating it with the latest information you need, distilled and neatly compiled in one place. Why? Because we care about you and your time. Plus we like lists. They’re fun.

Last updated 8:30 am Eastern
1. LeBron James (Going to Miami): Miami is going to be a force in the East. You would guess that with the three-man super team of LeBron/Wade/Bosh. But it’s more than that.

The Cavaliers and Heat agreed to a sign-and-trade that sends picks and a massive $15 million trade exception to Cleveland for LeBron. However, LeBron did not sign the max deal — he took less. He took the six years but for less money. We don’t know how much yet. Wade and Bosh did the same. This will allow the Heat to put some talent around them, such as Mike Miller, and maybe long-time Heat mainstay Udonis Haslem.

2. Dwyane Wade (going to stay in Miami): He is staying home — and he is bringing his friends Chris and LeBron with him. Wade confirmed in an ESPN interview that he will sign a deal in Miami. He signed a six-year deal, but not for the maximum amount of money. We don’t know how much the deal is worth, but we know LeBron and Bosh did the same. They left money on the table so the Heat could put players around them.

3. Chris Bosh (going to Miami): He’s going to the Heat, to team up with Wade and LeBron to form the core of a powerhouse team. He was part of a sign-and-trade that sent picks to Toronto as well as giving the Raptors a huge trade exception (near $15 million, most likely). We don’t know what the contract for yet, but we know Bosh (and Wade and LeBron) left millions on the table so the Heat could add talent around them. 

4. Amare Stoudemire (Agreed to terms with New York): The Knicks have their first big signing of the summer — Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks agreed to terms Monday. It is a five year, $100 million deal. He tried hard to recruit LeBron, but that appears to have failed. Still, the Knicks get one of the best power forwards in the game, a guy who may have been the best player in the league after the All-Star Game last year. But they also get a guy who has had serious work on his knees in the past and won’t be getting fed by Steve Nash anymore.

5. Joe Johnson (Agreed to terms with Atlanta): Finally. After flirting one more time with the Knicks, he agreed to Atlanta’s max-deal offer of six years, $119 million. This is a contract the Hawks will regret come 2015 (and he’s not a real max deal player now) but both sides got what they wanted out of this.

6. Carlos Boozer (Agreed to terms with Chicago): He has agreed to a five year, $75 million deal with the Bulls. This is a great signing by Chicago. First, it puts them right in the mix for LeBron James, although he still seems set on Miami. But even if they don’t get LeBron, they have the money to add a top shooter like JJ Redick. A starting five of Rose/Redick/Deng/Boozer/Noah with Taj Gibson first off the bench is near the top of the East.

7. Rudy Gay (Agreed to terms with Memphis): Gay has accepted a five-year, $81.6 million offer from the Memphis Grizzlies. That may be overpaying him, but we said before free agency that someone was going to overpay for him. Might as well be Memphis. Now we’ll see if he wants to live up to the contract, or his focus gets worse because he’s comfortable. 

8. Dirk Nowitizki (Agreed to terms with Dallas): It was just a matter of time. Nowitzki agreed to a four year, $80 million deal with the Mavericks. He got a big deal that extends into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Mavericks got a little payroll flexibility because he took less money (a max deal would have been $96 million). Smiles everyone, smiles, smiles.

9. Paul Pierce (Agreed to terms with Boston): After tweaking the deal for several days, both sides finally agreed on Saturday night to a four-year, $61 million deal, with the fourth year only partially guaranteed (so they can buy him out). This deal would save the Celtics about $12 million next season when you factor in the luxury tax. This deal also means we will see the same old Celtics for one more year.

10. David Lee (agreed to terms with Golden State): Golden State has pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Knicks that will send Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike to the Knicks for Lee. This could be a great landing spot for Lee — depending on who the owner is after the team is sold this summer. And who that owner brings in as GM. And who the GM brings in as coach.

11. John Salmons (Agreed to terms with Bucks): He has verbally agreed to a five-year, $39 million deal to stay in Milwaukee. He can’t sign it to July 8, like all free agents, and with Joe Johnson now a Hawk a couple teams may call and try to offer him more. He said he is not taking those calls.

12. Ray Allen (Agrees to terms with Boston): It’s official, the Celtics are going to ride the old timers for a little longer. Ray Allen has agreed to a two-year deal with Boston to reunite with Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers for one more run at a title. It is two years, at $10 million a year, with a player option the second year. Watch Doc Rivers rest all his key guys a lot in the regular season — and be willing to lose a few games to do so — in order to save them for one more playoff run. 

13. Udonis Haslem (not signed): How bad does he want to return to the Heat? Miami has been talking contract with him, but what they have left to offer is like $4 million a year or less. The Dallas Mavericks have talked to him about a deal for the full mid-level exception — three years at $5.8 million per year. What would you do? Could he leave like six million on the table?

