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NBA Free-Agency Rumor-Gathering and Analysis

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

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Matt Borcas: NBA free agency officially starts midnight Thursday, and the next few days should bring a flurry of Woj bombs, Kings schadenfreude, and, if we’re lucky, emoji-fueled recruiting battles. To help you keep track of it all, we live-blogged the day of rumors and meetings as possible signing began to take shape:

We’re Out

Borcas [7:30 p.m. ET]: That’s a wrap for today, folks. Thanks for joining us for this Free-Agency Eve live blog.

Horford and Durant on the Thunder Would Be Too Much to Handle

Chau [7:12 p.m. ET]: Al Horford followed Kevin Durant on Twitter and the internet is clenching. But I am absolutely ready to go to war for a KD-Horford package deal, wherever that takes us.

Having those two stars on your team means you’re essentially holding down three different positions with only two players. Horford has been a do-it-all at the 5 spot for the last few years, and KD’s emergence as a new-era combo forward allows for some flexibility on how to deal with the final front-line position. Imagining them next to Steven Adams is almost too much to handle.

As a basketball agnostic, this portion of free agency isn’t exactly what interests me — I don’t care about Twitter conspiracies, and I sure as hell don’t care about the kind of shit that gets stirred up on Reddit. But the last time we read into Twitter this deeply, LeBron had unfollowed the Cavaliers. And then they won a championship. So, yeah, maybe I’m just not doing my due diligence.

Portland Is the Perfect Home for Chandler Parsons

Litman [6:04 p.m. ET]: I’ve been tracking Chandler Parsons’s career with painstaking attention for many years now. As a Parsonsologist, I can say with confidence that Portland would be a great landing spot for my guy. It’s where he suffered his greatest indignity — where Damian Lillard sunk a game-winning buzzer-beater as Chandler, arm raised, soared past him.

But that’s exactly why he must go there. Reclaim the territory. Chandler won’t have to shoot 3s with the Blazers, because they’ve got Dame and C.J. McCollum. He can pump-fake and drive to his heart’s desire. It makes perfect sense.

Head Banger’s (Small) Ball

Jason Gallagher [5:48 p.m. ET]: The Warriors are pitching Durant on their top five players. SUPER DEATH (DETH) LINEUP, ANYONE? (Please say it involves a shirtless Joe Lacob playing air guitar.)

Rio + LeBron = Good League Pass

Borcas [5:28 p.m. ET]: Is Durant to the Warriors too obvious? If so, I’ll say Mario Chalmers to the Cavs, if only for more moments like this. Sure, Chalmers has a torn Achilles to rehabilitate, but Cleveland needs guard depth and LeBron loves his former Heatles. Norris Cole may make more sense from a basketball standpoint, but when it comes to watchability, nothing can beat a LeBron-Chalmers reunion — even if Rio spends the entire season in street clothes.

What the Bucks?

Ryan [5:15 p.m. ET]: Milwaukee is in a tough spot, because the kind of player it could really use is going to be way too expensive. For instance, Kent Bazemore would be a great addition to the Bucks’ roster. He’s a good young wing who could start at the 2 or 3, spell Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton, and volume-shoot from outside. He is a good-vibes ambassador for a team that could use some, respects the sanctity of long holiday weekends, and comes with his own meme.

The problem is Bazemore is reportedly looking at a deal in the ballpark of $16 million a year. The Bucks can technically afford that, but it would put them in a bit of a jam when Giannis’s and Jabari’s deals come up. Rather than free agency, look for the Bucks to get busy in the trade market, possibly moving Greg Monroe, who has two more years at almost $18 million per left on his deal, and hasn’t quite fit in with whatever it is Jason Kidd is trying to do in Wisconsin.

The Knicks Are Stuck in 2011

Peters [3:59 p.m. ET]: After taking last season off to be a color commentator/studio analyst, 34-year-old Carlos Boozer is looking to get back in the mix, according to the latest Woj bomb. The two-time All-Star is sniffing out “a mentoring role,” which is good because I can’t imagine he’ll be getting a red cent over the veteran’s minimum. A reunion with Thibs is out of the question since Minnesota’s pretty full up on old dudes already so … KNICKS. DO IT. THIS IS YOUR BRAND.

Schube [3:44 p.m. ET]: Look, I get it. The Knicks have assembled a 2011 All-Star team. Best-case, if everyone stays healthy, is the seventh seed. But I keep thinking about the time Joakim Noah destroyed the Knicks in 2014, tossing up an easy triple-double in the process. Dude ran the break and threaded passes from the high post, two things he’ll be asked to do in Jeff Hornacek’s offense — even if he doesn’t get to play against the Knicks D anymore. Sure, this probably ends with Noah tripping over Kristaps Porzingis, the two of them hitting the floor in slo-mo like twin 7-foot Titanics. But until then, I’m all in on Soho’s Finest™. The Rose trade is still garbage, tho.

