Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six

Report: Wizards “increasingly optimistic” they can retain Paul Pierce

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The Los Angeles Clippers want their shot and believe they have a chance. The Celtics and a handful of other teams would like the chance for a sit down.

But in the end, Paul Pierce may well remain a Washington Wizard.

Pierce has officially opted out and become a free agent, but the Wizards like their chances, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Pierce can still help a team, despite turning 38 next season. He has a crafty, veteran game that ages well — he averaged 11.9 points a game and shot 38.9 percent from three last season. He’s still relatively efficient on offense, but he’s more of a concern on the other end of the court.

The Wizards had success last season, particularly in the playoffs, with Pierce at the four. The Clippers have Blake Griffin at the four and would use Pierce more at the three, which has not been as kind to him in recent seasons. That and the fact he likes John Wall and Bradley Beal plays in the Wizards favor as well. As for the Clippers, that is a different team if DeAndre Jordan chooses to return home to Texas.

Pierce likely isn’t going to make a snap decision, which is fine as the Wizards may feel like time is on their side.

Reports: Warriors, Hornets both interested in Marco Belinelli

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Marco Belinelli was a vintage San Antonio Spurs pick up — a guy with one elite skill, so the Spurs asked him to do basically that and nothing else. Just shoot the rock, Marco. He did that well  — 71 percent of his shots last season came from 16 feet out or farther, and he shot 37.4 percent from three. It was 43 percent from deep the year before that.

However, the Spurs are moving on (they have some cap space to clear out if they are going to chase LaMarcus Aldridge). With a lot of shooters on the market this year, Belinelli may come with a very reasonable deal.

What teams are lined up to try and land Belinelli? One team that loves shooters and one that needs some.

First up, the Golden State Warriors (via Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports).

Golden State loves them some shooters and Warriors GM Bob Myers would be happy to add another guy who has knocked down threes on a big stage.

In the other side, Charlotte needs shooters, and they want some.

Belinelli is not going to go off the board that quickly, teams will be hunting bigger game to open free agency. But when the dust settles you can bet it will be more than these two teams making a call on Belinelli. He will have options.

Report: Lakers working to clear out more cap space to land both LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five
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UPDATE: The amazing Larry Coon ran the numbers in detail over at his CBAFAQ and came to the decision the Lakers could not get both on max contracts, not and keep Kobe (and they are not trading Kobe). Now, maybe you could get one or both to take a slight discount (a couple million) to make this work, but those guys didn’t become free agents this year to take discounts.

The other option is to land, maybe, Aldridge at the max and another top free agent just below that number — someone like Dwyane Wade or Robin Lopez, depending on what direction the Lakers want to go. Either way they are still thinking big.

•••••

These are the Lakers their fan base expects — not just thinking big, they are thinking massive.

The Lakers have the cap space to offer a max contract to someone, and they have meetings set with the biggest names looking to move — LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe, among others.

But why just settle for one? The Lakers are trying to clear out the room to get a couple, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

I have to start here: If the Lakers hadn’t offered Kobe Bryant the largest contract in the NBA — $25 million next season — and gotten him to take a little bit of a discount, this process would be a lot easier. The only guy they can try to move to really help them is Nick Young (and there’s not a great market for volume shooters).

It’s a long shot the Lakers land those two (one of Jordan’s issues is he wants more recognition and a bigger role than he’s had with the Clippers, would that happen here with Kobe Bryant, LaMarcus Aldridge and D’Angelo Russell?). All of the top players are meeting with multiple teams — Jordan and Monroe for a piece to start, Aldridge seven. Those guys will have options. But even if the Lakers strike out completely with all the big names this summer, this is the kind of news they want their fans to see — “look, we’re trying to go big here.”

More than that, the Lakers believe that after a rough couple of years, they are primed to return to the NBA’s elite. Look at what Jeanie Buss — the Buss child with the most power in their complex family control of the team — told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“We’ve got everything that should allow us to be competitive. Now does that mean that it’s that easy just to snap your fingers and win a championship? I know a lot goes into it, and it’s hard to win a championship. Only one team gets to do that every year, but there’s no reason why we can’t be one of those teams that’s talked about and that people look forward to seeing how they’re going to do in the regular season and in the playoffs. And that’s important that every employee, not just our basketball front office, knows that they’re being held to a standard to deliver on their job.”

Even with the restrictions of the new CBA, the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles are a big draw to free agents. Maybe not the draw they were 15 years ago, but they are a draw. The Lakers are in the mix for the best on the board — and they are being understandably greedy and going after as much of that talent as they can get.

It’s the Lakers being the Lakers again.

LeBron James wants Mike Dunleavy on Cavaliers, more likely gets Mo Williams

Charlotte Hornets v Indiana Pacers
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LeBron James is playing a quaint little leverage game with the Cavaliers, where he will not talk about his next contract with them until they take care of his guy Tristan Thompson (they not so coincidentally have the same agent) and make some roster upgrades. What’s quaint is the notion of leverage — as if he is actually going to bolt Cleveland again.

But LeBron is making his voice heard. For example, he would like the Cavaliers to land Bulls sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Except, nobody around the league thinks the Bulls are going to let Dunleavy get away. Unless some team comes in with a ridiculous, over-the-top offer the Bulls are going to pay Dunleavy to stay where he is — and he wants to stay with the Bulls. Just give Fred Hoiberg a chance.

But LeBron might get a new running mate on the wings, reports Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

In case you lost track (and we can’t blame you if you have), Williams started the season in Minnesota and was traded to Charlotte for Gary Neal. Williams is still a solid NBA veteran player, one who averaged 14.2 points and shot 34 percent from three last season.

Williams could provide instant offense on the wing, the kind of depth and scoring the Cavaliers lacked in the Finals. He’s not going to be expensive. It’s a good pickup, one LeBron should be down with.

Even if it’s not Dunleavy.

Report: Greg Monroe to meet with Knicks, Lakers, Bucks, Blazers to start free agency

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons
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This is what Greg Monroe wanted, what he took a big gamble to get. He wanted out of Detroit, where he did not feel wanted in the least. He walked away from an offer in the four-year, $50 million range to play for $5.4 million last season, just to get out of Detroit.

That time has come, free agency is hours from starting and Monroe is a restricted free agent.

While he has been linked to the Knicks since about the minute he turned down that Pistons offer last summer (if not much earlier) the center will meet with four teams, reports Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers are on Monroe’s list on day one of free agency, and there is a possibility he meets with other teams, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

Another factor in the Monroe negotiations: Monroe is interested in a three-year deal with the ability to opt out after the 2016-17 season and hit free agency in the summer of 2017 and take advantage of a salary cap that is projected to hit $108 million.

Monroe is going to get max offers, although at first teams may balk at that two-year opt out. However, with multiple teams in the bidding, someone will offer it to him.

Monroe is a good offensive player whose game may have room to breathe not being paired with Andre Drummond, plus Monroe is a beast on the boards — he averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds a game last season.

Monroe would be a strong player at one corner of the Knicks triangle — and let’s be honest, the Knicks need talent upgrades everywhere, and Monroe is a borderline All-Star player. Monroe paired with Julius Randle up front in Los Angeles with D’Angelo Russell feeding them the rock has offensive potential (defense might be an issue). Same in Milwaukee, where they have a nice young team and Monroe with Jabari Parker would be a force up front. Portland is likely to lose LaMarcus Aldridge, and Monroe could step right in that slot.

They are all interesting options. Which is exactly what Monroe wanted.