The Blazers are set up to undergo a significant overhaul of the roster, after a disappointing season that ended with a first round loss in the playoffs to the Grizzlies in what was a short five-game series.
Nicolas Batum has been traded, and LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to be gone very soon in free agency — and that’s only the beginning.
But the team is locking up Damian Lillard for the foreseeable future.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
ESPN sources say Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard are nearing agreement on a five-year max extension with in excess of $120 million
This is a wise move by the Blazers, and Lillard is absolutely worthy of the investment. But it’s worth noting that if Lillard was willing to accept the extension at this time, then the team really had no other choice.
There’s a strong chance that all four members of the lineup that started the bulk of the games in Portland last season alongside Lillard won’t be back. In addition to Aldridge and Batum, Robin Lopez and Wes Matthews are both unrestricted free agents who could command significant interest from other teams. Same goes for Arron Afflalo, who was a late-season pickup and started 19 games.
You’re looking at a roster right now that features Noah Vonleh, C.J. McCollum, Mason Plumlee, and not much else. Signing Lillard for the maximum number of years allowed ensures at least one star is in place, but it may be a while before we see others join him in what’s looking more and more like a rebuilding situation.
DeAndre Jordan is an unrestricted free agent, and while he’s always been expected to meet with other teams, it’s been believed that the Clippers, armed with an extra year and an additional $27 million that only they can offer, remained the frontrunners to re-sign him.
But with free agency set to kick off at midnight Eastern on Wednesday, it’s now being reported that L.A. has no better than a 50-50 chance of retaining Jordan’s services.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:
Free agent DeAndre Jordan is likely looking to sign a four-year deal that allows him to opt out after three seasons, which would nullify the Los Angeles Clippers’ advantage in keeping the center, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.
The Clippers could offer Jordan a deal that includes a fifth year worth $27 million. …
Sources had told ESPN.com earlier this week that the Mavericks are considered the likeliest team to persuade Jordan to leave the Clippers, and a source close to the situation told ESPN on Tuesday that it’s “50/50” between the two teams.
Also included in this report is the idea that Jordan is tired of being a third wheel behind Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. If that is a factor, then going to Dallas, the Lakers or the Knicks would all be better options.
But the biggest part of this may be the fact that Jordan is reportedly seeking to sign a shorter deal now, to once again hit free agency and then sign another long-term contract to maximize his earning potential under the increased salary cap.
That negates the inherent advantage the Clippers had in re-signing him to a five-year max, but it sounds as though other issues — like wanting to be recognized as a team’s primary star, or perhaps just wanting to be in a more pleasant situation — may take priority in his decision-making process.
The Cavaliers have a lot going on with their roster this summer. While most of the maneuvering will be focused on re-signing LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, there are deals of some of the team’s role players that will similarly need to be addressed.
J.R. Smith declined his player option to become an unrestricted free agent, and it’s possible he could be back under the right set of circumstances.
Things are perhaps less certain with Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova because of their restricted status, which may lead them to seek out offer sheets worth more money than Cleveland is willing to commit. In Shumpert’s case, he already has a short list of teams that have expressed interest.
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
The Cavaliers can obviously match any offer Shumpert may receive, but it’s worth wondering how high they’ll go. Cap space will be limited once Thompson gets paid, and while Shumpert is an above average defender, he was part of a group that couldn’t buy a bucket during the Finals, shooting just 11-of-43 from the field in the six-game series.
Dwyane Wade is viewed by many as having declined in recent seasons, primarily due to a combination of age and injury.
But he’s still capable of performing at a very high level, if not necessarily for an entire 82-game season.
Wade was the Eastern Conference’s third leading scorer last year, behind only Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. If the Heat don’t meet his contract demands, he could become a key contributor on a contending team if he chooses to leave in free agency. But there may not be many clubs that would be willing to take that risk at the price he would command.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:
League execs telling me there is not a robust market for DWade because of his age (33) and injury problems.
This may be true, but it only takes one team to step up with a contract offer that would make Miami nervous.
Teams like the Knicks and the Lakers immediately come to mind, because their large markets demand star power to sell those high-priced seats. It’s the reason New York gave Carmelo Anthony a max contract, and it’s the reason L.A. overpaid Kobe Bryant on the final two years of his deal.
Wade returning to the Heat remains the likeliest outcome of his journey into free agency. And even if there aren’t many teams that come calling, there will almost certainly be one or two that are willing to have that conversation.
The Knicks would undoubtedly like to begin their development of Kristaps Porzingis as soon as possible, and that would mean having him ready to go for Summer League in Las Vegas.
But after going through multiple workouts for scouts and team executives during the pre-draft process, a hip injury may prevent him from playing for the team as expected.
From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
Janis Porzingis also said in Monday’s interview that his brother has been dealing with a hip injury that has prohibited him from working out in recent days. Kristaps Porzingis’ workout with the Knicks on June 22 was cut short because of the hip ailment, which Janis described as “tightness.”
Janis Porzingis said his brother might have experienced tightness because of the strenuous workouts he had been through to prepare for his workout in Las Vegas on June 12, which was in front of an audience comprising dozens of NBA executives. He projected that his younger brother could be back working out regularly in a few days.
The elder Porzingis added, though, that it is unclear whether Kristaps will be available for the beginning of summer league play, which starts July 11.
It seems fairly random that the brother of a player would do a radio interview like this, and while it may indeed be unclear at this point whether or not Porzingis will be available for the beginning of New York’s Summer League schedule on July 11, it’s probably too early for Knicks fans to begin worrying about this in any real capacity.