Kurt Helin

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If you want proof Chandler Parsons will be “all ears” during free agency, he gave it

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Dallas is going after Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside in free agency. If they strike out with those two, then they say they are willing to talk to Chandler Parsons about coming back. But not at a max salary.

That’s not going to work; Parsons is likely going to get the max ($22 million for him). Yes, he is coming off his lowest-scoring season since his rookie year (13.7 per game), plus he only played in 61 games and sat out the end of the last two seasons due to troubling knee issues. But his versatile game (and the flood of money in the system this summer) has Orlando and other teams targeting Parsons.

Someone close to Parsons told ESPN “he’ll be all ears” listening to other offers.

Parsons confirmed that on Instagram Saturday.

A post shared by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

The Chandler Parsons sweepstakes starts July 1.

(Hat tip Marc Stein ESPN)

Report: Lakers, Wizards will not get meeting with Kevin Durant. Knicks still hoping.

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The Thunder remain the front runners.

The Warriors are next in line. The Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, and Heat will get their chances.

Everyone wants a shot to pitch Kevin Durant, the only franchise-changing free agent on the market this year. Two teams who wanted a chance will miss out: The Lakers and Durant’s hometown Wizards, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Despite years of speculation about Durant possibly signing with his hometown Washington Wizards or the Los Angeles Lakers, a person with knowledge of his situation told USA TODAY Sports that those two teams are not expected to land a meeting with the former MVP. As it stands, it’s the six aforementioned teams coming Durant’s way at a location that has not yet been determined.

The New York Knicks have earned their way onto Durant’s radar, having traded for Derrick Rose recently to create quite the combination with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Yet as of now, it remains to be seen how that particular scenario will be handled. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation.

Good on Durant for being up front with teams and saying who is in and out, not wasting time meeting with teams he would never sign with.

That said, it should worry the Thunder that he has opened the door this much.

Just not to the Wizards and Lakers.

Ever since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, there has been an expectation from some fans in other cities that players want to come home. That is not always the case — most players don’t like the added off-court demands and pressures that come with being a star in their hometown. That always stood in the Warrior’s way, more than just questions about the roster.

The Lakers are a year away from really getting into these conversations. The addition of Brandon Ingram to D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance — with Luke Walton coaching — has potential to grow into the kind of team stars will want to join and take over the top. But that’s going to be in 2017 and 2018, not this summer. This Lakers team still needs to jell, and that will take a little time.

Report: DeMar DeRozan only going to negotiate with Toronto, wants to return

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DeMar DeRozan has made it clear from the start — he loves Toronto. He wants to stay with the Raptors, here is what he said after they were eliminated from the playoffs:

“My mindset has always been Toronto… When we was terrible, I said I’m going to stick through this whole thing and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don’t want to switch up after we win.”

Good to his word, he’s not even going to meet with anyone but Toronto come the start of free agency next Friday, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Source: DeMar DeRozan will focus on getting a deal done to return to the Raptors as free agency opens. No plans to meet with other teams barring the unforeseen development of talks breaking down the Toronto.

While there had been rumors and talking heads pushing his return to his native Los Angeles, DeRozan always has put Toronto first. And the Lakers weren’t going to overspend on him anyway.

DeRozan knows how to get to the rim and averaged 23.5 points a game last season in Toronto, which got him both on the All-Star team and now on the Olympic team for Rio. It also got Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. He, along with fellow Team USA member Kyle Lowry, drive the Raptors offense. Yes, he needs to become more comfortable taking (and hitting) the three ball, but he’s still a guy who puts up points. Toronto needs him.

DeRozan is going to get a max or near max deal from the Raptors and they will figure this out quickly, GM Masai Uriji wants to keep him and will not mess around with the negotiations.

Report: Kyrie Irving accepts invitation to join Team USA, rounds out Rio roster

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This was expected. Kyrie Irving tore up the World Championships two years ago scoring 26 points in the gold medal game and being named tournament MVP. Also, the former Duke Blue Devil is one of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s favorites. USA Basketball wanted him in Rio. The question was, did he want to do it after a deep playoff run where he played his best in the Finals? There was an assumption he would, but so many players had bailed that the question was a legitimate one.

Yes, he’s in, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

While the announcement isn’t official until Monday, here is your USA Basketball team for Rio:

Kyrie Irving
Kyle Lowry
Jimmy Butler
Klay Thompson
DeMar DeRozan
Kevin Durant
Paul George
Draymond Green
Carmelo Anthony
Harrison Barnes
DeMarcus Cousins
DeAndre Jordan

You could form a better team with the guys out due to injury or understandably not wanting to deal with the Zika virus and other challenges in Brazil: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Gordon Hayward, and Bradley Beal.

But that second team will keep Team USA’s 63-game international win streak intact and bring home the Gold again. No question.

Report: Lakers to “aggressively pursue” Hassan Whiteside in free agency

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Hassan Whiteside made $981,348 last season for the Miami Heat.

Next season he is going to make $22 million — the max salary he can get — playing somewhere. Maybe Miami, Pat Riley has said bringing Whiteside and his elite shot blocking plus efficient 14.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game back is the team’s highest priority. But Golden State also is interested in Whiteside. So is Dallas. So is Portland. And that’s just the start of a long line of teams.

You can add the Los Angeles Lakers to the list, reports Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.

With rim protection and perimeter shooting ranking as the Lakers’ foremost areas of concern heading into the open market, sources told ESPN.com that Whiteside has emerged a priority target for L.A.

This is about as surprising as Hamilton winning a wheelbarrow full of Tony Awards.

The Lakers are likely refocusing their free agent targets after it appears they have not been able to get a meeting with Kevin Durant (and even if they do they are long shots to land him).

The Lakers certainly need rim protection inside. They like their young forwards Julius Randle and the just drafted Brandon Ingram, but in Luke Walton’s more Warriorsesque system someone has to protect the paint on defense and that is not those guys strength. Whiteside would do that, he could score a little, and he would fit the young, up-and-coming profile of the Lakers.

Whiteside will have options. While teams (including Miami) would like to get Whiteside for a little less than the max, with so many teams in the mix that seems unlikely. Simple supply and demand. In an NBA trending toward space bigs who are athletic and can protect the rim and cover in space are highly sought after and there are only a few of them. The Lakers want him.

Miami likely keeps Whiteside with a max offer, but as they are in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes they may want to stall a move on Whiteside (the Heat only have early Bird Rights on Whiteside, they need to use cap space to re-sign him, they can’t do that and max out Durant). Maybe that cracks the door open for another team. The Lakers will try to get their foot in that door.