14. JJ Redick (Offer from Chicago): The Chicago Bulls have made a three year, $20 million offer to Redick, which would be a fantastic pickup for Chicago. The question now is will Orlando match. That is a fair price for Redick, but will Orlando pay that for him to back up Vince Carter?

15. Brendan Haywood (Agreed to terms with Dallas): The Dallas Mavericks have made it a priority to bring him back — and they did. Six year deal worth $55 million dollars. He’s a solid big man who can score, rebound and defend, which makes him a great pairing with Dirk Nowitzki.

16. Luis Scola (restricted, not signed): About to get an offer from the Charlotte Bobcats. The New Jersey Nets are talking to him and may make an offer. The Rockets can match any offer, but they also are very willing to use him as part of any sign-and-trade.

17. Tyrus Thomas (Signed offer with Charlotte): The Bobcats and Thomas have agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal to keep him a Bobcat. Larry Brown has always been high on Thomas, now we’ll see if he can get Thomas to live up to his tremendous potential.

18. Shaquille O’Neal (not signed): Miami to join the big three has come up as a rumor, and Miami is confident they can get him. Not because they can offer more money, they can only offer about $4 million a year less than what Atlanta is rumored to have offered (two years at the mid-level exception of $5.8). But Miami knows Shaq likes to be in the spotlight, in the middle of the circus. Miami will be the circus next year.

19. Brad Miller (not signed): Boston has shown some aggressive interest in him and have started negotiations for him to take over the Sheed role. Things we can’t wait to see: KG’s reaction to Miller’s defensive rotations. Houston has had a sit-down with him as
well. He also has drawn int
erest from the Nuggets and Cavaliers.

20. Matt Barnes (not signed): He has been contacted by Miami, Cleveland, Washington and Dallas in recent days. Detroit has reached out to him, likely as a replacement if they trade Tayshaun Prince. Barnes says he wants to stay in Orlando, and they say they want to keep him. But they want to get him for the bi-annual exception of $1.92 million, and others may offer more.

21. Luke Ridnour (not signed): He has had serious talks with Minnesota, although they are overloaded at the point in everyone’s eyes except David Kahn (he loves him some point guards, can’t have enough). Minnesota is trying to trade Ramon Sessions to make room for Ridnour. Which strikes me as a lot of work just to get a backup for Brandon Jennings.

22. Mike Miller (Going to Miami): He has struck a deal with the Miami Heat to be the designated stretch-the-floor shooter for LeBron, Wade and Bosh. He likely will make about $5 million a year or so, but the financial details are still being finalized. Not a bad spot to land.

23. Steve Blake (signed with Lakers): Blake — a near perfect fit for the triangle offense — has agreed to a four year, $16 million deal with the Lakers. The two-time defending NBA champions just got better. And they got their coach back. Maybe it doesn’t matter where LeBron goes. 

24. Ronnie Brewer (not signed): Utah is looking at bringing him in, as are the Chicago Bulls. He will not be returning to Memphis after they signed Tony Allen.

25. Anthony Morrow (Offer from New Jersey): New Jersey has offered a three-year, $12 million contract to Morrow. Rumor is the Warriors will not match. Which is just idiocy. Morrow would be a good fit with the young and improving Jersey team.

Jrue Holiday hits game winner, Anthony Davis has 45, Pelicans beat Heat in OT, 124-123

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Miami Heat 124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade hit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami’s third straight loss.

Davis, who has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game during New Orleans’ winning streak – and 42 or more three times – raised both arms in triumph as he looked up at the jubilant crowd, and then exchanged high fives with fans along the court.

Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks. Ian Clark scored a season-high 21 points and Nikola Mirotic capped his 10-point, nine-rebound performance with a crucial 3 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in overtime when he hacked Davis on a put-back attempt. Davis hit both free throws to tie it at 117, and then gave New Orleans a brief lead with his fifth alley-oop dunk of the game on a fast-break lob from Holiday with 1:10 to go. Wade had 16 points, while Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 15 points.

Neither team was able to build a double-digit lead during game which riveted a boisterous crowd with its fast pace and array of highlights on both ends of the floor. There were 13 ties and nine lead changes.

New Orleans scored 37 fast-break points. Davis threw down seven dunks. He converted one alley-oop while being fouled and also turned a steal into a fast-break layup as he was fouled. And the All-Star wasn’t the only one blocking shots for New Orleans. Emeka Okafor, now in his second 10-day contract after being out of the league for four-plus seasons, had five blocks.

After trailing much of the second half, the Pelicans appeared to be seizing control with a 10-0 run during which Holiday scored eight points, giving New Orleans a 104-99 lead with 2:51 to go.

