HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Who’s waiting on Dwight Howard?
Not the Detroit Pistons, who have bypassed the Howard free agency sweepstakes for a chance to snag Josh Smith, the versatile forward who ranks as the hottest commodity on the market not named Howard in the first hour since free agency began at 12:01 a.m. ET.
Pistons boss Joe Dumars and his brain trust met with Smith and his camp shortly after midnight with the sides discussing a significant four-year deal that would see Smith join an already impressive young frontcourt group that includes Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
The Pistons would be the “surprise” team mentioned at the bottom of this report from Sunday morning and per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who highlights the Hawks’ willingness to work a sign-and-trade deal for Smith rather than re-signing him themselves.
Anything is possible now that we have crossed the threshold into what some folks like to call the NBA’s silly season.
Only in the minutes immediately after midnight do we find out that a guy like Chase Budinger, a fine player, could end up being targeted by more teams than a player the likes of Al Jefferson.
Crazy season is more like it.
BRINGING OUT THE BIG DOGS FOR HOWARD …
Howard, meanwhile, is forcing teams to pull out all of the stops to try to get him to do what Clippers point Chris Paul will do the moment he receives the teams offer of a five-year, $107 million deal (per ESPN.com) , and that’s make a verbal commitment to stick around.
The Rockets showed up with a contingent that was reportedly 10 deep, including Hall of Fame big man icon and tutor Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as current stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons, coach Kevin McHale and Rockets owner Les Alexander, among others. If you’re going to show up for a recruiting pitch you might as well do it with The Dream in tow if you are Rockets. Plus, you know how Rockets GM Daryl Morey rolls, he’ll take to the Twitter streets if need be to help make his case …
Dirk Nowitzki has already done his due diligence for the Dallas Mavericks, as NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury pointed out over the weekend.
The Lakers will get a boost from Kobe Bryant, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, who reports that Kobe plans to dust off his recruiting skills on Tuesday, when the Lakers are scheduled to sit down and make their final pitch to Howard. Shelburne suggested that the Lakers will also get another boost from none other than Phil Jackson, who weighed in on the Howard situation in his own, unique way:
One person who will not be there is former coach Phil Jackson, who left for his summer home in Montana on Sunday, according to sources.
Jackson though, delivered a message to Howard via Twitter before he hit the road.
“I’m going up to the country going to paint my mailbox blue,” Jackson tweeted to Howard, referencing the lyrics from an old Taj Mahal song. “While i’m there I expect to see you get on board tis ur place.”
Not to be outdone, the Golden State Warriors are showing up with a living legend of their own for their meeting with Howard. Warriors consultant Jerry West is expected to be in attendance when the Bay Area contingent tries to convince Howard to stay in-state, per Sam Amick of USA Today Sports:
BYNUM’S ROAD BACK …
While the Lakers are trying to make sure Howard isn’t the second franchise center that vacates the premises in the last year, joining Andrew Bynum, the former heir apparent to the franchise’s Hall of Fame big man legacy, is trying to rebuild his credibility around the league.
Rebuilding his reputation, however, will not include Bynum working out for teams, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, who ranks Bynum ninth on his list of the most coveted free agents of this summer:
Bynum’s agent, David Lee, said his Bynum will begin training in July in Atlanta in preparation for next season after completing his rehabilitation from knee surgery. The knee injury caused Bynum to miss the entire 2012-13 season with the Sixers. Lee said there are a “half-dozen teams” interested in Bynum and they will be given MRI and other needed medical reports. Bynum, however, will not work out for teams. If Bynum, 25, were healthy, he’d probably rank third on this list. The problem: He’s rarely healthy. New Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie didn’t express strong enthusiasm toward Bynum during his introductory news conference, saying he viewed Bynum just like “the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball.” The Sixers also acquired the rights to Kentucky center Nerlens Noel on draft night.
WHAT ABOUT MONTA?
The Mavericks and Hawks are keen on adding a player like Bucks guard Monta Ellis, who Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports points out, is prepared to do what it takes to finally play for an outfit that wins big:
The Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks — both teams with significant salary cap space — are two teams who have shown strong interest in Ellis and two teams Ellis has an interest in, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of Ellis’ situation.
They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about free agents.
Ellis is also at the point in his career where he wants to play deep into the playoffs. Other teams have shown interest — such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks — but those teams are handcuffed by salary cap restrictions and would need to make other moves in order to accommodate Ellis, who is willing to find common ground between salary and playing for a contender.
KORVER TO BROOKLYN A DONE DEAL …
So says a league exec to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
It makes sense, given Korver’s history with Nets GM Billy King (dating back to their Philadelphia days) and Deron Williams (dating back to their Utah days).
The Nets will need quality veteran help at the right price. They’ll also need guys who are willing to sacrifice certain things to play on a team and in a system that has yet to be defined under new coach Jason Kidd.
Korver has been that type of guy in every stop of his career.
WARRIORS’ LEE ON THE MOVE (VIA TRADE) …
All-Star power forward David Lee could very well be on the move, if the Warriors are serious about doing whatever it takes to make a move this summer.
Woj reports that the Warriors are strictly in the exploratory stage of the process right now, but if they’ve gone there, it’s not far-fetched to imagine they’d be willing to go all the way for the right prize:
Lee, 30, is a popular and well-respected player within the Golden State franchise but his contract is considerable, and moving him for a star – or a player on a shorter deal – makes financial sense.
Golden State offered Lee in a package for Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani, sources said, but the Raptors made a deal with the New York Knicks to shed the final two years, $22.5 million on Bargnani’s contract.
The Warriors tried to pry Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge as part of an offer that included Brandon Rush, league sources said. Portland has been engaging trade talks for Aldridge, but has pursued more robust offers than Golden State’s proposal, sources said.
EVANS TO THE PELICANS …
Stein reports that Tyreke Evans joining Jrue Holiday in New Orleans could be a possibility if the Pelicans nailed their pitch:
We’re only two hours into what could be an absolutely crazy free agent summer of 2013. Nary a major deal has been agreed upon, as of this moment. But stay tuned. Things could change in an instant.