Borcas [3:36 p.m. ET]: Hey, the 2010–11 Bulls won 62 games! Just gotta lock up Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer.

Will the Sixers Fall Victim to Temptation?

Borcas [3:29 p.m. ET]: Harrison Barnes is the easy answer, but I’m going to go with Bismack Biyombo. Sam Hinkie would never fall for Biyombo’s small sample size of success, but Bryan Colangelo loves him some international talent and has no reason to be loyal to Philly’s troika of young, unproven centers. Welcome to the new NBA, where a guy who averages 4.6 points per game can command max money.

Dallas Makes Sense for Dwight Howard

Chau [3:14 p.m. ET]: Assuming the Mavs whiff on Whiteside, I think they’ll try to land Dwight at $18 million a year. Dallas has been one big rehabilitation center for the past five years, and I think it’s a place where Howard can learn to embrace the second phase of his career with a coach who has the ability to maximize the players around him. There’s quite a bit of upside you lose with Howard instead of Whiteside, but you’re still getting one of the best traditional centers in the game at a potential discount (assuming Dwight’s days of demanding the max are over).

It’s Memphis or Dallas for Mike Conley

Micah Peters [3:03 p.m. ET]: So that basically means that Dallas is the only threat to Memphis re-signing Mike Conley. Mark Cuban is made of money and doesn’t really care about a luxury tax, so he could sign another free agent after landing Conley. Maybe the Mavs could rise from the grave for another title run like that time in 2011 when they beat the Heat in six with an average player age of “old as hell.” That is, unless Memphis gives Conley that fifth year …

Evan Turner Is Ready to Field Offers

Chau [2:58 p.m. ET]: I am extremely certain that Evan Turner is interested in only six teams because there are only six color options on his incredible Evan Turner Logo T-shirt — and what else would Turner possibly wear to his own contract negotiation? I’m dying for more Turner free-agency news.

Hassan Whiteside Narrows Down His Options

Danny Chau [2:48 p.m. ET]: Let’s have the 2006 Miami Heat and the 2006 Dallas Mavericks play at a YMCA tonight to determine who gets Whiteside. Keith Van Horn can probably still ball.

Borcas [2:47 p.m. ET]: An unidentified league source is spouting off to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne about the Lakers’ inability to land a meeting with Durant, but if Mitch Kupchak can’t get in a room with Hassan Whiteside, L.A.’s problems may be worse than we thought. Free agency hasn’t even started yet, and it’s already Chandler Parsons or bust for the Lakers.

The Celtics Know How to Recruit

Borcas [2:17 p.m. ET]: Isaiah Thomas is playing chess; Doc Rivers is playing checkers. Who needs a Big Four when you have glow-in-the-dark KD sneakers? ADVANTAGE: CELTICS.

Just Give Up Now, Clips

Riley McAtee [2:08 p.m. ET]: Wow, the Clippers seem really committed to this “Big Four” thing, huh? I’m sure Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and, like, Austin Rivers will be more than capable of luring Durant.

Ryan [2:08 p.m. ET]: Respect to Justise Winslow. He doesn’t want to bother Dwyane Wade while he’s on the banana boat. Clippers, take notes.

The 76ers Enter the Fray

Borcas [2:02 p.m. ET]: The Sixers are going after everyone with a Bryan Colangelo connection. Might a Shawn Marion comeback be in the works?

Five Observations From KD’s Entry to Chesapeake Energy Arena

Juliet Litman [1:59 p.m. ET]: I just watched the video of Kevin Durant entering Chesapeake Energy Arena several thousands of times. Here are five things I learned:

  1. Durant did not expect anyone to film this meeting. How do I know this? He’s wearing Vans — a company not owned by Nike. Hm.
  2. Sam Presti is projecting an air of calm with his non–Ralph Lauren blue polo shirt. Is a casual collared shirt the go-to outfit for a guy who doesn’t want you to know he’s sweating? In an interesting twist, Presti is wearing Nikes. Is he trying to prove loyalty to KD’s brands, or is Presti just a cool dude? Hmm.
  3. Weather doesn’t mean anything to KD. This dude is wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt on a 93-degree day. I hope the Heat and Clippers weren’t planning on touting their climates.
  4. The Thunder are already all in on Cameron Payne. Impressive that he’s already promoted on the arena facade! Glad to know it’s not just us who are enamored.
  5. Steven Adams holds the keys. We already knew he was crucial to the Thunder’s future, but it may be bigger than that. Of all the doors at the Peake, they entered below his banner. Hmmm.

Clippers to KD: A Big 3 Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? …

Borcas [1:41 p.m. ET]: Shit, if DeAndre Jordan got an invite to this, why not just bring Paul Pierce to pitch Durant on a Big Five?

