5 NBA Teams That Are Not Done Making Moves in 2014 Free Agency
The NBA free-agency pool has thinned out considerably since teams began signing players less than a month ago, but a handful of organizations are still looking to augment their rosters.
Per Spotrac, an even two-thirds of the league is over the salary cap already. Even so, not all the buyers left at this juncture will come from that group of 10 teams with money in hand.
Take the Philadelphia 76ers, the most drastic example. Given their youth movement and tank-reliant long-term plan, using their available dollars on veteran talent isn't in their best interest.
That's not good news for those remaining available players, whose values will deflate in accordance with demand. With capped-out postseason hopefuls filling out the list of open-market pursuers, expect the majority of the deals still to come to be for the league minimum.
But there are also the two confounding restricted free-agent cases to consider: Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe. The two young borderline stars have yet to sign, and the scarcity of spending money out there makes their respective situations all the more awkward. Where they go and for how much will be matters of circumstance and compromise.
Presumed earlier in the summer to be joining LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, as reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Ray Allen isn't quite a sure thing for the East's newest juggernaut.
Allen told Don Amore of The Courant that he would be "content" retiring now, though he is still considering opportunities to extend his career into a 19th season:
"To continue playing, really, the only argument is I can because I'm in great shape," Allen said. "But just because you can doesn't mean you have to. Many people over these last couple of weeks have lobbied for me to continue to play. … My argument for not playing is, I have done a significant amount in my career and I appreciate everything that has come my way and as I've gotten older, I'm 39, there are so many things in life I want to be able to do to affect change — like being around kids full time, which I enjoy.
"So at this point I just feel so good about where I am."
Though he's one of the most deadly shooters in basketball history, Allen wouldn't be coming to Cleveland primarily for his on-court ability; his experience, his leadership and his history playing with LeBron on the Miami Heat are the real draws.
Yes, Allen is coming off a season in which he hit 37 percent from beyond the arc, but Mike Miller, another former James teammate Cleveland picked up this summer, can provide that offense. At age 39, Allen is hopeless on the defensive end, even more so than Miller. If the future Hall of Famer opts against a last run as a Cav, it won't be an enormous loss.
After all, Cleveland can find another veteran presence—and a more able-bodied one. Per ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Cavs are targeting Shawn Marion to add his seasoned defensive play to the roster. Like Allen, he would be signing for the veteran's minimum.
Of course, that means Cleveland could potentially snag both Allen and Marion. However it plays out, LeBron's new squad will only get stronger as free agency plays out.
The way Andre Drummond sees it, Greg Monroe is going to wind up right back in the low post for the Detroit Pistons next season.
Drummond spoke confidently to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, touting his relationship with Monroe and his optimism for 2014-15:
“Greg knows what it is,” Drummond said at the Mendenhall Center on the UNLV campus. “I’ve told him multiple times that he needs to come on home.
“I need him there, and all the guys would love to have him back as well. At the end of the day, he’s got to do what’s best for him and his family.
“I still have high hopes, and I’m pretty sure he is coming home, so I’m excited for this season.”
The question is, this deep into the offseason, do the Pistons really want Monroe back?
Last season's ultra-big roster composition with Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith clearly did not work out as planned—largely due to Smith's inability to play the small forward position on either end. Unable to space the floor or guard the perimeter, Smith's presence alongside Monroe and Drummond led to overcrowded paints and porous defenses.
When free agency started and Isaiah Thomas was available as a restricted guy, Grantland's Zach Lowe reported that the Pistons could look to pick him up in a sign-and-trade for Smith, in part to fulfill a wish of Monroe's for Stan Van Gundy to clear room for him in Detroit's frontcourt:
Reading between the lines, a sign-and-trade involving Thomas and Josh Smith may be in the works, and multiple sources say Monroe’s camp has made it known Monroe will sign the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster. Monroe’s camp denies that, and that kind of empty threat is not atypical from top restricted free agents. It’s really their only form of leverage.
As for a potential Monroe sign-and-trade to another destination, that option has not materialized as of yet and appears unlikely to do so now. With no suitors emerging from the woodwork, Detroit is going to end up bringing him back, be it for one year or more.
