Kevin Durant’s Upcoming Free Agency Leaves Short Window for Thunder Title

The Oklahoma City Thunder organization is built upon the idea of sustainable success. And in the past several years, it has come through with consistent title-contending years.

The problem is the Thunder may be in danger of losing that sustainability, and that danger is ironically in the hands of the player that has given OKC so much. 

Even though Kevin Durant will remain in the Thunder blue for the next two seasons, talk has already transpired among fans and followers concerning his future destination if/when he hits free agency. 

There are several reasons people believe KD will eventually leave the Thunder: his hometown ties to Washington D.C., desire for a more marketable city and recent change in representation to Jay Z’s RocNation.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that KD defended LeBron’s decision to test the free-agent market this summer, per Royce Young of ESPN.com:

I don’t know what the big deal is. As a player, I think that’s the best way to go about it. You can have all your options. It’s better for you as a player to opt-out, because you can get a market deal. You can get more years. You never know what will happen if you pass up on that. So I didn’t know what the big deal was. I’m sure it was a decision he made, something he was thinking about, for him and his family.

After Durant backed LeBron’s desire to test the free-agency waters, LeBron ended up relocating back to his hometown team in the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many now question if Durant will follow suit. 

But when asked about his own future, KD has been less revealing and claims he hasn’t thought that far down the road. Here’s what he said to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne in July: 

I’m going to do what’s best for me. It’s hard to talk about that right now when I’ve got two years left in Oklahoma City. I’m just going to focus on that. I’m not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does. I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too.

Whether rumors of KD‘s eventual departure from the Thunder can hold water, a consenting realization among OKC fans and followers is beginning to grow. 

And that realization is that the Thunder’s window of opportunity is likely within the next two years. 

The Thunder are fortuitous for having a player like Durant since the existence of the organization. It’s not common for teams to feature one of the top two or three players on the planet. And in a way, OKC has been spoiled for having him. KD has been the main ingredient in the Thunder’s rise to elite status. 

Each year, Durant carries the weight of hopes and expectations of an entire state. For a vast majority of players—even star players—that is an unfair burden. But it’s different with a special player like KD.

Each season, Durant carries his weight and leads his team to success. He’s been the scoring champion three times, he’s the reigning MVP, he’s led OKC to the Western Conference Finals three times and the NBA Finals once. 

The unbelievable things KD can do on a basketball court should never be taken for granted. And as Thunder fans may figure out in a couple years, life without a player like KD on your team can be a very, very scary thing, especially after having witnessed him lead their team to success for so many years. 

It is unclear what Durant’s intentions are for the future, but the fact remains that he has just two years left on his contract.

With that in mind, Thunder Nation might want to bank on a title within the next two years. After all, it’s unlikely the Thunder will ever acquire another player like KD in the near future, and his eventual exit from OKC is very possible—or, dare I say, probable. 

 

For more Thunder news and analysis, follow @JaredPorter_BR on Twitter.  

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The 6 Biggest Whiffs from 2014 NBA Free Agency

Amid the flurry of NBA activity this offseason, a number of moves (or non-moves, as it were) grabbed headlines but never materialized to anything more.

For one reason or another, these almost-partnerships never made the transition from the rumor mill to the transactions log.

Depending on how the 2013-14 campaign plays out, some of these could be remembered as costly missed opportunities. There were some potential landscape-changing moves discussed.

Granted, not everything that gets thrown at the wall has a great chance of sticking.

As fun as it might have been to imagine Carmelo Anthony forming a Big Four with the Miami Heat or LeBron James teaming with ”Mini LeBron” Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns, those rumors always felt heavier in hope than substance. No one thought Anthony would leave a significant stack of cash on the table (he didn’t), and most painted James’ decision as being Cleveland or Miami (he went with Cleveland).

The six near-stories on this list seemed to have some serious legs, though. While circumstances kept them from coming to light, the thoughts of what could have been won’t fade away nearly as easily.

