From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:
At 7 a.m. Phoenix time, the Suns began talking to agents of players. That meant checking in on some of their own guys but the first calls needed to go to the agents of free-agent players to show the Suns’ interest. The Suns will be feeling out the market for a scoring wing player and a backup point guard but there will be no spending that disrupts the salary-cap space they have set up for the summer of 2012. The free agent priority is getting an agreement with Hill, who is still represented by Babby’s former firm with Jim Tanner acting as Hill’s agent.
“Grant is an absolute first order of business and top priority,” Babby said of Hill. “I can’t contemplate him not being here. He represents everything we want the franchise to stand for — on and off the court. He’s our ballast.”
It had been widely speculated that the 39-year old Hill might be willing to take a massive pay cut, take his talents to South Beach, and chase that elusive ring, but Coro lays out a pretty compelling list of reasons why Hill will probably remain in Phoenix for the remainder of his career. If Hill does stay in Phoenix, it’s highly unlikely he’ll get that ring, which is unfortunate, but he’ll be remembered as a great talent who fought through injuries, always played the game the right way, kept playing at a high level well into his late 30s, and was one of the NBA’s all-time class acts.
Hill played in 80 games for Phoenix last season, and averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 30.1 minutes per game, which is incredible for someone Hill’s age with his injury history.
From ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard:
NJ will pursue free agents Nene & Tyson Chandler in hopes of landing 1. Could use either as trade bait to land Howard or players around him.
Seeing as to how center Brook Lopez is one of New Jersey’s core players, this report is a bit baffling. Nene is the best offensive center on the market, and Chandler is the best defensive center in the market, but if the Nets are looking to stockpile assets for a Howard trade, I’m not sure why they’d want their best two trade chips to play the same position.
The argument could be made that Nene is capable of sliding to the 4, but he’s much more effective as a pivot man. Basically, I’m confused here, but after the Nets managed to turn Devin Harris and Derrick Favors in Deron Williams last season, I’m going to give their front office the benefit of the doubt for a little while in all matters not related to Travis Outlaw.
Think back to 1995 when the unstoppable Chicago Bulls with Pippen and Rodman were battling the beasts in East like Penny Hardaway and the Orlando Magic & Western conference teams like the Supersonics lead by Gary Payton and the Houston Rockets with Clyde Drexler. It was to many basketball fans the greatest time in NBA history and in December of 2011 many of the legends from that era will be reunited for an Asia Tour.
Aside from the players above the tour will also feature Larry Johnson, Horace Grant, Vin Baker, Mitch Richmond, Dale Ellis, Kenny Anderson and Cliff Robinson.
If you’re planning on being in Macao on December 18th this year, this may very well be checking out.
More good stuff from Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe:
Jamal Crawford is a confounding player. He has a fairly high-profile, takes the sort of difficult crunch-time jumpers that make highlight reels and just looks the part of a dynamic NBA player. LeBron James and LaMarcus Aldridge have both recruited Crawford, an impending free agent, via Twitter the last few days. He’s a popular guy around the league, is thoughtful and honest, and star players are clamoring to be his teammate…
…Crawford is, by any measure, a borderline inefficient scorer who gets lost too easily on defense — both on and off the ball. And he’s nearly 32 years old. Should all these teams really be chasing him?
As Lowe points out, the NBA’s all-time leader in 4-point plays is a jump shooter who prefers to work in isolation as much or more than the NBA’s best guards and wings, not particularly adept at getting to the basket or a lights-out catch-and-shoot guy, and a borderline liability on defense. And yet he’d be in high demand if there was an actual free agency period happening right now.
It’s certainly tempting to imagine Crawford coming off the bench and providing a scoring jolt to a contender right at the moment they need it most in a playoff series, but it’s equally easy to imagine Crawford making far more money than he deserves and shooting his team out of a key game as his more talented teammates watch with looks of bewilderment on their faces. Crawford isn’t good enough to be a key piece of a team, but he’s done enough to demand a significant price tag in free agency — it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up after an up-and-down 1st decade in the NBA.
Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe recently did a great interview with forward Aaron Afflalo, who is a free agent after four seasons with Detroit and Denver. Here are a few highlights:
SI.com: The Nuggets have had a crazy offseason, with Nene about to be an unrestricted free agent and three different free agents (J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler) all in China. Do you want to stay in Denver?
Afflalo: The way I moved forward at first was that I just planned on returning to Denver. That was just my feel, because my role had grown so much last season from a leadership standpoint. I felt it was almost my team. I felt a sense of responsibility. But obviously as the offseason goes on and changes are made, you have to weigh your options. My gut at the end of the season was that I’d be back in Denver, but you have to keep your options open. And for me, it’s all about winning…
…SI.com: The Bulls could use some two-way punch at shooting guard. Have you thought about how you’d fit there?
Afflalo: Oh yeah, my agent [Sam Goldfeder] brought that up to me before the lockout. He definitely mentioned the Bulls as a dream that would be great for me based on fit.
Afflalo, who is known for his defense and three-point shooting prowess, would seem to be a natural fit for the Bulls, who used a platoon of Keith Bogans, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer at the 2-guard position, but it’s hard to make any solid predictions about free agency before the details of the new CBA get hammered out, assuming it ever does get agreed to. For Afflalo’s thoughts about his ability to create his own shot, how important it is for him to be efficient, and how the Nuggets changed after the Carmelo trade, click through to read the full interview.