Kurt Helin

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Clippers

PBT Extra: What players will most influence free agency?

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We know some of the biggest names in free agency are not going anywhere — LeBron James will stay with the Cavaliers, while Marc Gasol is meeting only with the Grizzlies.

But who are the guys who will most influence free agency that tips off July 1? Watch the trio of big men LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe.

I talk about them and others — like the situation the Hawks face with Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll — in this latest PBT Extra, one looking forward to free agency.

Report: Jimmy Butler postpones meetings with other teams after max qualifying offer from Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers

Jimmy Butler has some things to think over.

His agent was clearly trying to leverage his client for a shorter contract — so he could more quickly tap into the flood of television money that will engulf the NBA starting next summer — but the Bulls want to lock down a core piece for a long time. So the Bulls have given Butler a max qualifying offer — if he takes it, he gets five-years, $90 million — and a regular qualifying offer of one-year, $4.5 million. That means no other team can offer Butler fewer than three years, and the Bulls have the right to match any offer.

In the wake of this, Butler has changed his free agency first steps, reports Chris Broussard at ESPN.

The Chicago Bulls offered Jimmy Butler a maximum five-year, $90 million contract Monday, leading the restricted free agent to postpone meetings with several other teams as he decides how many years to re-sign with the Bulls for, sources said….

After receiving the max offer Monday, Butler postponed meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, sources said.

While all those meetings would have been good theater, the Bulls were never going to let Butler walk this summer. He’s too key to them at both ends of the floor — he averaged 20 points a game, shot 37.8 percent from three, and is their best perimeter defender.

There’s a clear compromise to be made, one where the Bulls offer a three-year contract at the max (or four years, with a player option after three). That allows the Bulls to keep their young star in house as they try to create a post-Thibodeau identity. On the other side, it allows Butler to get well paid (he’s been on a small rookie deal) and still re-enter free agency in his prime.

Butler’s only other real option is an enormous gamble — take the one-year, $4.5 million qualifying offer and be an unrestricted free agent next summer. But that’s generation-changing money Butler would have to walk away from (then hope he doesn’t get injured).

The Bulls and Butler’s representatives will talk in the next 48 hours and see if they can work something out. If not, the meetings may be back on — even if teams know the Bulls will just match any offer.

PBT Podcast: The top guys to watch as NBA free agency tips off

Lamarcus Aldridge Wesley Matthews

LeBron James is the biggest free agent name. Technically. But we all know he’s not leaving the Cavaliers.

However, when you start to talk about LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe and some other big bodies about to hit the free agent market, things get interesting.

In this latest PBT Podcast the guys talk about all of the big name free agents in a primer for the NBA’s wild off-season season, which tips off the second the calendar flips to July 1 (that’s when teams can start talking to free agents). We’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down the top guys on the board, from the ones not likely to move (Marc Gasol) to the guys trying to move but not finding it that easy (Dwyane Wade).

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Scottie Pippen: “I was LeBron James before LeBron James”

Chicago Fire - Season 3

Scottie Pippen is a confident man. And a man with a chip on his shoulder — he’s one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players ever (easily) yet by too many is seen as Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman. Pippen was a lot more than a disposable sidekick (or whatever you see Nightwing as), he was a superstar in his own right.

But this may be a step over the line.

When talking about LeBron James’ skill set — is he more Magic Johnson? Oscar Robertson? Jordan? — Pippen told Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer there is another good comparison.

“I was LeBron James before LeBron James,” Bulls great Scottie Pippen told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s not even close….

“They want to compare him to the greatest, whether it be Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, but he’s more closer to myself,” Pippen said. “It’s natural for folks to say that, but if you look at how he plays the game and how I played the game, you’ll see more similarities with us.”

Maybe on some level this isn’t wholly unreasonable. Both are point forwards who play a hybrid role, both were good passers, both can defend multiple positions. LeBron’s game is certainly more like Pippen than Jordan in style.

But as great as Pippen was — I don’t think we can emphasise enough what a special player he was, MJ doesn’t have all those rings without him — LeBron is simply the better player. LeBron is being compared to Magic and MJ because that’s the next all-time tier for him to climb onto.

LeBron’s physical gifts are just superior to Pippen’s (or anyone else of that size), and that has given LeBron the vastly superior offensive game. Over his career, LeBron has averaged 27.3 points a game on a 58.1 percent true shooting percentage, Where Pippen averaged 16.1 per game with a 53.1 true shooting percentage. Pretty much any advanced stat you break out — PER 27.2 to 18.6), win shares per 48 minutes (.240 to .186), value over replacement player (101 to 69.6) — LeBron comes out well ahead of Pippen.


Besides that, LeBron has proven to be a better leader of a team than Pippen turned out to be (in Houston and Portland, it didn’t always go smoothly for Pippen). And while Pippen was a high IQ player, LeBron’s feel for the game is off the charts.

Frankly, LeBron has passed Pippen.

Maybe there is a stylistic argument to be made in that comparison, but that’s where it ends.

Report: Draymond Green to meet with Warriors at midnight, nobody else if that goes well

Draymond Green

Draymond Green wants to stay a Warrior.

The Warriors want — actually, need — to keep Draymond Green in the Bay Area.

So there shouldn’t be a lot of drama in his restricted free agency. And he plans to keep it that way, unless the Warriors low ball him. From Marc Spears of Yahoo and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Green is key to what the Warriors do — his ability to guard positions two through five is at the heart of the best defense in the NBA. You saw it in the NBA Finals when he covered Timofey Mozgov, allowed the Warriors to go small and it changed the dynamic of that series. He also averaged 11.7 points and grabbed 8.2 rebounds a game, plus shot 33 percent from three. And he talked a lot of trash.

Green’s versatility is a perfect fit in Golden State, but you can see why other teams would be interested in luring him away. It’s just not going to happen.

Frankly, even if Green doesn’t like the offer presented him and goes and talks to other teams, he’s not going anywhere. At worst, the Warriors let the market set Green’s price, then they match it — but why risk alienating the emotional heart of your team>

The likely result is that within an hour of midnight, these two sides have reached a deal.