NEWS OF THE MORNING
Bulls up first to talk with ‘Melo | Report: Heat’s Big 3 discuss future contracts | Rose won’t recruit ‘Melo to Chicago | Report: Bucks offer second-round pick for Kidd | Report: Jazz to match all offers for Hayward
No. 1: Report: Bulls up first to talk with ‘Melo; Suns planning pitch to him (as well as LeBron) — As we reported in this space yesterday, the Knicks remain confident they will be able to re-sign free agent Carmelo Anthony despite the advances of other teams this summer. That notion won’t keep other teams from taking a crack at landing the superstar scorer and according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Chicago Bulls will be up first to talk to Anthony.
The Phoenix Suns, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, are also planning to not only pitch to Anthony, but also to LeBron James in hopes of wooing both out West to a team that has oodles of cap space and young talent, too.
First, here’s Stein’s report on the Bulls and Anthony:
Carmelo Anthony is planning to meet with the Chicago Bulls in Chicago on the opening day of free agency after the NBA’s offseason market officially opens Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., according to sources familiar with Anthony’s plans.
Sources told ESPN.com that Anthony is in the process of arranging a trip to Chicago to meet with the Bulls, then intends to travel to Texas for Wednesday meetings with both the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks.
Sources say Anthony is likely to visit the Rockets first on Wednesday, followed by the Mavericks in the afternoon.
Anthony, who maintains an offseason home in Los Angeles, is also expected to meet with the Los Angeles Lakers face-to-face next week.
One source close to the process told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne that Phil Jackson is planning to make a determined attempt to try to recruit his former Lakers center, Pau Gasol, to replace the freshly traded Tyson Chandler alongside Anthony on the Knicks’ front line, despite the fact New York is limited to offering Gasol less than $4 million for next season.
Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Knicks swung their trade with the Mavericks to send out Chandler and the out-of-favor Raymond Felton to bring back a clutch of veterans in return — headlined by point guard Jose Calderon – in their belief that Anthony would relish the prospect of playing with the Spaniard. Calderon has been a perimeter threat and a beloved teammate everywhere he’s played.
Sources insist that the Knicks feel far better about their chances than Jackson is letting on. No team can match the five years and $129 million that New York can provide if it wishes to offer a maximum contract to Anthony, and while Anthony is undoubtedly intrigued by the chance to team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, he also still loves the Madison Square Garden stage dearly.
Suns officials understand the bid will be something of a long shot, but are determined to get a meeting with James to convince him how the possibilities of two full max contracts, a roster stocked with talented, young players and the chance to pick the superstar free-agent partner of his choice ought to make Phoenix one of his most appealing suitors.
Phoenix is determined to emerge as a legitimate destination for James and Anthony, who have privately shared an affinity for playing with each other in the NBA. Salary-cap structures make it prohibitive for teams elsewhere to fit these two stars together without completely gutting a roster, but Phoenix’s general manager Ryan McDonough has constructed a far different reality to sell them in potential meetings next week, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Suns have $33.5 million in salary-cap space and could shed the next $10 million needed to sign James and Anthony to maximum contracts without unloading the young core of guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic and center Miles Plumlee that pushed the franchise to 48 victories in the Western Conference last season.
The Suns have three first-round draft picks in 2015, and the picks could help the shape the roster with deals for veteran players, or infuse more young talent – or both – based on whatever intrigues the best player on the planet.
For now, the Suns are like everyone else in the NBA, including Houston and Cleveland: hoping against hope James will pause before recommitting to a deal with the Heat and truly bring an open mind to free agency. So far, James’ representatives have been cautious on promising meetings with teams, and Heat president Pat Riley has been working on new deals with the reps for the four players who’ve opted-out of Miami – James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem – sources said.
The Suns are banking on James’ basketball acumen and business intelligence to see the roster, financial flexibility that could sustain the Suns’ success for years. Phoenix officials believe the best chance to get Anthony away from his preferred free-agent destinations – Chicago and Houston – will be to turn James’ attention toward the Suns, and get Anthony on board with his one true chance to play with James, sources said.
For now, the Suns wait with everyone else. They want a meeting on Tuesday, want a chance to tell a story to the planet’s best player. The message will be unmistakable: If LeBron James wants to play with the biggest co-star available in free agency – along with a supporting cast of playmakers in a warm climate – the Suns have a story to tell him.