The Heat’s Pitch to Durant Feels Uninspired

Borcas [1:32 p.m. ET]: According to ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace, “Pat Riley’s pitch to Miami Heat free-agent targets will include an optimistic view of Chris Bosh’s potential return to the court next season and the long-term stability of coach Erik Spoelstra.” Doesn’t practically every top free-agency destination offer head-coaching stability? Consider Durant’s other potential landing spots: the Thunder, Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, and Celtics. Who among that group is firing their coach anytime soon? Either this is a total smoke screen, or Riley’s recruiting skills have regressed dramatically since 2010.

Where Is Serge Ibaka’s Head At?

Ryan [1:27 p.m. ET]: In non-free-agent NBA news, Ibaka seems to be taking the whole getting traded thing well:

There are seven letters in Thunder, by the way. I don’t know what that means.

What’s Your Plan, Phil Jackson?

Borcas [1:12 p.m. ET]: That’s the look of a man who just gave Joakim Noah way too much guaranteed money.

Sam Schube [1:12 p.m. ET]: Phil is walking out of that gym in Orlando and not stopping until he hits Cuba.

OKC Looks to Get the Last Word With KD

Borcas [1:04 p.m. ET]: Whether the Thunder can secure a follow-up meeting with Durant will go a long way in telling us how seriously he’s considering returning to OKC. Does this mean Pat Riley will give him a take-it-or-leave-it offer on Sunday? The plot thickens …

Durant Meets With Thunder

Chris Ryan [12:51 p.m. ET]: Shout-out to KD for wearing “Tim Duncan” for Virgil Abloh’s Off-White.

Borcas [12:47 p.m. ET]: Let’s take a moment of silence just in case this is Durant’s last time walking into Chesapeake Energy Arena as a member of the Thunder. Is he trying to play Texas Hold ’em with Sam Presti today? Those shades look ominous.

The Hawks Are Totally in the Running for Durant

Borcas [12:29 p.m. ET]: The Hawks are going to lose Al Horford because Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox are too busy standing outside Durant’s house with a boombox. Sad!

The Warriors Look at Adding Some Size

Borcas [12:22 p.m. ET]: Are the Dubs trying to steal all of the Cavs’ big men? First Anderson Varejão, now Mozgov — look for Golden State to be major players in next year’s Sasha Kaun sweepstakes.

Chandler Parsons to Los Angeles?

Borcas [12:12 p.m. ET]: Los Angeles is the perfect destination for Chandler Parsons — Fox might have to reboot The OC just so Parsons can make a cameo. Maybe the Grizzlies rumor was floated by his agent just for leverage? Parsons doesn’t seem like a Memphis guy, and Luke Walton needs sharpshooters.

The Scene to Start the Day

Borcas [noon ET]: The Knicks are already doing Knicks things. With the news that Joakim Noah is expected to follow Derrick Rose to New York for about $18 million per year, the first major domino may be set to fall in the league’s silly season, and James Dolan appears primed to assemble a roster that could compete for a title … in 2011.

Let’s start with the biggest fish in the 2016 free-agency pond: Kevin Durant, whose meeting schedule leaked last night:

On Tuesday, Bill Simmons wrote about the possibility of Pat Riley recruiting Durant to Miami, and the fact that Riley is getting the last word here should make Thunder general manager Sam Presti nervous as hell. Meanwhile, the thought of Durant joining the Warriors or the Spurs is legitimately terrifying; he’d turn Golden State’s Lineup of Death into a Lineup of Death Star, and a KD–Gregg Popovich union would essentially amount to a real-life cheat code. Our Jonathan Tjarks thinks Durant will ultimately stay in Oklahoma City on a short-term deal, but that is far from a guarantee.

Elsewhere, Dwyane Wade has developed a sudden infatuation with Texas: According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Wade’s camp has made overtures to the Spurs and the Mavericks, among other teams — but remember, we’ve been through this before. Hassan Whiteside may be taking his talents to Dallas, though: The Mavs will be the first to meet with the oft-embattled center and are reportedly set to offer him a max contract. Here’s hoping we get video of Whiteside and Mark Cuban negotiating in a nightclub.

Speaking of the Mavs, it’s tough to imagine Dirk Nowitzki wearing another team’s uniform, as our Jason Gallagher explored this week, but after Dirk recently opted out of his deal, that’s at least theoretically possible. The Warriors are expected to vie for his services, and the Spurs could be in play, too, depending on how the Durant sweepstakes shake out.

A Blake Griffin trade seems like it could be on the table, especially with Danny Ainge hellbent on bringing a star to Boston. And it just wouldn’t feel like free agency if the NBA’s lost puppy, Dwight Howard, weren’t looking for a new team to sabotage. Of course, we’ll learn a lot in the coming days, so strap on your champagne goggles, start refreshing Twitter like a maniac, and bookmark this page to stay up to date on the latest news, rumors, and more.