Morning Shootaround — July 6


VIDEO: TNT analyst David Aldridge reports the latest free-agent news

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Lakers make move for Melo | Heat meet with Deng | Gortat’s return to D.C. was easy call | Novak traded to Jazz

No. 1: Lakers make move for Melo — In the earliest days of free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers seemed to be the odd team out, as free agents and reps for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony met with and considered various franchises, from Chicago to Miami to Houston to Dallas, not to mention the incumbents — the Knicks and the Heat. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers entered the summer with just a handful of players under contract and significant room to maneuver under the luxury tax.

But you can never count the Lake Show out. While many reports had Melo choosing between the Knicks and Bulls, last night Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers are definitely in the picture. After his meeting with Lakers execs, reports are that Carmelo is absolutely considering a move to the coast, to join Kobe Bryant in a west side connection…

The Los Angeles Lakers have ascended into serious contention to sign New York free agent Carmelo Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers moved into strong consideration with the front-running New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls over this weekend, sources told Yahoo Sports.

No one with direct knowledge of the process would declare the Lakers had overtaken New York and Chicago in Anthony’s mind, but one source close to Anthony said of the Lakers, “They’re in the game now.”

The Lakers met with Anthony on Friday, offering him a four-year, $97 million contract. Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been in constant contact with Anthony, and the Lakers could re-sign Pau Gasol to pair with Anthony on the frontline.

This story kicked off when ESPN’s Bill Simmons noted via Twitter…

Of course, Melo signing with the Lakers would mean him leaving over $30 million from the Knicks on the table — as his former team, the Knicks can offer Anthony a larger and longer contract than any other team. There’s also the question of whether a pairing of Anthony and Bryant (with Gasol) in the rough-and-ready Western Conference would give Anthony the best and quickest chance to win.

Whatever happens, after weeks of speculation and simmering, free agency is finally reaching the boiling point. Get your popcorn ready.

***

No. 2: Heat meet with Deng — While several NBA teams are loaded with cap space, the Miami Heat are still a work in progress. While James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all opted out of their contracts and seemed interested in returning, the path forward for the Heat has seemed less clear, both in terms of financials and personnel. With an aging roster and burgeoning payroll, the Heat have to find a way to get their Big Three some help, without breaking the bank.

Yesterday, according to an ESPN report, Heat president Pat Riley took another step forward by meeting with one of the top free agents on the market, Luol Deng

The meeting was described as “preliminary,” according to a source, as Riley attempted to sell Deng on the benefits of joining the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions.

Sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that Deng will not take a salary significantly below his market value, believed to be above $10 million annually, merely to sign with the Heat.

Deng has several suitors, including Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers, but a source said Riley’s pitch intrigued him.

Adding Deng would give the Heat experience, depth, and help on both ends of the court. It may also be something of a dream — can the Heat actually create enough room to make Deng an offer he can’t refuse?

The task facing Riley and the Heat is anything but easy. But then, the best things very rarely are. Four seasons ago, Riley defied many expectations when he successfully constructed the Big Three. Now he’s got a different kind of difficult task ahead of him.

***

No. 3: Gortat’s return to D.C. was easy call — Not long before last season began, the Wizards gave up a first-round pick along with the rights to injured center Emeka Okafor in exchange for Marcin Gortat. While Gortat has always been a solid interior performer, he was going to be a free agent this summer, and the Wizards were gambling they’d be able to convince him to re-sign in D.C. After showing promise during the regular season and making a run into the second round of the playoffs, Gortat felt confident enough in the future of the Wizards to stick around.

In an interview yesterday from Orlando Summer League on NBA TV, Gortat said re-upping with Washington was a simple decision

“A lot of different reasons,” Gortat said, when asked why he elected to stay with the Wizards. “First of all, I like the city. I like the team. I definitely feel comfortable over there. The team really took me under the wing and they help me since the day one. I definitely love the chemistry between me and John Wall. I think Bradley Beal is going to be a great player one day. Coach Randy [Wittman] believes in me, and I have a great relationship with him. So, the decision was real easy for me. I believe that we will be a special team for the next four or five years.”

Gortat was asked about interest from the Miami Heat and bobbed his head side to side, “We had a few teams, but I don’t think it [makes] any sense to talk about that now.”

If they’re planning to get the entire band back together, the Wizards still have to convince Trevor Ariza to re-sign — and as an in-demand swingman, Ariza may take a little more convincing than Gortat.

