That. Was. Insane.
An estimated $1.7 billion in NBA contracts were handed out. Mike Conley is now the owner of the richest contract in NBA history. Joakim Noah is a Knick for $72 million. Dwight Howard has gone home to Atlanta for $70 million. From minutes after the clock struck midnight on July 1 deals were flying with a few reasonable deals (Jeremy Lin to Brooklyn for $36 million) and a few head scratchers (Evan Turner got $70 million?).
Who is left? Here are the Top 10 free agents still on the board, with an update on where things stand with them.
1) LeBron James. We’re required to lead with the best player on the planet because he is technically still available as a free agent. We all know he’s signing a short-term deal to stay in Cleveland (although the numbers are a little complex), but he remains a free agent so we’ve got to put him here.
2) Kevin Durant. Durant met with Oklahoma City Thursday night (he could do that before free agency officially started because he was a member of the team still), then sat down with the Warriors and Clippers on Friday. (There were reports Durant was “blown away” by the Clippers’ presentation, which is great but because they cannot offer him a max contract it’s hard to see that deal getting done.) Up on Saturday are the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, while on Sunday Pat Riley and the Miami Heat get their shot. The feeling around the league is still Oklahoma City likely wins out in the end.
3) Al Horford. By signing Dwight Howard and re-signing Kent Bazemore to $70 million deals, the Hawks essentially ended Horford’s run in Atlanta (they are not going to pay the luxury tax for him, and while in theory they could make trades to clear out cap space for him that seems unlikely). Horford met with the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets (plus a “mystery team” according to Ramona Shelburne). He may well hold off his decision a few days to see where the Warriors and Spurs fall after Durant makes his decision.
4) Pau Gasol. He had a very quiet first day of free agency, which is how he likes it. Portland is reportedly interested right now. But like Horford, it could be wise for Gasol to let the Durant situation play out because both the Warriors and Spurs reportedly would come calling.
5) Harrison Barnes (restricted). There have been rumors that the Sixers, among other teams, are poised to make a big offer to Golden State’s starting wing player. But in a familiar theme (read the notes on Horford and Gasol) what happens to him is tied to Durant and others — if the Warriors get KD they will not match an offer for Barnes. If they don’t, that door starts to open. Barnes would sign his offer sheet from whatever team on July 7 (the day the signing moratorium ends), and the Warriors have three days to match.
6) Dwyane Wade. The report is Miami’s first offer to Wade was for $10 million a year — if that is true, he has a right to be insulted. The Heat are going to pay Wade Jared Dudley money? Wade reportedly has been offered more like $20 million a season from The Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks. He reportedly put out feelers to the Spurs (who likely would not offer that much) and Knicks (who can’t). In the end, he probably uses this as leverage to get a better deal with the Heat, but apparently the door is at least cracked open.
7) Dirk Nowitzki. Friday was a rough day for Mark Cuban and the Mavericks. They met with Mike Conley, Hassan Whiteside, and Nicolas Batum, all of whom used Dallas as leverage to get bigger deals and re-signed with their current teams. Also, Chandler Parsons bolted (for a max contract in Memphis). Nowitzki will take his time reaching a deal and do whatever helps Cuban and the team the most; he doesn’t want to leave and go somewhere else (unless Cuban decides to blow the whole thing up).
8) Ryan Anderson. The prototypical stretch four saw a lot of interest: The Raptors, Nets, Lakers, Kings, and Wizards have all expressed some level of interest. Other teams could step up as well (teams that strike out on Durant included). About the only thing that became clear on Friday is that Anderson is not going back to New Orleans, they seemed to move on reaching deals with guys such as Solomon Hill.
9) Bismack Biyombo. With Hassan Whiteside and Joakim Noah off the board, the pace of action around Biyombo should pick up. He may be the best center left on the board — and the fact Timofey Mozgov just got $64 million has to make Biyombo (and his agent) optimistic about the offers that should start to roll in.
10) J.R. Smith. The shirtless wonder is expected to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers (who lost Mozgov and likely Matthew Dellavedova in free agency so far, although the Cavs can match the Delly offer). Things seemed quiet on the Smith front on Friday, no teams were public about trying to poach him, which is likely a good sign for his eventual return to Cleveland.