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NBA Free Agency Has Already Begun

Here are the latest rumors to keep your eye on

(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)

The first game of this season’s NBA Finals is more than a week away, but free agency and the draft are already in the heart, mind, or Likes of everyone not on a Golden State or Cleveland roster. Even Boston, which is technically still in the playoffs after breaking the Cavaliers’ broom, is subject to chatter about Gordon Hayward.

Some reports appear all but sealed, others need serious salary maneuvering to ever work, and a few will only ever exist on whiteboards in Orlando. Here is the most interesting speculation of the day.

Could Chris Paul Build a Super Team in San Antonio?

Even entertaining the idea of CP3 to the Spurs is almost too hot and heavy to consider all at once. Let’s unpack: The move would mean the Point God partnering with a franchise that has been to the Western Conference finals, like, multiple times. Paul’s playmaking, his shot, his pestering defense would all happen in a black-and-gray uniform. He could even trade in his fourth-place Defensive Player of the Year candidate for the real deal, and Doc’s clipboard for Gregg Popovich’s.

Utilizing his early-termination option to leave Los Angeles would mean leaving an enormous five-year contract on the table, and possibly another enormous five-year contract. As union president, Paul was heavily involved in the fight to amend the collective bargaining agreement’s age limit for maximum contracts. Before, organizations couldn’t give five-year maxes if the player was going to turn 36 years old during that time. The new CBA extends that to age 38, which with Paul at 32 years old directly plays into his situation, and ergo, his benefit. Finesse.

San Antonio doesn’t have that kind of money, though, and appears mostly unable to create more cap space (more on that later). Paul would need to agree to a huge salary cut the same year his CBA negotiations granted the right for another fat contract. After this disappointing postseason (and the many, many before it), the ultracompetitive Paul seems especially fed up with losing — but enough to walk away from a potential nine-figure deal?

Speaking of the Spurs, Don’t Expect Pau Gasol to Clear Cap Room

Gasol, who verbally committed to his $16 million player option way back in January, likely won’t be a cap-clearing avenue the Spurs will be able to take. That pledge did happen long before this …

… but Gasol had been the victim of Popovich’s sideline berating long before that playoff game. The January commitment also came before the Clippers fell to the Jazz, making Paul appear to be a real option, dinero permitting. David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon are also eligible to pick up player options and likely will, leaving San Antonio with a very non-fruitful $10 million in cap space. It’s almost pointless to think he will, but Gasol opting out alone would clear $25 million for the 2017–18 season.

The Chris Bosh Era Is Over in Miami

Watching Miami this season — a team in which Dion Waiters became so integral that his injury derailed the Heat’s postseason push — was fun; hearing about the organization’s miscues was not. Meanwhile, Bosh, the last of the famed Big Three still in South Beach, sat the year out after failing a team physical. This was after doctors found blood clots in Chris Bosh’s leg that February, which Bosh was told at the time could end his career.

Bosh reportedly doubted the sincerity of the examination, positing that it happened in an effort to wipe his salary from Miami’s books. And yes, Pat Riley is known to be, in a word, procedural. Now that the two have reportedly agreed to part ways, Bosh will still receive his guaranteed $52 million, but it will no longer show up as a cap hit on Miami’s tab.

The 33-year-old Bosh has a chance to play again. And if he’s already pocketing money from his former organization, it’s easier to believe that such a risky pickup could be bought low; whether his body will allow him that chance is another question.

Under the assumptions that Bosh’s parting comes to fruition and Waiters and Willie Reed opt out to seek more money, Miami is in a position to create at least $31 million in cap space with the chance for an additional 10. Possibilities do exist, like cutting Wayne Ellington and waiving Josh McRoberts using the stretch provision (spreading out his owed $6 million over three years, and diluting his 2017–18 impact on the cap to $2 million).

Derrick Rose May Reunite With Tom Thibodeau

Call it naïveté, but wishing this regular-season Rose-to-Minny rumor away did not work. Tom Thibodeau, in a very on-brand move, is reportedly once again drawn to acquiring a former player.

During the latter months of the 2016–17 season, it was reported that a clean swap — Rose for Ricky Rubio — was being pushed by both sides. The Wolves weren’t even halfway through Rubio’s four-year, $55 million deal at that point, but were burdened with the knowledge of having to eventually pay their young core. (Bargain rookie contracts are great for teams until they account for three starters and seem to end, give or take a year, all at once.) New York was reportedly willing to take on the remaining $30 million that Rubio was owed, and just wanted Rose, who would’ve been a free agent at the end of the year anyway, out.

And that takes us back to the present. Once the league’s youngest MVP, Rose six years later is a risk in all facets. During his one season with the “super team” Knicks, he failed to indemnify the gamble he had become. In January, he skipped a game without any notice given to the organization, says later that he needed “space.” It was afterward reported as a family issue. Not long after, he tore his meniscus, the latest knee complication in a career devastated by injuries.

But the most concerning incident came even before the season began, when in August 2015, Rose’s ex-girlfriend accused him and two of his friends of drugging and gang-raping her in 2013. A jury found Rose not liable and the claims not credible in an October civil suit, though the Los Angeles Police Department did confirm that it was conducting a criminal investigation the month before. The incident was ugly all around, with several jurors posing for photos with Rose after the verdict, the judge cracking a basketball joke, and Rose reportedly being unable to define the word “consent.”