LaMarcus Aldridge remains the biggest name on the free agent market who still has yet to choose his destination.
It appears to be a two-team race between the Lakers and the Spurs, with Los Angeles reportedly being granted a second chance to convince Aldridge that the Lakers may potentially be the best choice. But the Suns, too, seem to believe they have an outside chance of luring Aldridge to play in the desert.
The option of returning to Portland seems to be out of the question. But one of Aldridge’s teammates plans to make a last-ditch plea to him to try to keep the Blazers together, at least in terms of the team’s star players.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
There’s yet another wrinkle, too, as the agent for Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, Aaron Goodwin, told USA TODAY Sports that his client is planning an impromptu visit to Los Angeles to try and convince his former teammate to stay.
Lillard, who finalized a five-year extension worth between $125 and $129 million on Thursday, just returned from a promotional trip in Paris. The relationship between those two players has been a focal point of Aldridge’s possible departure from Portland, but Lillard is determined to send a clear message that theirs is a powerful pairing that should not come to an end.
This is an underrated aspect of free agent recruiting. Aldridge obviously has a certain comfort level in Portland, and if Lillard can convince him that he will acquiesce to a certain point in order for Aldridge to still be perhaps the more prominent piece, then that, along with the money the Blazers have to offer (more than anyone else) could be enough to force him to at least take a long hard look at remaining with the Blazers.
Kevin Love, via The Players’ Tribune:
I’m going back to Cleveland.
After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that’s when it really struck me. Sitting on the sidelines, I never wanted to play in a game more than that one. I had dreamed of playing in the NBA Finals and I just wanted to help my guys win. I couldn’t have been prouder of them as they poured their blood, sweat and tears onto the court.
Yeah, of course I’ve heard the free agency rumors. But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me. We’re all on the same page and we’re all in. We have unfinished business and now it’s time to get back to work.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
Kevin Love will accept a five-year, $110 million contract extension with the Cavs according to sources
Love was always likely to return to the Cavaliers, at least for next season. We saw Cleveland get within two wins of a title with both Love and Kyrie Irving sidelined due to injury, and with the Cavaliers offering Love the maximum amount of money possible, the decision to return became extremely easy one for him to make.
It was possible Love could have taken the type of deal most of us expect to see go to LeBron James — a one-year max contract, with a player option for a second season. That would have allowed him to take advantage of the influx of money that will be available when the salary cap spikes in advance of the 2016-17 season, but as we’ve seen with the many deals going down on free agency’s first day, players aren’t leaving any money on the table, and are accepting four- and five-year contracts for as much money as possible.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Jimmy Butler is finalizing a five-year, $95 million maximum contract to re-sign with the Chicago Bulls, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Butler’s deal will include a player option after the fourth year of the deal, sources told Yahoo.
Teams pursuing Butler with offer sheet proposals have conceded and moved on, league sources said.
This was always the most likely scenario.
Jimmy Butler emerged to become the Bulls’ best player last season. He was already an above average defender, but he made sizable jumps in his contributions to the offensive end of the floor, and finished the year with averages of 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 38.7 minutes per contest.
Butler was recognized for his efforts by making the All-Star team, winning the league’s Most Improved Player award, and being named to the league’s All-Defensive second team. He was a restricted free agent, and the Bulls could have matched any offer he may have received to play somewhere else. But it never came to that point, and with Chicago knowing all along it was never going to let him get away, the team did the smart thing by coming strong with a max contract offer on free agency’s very first day.
The Knicks are expected to be active players in free agency, which officially got going at midnight Eastern time on Wednesday.
New York is getting a formal sit-down with all the big names, and the first one on their list remains the most likely of targets to end up playing in a Knicks uniform next season.
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
A Knicks contingent of Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills, coach Derek Fisher and vice president of operations Jamie Matthews descended upon Washington D.C. at midnight Wednesday to meet with Greg Monroe at superagent David Falk’s offices, then was to fly to Los Angeles to meet with Clippers defensive center DeAndre Jordan in the afternoon in making their first bids for a free-agent splash.
Jackson’s crew will then sit down in L.A. with Portland All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge Thursday — the Knicks being the last of seven teams he will greet. Falk, who is close to Jackson, holds all of his free-agent meetings in Washington. Monroe, the former Georgetown star, is considered a favorite to choose the Knicks.
The Knicks, much like the Lakers, can’t afford to hand out two max-level contracts this summer.
Monroe has always been linked to New York, while Jordan and Aldridge remain long shots. But the Knicks are in the largest of markets, and armed with significant cap space for the first time in years, are at the very least getting everyone to listen.
The Hawks won 60 games during the regular season, and ended their most successful season in franchise history with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
But all of that wasn’t enough to bring the team back as is for next season.
Paul Millsap is an unrestricted free agent, and is flirting with the Orlando Magic. That may be part of the reason Atlanta traded for Tiago Splitter, but it’s likely unrelated to the team allowing DeMarre Carroll to end up somewhere else.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Hawks lose DeMarre Carroll to the Toronto Raptors, I’m told, on a four-year, $60-Million deal. DeMarre himself announced via Twitter.
Carroll was the best player for Atlanta on both ends of the floor during the playoffs, and will be a welcome upgrade to a Raptors defense that ranked 23rd in the league in efficiency.
The success of the Hawks last season was seen by a segment of observers as fool’s gold. They won 40 of their first 48 games before cruising to a 20-14 regular season finish, and didn’t look great in the postseason, especially when dropping two games to a sub-.500 Nets team in the first round.
Injuries played a part in their demise, but there was also a sense that teams caught up with them after the hot start, and that the lack of a true superstar could only take them so far. By going in a very different direction in terms of the roster decisions this summer, it’s clear those inside the Hawks organization were feeling the same way.