The NBA‘s free-agency period got off to its unofficially official start over the weekend. We’ve already seen a ton of activity since the start of the month. However, teams cannot officially sign free agents until July 6.
This means that many of the moves we’ve been seeing have been based on verbal agreements only. Situations can obviously change, and we’re sure to see even more activity as signing day nears.
We’re here to examine the latest offseason storylines and rumors with July 6 on the immediate horizon.
Clippers Courting Gallinari
The Los Angeles Clippers traded away one of their core players when the team shipped Chris Paul off to the Houston Rockets. However, the team isn’t looking at a complete rebuild, as Blake Griffin is set to return on a new five-year deal, per ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne.
Moving Paul changes the dynamic of the L.A. roster, but retaining Griffin helps ensure the team still has a foundation to build around.
One player the team is interested in adding to that foundation is free agent Danilo Gallinari. The Clippers hosted him over the weekend and made a strong impression, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Per Wojnarowski, the Clippers have been interested in Gallinari for some time. The problem is that L.A. is over the salary cap and might struggle to field a competitive offer for Gallinari. Even if Gallinari likes the idea of heading to the Clippers, L.A. may have to get creative in order to secure him.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Clippers are looking to involve another team and complete a sign-and-trade with Gallinari:
Rondo Interested in Joining Clippers
As Kennedy pointed out, Rondo has some familiarity with Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. He spent time playing under him with the Boston Celtics. However, familiarity might not be enough to draw Rondo to the Clippers—even if he does indeed like Los Angeles.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Los Angeles Lakers are also interested in adding Rondo:
Rondo’s decision—assuming he intends to pick between the L.A. franchises—could hinge on his long-term plans. The Lakers are in a rebuilding phase but have a lot of intriguing young pieces. The Clippers are likely a playoff team even without Paul, though they aren’t necessarily a true challenger to the elite teams in the Western Conference.
Rondo will likely have to decide if he wants to win now—though probably not contend for a title—or if he wants to be part of a rebuilding process.
Lakers Also Interested in Waiters
Rondo isn’t the only free agent the Lakers have their eye on. The team is also interested in acquiring guard Dion Waiters. According to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, the team was set to meet with him on Sunday night:
Adding Waiters would help the Lakers offensively, especially from three-point range. He made over 39 percent of his shots from beyond the arc last season. Of course, the Lakers will have to figure out how to pry him away from the Miami Heat.
According to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, Heat president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra headed west in order to meet with Waiters.
Per Winderman, the Heat are interested in retaining Waiters and fellow free agent James Johnson.
Celtics Make Strong Pitch for Hayward
Miami is also interested in adding forward Gordon Hayward in free agency. Hayward is one of the top players available on the open market, though, and the Heat will have stiff competition for his services.
The biggest competition may come from the Boston Celtics. The Celtics hosted Hayward and his wife over the weekend and made a pretty strong pitch.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com explained:
“The Celtics took Hayward to Fenway Park on Sunday morning, where the Jumbotron beyond the center-field bleachers read, ‘Welcome to Boston Gordon & Robyn,’ with shamrocks on each side. With president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, assistant general manager Mike Zarren and Thomas all on the field, the team aired a three-minute video designed to emphasize the experience of playing in Boston.”
Hayward’s Boston visit came a day after he visited with the Heat.
There is, of course, the possibility that Hayward will choose to return to the Utah Jazz rather than sign with a team like the Celtics or the Heat. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Hayward hopes to make his decision by Tuesday or Wednesday:
If Hayward does choose to return to Utah, it would be a coup for the Jazz. If he chooses to sign with either Boston or Miami, he could quickly find himself on one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
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