***

No. 4: Jazz trade for Novak — Sweet-shooting swingman Steve Novak spent the last few seasons knocking down 3-pointers for the Knicks and the Raptors. While out enjoying the 4th of July holiday with his family in his hometown of Milwaukee, Novak found out he would have a new NBA home next season: The Raptors reportedly agreed to move Novak to the Jazz for Diante Garrett, who the Raptors could waive to create salary cap space.

One of the interesting bits of this story is how Novak discovered he was being traded: According to the Desert News, Novak found out via a series of text messages from his Toronto teammate Kyle Lowry

Novak, who was dealt to the Raptors from the Knicks just a year ago after thinking he’d finally found his long-term NBA home in New York, wasn’t expecting that news. He even wrote back to Lowry, “Are you kidding me?”

Traded again? To Utah? On Independence Day?

What!?!

“It was the Fourth of July. I didn’t have any idea that you could get traded on a national holiday,” Novak said, laughing, Saturday evening in a phone interview with the Deseret News. “I didn’t think GMs worked so hard.”

The gift and the curse for Novak is his combination of shooting and size (he is 6-10) simultaneously makes him a hot commodity and a tradeable asset. For his part, Novak seems to be embracing his new home…

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The long wait to see Nerlens Noel in a Sixers uniform may have been worth every second … If the Rockets need to move Jeremy Lin to create cap space, Philadelphia might be an option … You know who’s not happy about players being asked to take pay cuts? Their agents and their union. … Looks like Devin Harris will agree to a three-year extension with the Mavericks …

24 Comments

  1. El Stone says:

    Why would any free agent sign with Miami at this point?

    Without a guaranty that LeBron is coming back, who do they have? Nobody.

    That’s why as a Spurs fan I love LeBron’s stalling technique. Take all the time you want buddy. Meanwhile, quality free agents (Gortat, Lowry, Harris, etc.) are signing elsewhere.

    These writers always talk about how “smart” LeBron is. Is it smart to derail your own team by stalling your free agency decision to the point where there are no good options left? LeBron loves the spotlight, but I think that his attempt to draw as much attention to himself is going to backfire in this case.

  2. Marc Ritou says:

    Hey Carlo , how old is Melo ? If he is 35 going on 36 , this year , it’s not worth the gamble , please let him go…out of his way ! That or the team he is going to will never go to the final for as long as he remains with that team , mark my words …unless he goes with the Heat that I never a filling for right after the ” RAT PAT RILEY ” pull the trick of : Larry Johnson and a few other players of the Knicks to suspension ,so they can beat the team , what did they do after that : PAT THE RAT FAILED TO GO TO THE NEXT ROUND . I was so glad they lost to the “SUPER SAN ANTONIO SPUR ” , this year ! I hope Lebron James goes back to what ever team he wants to , forget about the wheat !

  3. Marc Ritou says:

    One more little note : I could be wrong , do not quote me on that ” My Brasil team has a 10% chance of getting to the final with the winner of Argentina/ Holland , I prefer Argentina over Holland , after Germany /Brasil winner , God knows who’s going to play whom next Sunday , you and I will be the judge of that ! In the event of Holland /Germany , it will be Germany , if they don’t make too many mistakes . On the other hand , if my second favorite team (Argentina ) beat Holland ,it’s going to be a war …good soccer game , no matter what ! I don’t see Brasil , my team figure on the final…it could be : Germany , Holland , Argentina for the final, because my Brasil lost a couples of pieces to finish the puzzle , agree !

  4. Marc Ritou says:

    Look , forget about Melo! Even I loved him so much …it’s just like a lady you been married to …your high school lover , your long time girl friend , your very first love , all of them are just a gamble , lottery tickets ! Don’t ever forget that phrase from an ” Haitian Band ” , it’s in french creole : ” Mariage ce yon billet lottery , ce lel tire pouw konnin ” .Most of haitian peoples know exactly what i am talking about , do not trust or never trust a women too much…they will always hide something from you…the man could cheat , that’s for sure ! But if a woman or women started cheating on , forget it , you’ll get lost in the shuffle .Don’t get me wrong , I love the man for all he has done for the team , that is not all his fault , the team did not make the playoff , in my opinion , the will fall from the get go , they gave it to another team that had a better chance to go to the third or fourth round ….there are a lot of guys still available for grab , if Mr Jackson and the staff wanted to go that route…I don’t have any problem with that , what so ever , go after Mr Deng , Gasol , an another free agent , don’t waste your entire time waiting for a basket to be open …fill your own basket with young players that’s love the team and the game of basketball , let’s make the playoff without Melo , let’s go Knicks !