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Chicago Bulls: 4 Free Agents To Consider Signing

Chicago Bulls: 4 Free Agents To Consider Signing
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…
The Bulls have just 12 players signed for next season, one being their 2nd round pick Cameron Bairstow who isn’t going to be playing much and could be in the D-League, so they can sign 3-4 more players and if he is in the D-League they have to sign 2 to get to the minimum 13 players. So they still have some work in filling the roster. There is still some strong talents that are free agents and there are some players that could help them, so here are 4 free agents they should consider signing.. However they would have to be minimum signings.
1. Emeka Okafor- C
- If Okafor was on this team, he would at best be their 4th big man, maybe 5th, but the Bulls still lack a 2nd center and he is the best free agent who isn’t Eric Bledsoe or Greg Monroe. It is doubtful that he would take a minimum to play a small role, but there is no harm in trying to sign a player that fits the team perfectly and …

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NBA Free Agents 2014: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Unsigned Talent

Eventually, the NBA season will start and the Cleveland Cavaliers will stop adding players. For now, though, it seems like Ray Allen could be following in Shawn Marion’s footsteps on the way to northeast Ohio. 

Cleveland’s pursuit of Allen isn’t the only rumor around the Association.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest whispers and offer some predictions for the landing spots.

 

Ray Allen

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports filled fans in on the latest regarding Allen and Cleveland:

If you are a believer in the saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” then you certainly think Allen will be lacing it up for the Cavs this season. He’s been connected to LeBron James and company all offseason, so there’s clearly something here.

Allen makes some sense in Cleveland as well. He’s an absolute lock for the Hall of Fame and has made more three-pointers than anyone else in the history of the game. There is chemistry in place with James after their time in Miami together, and James’ presence alone will draw defenders into the lane and open Allen up for plenty of looks from behind the arc.

Still, the thought here is that Cleveland would be better off adding size or even a backup point guard if it is going to make any more moves.

Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving both missed significant time last year with injuries, and this team isn’t exactly stacked with interior defense. As for shooters, the Cavaliers already have Mike Miller, Dion Waiters and James Jones in place, so Allen would simply be adding to an area they have covered.

However, it’s impossible to ignore the signals we have seen all offseason between Allen and Cleveland. There really is a fire behind that smoke.

Prediction: Allen joins James in Cleveland.

 

Leandro Barbosa

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders provided an update on Leandro Barbosa:

Barbosa only appeared in 20 games for the Phoenix Suns last year and averaged 7.5 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, but he will look to prove himself once again to teams like the Miami Heat in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Barbosa will play for Brazil during the event, which is an ideal high-stakes scenario to demonstrate his skills. He commented on the World Cup, via Shams Charania of RealGM:

I don’t know what owners think about the World Cup, but hopefully I do a great job over there and a team sees. I feel healthy and my body is feeling healthy. If I have free agency in my mind, I won’t be able to be myself on the court. Hopefully, I sign a contract and I’ll be happy.

The Heat are still a legitimate threat to advance deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs even after losing James, especially with the Indiana Pacers reeling. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng represent a solid core, and adding Barbosa to that group would only bolster those chances.

He can hit the three when defenders collapse on Wade and Bosh (39 percent on his career), get out in transition and attack the rim and provide solid minutes and defense as part of the rotation. Barbosa is also a playoff-tested veteran who has played in the postseason six different times throughout his career.

Miami will recognize all this and add Barbosa.

Prediction: Barbosa signs with the Heat as they make a push for a top-three seed in the playoffs.

 

Toney Douglas 

David Pick of Eurobasket.com provided an update on Toney Douglas:

The case can be made that this is a surprising move, considering Douglas has been in the league since 2009 when he was a first-round pick. Perhaps Douglas will play well in China and impress enough NBA teams to earn a contract before the end of the season.

Douglas actually started 17 games for the Heat last year but saw minimal playing time in the playoffs and down the stretch. In fact, he only played in 29 minutes in the postseason. However, we are talking about a solid defender who can play solid minutes off the bench for a team that isn’t necessarily loaded like Miami was last year.

Douglas averaged more than 20 minutes a night during the first four years of his career with the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings and could have an eye on a bench role down the stretch.