No. 2: Report: Heat’s Big 3 starting to discuss contract futures — If you missed it over the weekend, our John Schuhmann has a great look at what it would take for the Miami Heat to keep their star trio of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James and add some firepower to the mix. That story might be some good reading for the Heat front-office types, too. According to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, the trio have started talking about future contracts amongst themselves, which may provide the strongest indication that all three will be back in Miami next season:
After agreeing to all opt out of their contracts together, Miami Heat stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have been discussing financial terms of new contracts among each other, sources told ESPN.com.
The talks between the three players is the strongest indication yet that James plans to re-sign with the Heat after he becomes a free agent on Tuesday. Unlike in 2010 when all three took nearly identical contracts, the discussions this time have included the possibility that James would draw the highest salary among the three, sources said.
James, 29, has never been the single highest-paid player on his team in his 11-year NBA career.
Under league rules, players are not allowed to negotiate new contracts with their teams until July 1. However, there is nothing preventing the players from working it out among themselves, and cutting up the Heat’s upcoming record $55 million in available cap space is believed to have been a major part of the discussion when Wade, James and Bosh held a meeting last week in Miami.
The trio of Heat stars working collectively have three general options on how to put together their deals that could affect how aggressive the team will be going after other free agents. The Heat’s front office, led by president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg, will consult but have different plans for all three contingencies, sources said.
No. 3: Rose won’t recruit ‘Melo, remains mum on Team USA play — The Bulls (as you can read in item No. 1) are planning to chat with Carmelo Anthony about joining them as a free agent and playing alongside former MVP Derrick Rose. But as has been Rose’s stance throughout his NBA career, the point guard says he won’t be making any pitches for Anthony to join Chicago. Rose is still recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2013-14 campaign after just 10 games and told Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears he’s unsure if he’ll participate in Team USA practices:
Rose told Yahoo Sports on Sunday that he doesn’t plan to recruit Anthony – or any free agent, for that matter – even though he likes Anthony’s game and thinks they can play alongside each other.
Rose’s reason is simple: He said it’s “not his job.”
“My thing is if they want to come, they can come,” Rose said.
“I love Melo’s game,” Rose said. “He’s a great player. Takes the game serious. He’s consistent. He shoots the ball great. I love his heart.
“I can play with anybody, no matter who it is. I believe I can play with anyone if they step on the court with me.”
Rose has played in only 10 total games the past two seasons and 50 the past three because of various injuries, including two major knee surgeries. He said he has been taking part in five-on-five scrimmages for a while and his rehabilitation is going well. But Rose also said he is uncertain if he will participate in USA Basketball’s training camp starting July 28 in Las Vegas.
“I still don’t know yet,” Rose told Yahoo Sports at the Drew Gooden Foundation Basketball Camp on Sunday. “If I’m feeling right and the time is [right], for sure I will go out there. My body is responding good, but you never know.
“Right now, I haven’t really thought about that. I am just worrying about just trying to get back every day and I’m really taking rehab one day at a time instead of trying to think about competing.”
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo is expected to begin reaching out to players in early July. USA Basketball will also have a training camp in Rose’s native Chicago from Aug. 14-15 and play Brazil in an exhibition game on Aug. 16 at the United Center. Rose last played in a game for the Bulls on Nov. 22 and last played in the United Center in Chicago on Nov. 18.
Rose said it would be fun to play for the U.S. in Chicago, but he’s more focused on his rehabilitation. He said his national team decision will be made between himself and his agent, B.J. Armstrong.
Rose has been playing five-on-five for about 45 days and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau recently said Rose was increasing the intensity of his workouts. Rose is certain he will be in uniform for the Bulls’ opener.
“For sure. That’s not a concern,” Rose said. “I’m on a mission. I’m just trying to get better. I’m taking it day by day. I’m getting the best out of every day.”
Asked to grade the strength of his knee, Rose said, “I want it to be a surprise. I want people to see me. It’s going to be a surprise.”
No. 4: Report: Bucks offer second-round pick for Kidd — As a player in the NBA, current Nets coach Jason Kidd was traded three times. In each of those deals, a second-round pick of some sort was involved. Kidd finds himself (thanks to his own shady efforts) in the midst of another trade discussion — and this time, he could be swapped for only a second-round pick. According to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, Kidd will become the new coach of Milwaukee if the Bucks agree to take Kidd off the Nets’ hands for a second-round pick. Either way, this bizarre story — which unfolded suddenly on Saturday night — will be resolved within the next 24 hours or so:
Jason Kidd will be the next head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks if the Brooklyn Nets agree to the Bucks’ terms of a 2015 second-round draft pick in exchange for Kidd, a source with direct knowledge told ESPN on Sunday.
The source said the Bucks offered a second-round pick, but the Nets wanted a 2015 first-round pick in exchange, a negotiating chip the Bucks originally dismissed.
