Officially no team can talk to a free agent until July 1. For example, the Bulls/Lakers/Rockets/Heat/etc. may want to talk to Carmelo Anthony, but they can’t make any kind of official contact with him until the calendar flips to July. (There are a myriad of ways to send a message through back channels to a player to let him know you’re interested, but that’s another story.)
With that, there are a lot of rumors right now and a lot of them come from agents who want to make it seem like there is real demand for their clients, driving up the price.
But sometimes the rumors make sense, in a basketball and money way. Like this one about Andray Blatche and the New Orleans Pelicans, via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
The Pelicans have a potentially powerful front line with Anthony Davis and a hopefully healthy Ryan Anderson next season. Last season those two were supposed to be paired with Jason Smith and Greg Stiemsma, but that didn’t work out so well. Smith is a free agent and they could bring him back on an affordable contract, but they would like another quality big in that rotation.
Blatche is a quality big. His style of play would blend well with Davis and Anderson, and with how Monty Williams wants to play. There is a potentially good fit.
Of course, the Nets want him back and there will be other teams trying to get in the mix as well. Which is to say Blatche is going to make more than the $1.4 million he made last season. He has a nice raise coming.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.