Still, the rumor here from Pick suggests that this is a done deal. Look for him to lace it up in China to start the season. 

Prediction: Douglas plays in China and signs on somewhere in the second half of the NBA season after impressing overseas.

 

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Jazz sign free agent F Jack Cooley (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have signed free agent Jack Cooley.

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NBA Free Agents 2014: Ideal Situations for Top Remaining Veterans

NBA roster building knows no offseason. The quality of veteran free agents still out on the open market in mid-August of 2014 shows that most franchises can still make moves to improve their squads late in the summer, even after all the big free-agent movers and shakers have made their hotly anticipated decisions.

Picking up a key role player on a cheap, veteran contract can be hugely beneficial for teams looking to make strides toward the playoffs without entrusting the duties to an untested youngster.

Just like every team has its unique needs, the top veteran free agents have to be mindful of finding teams that can allow them to flourish and best utilize their skills.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus solely on unrestricted free agents. Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe are the top talents remaining, but their status as restricted free agents makes their ideal situations a bit harder to project and quite a bit more fanciful since their teams can likely match any significant offers that have yet to materialize.

Here are three veteran players and the teams that can best make use of their unique skill sets.

 

Ray Allen

Ray Allen can fill a backup shooting specialist role for a number of NBA teams. Floor spacing is key to running an effective offense, and Allen’s reputation and statistics mean teams often give him plenty of respect.

However, his numbers took a dip last season, as age is clearly catching up to the 18-year NBA veteran. Allen shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc last season, his lowest rate since the 2009-10 season. His 9.6 points per game in 2013-14 was the lowest mark of his career, and his 44.2 percent shooting from the field was his worst clip since the 2006-07 season.

He needs a team that can provide him with plenty of alternate scoring options while on the floor. In this case, his rumored move to the Cleveland Cavaliers is indeed the ideal situation for this legendary sharpshooter.

According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the Cavs are optimistic about signing Allen this offseason:

Of course, Allen has stated this offseason that he could be quite content with the way his career has panned out thus far, diminishing his chances of returning at all.

“I’m not in any rush [to make a decision],” Allen said in early August, via Dom Amore of The Hartford Courant. “I’ve played 18 years, and the way I look at my career, I’m content with everything that I’ve done. I just want to take this summer and see how it goes.”

Allen has two NBA championships to his name, so he will likely only come back to a team that offers him a clear shot at another legacy-bolstering title. With LeBron James angling to bring a title back to his home state, Allen would be wise to latch on with this loaded team in a diluted Eastern Conference that lacks serious title challengers.

 

Michael Beasley

Michael Beasley’s once promising career has been on a swift, steady downward trajectory over the past few seasons. After posting a career-high 19.2 points per game in the 2010-11 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Kansas State product has seen his scoring average and minutes decline with each passing season.

Beasley’s best fit is a team that can promise him the opportunity to play a bigger role on offense.

The Indiana Pacers need depth at forward in the wake of Paul George‘s devastating leg fracture, which makes this Midwestern team the best fit for Beasley. The Pacers will be desperate to find ways to replace George’s scoring and athleticism on the perimeter. 

Beasley could still be a solid scorer if given the opportunity. He hardly played on a loaded Miami Heat team last season, but he averaged 18.9 points per 36 minutes. However, his mid-range shooting does need work. Beasley shot just 37.5 percent on two-pointers beyond 16 feet last season.

The Los Angeles Lakers are also a strong possibility, but they have a wealth of forwards on their team and his presence would likely siphon valuable minutes from promising players like Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson.

The imbalance on the Lakers makes the Pacers a much better fit for Beasley, who should be eager to prove that he can still be a potent scorer on a top team.

 

 

Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche may have more talent than any player still looking for an NBA contract. The 6’11″ forward/center is just 27 years old and coming off a season where he averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per contest.

Blatche‘s character concerns have kept teams from jumping at the chance to sign him. His obvious skills and size would make him a strong fit on many teams, but he could truly flourish on the Houston Rockets if given the chance.

