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.

Thunder star Russell Westbrook scores 45, leads 25-point comeback against Jazz

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The Thunder lost three straight games, fell behind by 25 in the second half at home and looked as if they had no interest in returning to Utah.

Then, Russell Westbrook reminded everyone why he’s a superstar.

Westbrook is a singular force who can take over a game and rally his teammates – not a liability who makes everyone around him worse. His confidence and determination in the face of calamity were invaluable tonight. He kept attacking, and as shots started to fall, he and his teammates massively increased their defensive intensity.

The result: A 107-99 Game 5 win over the Jazz that looked highly improbable 21 game minutes before it ended. But Westbrook (who finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists) singlehandedly outscored Utah in that final stretch.

The Thunder are hardly out of the woods yet. They still trail 3-2 in the series with Game 6 Friday in Utah. Teams with home-court advantage in a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6 win it just 37% of the time. Those teams win the series just 26% of the time.

But thanks to Westbrook, Paul George (34 points) and plain all-around defensive effort, Oklahoma City still has a shot. At minimum, the Thunder won’t send George into unrestricted free agency with four straight losses.

Not that Oklahoma City erased all concerns.

Rudy Gobert devoured the Thunder’s offense in the paint – at least while he could avoid the foul trouble. Utah was +7 in Gobert’s 30 minutes and -8 in the 18 minutes he sat.

The Thunder made most of their comeback with Carmelo Anthony on the bench. They continued to play well once he returned in the fourth quarter, but by then, the Jazz had lost all rhythm.

Utah – led by Jae Crowder‘s 27 points – looks deeper. Anthony was still Oklahoma City’s third-leading scorer with just seven points.

And the Thunder haven’t won in Salt Lake City this series.

But they’ll make another trip there. Considering where this game and series looked midway through the third quarter tonight, that’s a heck of an accomplishment.

Another massive third quarter lifts Rockets past Timberwolves into second round

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We saw this movie just a couple of nights before, but Rockets fans love the ending and would gladly pay to see it 12 more times this postseason.

Much like Game 4, the Rockets were down at the half in Game 5 Wednesday after having played disinterested defense and with cold shooting from their stars (James Harden and Chris Paul combined to go 3-of-16 from the floor). Minnesota was up 59-55 and had hope.

Then the third quarter the Rockets flipped the switch. Again.

Harden had 15 points in the third — matching the Timberwolves as a team. Minnesota started to double Harden and take the ball out of his hands (especially late in the shot clock), but he often moved the rock and it led to open threes — the Rockets were 6-of-10 from three in the quarter. Houston won the third 30-15, not as overwhelming as the 50-point quarter the game before but once again enough to comfortably pull away from Minnesota and cruise in for a 122-104 win.

With that, the Rockets win the series 4-1 and now await the winner of the Utah vs. Oklahoma City series.

In that series, the Rockets will need to play with more consistent focus than they brought against the Timberwolves — they can’t just play a couple of good halves in the next series and expect that to be enough. Unlike Minnesota, those teams in the next round will make Houston pay a steep price for a lack of focus.

Houston got a massive night from Clint Capela, who led the Rockets with 26 points and 15 rebounds, running the rim hard in transition and making plays inside while the rest of the Rockets launched threes over the top.

Harden finished with 24 points and 12 assists, and Eric Gordon had 19 off the bench in the win.

Minnesota had 23 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and 17 from an energized Jeff Teague.

For the Timberwolves, a team with elite young talent, this was a glimpse of what it will take to reach the heights they envision. This was a good step — the franchise’s first trip to the playoffs since 2004 is not to be diminished. It matters. But there are higher levels this team can attain. Defensively they have to be better, offensively they need to feed Towns more and play to their strengths better. It’s a work in progress.

Houston just showed them where they want to be.

Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer agree to part ways

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This was expected.

It was pretty obvious Mike Budenholzer didn’t want to stick around and lose a lot of games with the Atlanta Hawks as they rebuild the next few years, especially after he had been stripped of his GM powers. Budenholzer went well down the road with the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching position before thinking better of it. Since then he has set up a meeting with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy, a job he reportedly wants badly.

At this point there was no need for the Hawks and Budenholzer to continue their sham marriage, so they have agreed to amicably separate, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Hawks.

Budenholzer said this to Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

For Budenholzer, the long-time Spurs assistant and a strong Xs and Os coach, look for him to both push for the Knicks job and be in the running if/when the Milwaukee Bucks job opens up whenever their season ends. In both cases he’s a fit — those are teams that need a culture and system reset, and Budenholzer proved he can bring that to Atlanta (that was a good team before they let Al Horford and Paul Millsap walk for nothing).

With Atlanta, they likely will turn to a top assistant coach who will get a chance to develop young players on that team (and not cost Atlanta as much as an established coach). Stephen Silas of the Hornets is a rumored name, but there are others.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

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LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.