At this point, a free-agent signing won’t significantly change a team’s 2017-18 outlook, but niche players with specific skills could shore up a starting lineup or bolster the bench.
A front office looking for a distributor may consider Rajon Rondo on a short-term deal. The Memphis Grizzlies lost veteran core players Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to the Sacramento Kings via free agency. Will Tony Allen join his former teammates for a reunion under head coach Dave Joerger?
After watching the Golden State Warriors build a juggernaut in the Bay Area, front offices have placed a premium on acquiring and developing assets on the wing, how does this affect restricted free-agent center Nerlens Noel?
How do trade talks centered around the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets hurt the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances at landing Rondo?
Lakers Still Interested in Rajon Rondo After Signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
The Los Angeles Lakers still have some cash to spend after coming to an agreement with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a one-year, $18 million deal. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the team would use its $4.3 million mid-level exception on Rondo:
Despite all the allure in Los Angeles, Rondo could sign a better deal with the Knicks, who still have their sights set on a veteran point guard to help groom Frank Ntilikina.
According to New York Post reporter Marc Berman, the Knicks reached out to the Phoenix Suns about Eric Bledsoe’s availability.
“A source told The Post the Knicks inquired about Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, whom Jeff Hornacek coached in Phoenix,” Berman said.
As Berman stated in his report, New York doesn’t have much to send in a trade for the 27-year-old guard, which makes this scenario a long shot. According to New York Daily News reporters Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola, the Knicks continue to work with the Rockets to unload Carmelo Anthony. The deal would probably clear enough cap space to sign Rondo as an unrestricted free agent.
Recently, the Knicks and Rondo expressed mutual interest, per ESPN.com reporter Ian Begley, but the limited cap space likely led the front office to explore other options. A deal for Anthony should allow general manager Steve Mills to offer a competitive deal to the 31-year-old guard on the market.
Rondo wouldn’t have to take on a backup role. He’d start for at least the upcoming season in New York.
Prediction: Rajon Rondo Signs with the New York Knicks
Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers Interested in Tony Allen
At 35 years old, Tony Allen can still lock down scorers on the wing. He earned All-Defense second team honors for the 2016-17 campaign and would serve as a specialist wherever he signs this summer.
According to ESPN.com reporter Tim MacMahon, the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves have Allen on their free-agent target lists:
With ties to both head coaches, Allen will likely choose the better roster situation. The Clippers will go through major changes after losing their star player in Chris Paul. The Timberwolves added a three-time All-Star in Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague to initiate the offense.
Though unproven, there’s more upside in Minnesota. The Clippers would have two solid defenders in Patrick Beverley and Allen. However, head coach Tom Thibodeau loves the grind-it-out style Allen became accustomed to in Memphis. Expect the Timberwolves to sell the defensive specialist on the team’s bright outlook and manageable role on a roster loaded with young talent.
Prediction: Tony Allen Signs with the Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks and Nerlens Noel Still Can’t Agree
Two restricted free-agent wing players earned sizeable payouts on the market. The Washington Wizards matched the Brooklyn Nets’ four-year, $106.5 million offer sheet to retain Otto Porter Jr. The New York Knicks went above and beyond to acquire Tim Hardaway Jr. on a four-year, $70.9 million contract; the Atlanta Hawks opted against matching the proposal.
However, the restricted free-agent market hasn’t treated Noel as kindly. Before free agency started, multiple sources expected the 23-year-old center to receive several max offers, per Scout.com writer Mike Fisher.
“A source from another NBA team (not the Mavs) tells me that there will be ‘multiple’ clubs willing to pay Noel his max once he hits the restricted-free-agent market on July 1,” Fisher said.
During the initial free-agent wave, the Hawks emerged as a potential threat to lure Noel away from Dallas, per Hoops Hype writer Alex Kennedy:
After Atlanta allowed Hardaway Jr. to sign with the Knicks, the front office could heat up talks with the fourth-year center.
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News recapped the situation Saturday:
“Clearly, the Mavericks’ offer is something that Noel’s camp believes they can improve on. The Mavericks are believed to be offering something in the $18 million to $20 million salary range.
“Noel could earn a maximum of $24.75 million in the first season of his new contract.”
Similar to the Mavericks, the Hawks need long-term assets at the 4 and 5 spots. Atlanta traded Dwight Howard and allowed Paul Millsap to leave via free agency. Despite acquiring Dewayne Dedmon and re-signing Mike Muscala, expect this team to push Dallas for the young rim protector.
Noel may not sign a max offer, but he’ll stay with the Mavericks.
Prediction: Nerlens Noel Signs with Dallas Mavericks
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