The Rockets need a backup center behind Dwight Howard after dealing Omer Asik this summer. They have little in the way of proven talent behind their All-Star big man. Clint Capela, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas are unlikely to become major contributors next season.

This gives the veteran Blatche the perfect opportunity to assert himself as a viable talent on a top contender.

It should be noted that it is easy to imagine Blatche fitting in elsewhere. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel gave his take on how Blatche might fit in on another team, the Miami Heat:

Look, the back-story issues with Blatche have been well-chronicled, or else the Wizards wouldn’t have let him walk in the first place and the Nets wouldn’t have been as lukewarm on a return. Just about every time I’ve seen him play, I’ve seen a player who can make an NBA contribution. But there also is the issue of the Heat only having the minimum left to pay. Plus if Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Chris Andersen are going to comprise the primary power rotation, there is the issue of minutes. Still, Blatche would make this current Heat roster better, no doubt.

At this point, Blatche may be waiting for a phone call well into the upcoming NBA season. Should he remain available that long, the Rockets might realize that their lack of depth at forward/center can be quickly alleviated by signing Blatche.

 

Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Should Eric Bledsoe Follow Greg Monroe’s Lead in NBA Free Agency?

Greg Monroe has left a trail of bread crumbs for Eric Bledsoe.

Limitations are everywhere for NBA restricted free agents. Their options are finite. Their leverage is minimal.

Teams—specifically incumbent teams—hold all the power. They can diminish a player’s market value and, in some cases, eradicate it entirely.

There is only one thing a player can do at that point, when the market is dry and their individual influence dwindling even further: what Monroe is doing.

According to USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt, he will accept the Detroit Pistons‘ qualifying offer rather than sign a new contract, delaying his free agency until next summer, when his restrictions disappear and his freedom is absolute.

Rare is the player coming off a rookie contract who passes up a lucrative payday, no matter how much more he wants, no matter which team it’s coming from. And while the future impact Monroe’s decision has on other case studies—assuming he has one at all—can be tirelessly debated, his is a path Bledsoe has the opportunity to travel now…if he dares.

 

Limited Options

Zillgitt says Bledsoe dares to think about following Monroe as the relationship between him and the Phoenix Suns is souring. Egos have apparently been bruised to the point of protracted silence.

“We haven’t heard from the guy in four months, so I couldn’t tell you. I do know that when he played here, he felt good about the organization, his coaching staff and his teammates at the end of the season,” Suns owner Robert Sarver said, per Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “We had the same feelings toward him.”

Past feelings aren’t enough to bridge the gap between what Phoenix is offering and what Bledsoe is seeking.

The Suns, as Coro notes, haven’t budged on their four-year, $48 million offer. Bledsoe, meanwhile, is after five years and $80 million, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, putting he and the Suns more than $30 million apart. 

If Bledsoe is hellbent on signing a max contract, inking Phoenix’s qualifying offer worth a little more than $3.7 million is the only play. There are no other options.

Interested teams won’t come calling with max offer sheets this late into free agency. The money isn’t there outside Tankadelphia Philadelphia.

Forcing a sign-and-trade is out of the question, too. The Suns have made it abundantly clear they would match any offer he receives, so the incentive to move him isn’t there if they covet him that much. 

That leaves Bledsoe to do the Monroe (sign Phoenix’s qualifying offer) or settle for tens of millions of dollars fewer than he wants. 

 

Risk-Reward Factor

This decision wasn’t taken lightly by Monroe. He had been “discussing options with his agent, David Falk, for the past two offseasons,” before taking such drastic measures, according to Zillgitt.

Monroe also signs the qualifying offer knowing he, assuming continued health and production, will have a strong market next summer when there aren’t any strings attached to his free agency. Talented big men who can play the 4 and 5 positions still don’t come in packs.

Top-notch point guards are more common and therefore not as likely to be overpaid. Kyle Lowry signed a four-year, $48 million pact with the Toronto Raptors after playing like the Eastern Conference’s best point guard in 2013-14. That’s exactly the same contract Phoenix is offering Bledsoe

Will there be interested teams willing to pay Bledsoe more money next summer? 

