Michael Beasley Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent Star

Michael Beasley is one of the most notable free agents still left on the market with most of the NBA‘s offseason complete. The small forward played a limited role for the Miami Heat last season and has struggled to garner interest.    

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports Beasley will continue the process of trying to find a new home by working out for the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs this week. They join the Los Angeles Lakers among teams that have evaluated him:

Beasley’s had several workouts for teams this summer, including two with the Los Angeles Lakers, but remains unsigned for the 2014-15 season.

The Spurs have 14 guaranteed contracts for next season, and so far, they haven’t been able to come to terms with restricted free agent Aron Baynes.

The latest link makes sense on the surface. San Antonio lacks depth behind Kawhi Leonard with first-round pick Kyle Anderson needing time to develop. The UCLA product has forward height, but is more accustomed to playing guard.

Beasley would also bring another offensive weapon to the equation. He averaged better than 19 points per game during the 2010-11 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves but has watched his playing time drop steadily since that point.

That’s not without reason, of course. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald had a source explain why the Heat didn’t bring him back:

A person with direct knowledge cited several reasons for the Heat’s lack of interest: Inconsistency, lack of trust in his defense (and ability to execute the Heat’s defensive system), and maturity/focus issues, which are still a concern even though he improved somewhat in that regard last season.

Despite those problems, the Spurs apparently want to get a better look for themselves to determine whether he would be a good fit for their team.

Beasley did appear in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, scoring nine points in 17 minutes off the bench. It was too little, too late for Miami, but it did give San Antonio a look at what he’s capable of, at least on that end of the floor.

Ultimately, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft should latch on somewhere. While there are fair concerns about his defense and past off-court issues, he does bring enough to the table offensively to warrant a reserve role elsewhere.

There wouldn’t be a better place to attempt a career resurrection than San Antonio. It’s a stable environment with plenty of veteran leadership to help guide him, as was the case in Miami. Whether the Spurs are interested should become more clear after the workout.

 

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Tracy McGrady Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding NBA Star’s Comeback

Now that he’s officially retired from the diamond, Tracy McGrady is apparently headed back to the hardwood.

In an email exchange with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, McGrady confirmed he’s currently working out with Kobe Bryant in hopes of seeing whether his body could handle an NBA comeback next season.

“Yes, I was working out with K.B. to get in shape and see how my body feels,” McGrady said.

McGrady, 35, retired after 16 NBA seasons last August. He last played with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2013 postseason, failing to score a point while missing all seven of his shot attempts. Before joining San Antonio, McGrady spent most of the 2012-13 campaign with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.

His last meaningful NBA stint came with the Atlanta Hawks in 2011-12, where he averaged 5.3 points per contest in 53 games off the bench.

After retiring, McGrady briefly pursued a baseball career with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, an independent outfit that was once the home to Roger Clemens.

He retired from baseball after recording a strikeout in the league’s All-Star Game, giving up five runs in his 6.2 innings pitched for the Skeeters.

It will be interesting to see whether McGrady’s comeback proves successful. In Atlanta and San Antonio, McGrady looked like a broken-down version of himself who was hanging on for one more check (with the Hawks) and a possible ring (with the Spurs).

Never an elite shooter and with his knee injuries having long since sapped his formerly prodigious athleticism, one has to wonder what McGrady could possibly offer an NBA team.

Wojnarowski‘s report noted that McGrady’s representatives touched base with two teams attempting to drum up a market. Both declined interest.

McGrady himself isn’t even sure how much interest he has in returning to the day-to-day NBA grind. He told Wojnarowski no official decision will be made about his basketball future until at least October, when he’ll return from a trip to China.

“The comeback will not happen, unless I have the drive whenever I get back,” McGrady said.

Ultimately, a return to China might be McGrady’s best bet if he wants to keep playing basketball. While his team didn’t have much success during his season in Qingdao, his individual numbers were in-his-prime great. He was named to the All-CBA third team and remains a well-liked figure.

It’s possible that he might even make more money in China than he would in the United States, where NBA teams are unlikely to offer much more than a non-guaranteed minimum contract.

Stephon Marbury is just one of a handful of former players who have found something nearing a home in China. McGrady is a much more accomplished NBA player and might perform even better in a second Chinese go-around knowing it’s not just a stopgap before a return home.

No matter his desire, odds are we’ve seen the last of McGrady playing basketball in the U.S.

Unless a team is desperate for a veteran voice to mentor young players—think Chauncey Billups on last year’s Pistons or Derek Fisher basically anywhere for the past half-decade—he’s going to have a tough time earning a gig on his own merit.

Of course, this is a shame to anyone of a certain age who remembers McGrady soaring to superstardom in Orlando.

There was once a time when “Kobe versus T-Mac” was a legitimate debate. Now, Bryant’s gearing up for a comeback to widespread fanfare, and Spotrac indicates he will make $23.5 million in 2014-15. McGrady will be lucky to get a tryout opportunity.

 

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Lakers Rumors: Latest Speculation Surrounding Michael Beasley to LA

Michael Beasley has earned several opportunities during his career, but landing with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason might be his best-case scenario. With an experienced group heading into the 2014-15 season, Beasley in Hollywood has a chance to provide results. 

The potential deal was initially reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

The Los Angeles Lakers are considering signing free-agent forward Michael Beasley and brought in the six-year veteran for a workout at their El Segundo, California, practice facility Wednesday, according to multiple sources.

“[Beasley] looked very good and he has been working out,” one source said. “A tiny rust from layoff, but [he] did a good job.”  

Following the first rumor surrounding Beasley, word has been mostly mum coming out of L.A. But talks have still been taking place between the two sides as Beasley looks to find his next landing spot in the NBA.

