Where do we stand with NBA’s top 50 free agents? An update.

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We are just four days into free agency now and it has started to feel like the lightning round. Everything came quickly.

That may slow down a little for a few days. Until the top two guys on this list make their decisions things will bottleneck a little, teams looking at the second tier of players will wait. Just in case. Some role players will agree to terms, but the top guys and the teams chasing them will wait.

Let’s use this little pause and the Fourth of July to take stock of where we stand. Below is an update on our top 50 free agents list, and where each guy stands right now.

1. LeBron James: Unsigned. His agent has conducted meetings (Cavaliers, Rockets, Mavericks, Suns, Lakers) but LeBron has been on vacation. Nobody really thinks he leaves Miami, but if Pat Riley can’t get some help fairly soon… things could get interesting.

2. Carmelo Anthony: Unsigned. Met with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks. He wanted to be wanted, he got that. He’s expected to make his decision early next week (and most observers think he stays in New York).

3. Chris Bosh: Unsigned. Expected to take a pay cut to stay in Miami, but if LeBron bolts he has options.

4. Dirk Nowitzki: Reached three-year, $30 million deal with Mavericks. As expected, he took the Tim Duncan discount deal.

5. Eric Bledsoe: Unsigned. Remember he’s a restricted free agent, no offers trying to poach him from Phoenix. Yet.

6. Kyle Lowry: Reached four-year, $48 million deal with Raptors. The Raptors came at him hard to keep him and showed how much they wanted him with cash. That’s always nice.

7. Greg Monroe: Unsigned. He’s a restricted free agent, no offers yet, that is likely to change once the LeBron/‘Melo signings happen.

8. Chandler Parsons: Unsigned. Same as above, he’s a restricted free agent, no offers yet, that is likely to change once the LeBron/‘Melo signings happen.

9. Lance Stephenson: Unsigned. The Pacers offered him five-years, $44 million, and he thought that too low. But nobody else has yet stepped up to beat it. Stephenson is learning how much those antics during the playoffs cost him.

10. Dwyane Wade: Unsigned. Also willing to take a pay cut in Miami but no deal yet as the we all wait for the LeBron domino to fall.

11. Gordon Hayward: Unsigned. He met with the Cavaliers and is hoping someone signs him to an offer sheet — he’s a restricted free agent and the Jazz are expected to match any offer.

12. Luol Deng: Unsigned. Another guy with multiple suitors — Atlanta, the Clippers would like to talk to him — but it may be after Anthony signs that his interest from teams really picks up on

13. Marcin Gortat: Reached five-year, $60 million deal with Washington Wizards. The money isn’t out of line with what other big men get in the NBA, but the full five years was a surprise.

14. Pau Gasol: Unsigned. Interest is warming up for him from the teams missing out on ‘Melo. The Bulls, Heat, Lakers, Spurs, Thunder all have interest in him.

15. Channing Frye: Unsigned.

16. Isaiah Thomas: Unsigned. With Kings signing Darren Collison it appears Thomas is on his way out of Sacramento.

17. Trevor Ariza: Unsigned. Wizards considered the frontrunners but interest is heating up.

18. Avery Bradley: Reached four years, $32 million deal with Celtics. He’s staying in Boston.

19. Paul Pierce: Unsigned. Clippers pitched Nets a sign-and-trade, that died quickly.

20. Boris Diaw: Unsigned.

21. Andray Blatche: Unsigned.

22. Nick Young: Unsigned.

23. Shaun Livingston: Reached three year, $16.6 million deal with Golden State Warriors. He’ll come off the bench behind Stephen Curry but he will get lots of minutes.

24. Vince Carter: Unsigned.

24. Rodney Stuckey: Unsigned.

26. Darren Collison: Reached three three-year, $16 million with Kings. The Kings didn’t want to overpay Isaiah Thomas so they went out and got another point guard.