Most likely.

Removing the restricted free-agency label helps increase Bledsoe‘s appeal. Teams don’t have to sit and wait for 72 hours while cap space is tied up in a player they’ll never keep, so the market will be there, more so than it is now.

 

Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton and Devin Harris aren’t long-term, championship-building solutions at point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. Jose Calderon and Pablo Prigioni aren’t the future for Phil Jackson’s New York Knicks

Patrick Beverley isn’t one of the Houston Rockets‘ primary building blocks. Jeremy Lin and Steve Nash most likely won’t be members of the Los Angeles Lakers beyond next season.

All of those teams will have ample reason to upgrade at point guard next summer. All of them are also in position to create enough cap space to enter the Bledsoe sweepstakes, per ShamSports. And there will be other teams for Phoenix’s point guard to peruse; he will have options.

Think of a dark horse like the Atlanta Hawks. Though they don’t need a point guard, Bledsoe‘s ability to play the 2—he spent four percent of his minutes there last year, but playing alongside Goran Dragic left Phoenix with a positionless backcourt, so to speak—makes him a potential running mate for other floor generals.

Not to mention the Suns, who will still have the ability to offer him more years and money than any other outfit. After seeing him play more than 43 games this season, they could be inclined to break open Sarver‘s vault-protected piggy bank.

The downside? Continued uncertainty.

Everything between now and then would be predicated on assumptions. Additional teams—in enormous markets, no less—will have cap space, but can Bledsoe follow 2013-14 with an equal or even better 2014-15? 

Last season marked his first as a full-time starter, and while he joined Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, James Harden and LeBron James as the only five players to average at least 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 45-plus percent from the floor, injuries are a concern.

Bledsoe missed 39 games last year. That has no doubt played a role in Phoenix’s thinking. It also has to resonate with Bledsoe himself, as he’s forced to ponder his own mortality, like Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes dutifully details:

NBA careers are short, typically over by the time a player hits his mid-30s. And everyone—Bledsoe included—just got a refresher about how abruptly things can change course. It says something when Bledsoe‘s “best” option, his only real leverage, is to take on the enormous risk of a one-year deal.

Consider, too, the case of Paul George. He’s expected to miss all of next season after suffering an open tibia-fibia fracture during a scrimmage with Team USA. He, like Bledsoe, is only 24.

But he, unlike Bledsoe, has the security of a long-term contract.

Accepting his qualifying offer provides no such safety net. If Bledsoe hurts himself, his market value will ebb in the direction of the injury’s severity. Suddenly that four-year, $48 million contract looks pretty good, yet is nowhere to be found.

Bledsoe will have some fierce competition to contend with as well. Kemba Walker is slated for restricted free agency, Monta Ellis can hit the open market, Rajon Rondo will hit the open market and Dragic has the option to explore unrestricted free agency.

As playmakers, any of them could impede Bledsoe‘s market. Dragic‘s case is especially interesting.

There’s no telling what the Suns would do if both of their starting guards reach free agency at the same time. Bledsoe will either be deemed more indispensable because he’s almost a half-decade younger than the 28-year-old, or Phoenix will be less inclined to pay him if a combination of Dragic and Isaiah Thomas is cheaper.

Sweet though unrestricted free agency seems—especially to restricted free agents—its candy-coated appeal is dependent upon everything going Bledsoe‘s way.

Betting against there being any market-mangling roadblocks is the risk. 

 

To Monroe, or Not to Monroe?

What’s transpiring between Bledsoe and the Suns is no longer a game of chicken.

One side isn’t waiting for the other to blink. Perhaps the Suns are waiting for Bledsoe to move on his demands, but that’s because they can; Bledsoe himself has no such luxury.

The money he wants isn’t there. It’s not on the semi-open market. It’s not in Phoenix. There is only what the Suns are offering or a unique attempt at tilting the battleground in Bledsoe‘s favor. 

