NBA Saturday: Free Agency Rumors
When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, the NBA’s free agency period will get underway. After midnight, teams can contact players and the madness will begin. Executives will work the phones, agents will fight for every dollar and players will recruit one another. With free agency less than 24 hours away, teams are zeroing in on the available players and rumors are circulating around the league:
Deron Williams, UFA – When the 2012-13 season starts, Williams will either be in Brooklyn or Dallas. There’s no question that this is a two-team race between the Nets and Mavericks. Williams doesn’t want this process to drag out so expect him to sign fairly quickly. With that said, the point guard needs a little bit more time to make a decision. Sources close to the situation say Williams hasn’t made up his mind just yet, but believe he’s leaning toward re-signing with the Nets. The 28-year-old has enjoyed his year-and-a-half stint with the franchise, even though the team struggled during that stretch. However, the Mavericks haven’t given up hope and will pull out all the stops as they recruit him.
Steve Nash, UFA – It’s seeming less and less likely that Nash will re-sign with the Phoenix Suns. Both sides seem prepared for a split, with the 38-year-old weighing his other options and the Suns drafting Kendall Marshall to be their point guard of the future. There are plenty of teams that will express interest in Nash, with the Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks leading the charge. Toronto had the opportunity to trade the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft for Kyle Lowry, but held off because they wanted to pursue Nash and felt confident that they could land the Canadian star. The eight-time All-Star may also receive a large offer from Dallas. If the Mavericks lose the Deron Williams sweepstakes, they will turn their attention to Nash. The New York Knicks have been mentioned as a possibility for Nash, but he’d have to take an enormous pay cut join the team, which doesn’t seem likely.
Jeremy Lin, RFA – The New York Knicks extended a qualifying offer to Lin, which means he’ll be a restricted free agent. The Knicks can, and likely will, match any offer he receives. With that said, Lin still has to go through the process and sign an offer sheet with another team so that New York can match. The Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors could extend an offer sheet to Lin, according to sources close to the situation. It likely won’t happen until later in the week since teams won’t want to tie up their money with unrestricted options still on the market. However, later on, it could make sense for a team to throw some money at Lin. Either the team will be able to sign Lin or, at the very least, they’ll up the price for the Knicks. That’s how the business works. Your move, Mikhail Prokhorov.
Eric Gordon, RFA – The New Orleans Hornets extended a qualifying offer to Gordon earlier this week, and they plan to match any offer sheet he receives. The Hornets see Gordon as one of their key pieces going forward. New Orleans believes Gordon can eventually form a star-studded trio with draft picks Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers since the three players are all very young and full of potential. The Hornets insisted that Gordon be included in the Chris Paul trade last December so it’s hard to imagine them letting him walk away this summer. If anything, they would sign-and-trade him to another team, but even that seems unlikely given how much they value him. The Indiana Pacers are among the teams that will express interest in Gordon, but New Orleans is expected to lock up the shooting guard this summer.
O.J. Mayo, UFA – The Memphis Grizzlies chose not to extend a qualifying offer to Mayo on Friday, which means the 24-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent tonight. This was somewhat of a surprise since Memphis had multiple opportunities to trade Mayo last season, but decided to hold onto him. Now, Mayo has likely played his final game as a member of the Grizzlies and he’ll attract interest from a number of teams. There are plenty of executives around the league who love Mayo’s potential and believe he could be a very good player if put in the right situation. The Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams expected to pursue Mayo, according to sources close to the situation.
Roy Hibbert, RFA – Re-signing Hibbert to a long-term deal is the Indiana Pacers’ top priority this offseason. The Pacers love Hibbert and Hibbert loves the Pacers. Barring an unexpected twist, the restricted free agent will return to Indiana. The 25-year-old center made huge strides this season and was selected to the All-Star game for the first time in his career. Hibbert has made it clear that he wants to be back with the team next season, and the Pacers want him to continue his development at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks have been mentioned as teams that may make a run at Hibbert, but pursuing the big man will likely be a waste of time since Indiana will match any offer.
Jamal Crawford, UFA – After opting out of the final year of his contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, Crawford will test free agency for the second consecutive offseason. Crawford is looking for a multi-year deal and he shouldn’t have much trouble finding one. There are a number of teams that are looking to add a scorer this summer, and the 32-year-old is one of the best in the league when it comes to creating his own shot. The Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns are among the teams expected to express interest in Crawford, according to sources close to the situation.
Brandon Roy, UFA – After months of training, Roy is ready to make his NBA comeback. Sources close to Roy say he’s feeling good and preparing to sign with a team in the coming weeks. While it was originally believed that he would sign a relatively cheap contract, sources say Roy will likely receive several multi-year, multi-million dollar offers since teams view him as a low-risk, high-reward signing. Teams are confident that Roy can be a significant contributor and fan favorite after spending one year away from the game. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks are among the teams who are expressing interest in Roy, according to sources close to the situation. Roy, who is just 27 years old, is determined to prove that he still belongs in the league.
Jameer Nelson, UFA – On Friday, Nelson decided to opt-out of the final year of his contract with the Orlando Magic. He turned down the opportunity to make $7,888,888 next season because, at 30 years old, he wants to sign a long-term deal. Also, with Orlando looking to make moves, he didn’t want to enter next season on an expiring contract because then he could’ve been traded somewhere out of his control, possibly lowering his value entering free agency next summer. It’s still possible that Nelson returns to Orlando on a multi-year deal, but he’ll explore all of his options in the coming days. There are a number of teams that are searching for a starting point guard and Nelson could command the full mid-level exception.
Grant Hill, UFA – This offseason, Hill will weigh all of his options. Last summer, nobody expected the 39-year-old to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns. However, Hill’s relationship with Lon Babby, his former agent and current President of Basketball Operations in Phoenix, won out and he returned. Now, Hill may be ready to part ways with the Suns and join an elite team. League sources believe that Hill will consider taking a pay cut to join a contender, with the Miami HEAT being mentioned as a strong possibility.
Aaron Brooks, RFA – At this point, Brooks’ future is up in the air. The Phoenix Suns extended a qualifying offer to the 27-year-old, which means they can match any offer he receives. Brooks knows that he’ll have to wait for the Steve Nash sweepstakes to play out before he finds out what his future holds. Phoenix’s top priority is re-signing Nash, and everything else will be on hold until after the two-time MVP makes a decision. If Nash re-signs, Phoenix may decide not to match an offer sheet, allowing Brooks to sign elsewhere. Even if Nash decides to leave, there’s a chance that the Suns let Brooks walk, especially considering they just drafted Kendall Marshall on Thursday night. After spending last season in China, Brooks will receive interest from a number of teams, but whether he’ll be given clearance to leave Phoenix remains to be seen.
Ramon Sessions, UFA – Sessions decided to opt-out of the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it wasn’t an easy decision. The 26-year-old went back and forth before ultimately deciding to test free agency. The decision was so difficult for Sessions because he had a very positive experience with the Lakers. While it was tough for Sessions to adjust to the new situation during the condensed season, he enjoyed his stint in Los Angeles and would love to re-sign with the team, according to sources close to the situation. Sessions may have decided to opt-out, but it’s possible he signs a long-term deal to remain with the Lakers.
NBA Chats: There are two chats on today’s schedule. First, HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy will hold his weekly chat at 1 p.m. ET. Next, HOOPSWORLD’s Derek Page will hold his weekly chat at 5 p.m. ET. Submit your questions early because these chats fill up fast! View every upcoming chat here.