27. Greivis Vasquez: Unsigned.

28. Josh McRoberts: Unsigned.

29. Ray Allen: Unsigned.

30. Shawn Marion: Unsigned.

31. Anthony Morrow: Unsigned. Miami and Oklahoma City among the teams interested.

32. Spencer Hawes: Agreed to four-year, $23 million deal with Los Angeles Clippers. He is a huge upgrade for the Clippers off the bench (remember Ryan Hollins and Glen Davis were their bigs off the bench last season).

33. Chris Andersen: Unsigned.

34. Thabo Sefolosha: Reaches three-year, $12 million deal with Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta sees him as a Spurs-style reclamation project — if they can help get his three point shot back they have a “3 and D” guy to plug in.

35. Glen Davis: Unsigned.

36. Danny Granger: Unsigned.

37. Marvin Williams: Unsigned.

38. Patty Mills: Reached three-year, $12 million deal with San Antonio. He is out until January (at least) following shoulder surgery, but the Spurs wanted to keep the Australian pint guard.

39. Jodie Meeks: Reached three-year, $18 million deal with Detroit. One of the surprises of free agency, not that the Pistons picked him up (they could use his shooting), but at that price? That is over-paying Meeks.

40. P.J. Tucker: Unsigned.

41. Evan Turner: Unsigned.

42. Mario Chalmers: Unsigned.

43. Xavier Henry: Unsigned.

44. Jerryd Bayless: Unsigned.

45. Ramon Sessions: Unsigned.

46. Steve Blake: Unsigned.

47. C.J. Miles: Reached four-year, $18 million deal with Indiana. The Pacers have been trying to add shooting, they got it.

48. Mike Miller: Unsigned.

49. Jordan Hill: Unsigned.

50. Caron Butler: Unsigned.

James Harden scores 37 but Joel Embiid’s 32 leads 76ers to 121-93 rout of Rockets

Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid relished the chance to face James Harden, and wasn’t going to let a little back tightness stop him.

Embiid had 32 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past fellow MVP contender Harden and the Houston Rockets 121-93 on Monday night.

“I love playing against guys you guys say are better than me,” Embiid said.

Harden, selected Western Conference player of the week earlier in the day, finished with 37 points – giving him 20 straight games with at least 30.

Philadelphia played without four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler (sore right wrist), and Embiid more than made up for his absence.

“It was really fun for us,” Embiid said. “Don’t think it was fun for them.”

Embiid was questionable before the game with lower back soreness and coach Brett Brown hinted during pregame it might be best for the Philadelphia big man to sit this one out. Embiid clearly had other intentions.

“I want to fight with my teammates,” he said. “Whatever I have to do, I’ll do for my team.”

His 24 first-half points helped Philadelphia to a 65-50 halftime lead, and he punctuated an entertaining opening 24 minutes by pinning Harden’s layup attempt with 7.5 seconds left for a crowd-pleasing block. The duo had to be separated with 38.7 seconds left in the half, with each being issued a technical, after Harden took exception to Embiid’s foul on him.

The 76ers broke the game open in a dominant third quarter as they outscored Houston 29-13 to take a 94-63 advantage into the fourth. Ben Simmons stole Harden’s pass, made a layup and finished a three-point play after being fouled by Harden to make it 73-52. The lead kept growing, getting as large as 31.

“We were due for a game like this,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Harden had 10 points in the third but missed four of six field goal tries as the 76ers hounded him defensively with double-teams and different looks. A tired-looking Harden’s air ball with 12.3 seconds left in the third showed the effects of the Philadelphia defense – and, perhaps, Harden’s offensive workload.

With the game out of range, Harden sat in the fourth.

“This is not a great way to rest him, but we rested him today,” D’Antoni said.

 

Doc Rivers seemingly blames Steve Ballmer for Clippers losing Joe Ingles

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Entering the 2014-15 season, the Clippers had to waive someone to meet the regular-season roster maximum. Their choice came down to Joe Ingles and Jared Cunningham, neither of whom had guaranteed salaries.

L.A. kept Cunningham and waived Ingles. Cunningham never made a significant NBA impact. The Jazz claimed Ingles on waivers, and he became a quality starter in Utah.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was also team president at that time.

Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News:

When asked Wednesday if he regrets that decision, Rivers answered, “all the time.”

