The NBA‘s overhaul known as free agency was started by the sign-and-trade equivalent of dropping a boulder in a full bathtub.
There aren’t just ripples in the water after learning the Los Angeles Clippers agreed to a sign-and-trade of Chris Paul with the Houston Rockets, according to ESPN.com. There’s water entirely out of the tub now and all over the place as the rest of the league gears up for an arms race thanks to the unstoppable-looking Golden State Warriors.
Paul joining James Harden in Houston and perhaps trying to recruit even more superstar talent is only the beginning. The market features other major names like Blake Griffin, and the rumor mill isn’t exactly quiet on the matter.
In an effort to keep up with the often-blinding pace, here’s a look at the latest.
Holiday Gives the Pelicans a Shot
Jrue Holiday is quietly one of the bigger names on the market who could have a major impact on how next season plays out.
It’s easy to forget about Holiday, who is only 27 years old, because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, playing in 67, 65, 40 and 34 games over his past four seasons. But not only is he still in the middle of his prime, he showed well last year while averaging 15.4 points and 7.3 assists over 32.7 minutes.
Plenty of guard-needy teams will have an interest here if the price is right. But according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Holiday will do what seems exceedingly rare and give his team first crack at getting him a new deal.
With an ultimatum, of course.
“If Holiday, one of the market’s top unrestricted guards and the Pelicans’ primary summer priority, is unable to reach an agreement on a deal to remain with New Orleans, he intends to take meetings elsewhere in the first 48 hours of free agency, league sources said,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Better than nothing, right? But the rumor mill has suggested the Pelicans will have some big competition for Holiday’s services, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via RealGM).
The Pelicans can at least feel confident. Holiday has been in New Orleans for four years now, and the front office can float a five-year deal and the idea of playing with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
But as they say, crazier things have happened.
Millsap’s Market Keeps Growing
He might be 32 years old, but the market for forward Paul Millsap is quite big.
This is especially true after the Atlanta Hawks made it clear a rebuild is underway with the Dwight Howard trade. The normally conservative Hawks don’t usually seem like a team ready to lose talent, though Millsap seems to be the new exception.
The Phoenix Suns seem interested in this idea and already have a visit set up with the veteran, according to John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM.
This new development, paired with an older one, makes it seem like the Suns might be the top potential destination for Millsap. The old one is Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com mentioning the Suns as a location after detailing sign-and-trade options (h/t Ryne Nelson of Slam).
“There are three or four teams out there that are willing to give Millsap a max contract, and sources have told me that the Hawks have begun getting some feelers on sign-and-trades,” Windhorst said.
Are the Suns one of those teams? Hard to say with certainty, but a veteran presence on the block who averaged 18.1 points and 7.7 boards a year ago on an upside-minded roster featuring Devin Booker sounds like a quality arrangement if the team wants to make some noise right away.
The write-up also mentions the Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets, though the Suns are the first known visit so far. Either way, it sounds like the Suns could be seeing plenty of Millsap whether they employ him or not.
Suns In on Griffin?
Perhaps the most interesting name on the market in the wake of CP3 switching sides is Blake Griffin.
Does the star forward stick it out with the Clippers without Paul and make extra cash, or does he seek a grass-is-greener opportunity elsewhere at a smaller price tag?
At the least, Griffin will do his due diligence and make the Clippers sweat through the process by meeting with the Suns, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
Indeed, these Suns want to make a big splash at the 4 and Griffin is quite the way to do so. A four-year deal seems like the sweet spot for a player like Griffin too because he’s 28 years old, meaning he’d give Phoenix at least a few years of his immediate prime before the two sides think about the future.
A year ago, Griffin posted 21.6 points and 8.1 rebounds on 49.3 percent shooting over 61 games. Durability is probably the biggest issue here, as Griffin hasn’t played in more than 67 games since 2013-14.
Still, for a team like the Suns trying to make a leap similar to one put on by the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference, Griffin makes sense over the short term. He can function as a leader, produce on the court and maybe even lure more talent to town.
The Suns won’t be alone in pursuit of Griffin, of course. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two known teams ready to chase Griffin on the open market, as noted earlier this month by Turner’s colleague, Broderick Turner.
It’s also important to keep the Clippers in mind as well when thinking about hypothetical scenarios here. But again, the Suns are the first team to pop up here—and whether that’s because the team is a useful leverage point for free agents or a desirable destination is one of free agency’s more interesting storylines right out of the gates.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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