From NBA.com staff reports
In case you missed it overnight, the Rockets met with Dwight Howard as free agency began overnight with a contingent that was equal parts Hall of Fame and front office in an attempt to woo the big man to Clutch City. As we all await what happens next with Howard, there are other names in the free-agent stew that we’ll update you on as well:
Blazers interested in Allen
Widely regarded as the best defensive shooting guard in the NBA, Tony Allen is due for a big payday this summer and the suitors are lining up to make their pitch to him. According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, the two-time All-Defensive First Teamer has been contacted by the Blazers:
Late Sunday night the Portland Trail Blazers contacted the representatives of unrestricted free agent guard Tony Allen, a league source conveyed to CSNNW.com.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the free agency period, says at that at this point, the reason for the conversation was merely “exploratory” with interest on both sides.
They are expected to resume discussions shortly during the free agency period. As of now, no meeting has been scheduled.
Bulls targeting Williams, Bynum?
Without Derrick Rose last season, the Bulls managed to win 45 games, take a Game 7 in the first round on the road and give the eventual-champion Miami Heat fits in a physical semifinal series. They did all of this with Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich putting in most of the work at point guard while Rose recovered. It stands to reason, then, that since Rose is expected back next season (and Robinson has all-but-assuredly played himself into a bigger contract) that the Bulls need to rethink their point guard depth. According to RealGM.com, Chicago is potentially targeting Jazz starter Mo Williams and Pistons backup Will Bynum to fill that reserve point guard role:
With uncertainty in the backcourt, the Chicago Bulls are showing significant interest in Mo Williams and Will Bynum and have started exploratory discussions with the representatives of the free agent guards, league sources told RealGM.
Williams averaged 12.9 points in 46 games a season ago with the Utah Jazz, and he has a stated desire to receive heavy, contributing minutes. The Jazz acquired Trey Burke at No. 9 in the NBA draft and could start him early in his NBA career. At 30, Williams has established himself as a combo guard, and Tom Thibodeau would undoubtedly place the 10-year veteran in shooting and playmaking situations.
Bynum has been a pace-changing guard, averaging nearly 10 points on 46.9 percent shooting in 2012-13. He has played five of his six seasons with the Detroit Pistons. Given Chicago’s salary structure, Williams and Bynum both could be inclined to make less money in a potential deal with the Bulls.
The Bulls appear unlikely to retain Nate Robinson or Marco Belinelli, and they are expected to waive Rip Hamilton before his entire contract becomes guaranteed. Still, they’ll have Derrick Rose back next season, leading to fewer minutes for Kirk Hinrich.
Wolves interested in Martin, Budinger
As Oklahoma City’s sixth man last season, Kevin Martin was the third-leading scorer for the Thunder and their top option off the bench. Once the playoffs came around, Martin’s scoring average stayed the same (14.0 ppg), but his 3-point shooting drooped from 42 percent in season to 37 percent in the postseason. Still, Martin remains one of the more efficient scorers in the league and is drawing interest from a team in need of 3-point shooting and scoring: the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves also never got to see much of what Chase Budinger could do in their lineup last season. He tore the meniscus in his left knee six games into the season and played just 23 games with the Wolves. Now a free agent, Minnesota is interested in keeping Budinger around, writes Sam Amick of USA Today:
The Minnesota Timberwolves honed in on perimeter scorers at the outset of free agency, visiting with small forward Chase Budinger in San Diego while also calling shooting guard Kevin Martin.
Budinger tore the meniscus in his left knee six games into the season and had surgery that kept him out three months, but has averaged 9.4 points per game as a valuable reserve in his three seasons in Houston and one in Minnesota. He is also known to be receiving interest from the New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks.
The interest in Martin is no surprise, as Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman brought him up as a young player in for the Sacramento Kings and later coached him with the Rockets. Martin also received a call from the Bucks on Sunday night, and is receiving interest from the Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.
What about Monta?
Monta Ellis is a tried and true scorer in the NBA, something that has got the interest of the Bulls, Spurs, Nuggets and Suns. But as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports, the Knicks might be the frontrunner for the former Most Improved Player of the Year Award winner due to the combination of factors they provide:
As the free-agent negotiating period opened Monday morning, the Knicks expressed an interest in pursuing a deal with Bucks shooting guard Monta Ellis, league sources told CBSSports.com.
A union of Ellis and the Knicks is viewed as a long shot, as the Knicks have only the $3.2 million taxpayer mid-level exception available. Ellis just opted out of a deal that would have paid him $11 million next season in Milwaukee.
But Ellis, 27, and his Washington, D.C.-based agent, Jeff Fried, are known to be willing to compromise in order to sign with a contending team. And the Knicks, who face the free-agent loss of sixth man of the year J.R. Smith, would provide ample opportunity for Ellis to showcase his scoring prowess deep into the playoffs.
The Bulls, Spurs, Nuggets and Suns also are among the teams who expressed interest in Ellis as the free-agent negotiating period began Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET, league sources said.
The Mavericks and Hawks are also keen on adding a player like 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 New Orleans?
John Reid of The Times-Picayne follows up on a tweet from Stein that the Pelicans could be a possibility for former Rookie of the Year winner Tyreke Evans. Reid reports that New Orleans would acquire Evans via a possible sign-and-trade deal that might send either point guard Greivis Vasquez or shooting guard Eric Gordon to Sacramento:
Although not confirmed, the Pelicans could be looking to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Kings to possibly move point guard Greivis Vasquez or starting shooting guard Eric Gordon.
As a restricted free agent, the Kings can match any offer that Evans receives. But the Pelicans may extend an offer the Kings are unwilling to match, which could force their hand in a sign-and-trade deal. The Kings extended a qualifying offer to Evans last week that made him become a restrictive free agent.
Evans could be expendable now with the Kings drafting Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore with the seventh overall pick in the first round of this past Thursday’s NBA draft.
On draft night, the Pelicans made a surprising blockbuster trade, sending the draft rights of Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, whom they selected with their No. 6 overall pick, and their 2014 first-round pick, if it’s not in the top five, to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans also acquired the draft rights of Baylor guard Pierre Jackson, whom the Philadelphia selected with the 42nd overall pick. The trade will not be finalized until July 10, when the NBA’s moratorium ends.
Because of the trade, however, Vasquez’s role is expected to be diminish at point guard despite averaging a career-high 13.9 points and 9.0 assists, which ranked third in the NBA this past season.