When free agency began just six days ago, there were two teams that were believed to be the most likely to end up securing the services of Carmelo Anthony.
New York is where Anthony has played the last three-and-a-half seasons, and can offer him the most money on a five-year deal worth $129 million. Chicago would appear to be his best chance to play for a contender immediately should he choose to leave, but could only offer him a four-year deal for less than the max, and would still need to shed salary to do so.
Now that the meetings have been had and his decision is all that awaits, it’s still being reported as one that Anthony will make between two teams — but the Lakers have overtaken the Bulls as Anthony’s most likely non-Knicks destination.
There was a growing sense circulating through the league Sunday that Anthony is likely to choose between the Knicks and the Lakers, who are the only two teams that can offer him max money without needing to make roster moves first. New York can offer him a five-year deal worth $129 million, while Los Angeles can offer a four-year deal valued at $97 million.
But sources close to the situation told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein said that, as of 6 p.m. Sunday, Anthony had not formally notified any of his suitors that they are out of contention. The 30-year-old had sitdowns this week with Chicago, Houston and Dallas before meetings with both the Lakers and Knicks on Thursday in L.A. Anthony then retreated from the spotlight to take the holiday weekend to make his decision.
The Lakers, with their strong Hollywood ties and their ability to offer the max deal that the Bulls cannot have apparently jumped to the top of Anthony’s list.
None of that solves the problem of playing for a title contender anytime soon, but should Kobe Bryant be able to return to somewhere close to his pre-injury form, and should Anthony’s potential arrival cause the team to have an easier time re-signing Pau Gasol, that’s not an entirely bad place to start.
Anthony could make his decision as early as Monday, which would set off plenty of action in free agency by the teams who missed out on one of the two biggest names available this summer.
Marc Gasol thinks his brother Pau Gasol — who will opt out to become a free agent this summer and bolt Chicago — should join the San Antonio Spurs.
Pau doesn’t think that’s a bad idea.
Speaking with the Spanish sports publication Marca, Gasol said the Spurs would be “an interesting option for me.” (Hat tip Eye on Basketball)
Gasol put up numbers — 16.5 points and 11 rebounds a game — at age 36, he still has great post moves, can still pass, and is still fairly efficient on offense. He was an All-Star for a reason. But he’s also a liability at the defensive end. Where he lands as a free agent should be about fit.
Pau would fit with the Spurs — if he was willing to come off the bench. Which is probably what should have happened in Chicago (with Joakim Noah starting for defensive reasons). As a first big off the bench Gasol can lift a team up, but if he’s out there 31 minutes or more a night as a starter — as he was in Chicago last season — he’s going to get exposed a lot defensively.
Do the Spurs want him is another question?
Is Gasol willing to accept coming off the bench behind LaMarcus Aldridge? Or does he need to be a starter? And will he take less money to contend? Gasol has some questions to answer.
So far, the Golden State Warriors have looked just fine — thank you very much — without one Stephen Curry in the lineup. And as Dan Feldman and I discussed in the latest PBT podcast, they likely will be able to handle the Portland Trail Blazers without him as well. They don’t need to rush him back.
But Curry is rushing himself back and wants to beat the two-week timeline for his strained MCL that the doctors put out there, reports Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.
Coach Steve Kerr said Curry looked good in treatment but did not do any work on the court.
Athletes are the worst people to ask about their own recovery timelines; they don’t get to top levels of their sport without supreme confidence and a certain feeling of invulnerability. They are always sure they can bounce back faster than the doctors say — sometimes that’s true, but not often.
So long as the Warriors are not pressured by Portland (sorry Clipper fans, you’re not advancing without CP3 and Griffin), they are under no pressure to rush him back. That second round series is expected to start Sunday in the Bay Area, if the Warriors can hold serve through the first two games then they can keep Curry on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, let the knee rest completely, and bring him back on their own terms.
The Warriors will need him back for the Conference Finals and beyond, but more than that this is a Golden State team set up to be a contender for the next four or five years, you don’t want to create a bigger problem for future years pushing too hard for a title this season if he’s not right.
Friday night sees some big Game 6s across the NBA playoffs — Indiana has the best chance of forcing a Game 7 — but everyone is looking ahead to Oklahoma vs. San Antonio in the next round.
That includes Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com, who in this latest podcast discuss that series and the Atlanta and Cleveland series that tips off next week. Also they talk about the Friday night Game 6 matchups, and if Portland could beat Golden State if the Warriors do not get Stephen Curry back.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
The Celtics will chase Kevin Durant this summer.
Will it work?
Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:
Ainge will be aggressive in free agency, team sources told The Vertical, and yes, that means a run at Kevin Durant. The Celtics believe Durant will meet with them this summer, but they know that meeting won’t accomplish much unless there are significant moves leading into it.
The Celtics are optimistic about meeting with Durant. The Warriors are optimistic about signing Durant.
That might just speak to different mindsets within the organizations – why shouldn’t Golden State be confident about everything? – but it also might handicap the odds of Durant’s next team. The Warriors definitely appear more likely than the Celtics.
Boston has plenty going for it: Brad Stevens, a solid young roster, extra draft picks (including the Nets’ first-rounder this year) and cap flexibility. But Durant wants to win now, so those more youthful assets mean only so much. It’s on Danny Ainge to prove he can turn that cap space into another helpful player, deal a Brooklyn pick or two for a veteran. That would become much easier if the Celtics win the lottery.
There’s a lot happening at once. If Durant isn’t coming, Boston might prefer to keep its draft picks and build slowly. Other free agents might not come. But if Durant is on board, that makes trades preferable and other free agents landable.
Of course, Durant should be the top option.
It appears the Celtics at least have their foot in the door.