  5. Marc Ritou says:

    In reality , i don’t get it ! To me , “The Knicks should be its first choice ” no matter what …money wise , he loves the team and the area , he was born there was he ? Because he wanted to come home awhile back …costing the Knicks to waste a couple of drafts pick …now he wants to check the market or leave N.Y for Houston ,Chicago or L.A ! Come on people , that is not fair . if he’s willing to go , be it ! I think if he goes to the Lakers , we could still beat his behind with all we got . With the acquisitions of players we’re going to have , the Knicks should spend the money on 3 other players and finish between second and fifth , no ifs or butts about it !

    • briballs says:

      That’s funny because with Melo and in a weak eastern conference the Knicks still missed the playoffs last season so….how do they have a good enough supporting cast that can beat Melo and the Lakers on a bad day?

  6. IMMORTALITY..TAKE IT ITS YOURS!!! says:

    if melo is thinking about the money then he should stay in new york..however if he wants to experience to play in an nba finals ASAP he should sacrifce a lot of money and join the HEAT before he gets old and be traded when he is at the age he cant play the way he used to play..cause there is no threat in the east side for this coming season other than miami heat(well if the big3 stays together)..

  7. Sam Reyes says:

    Lebron and Melo I belive Melo should leave NY and sing with the mavs, they have a good roster and they fight hard. also chicago is a good option but the cap space wont let them get much if they get melo they will strugle anyway.

    the mavs are the best option to get a ring, because the rockets coach doesnt has the Experience and skills to take the team to finals… and less to win them.

    My vote its for Dirk, Carlisle and the Mavericks.
    :)

  8. Unkle Daddy says:

    I think every free agent should send LBJ an email, saying I can’t do anything until you do, so hurry up.

  9. Caldron Pool says:

    With or without Anthony the Lakers will struggle to make the playoffs. Without him they’ll go 12th place in the West. With him, maybe 8th or 9th.

    They’ve got nothing as of right now, not even a coach. All of the things they’re saying are advantages may not even turn out helping the team at all.

  10. juan isidro el mmg says:

    WELL…dont get scare if you see the heat with this players…. James+wade+bosh plus Deng+Boozer is a different team.

    • Carlo says:

      Yeah. Different from “feasible”.

      Why not hiring Superman too? I heard he’s a FA too. He only asks for 100M/year.

  11. Ross says:

    Media people think fans don’t have calculator, they always report the 30 million difference between NYK offer and other teams.. come on, there is also a year difference, so if you count the fifth year; say the lakers will pay Melo after his contract, granting he will get the same respect from the organization as Kobe did; he will be paid another 20 mil, so in reality he will be paid 10 mill less by other team not the reported 30.

    • Carlo says:

      Actually, it’s not exactly the same thing.
      In four years from today, ‘Melo will be four years older and less likely to get the same money.
      But the biggest catch is: history teaches that you can get a super, long-term contract and then get injured and still earning a lot of $ even without being able to (decently) play. ‘Melo has a very good example next to him on the bench.

    • Jarrod says:

      You think he’s gonna be worth 20 mill after 5 years? He’s gonna be past his prime, and won’t be worth that much by then. By signing this contract with the Knicks, he is guaranteed that much in his 5th year.

  12. Bird33 says:

    Don’t do it Loul! You’ll regret getting involved with the Heat. Besides….don’t you want fans in the seats cheering for you from the start of the game, as opposed to arriving in the middle of the 2Q :-) You should go to a team that has real basketball fans that will appreciate you…..so…basically any of the other 29 cities (ok….maybe not LAL….lol)

  13. mee(a)t says:

    Ok…I laughed at Novak’s joke

  14. johnnyhoops1980 says:

    While I respect Woj, all he said was that the Lakers were in consideration now. Of course they are with a max offer !!! When it comes down to it, though, don’t think Melo leaves $30M on the table from the Knicks, or a serious chance to make a Finals with the Bulls. Plus, I don’t think Melo really feels as if he can make it work with Kobe in LA – that smells like a disaster waiting to me. The SH blog has a really nice piece on Melo’s free agency, breaks down the factors nicely, worth a read: http://straighthoops.com/courting_carmelo.html

  15. harrythehawk says:

    Getting traded is part of the life of an NBA player. Even the “stars” move around, by choice (to win). Take note of Lebron James, Carmello Anthony and Dwight Howard. Get used to it. Although in your particular case, you are moving from an up and coming team, to simply a non-contender. That’s sad.