Free-agency week is upon us, and the rumor mill is running at full speed. This is about the time of the year when we begin parsing through reports and asking, "What does everybody want?" The power struggle among all parties is just beginning. With the July 1 negotiating period rapidly approaching, here’s what the latest crop of newsmakers appears to desire.
The Celtics Want It All
Despite the rumors tying the Celtics to Paul George, draft night wrapped up without any activity from Boston’s front office (surprise, surprise). Now, Danny Ainge’s plan has been revealed, though it was not exactly shrouded in much secrecy. The Celtics are trying to wrangle two stars to pair with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. But as Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday, the process is complicated. Boston is attempting to sign Gordon Hayward to a deal once free agency opens up and then turn around to trade assets for George. This must be timed to perfection, as Indiana might jump at another offer if the Celtics don’t line up their ducks in time. If Hayward stays in Utah, the report outlines that Boston’s backup acquisition in free agency would be Blake Griffin, whom they’d also look to pair with George.
The Celtics would have to do some financial maneuvering, outlined here by cap savant Albert Nahmad, but they could clear up the necessary room to directly sign Hayward and then use their remaining assets — depending on what Indiana wants — to bring George in while sending out $14.5 million in salaries. Boston wants a star, but it’s also shooting for the moon, likely at the expense of its depth.
One of the primary questions complicating this scenario is whether the Celtics are confident George will sign an extension with them. (To do so, Boston would need to create even more cap space to renegotiate an extension in order to give George the large deal he undoubtedly desires.) Selling Hayward on the idea of coming to Boston wouldn’t be as attractive if playing with George was only a one-year experience. The Celtics believe they can retain George for more than a year and thus bring in Hayward, but according to Woj, Hayward will also take a meeting with the Miami Heat in free agency. Watch your back, Danny. Pat Riley doesn’t miss often.
Melo Wants Out of NYC
If Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors were last week’s flavor, this week the taste of the town is Carmelo Anthony. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Melo’s camp tried to engage the Knicks in buyout talks after Phil Jackson made it clear that Melo had no part in the team’s future.
But Carmelo, with his no-trade clause, holds all the cards in this game. Anthony’s estranged wife, La La, said Tuesday on The Wendy Williams Show that he should prioritize staying close to his son, Kiyan. Reportedly, this is also Melo’s priority, despite his camp’s efforts to find him a way out of New York.
It’s clear what Melo’s pathway will be if he does indeed come to a buyout agreement with the Knicks. A few hundred miles west, in Cleveland, LeBron has not been shy about wanting to play with his best friends at some point in his career, and the addition of Melo would certainly help both parties to an extent. (Even Melo might not be enough of an addition to put Cleveland over the Warriors.) This may be what Melo wants, but the Knicks are hesitant to send him to Cleveland. The standstill continues.
The Jazz Want a Backup Plan
Over the past year, Ricky Rubio’s second home has been the trading block. It’s no secret the Wolves don’t consider him part of their future plans, so as they continue to gauge interest for the 26-year-old point guard, a new buyer may have just arisen. Per Stein, the Utah Jazz are interested in trading for Rubio, who could be a good fit in Quin Snyder’s system.
But what’s telling is that the rumor, compounded with Hayward’s clear, growing interest in Boston, may be a glimpse into Utah’s backup plan if Hayward does leave. George Hill is also a free agent, and he’ll be a coveted piece by teams around the league. During the season, Hill’s reluctance to sign an extension was reportedly tied to the uncertainty surrounding Hayward’s future in Utah. If Hayward is gone, Hill likely is, too. The Jazz are going to need a point guard, and Rubio would seem to be an apt fit, whether Hayward departs or not.
The Jazz are smart to cover all their bases, but they might also be telling us more than we know about what their team might look like come next season.
The Entire League Wants Andre Iguodala
If you can’t beat them, join them. If you can’t join them, steal them. That seems to be the strategy being employed by teams around the league regarding the Golden State Warriors’ stronghold on the NBA for the foreseeable future. The most available of the important Warriors is Andre Iguodala, and he is a wanted man.
According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, these are the teams that have shown interest in prying away Iguodala from the Warriors in free agency: the Clippers, Spurs, Timberwolves, Jazz, Sixers, Magic, and Nets. And, of course, those are only the teams that are being reported. As you can see from the range of teams represented on the aforementioned list, there is no logical common thread among all these suitors. They just all want to weaken the Warriors while helping themselves.