The biggest blow to the Indiana Pacers this summer unexpectedly shifted from Lance Stephenson's departure to Paul George's horrific broken leg. Per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, even the relatively upbeat post-surgery prognosis has George missing the entirety of the upcoming season.
Once the league deems that reported recovery time "official," Indy will be in line to receive a disabled-player exception. According to Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ, the Pacers will get $5.305 million, equal to the full mid-level exception, to spend on a replacement for George.
Don't expect them to use it, though. Indiana is less than $3 million below the luxury-tax line, and the hardship waiver of the disabled-player exception does not excuse the team from shouldering George's cap hit for next season. Any deal signed with that exception stacks atop Indy's other spending, pushing the team into taxpayer territory.
Without George, that financial burden carries little likely reward. The Pacers won't contend in 2014-15, regardless of who they add in their star's absence.
Instead of using an exception, Indy will look for cheaper reinforcements. RealGM's Shams Charania tweeted that the Pacers have MarShon Brooks on their short list and are eyeing Gary Forbes along with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Neither minimum guy could possibly replace Paul George, but no one on the market and few players on the planet could. Nevertheless, the Pacers will surely pick up someone in the wake of his loss.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant is coming back and making $23.5 million next season, per ShamSports. Given those conditions, the Los Angeles Lakers will keep scrambling to construct a winning roster around him, improbability be damned.
Pau Gasol left for the Chicago Bulls, and while L.A. has brought in Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer, every little bit is going to help as the Lakers scrap for even the eighth seed in the loaded Western Conference.
So it makes perfect sense that Michael Beasley has drawn the Lakers' interest, per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Considering Wesley Johnson is L.A.'s lone true small forward on the roster, taking a minimum-salaried chance on a player with Beasley's upside certainly has merit.
Though he hardly cracked Miami's rotation in the postseason, Beasley proved he could function as an efficient secondary shooter rather than a high-volume iso scorer, hitting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range in 2013-14.
Now consider that Wesley Johnson is the only true small forward on Los Angeles' roster. To say that bodes poorly for the Lakers' playoff prospects would be an understatement.
At the same time, saying that Beasley would single-handedly make the difference between a postseason berth and a second straight lottery appearance would be overstating things. If nothing else, he would give Kobe and Co. more help in chasing that goal, making it just a little less of a pie-in-the-sky prospect.
Whether Eric Bledsoe likes it or not—and there's mounting evidence that he very much does not—he's probably stuck with the Phoenix Suns for now.
Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reported that the difference between Bledsoe's max asking price and Phoenix's four-year, $48 million offer has become such a point of contention that the relationship between player and team is at risk of falling apart altogether:
According to league sources, an “ominous development” has arisen with sides still “very far apart” in contract negotiations. It has even escalated to the point where the “relationship is on the express lane to being ruined,” a source with knowledge of the situation informed CSNNW.com.
If Bledsoe feels the Suns are lowballing him, nothing but his ire could deter them from doing so, and it appears that hasn't swayed the team to up its proposal. So long as Phoenix advertises that it will match any offer sheet Bledsoe signs with another team, the rest of the league has no incentive to go after him at all.
Like Monroe with Detroit, Bledsoe could sign a qualifying offer to stick with Phoenix for a year before hitting unrestricted free agency in 2015.
Then again, his negotiation has gone differently than Monroe's in terms of requests from the team.
While both have sought max money, Monroe's prolonged free agency has been predicated on Detroit's other roster moves; he has been waiting for Detroit to move either Smith or him. Bledsoe had no such qualms with his supporting cast, though Phoenix added Isaiah Thomas to its point guard corps, either as a sixth man behind Bledsoe or as his replacement alongside Goran Dragic.
If Bledsoe believes he is worth more than Phoenix is offering him, he can eschew the four-year deal in favor of the qualifying offer. But the fact that Bledsoe remains in negotiation, even in the face of what he considers insulting treatment, indicates that long-term financial security matters greatly to him at this time.
That's why a multiyear deal remains in play, even though the Suns are realistically the only team from whom Bledsoe could play it out. Whether he begrudgingly returns for one more year or resigns himself to more for below the max, Phoenix's bid to keep Bledsoe, at least for the near future, is no contest.