“If the Nets agree then there will be a deal, if they don’t then [the Bucks] are comfortable moving on and there will be nothing further to talk about,” said the source. “The only thing (the Bucks) would give them is a second-round pick. They want a first. In the next 24 hours, there will either be a deal or there won’t be a deal.”
The source said the Bucks only talked to Kidd about being the coach, not any kind of administrative position running basketball operations. The source said the negotiation was supposed to be between the owners, not involving any basketball personnel, before the story was leaked out by the New York Post. But the source said the negotiations are now being handled by Bucks general manager John Hammond and Nets GM Billy King.
The source said Hammond and high-ranking Bucks officials David Morway and Dave Babcock are all safe and that their jobs are not in jeopardy if Kidd is hired as coach. The source said current Bucks coach Larry Drew has not talked to ownership during this process.
“If Jason accepts then they will work it out [with Drew],” said the source. “If the deal doesn’t happen, then there will be an issue with Larry.”
A league source told ESPNNewYork.com Saturday that Lionel Hollins has already emerged as “a very serious candidate” to become head coach of the Nets in the event Kidd does end up in Milwaukee.
Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel backs up Katz’s story, and adds some other details, too:
No terms of the deal were available but Kidd reportedly wanted to be compensated in line with the five-year, $25 million deals recently given to Steve Kerr by the Golden State Warriors and Derek Fisher with the New York Knicks.
Kidd made his coaching debut with Brooklyn last season after signing a four-year, $10.5 million contract.
…There remains a chance the deal could fall through if compensation between the Bucks and Nets cannot be agreed upon, and reports are the Nets’ Russian owners are determined to get a first-round pick.
It’s clear the Nets owners, led by Mikhail Prokhorov, want to move on to other coaching candidates. Among those being considered, according to reports, is former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, who was out of the NBA last season after being fired by the Grizzlies.
Several of Kidd’s players in Brooklyn stood strong behind him last season, including Paul Pierce and former Bucks guard Shaun Livingston.
If Kidd does land in Milwaukee, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Livingston to return to the Bucks. The 6-foot-7 Livingston, who emerged as a leader for the Nets last season under Kidd, is an unrestricted free agent.
No. 5: Report: Jazz to match any offer for Hayward — Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward has shown — if, at times, inconsistent — growth throughout his four seasons in the league. As a restricted free agent this summer, he’s expected to get offers from the likes of the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics and others. As Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reports, though, the Jazz are ready to match just about any offer a team will throw at Hayward to keep him in Salt Lake City. They also don’t want veteran Marvin Williams to leave, either:
The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.
Boston and Charlotte are two other teams whom the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward.
However, the Jazz plan on matching any offers for Hayward and intend to keep the versatile wing player in the organization as a major cornerstone in this rebuilding era, according to sources.
Utah extended a qualifying offer to Hayward last week, giving the team the right to match any offer sheets that he might receive.
Jazz management has made it clear since the season ended that it intends to keep Hayward in Utah for a long time. Moments after drafting Australian point guard Dante Exum and Duke forward Rodney Hood on Thursday, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey described the likelihood of Hayward returning to be “very, very strong.”
Utah also hopes to re-sign the 6-foot-9 Williams, per sources. Williams played an appreciated role as a stretch-four forward last season and was considered to be a valuable asset and example in the locker room for a young Jazz team.
One high priority Utah has, according to a team source, is a big man who can provide shooting and veteran experience. The 28-year-old Williams could fit that need, but he’s also reportedly in demand elsewhere.
Possibilities in the non-superstar tier include the likes of Detroit big man Greg Monroe, Houston forward Chandler Parsons, Washington forward Trevor Ariza, Lakers power forward Pau Gasol and Spurs forward Boris Diaw, among others.
One thing the Jazz have going for them is financial flexibility.
Even with Utah center Derrick Favors‘ four-year, $49 million kicking in this fall, the Jazz only have a guaranteed payroll of $32 million for eight players for the 2014-15 season. And that includes the rookie salaries of Exum ($3.6 million) and Rodney Hood ($1.3 million).
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Spurs will make every attempt to bring back Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and the rest of their free agents … If Jason Kidd does end up leaving the Nets, should Brooklyn think about hiring Patrick Ewing? … Just like in the summer of 2010, the Raptors find themselves with an asset (Kyle Lowry) coveted league-wide … The Magic don’t plan to make a big splash in free agency … The Lakers gave Ryan Kelly a qualifying offer, but passed on giving one to Kent Bazemore … The Clippers’ first priority in free agency may be re-signing backup point guard Darren Collison