But the Heat rallied to tie it at 106 on Wade’s free throws.

Davis hit a jumper with 23 seconds left and Wade missed on the other end, but a rebound contested by several players fell to Dragic in the paint, and he hit an uncontested layup to tie it again.

The Pelicans had 14 seconds to set up a winning shot, but Davis’ drive was cut off along the baseline and his awkward layup attempted missed and the game went to overtime after Miami was unable to get a shot from an inbounds play with .8 seconds left.

 

Jimmy Butler leaves game with apparently serious right knee injury

Associated Press
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The Basketball Gods have not been appeased, and apparently have dealt the NBA another serious injury to a star player.

Jimmy Butler — Minnesota’s leader, an All-Star, and a guy having a fringe of the MVP ballot NBA season — went down grabbing his knee on this play against the Rockets Friday night.

Butler reportedly said “it’s torn” while being helped off the court.

After the game, Tom Thibodeau said it was a right knee injury that would be re-evaluated with an MRI tomorrow.

This is a non-contact injury that has the appearance of an ACL tear (hope that is not the case). Butler had ripped an offensive rebound away from Nene and was making a move to go back up when he went to the ground grabbing his knee.

Butler leads the NBA in minutes played per game. He was selected an All-Star but chose to sit out that game because he said he needed rest for the rest of the season. His coach, Tom Thibodeau, has a reputation for running players into exhaustion with heavy use (ask Joakim Noah) and does not subscribe to the kind of rest we see in Golden State, San Antonio, and other elite programs trying to keep players fresh.

This is troubling for a Timberwolves team looking to end an 11-year playoff drought — Minnesota is -8.3 points per 100 possessions when Butler is not on the court this season. While tied for the three seed going into Friday night, Minnesota is just four games from falling out of the playoffs in a competitive West.

Jimmy Butler to Lou Williams on All-Star snub: put up $100K for 1-on-1 game

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Jimmy Butler earned his spot on the All-Star team — he’s had an All-NBA, bottom of the MVP ballot level season. He deserved the trip to Los Angeles.

But when he got there, Butler didn’t play in the All-Star Game itself, saying he needed to rest. That frustrated a few All-Star snubs, and Lou Williams called him out on it.

Butler fired back before the Timberwolves took on the Houston Rockets.

“My thing is this, to Lou or anyone else who thinks they’re an All-Star, with all due respect, LeBron and them got $100,000 for winning, so if you got $100k to put up, you guard me I guard you, I’ gonna show you why. All this talk, put $100,000 up and I’ll show you why and where I’m at.” (That may have been paraphrased)

Butler earned his spot, he deserved to be there. He can do as he sees fit.

But if you’re not going to roll out there for even five minutes (LaMarcus Aldridge played four and nobody is saying anything to him), then give the spot up to someone else. You don’t need the $100K that badly.

Kevin Durant no fan of one-and-done, says he would have come straight to NBA

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With the money funneled to future NBA players through agents in the spotlight thanks to a FBI investigation (one that doesn’t even get into the money from boosters and shoe companies), the one-and-done rule the NBA has for players sending them to college for a semester of cakewalk classes one year has come back in the spotlight.

The league and players’ union are discussing changing the rule — with some input from the NCAA. If they want Kevin Durant‘s advice, scrap the whole thing — he would have come straight to the NBA if he could have.

“You want these players to go out there and play on the biggest stage. The Final Four is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, in sports, and they don’t get a dime for it. I don’t think it’s right

“If they want to come out of high school, it should be on them. You know what I mean? You can’t control everything. So if they feel as though they’re ready, that’s on them. They want to make a decision on their life, that’s on them. If they don’t get drafted, it’s on them. You can try to control it, but you’re still not really doing anything.”

Would Durant have come out from high school rather than spend a season at Texas?

“Yeah, probably. I needed the money.”

The NBA is discussing changes, and they want to see the recommendations from Condoleezza Rice’s NCAA commission. But the league’s owners are not all on the same page.

“In terms of the NBA, we’re conflicted, to be honest…” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said All-Star weekend. “And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA.

“On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a Development League and getting them minutes on the court there? And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old.”

There seems to be some momentum toward a “baseball rule” compromise — players can come to the NBA straight out of high school, but if they go to college they have to stay for at least two years. Unlike the last time high schoolers were rushing into the NBA, most teams are far better prepared to develop young players and be patient with them. There will still be busts — there are even with guys who spent years in college — but teams are in better positions to make it work.

The other thing I would want to see: If a player signs with an agent out of high school, does not get drafted, give him the chance to go to college still. Some young men are going to get terrible advice (from family, AAU coaches, friends, a whole lot of people) and they deserve a chance to choose a better path.