A free-agent derby that lacks superstar power but could redefine the landscape of the West is set to begin Tuesday at midnight ET amid the possibility that several of the top teams from the conference are on the verge of dramatic change, and not necessarily for the better.
The same point could be made most every July, except that the start of negotiations this time comes with the additional twist that a couple of the headliners with the best chance to leave their current team may switch to a club within the conference: LaMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers meeting first with the Lakers and expected to also consider the Spurs and Mavericks, and DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers reportedly eyeing a potential move to the Mavericks. Whether Aldridge stays or goes obviously has a major impact for Portland, in other words, but if the destination is another team in the West’s upper echelon, the decision is a dual shakeup.
The Warriors are one of the few teams near the top to be immune — and the champions are at the very top — with every indication still that Draymond Green is a lock to return. That has been the case for months, the only uncertainty being whether it would be with a new contract directly from Golden State or by Golden State matching an offer sheet.
The same goes for Kawhi Leonard, another restricted free agent, and the automatic of his next deal in San Antonio. Among the unrestricteds, all signs point to Marc Gasol re-signing in Memphis without seriously considering other opportunities. (Just as the biggest name of all on the market, LeBron James, isn’t really considered to be on the market with the strong signals he will be back in Cleveland.)
Beyond that, though, the conference could be on the verge of shifting, starting tonight. What would an Aldridge departure, if it happens, mean for the decision for the stay-or-go decision in front of Wesley Matthews? What other moves will the Spurs have to make to manage the cap enough to keep Danny Green, in line for a big payday? How will the Clippers respond if Jordan leaves, after coach Doc Rivers spent two seasons proclaiming Jordan as essentially irreplaceable. On and on.
Tonight is the start of negotiations, and also the start of the implications. In many cases, losing a free agent may be more than losing a free agent. It could be a direct rival getting better in the process, a double hit.
Kings have Green, Rondo on wish list, 7:11 a.m.
Bucks hold 2 a.m. meeting with Monroe, 7:10 a.m.
Aminu’s deal setting bar for others, 6:41 a.m.
Pacers to meet with Ellis today, 6:21 a.m.
Pacers making push for Ellis, 1:30 a.m.
But the Pacers aren’t the only ones interested…
Aminu heading to Portland, 12:42 a.m.
Spurs, Leonard agree on framework, 12:06 a.m.
Davis tweets he is staying put, 12:02 a.m.
Davis agree to max deal with N.O., 12:01 a.m.
Celtics trying to reach Love, 11:39 p.m.
Lakers, Love to chat this week, 11:11 p.m.
Lakers looking at centers, 11:08 p.m.
Wade met with Heat brass, twice, 10:20 p.m.
Kings, Rondo have mutual interest 9:57 p.m.
Mavs set to meet with Aldridge, Jordan, 9:52 p.m.