“I said it the day we released him that this was a bad decision and that we’re going to regret it,” he said. “Unfortunately I was working for someone who said we couldn’t eat a contract. We were begging to eat one contract and they said that will never happen and we had to let him go.”

Did Rivers confuse the timeline and think he was blaming Donald Sterling, the former Clippers owner who was notoriously cheap? Current owner Steve Ballmer bought the team and was announced as the owner before the start of the 2014-15 season, when Ingles was signed for camp and released. Ballmer has talked big about spending, and is Rivers’ boss right now. It’d be strange for Rivers to criticize Ballmer like this, but I also can’t figure out whom else he’d be referring to besides the owner. As team president, Rivers had no other oversight within basketball operations.

Maybe Rivers wanted to keep both Ingles and Cunningham and waive someone with a guaranteed salary – likely Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ekpe Udoh or Glen Davis. But, in hindsight, the obviously right call would have been waiving whichever of those players was necessary to keep Ingles.

The frequent criticism of the Clippers about Ingles is somewhat unfair. They brought Ingles to training camp when other teams didn’t. The only reason they were positioned to waive him is because they were ahead of the curve on him.

But they also had the unique opportunity to evaluate him up close and still decided he wasn’t worth a roster spot.

How did that decision get made? Rivers passing the buck only adds confusion. It seemed as if it were his decision.

Luka Doncic becomes second NBA teenager to record triple-double, Bucks rout Mavs anyway

Associated Press
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Is Luka Doncic an All-Star?

He’s not a starter (in my vote, anyway) but in what is an exhibition designed to give the fans what they want, why not have Doncic in the game? He is what the fans want. I’m not convinced he’ll make the cut — at least in the ridiculously deep West, in the East he probably would — but it’s a legitimate conversation. The kid can flat-out ball.

Case in point, he dropped a triple-double on the Bucks on MLK Day, becoming only the second teenager to record an NBA triple-double. (The other was Markelle Fultz, who was 10-days younger when he got his, also against Milwaukee.) Doncic finished the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Doncic’s play was not enough to keep the Bucks from racking up their fifth straight win, and doing it pretty easily (although Dallas made an 11-0 fourth-quarter run to make it a little interesting). Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 15 rebounds, while Eric Bledsoe had 21 points, and Brook Lopez finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks (that was Lopez’s first double-double with the Bucks).

Reports: Houston trades Carmelo Anthony to Chicago, who will waive him

Associated Press
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Carmelo Anthony‘s sabbatical is over. Sort of.

Anthony, who has been on the Houston roster but not with the team after that experiment crashed and burned 10 games into the season, will be traded to the Chicago Bulls. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story (and other reports have since confirmed it). However, he’s not going to be putting on a Bulls’ jersey.

He may not be waived until after the Feb. 7 deadline, in case the Bulls find a way to use his salary in a one-for-one trade (his salary cannot be combined with others in a deal because he was just traded). If/when he is waived, at that point there will be more roster shuffling around the league and a landing spot for ‘Melo may open up.

Houston’s trade is much like the trade from Oklahoma City to Atlanta last summer that moved Anthony off the Thunder roster. The Hawks waived him and Anthony signed with the Rockets. For the Rockets, this is about saving money.

The Bulls also make a little under a million in this deal. If another team signs Anthony, it would be a benefit for the Hawks.

It’s unclear where Anthony’s ultimate landing spot will be, although his agent has said there are options.

After his struggles in Houston — where the future Hall of Famer thought he deserved more than a bench role due to his stature, even though because of his declining offensive skills and defense that’s all he warranted — it’s hard to imagine another contender or even playoff team picking him up. Maybe a franchise going all in on the Zion Williamson chase but wants a bump at the gate from the name recognition Anthony brings him in? Although for teams trying to develop young talent why take the ball out of those young guys’ hands to let Anthony jack up contested twos? Most likely it will be a team battling injuries and looking for help.

In 10 games for the Rockets this season coming off the bench, Anthony averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds a game, shot just 40.5 percent overall and 32.8 percent from three. The Rockets’ defense was 10.4 points per 100 possessions better when Anthony sat.