And though it’s a risky attempt, Bledsoe‘s decision isn’t about risk itself. It’s about faith, as Zillgitt argues:

It is a rare move for a restricted free agent to forsake financial security and a long-term deal now for the hope of something similar one year later. Signing the qualifying offer to become an unrestricted free agent doesn’t happen often, but it does happen and there are risks involved — injury or a down season — that could impact the value of the next contract.

It requires foresight, confidence and boldness to sign the qualifying offer, and while it gives a player a chance to explore unrestricted free agency earlier than usual, most players don’t want to take that risk.

Faith in one’s self is the risk. Bledsoe would be betting on himself because he believes, because he knows his value is bigger and better than what the Suns claim.

Does he actually believe that? The continued absence of his signature on Phoenix’s offer says yes, just as it did for Monroe in Detroit. And if he actually believes he’s worth more, it’s time for him to act like it.

Sign the qualifying offer. Play through next season. Make the gamble Phoenix won’t and other teams can’t for a chance at gaining the power and security you clearly crave but cannot get right now. 

Turn the tables.

Flip the script.

Follow the bread crumbs.

 

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Free Agents the Lakers Would Do Well to Target to Improve Their Odds in the 2014-15 NBA Season

The Lakers dreamt big this offseason. Like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony teaming up with a returning Kobe Bryant to form a Dream Team in Tinseltown kind of big. But as the free agent frenzy came and went, none of those dreams came to fruition, and the Lakers were left with the likes of Ed Davis, Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer.
As a result of their failure to land the big fish in free agency, the Lakers will not be titles contenders again this season. In fact, the L.A. Lakers haven’t been labelled with NBA Championship odds this low in recent memory.
The Lakers figure to be bad again this upcoming season, but they’ve still got a chance to be less bad if they can fill some of their glaring holes with a couple of smart free agent signings.
One such signing could be Shawn Marion. “The Matrix” averaged 10.4 PPG and 6.5 RPG for the Dallas Mavericks last season and was a solid contributor in their return to the playoffs. The 36-year old veteran is still a sought-after commodity because of his solid wing de

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Potential Impact Players Still Available in 2014 NBA Free Agency

We’ve officially hit the slow period of the NBA offseason, as most rosters are close to being filled and the big fireworks have already gone off.

Even with that being the case, there is still a very strong pool of free-agent talent available, including a few players who could make a major impact next season.

Before we get to five of the best candidates, let’s explain why a few big names didn’t make the cut.

Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe has informed the Detroit Pistons he plans to sign his qualifying offer, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports. That would take him off the market.

We’ll also leave out free agent center Andrew Bynum, who may take this year off based on what his agent David Lee told Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The 7-foot Bynum may not be reuniting with Phil Jackson’s Knicks or any other team next season because he is seriously contemplating sitting out 2014-15 to undergo the Germany-based knee therapy called “The Regenokine Program’’ that would require an extra long rehab, according to his agent David Lee. But he could be in play for the following season.

“He would be looking at in a longer-term situation,’’ Lee said. “He’s still a baby. If he went to college, he’d be coming off his rookie contract at age 26.’’

Veterans like Elton Brand and Ray Allen barely missed the cut, along with riskier additions like Michael Beasley and Dante Cunningham. Each might make an impact but probably not on the same level as the following five free agents could.

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Five quietly brilliant contracts of the NBA free agent summer

Not everything across the NBA can be as monumental as LeBron James altering the fate of the known world. The comings and goings of the NBA’s biggest names certainly define the broad landscape of the NBA—there is an alternate universe out there where Chris Bosh does sign with the Houston Rockets, and the outcome of every NBA Finals through the end of time is changed. But when it comes to the specific games that are won and lost, the role players who surround the superstars tend to be the difference between wins and losses. Here are five of the NBA’s smaller free agent signings that I believe make brilliant sense for both the player and team involved. None of these moves made big headlines, and for good reason. But the goal isn’t to make big headlines, is it? 1. Josh McRoberts to the Miami Heat Contract: Four years, $22.6 million (player option for 2017–18) One of the many subplots to LeBron’s return to Cleveland was that McRoberts had just committed to a contra…

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