Similar to the NBA draft, point guards will headline another important time in the offseason: free agency. Prominent names such as Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and even Derrick Rose on a bargain will be available on the market.
The Minnesota Timberwolves jumped into draft night Thursday and made a huge splash when acquiring Jimmy Butler in the biggest trade through the offseason thus far. However, team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau may have enough cash to lure another Eastern Conference All-Star out west.
Early rumors connected Chris Paul to the San Antonio Spurs, per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, but the team may go after a less costly option with limited cap space. What’s plan B after the nine-time All-Star?
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban seems prepared to show his loyalty by opening up the checkbook for 39-year-old Dirk Nowitzki. Sure, he’s worth a roster spot, but how long does the team plan on keeping him paid and in uniform?
We’ll discuss free agency as it pertains to Lowry, Rose and Nowitzki as well as what’s ahead for each player this summer.
Kyle Lowry Could Make Timberwolves’ Offseason a Slam Dunk
Many picked the Timberwolves to improve from the 2015-16 season into the following year, but Thibodeau’s group finished last in the Northwest Division at 31-51.
Based on the Butler trade, Minnesota has ditched the long-term plan, which entailed watching Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine develop in favor of an immediate takeover in the West. Thibodeau shipped both guards to the Chicago Bulls, acquired a proven swingman in Butler and will aim for Lowry during free agency, per Sporting News writer Mitch Lawrence.
The Timberwolves would win the offseason by a wide margin with Lowry and Butler plugged into the starting lineup alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. There’s no way this team misses the postseason with that core. It’s feasible to believe the new-look lineup would compete for a top-four seed in the West.
Lowry may have to choose between Serge Ibaka and his backcourt buddy DeMar DeRozan with the Toronto Raptors or Butler, Towns and Wiggins. His mantra may be, “Go West, young man!”
Spurs Targeting Derrick Rose
After his fourth knee surgery following a torn right meniscus in April, Rose’s name still flashes as someone to watch during free agency. This will be his first time exploring his options as an unrestricted asset on the market.
According to New York Post reporter Marc Berman, Rose’s injury history will cost him millions.
“According to league executives, because of his latest surgery, Rose’s market value likely dropped to the $10 million to $12 million range—above the new full mid-level exception of $8.5 million,” Berman said.
On the bright side, his depreciated market value could attract a playoff contender in the Spurs, who may not have the cash to lure Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers’ potential max deal offer. ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne thinks the oft-injured guard could cross San Antonio’s radar this summer:
He’s no longer an explosive player who attacks the rim and absorbs contact with ease. With his lengthy injury history, Rose has to pick his spots on the court. During the previous season with the New York Knicks, the 28-year-old guard shot 47 percent from the field, which compares closely to his first two years in the league.
Rose also averaged 18 points per game—the most in a single season since missing the entire 2012-13 campaign with an ACL tear. We could potentially see the best out of him without the full explosiveness under head coach Gregg Popovich.
Mavericks Ready to Re-Sign Dirk Nowitzki to 2-Year Deal
Nowitzki is one of four players heading into free agency at 39 years old or older. He’s likely going to be the first to know his plans for the next two years of his NBA life. According to Stein, the Mavericks will decline the German star’s club option and re-sign him to a new deal.
In Dallas, it’s Dirk’s world, and everyone else just pays rent. According to a source close to Stein, the team plans to do whatever Nowitzki chooses, which sounds like the Los Angeles Lakers’ approach to handling Kobe Bryant.
“The Mavericks’ plan, according to one source, is to do ‘what Dirk wants.’ Nowitzki turned 39 last week and is poised to tie Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant for the longest run in league history—20 seasons— playing for only one team,” Stein said.
Nowitzki hasn’t made any franchise-crippling demands, and the team seems primed to build behind Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and potentially Nerlens Noel, per Stein. Last year, the Mavericks’ icon averaged 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting his lowest percentage from the field (43.7 percent) since his rookie year (40.5 percent).
For Nowitzki, the end is near, but the front office will likely work out a comfortable two-year deal with a player option, which allows the future Hall of Famer to step away if he feels the need to do so after the 2017-18 season. It’s a thank you for delivering an NBA title to the franchise during the 2011 postseason.
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