In recent days, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders shared his knowledge of the situation on Twitter:

Prior to those rumors, Kyler shared the stipulations for Beasley to sign with the Lakers. Those conditions include guaranteed money and playing time, according to Kyler. 

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders also offered what franchises see in Beasley and his thoughts on a potential deal with the Lakers:

While Beasley put up just 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game last season with the Miami Heat, he appeared to accept his position as a role player. With just two starts and 15.1 minutes per game in 2013-14, a new team might offer more opportunities for success.

The former second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft offers a low-risk, high-reward option for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant is aging and has a chance to mentor the former college star to help the team in the future.

Following a season where the Lakers fell well short of contending in the Western Conference, Beasley offers another weapon. And at just 25 years old, he is still young enough to turn his career around.

Thanks to also having the likes of Nick Young re-signed for four years, the small forward position is secured. Adding depth in the form of Beasley that can complement Swaggy P, he would flourish in L.A.

Beasley’s career hasn’t gone in the direction he once hoped, but the Lakers offer a fresh start. If he continues to mature and increase production with the franchise, Beasley also has a chance to be part of the future plans for the Lakers.

 

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Roy Hibbert Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Pacers Center

Paul George‘s gruesome leg injury changed everything about the Indiana Pacers’ outlook for the 2014-15 season. However, it apparently won’t quiet the continued rumblings about Larry Bird shopping All-Star center Roy Hibbert

Matt Dery of New Detroit Sports 105.1 reported the rumblings have grown louder over the weekend, pointing toward the Pistons as a potential trade partner:

Greg Monroe remains a restricted free agent and looks no closer to a long-term deal with Detroit than he was a month ago. The Pistons have an offer on the table similar to Josh Smith‘s four-year, $54 million contract, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, but chatter differs on the dollar figure. Responding to a fan query on Twitter, Monroe said the numbers being floated in the media are inaccurate:

Because he is a restricted free agent, Monroe is in a difficult spot. He can either sign whatever long-term deal the Pistons have on the table or sign a one-year, $5.48 million qualifying offer and then test unrestricted free agency next summer. The latter, nuclear option involves leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table—something few young players are willing to do. 

As for a Hibbert-for-Monroe sign-and-trade? That has roughly a negative-infinity chance of happening.

The flaws in logic are pretty obvious here. Hibbert heading to Detroit creates a positional redundancy with Andre Drummond. Both players occupy space within five feet of the basket when not involved in pick-and-rolls offensively. Having them on the floor at the same time would somehow lead to more constricted spacing than the Pistons had in 2013-14—which is saying something.

The Pistons see Drummond as a foundational piece. There is little to no chance they would add an All-Star quality talent at his position and risk affecting his confidence. Drummond might benefit from learning how to better use his body by playing with Hibbert, but the risk-reward sheet is heavily tilted toward the former.

The potential reward here for Indiana is easier to see, albeit still under a flawed premise. Monroe is 24 years old and more likely to be in his prime for whatever Bird decides to do with his next core. The Pacers would run into some redundancy with David West and Monroe, but Monroe might wind up being a more effective offensive center, anyway. West can also become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he exercises his player option.

More likely, the Pacers are merely trying to recoup value for Hibbert. Sean Deveney of Sporting News first reported last month that the team was “quietly” shopping the Defensive Player of the Year runner up. There were also foreign reports, via Sportando, floating around saying Hibbert was offered to the Phoenix Suns in a package for Goran Dragic.

These rumblings follow a pattern indicating Indiana brass has decided its current core cannot compete for a title.

Lance Stephenson signed with the Charlotte Hornets this summer after seemingly butting heads in negotiations over a few million extra dollars. Stephenson and Hibbert were seen as two of the chief causes of an internal rift that helped sink Indiana’s run last season.

Stephenson and Evan Turner allegedly got into a fight on the eve of their playoff matchup with the Atlanta Hawks. Hibbert famously called out his teammates after a March loss, calling them “selfish.” The seven-footer also came under scrutiny for his lack of production down the stretch. He averaged only 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on 39 percent shooting after the All-Star break, a run of befuddling play that carried into the postseason.

“When Roy loses his confidence, he struggles at times,” Bird told reporters in June. “I hope he can come back strong. I hope he can do the things necessary to get better.”

With George expected to miss most or all of 2014-15 due to a compound fracture to his tibia and fibula suffered in a Team USA scrimmage, Pacers brass needs to assess how they want to rebuild. Amin Elhassan highlighted the difficulty of potentially blowing up the core:

Hibbert can hit unrestricted free agency next summer and may decide he needs a change of scenery amid the criticism. His trade market is limited at the moment. But it’ll be interesting to see how the Pacers’ apparent push to move on plays out.

 

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Contract information via Sham Sports.

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Lance Stephenson Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Free-Agent Star

Shooting guard Lance Stephenson is among the hottest commodities on the NBA‘s free-agent market, and it appears as though he is very much in play after the Indiana Pacers’ initial contract offer failed to blow him away.

According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Stephenson isn’t satisfied with what Indiana is offering thus far, so he intends to shop himself around:

Broussard reported more details of negotiations:

“Lance and his representatives aren’t sure they’re going to be able to reach an agreement with the Pacers,” a source said. “It’s clear they want him back and he wanted to go back, but they may not be able to come to terms.”

[...]

While money is a factor, Stephenson will not simply go to the highest bidder, sources said. He wants to go to a team that is either a contender or a competitive up-and-coming club.

The Pacers pulled out all the stops Tuesday by hosting Stephenson and his family at a local theater and surprising him with a movie about his life.

Although Stephenson didn’t jump at the first offer sent his way, that doesn’t necessarily mean his time in Indiana is done. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders is reporting that Stephenson is still very much taking the Pacers’ offer under consideration:

The obvious danger in allowing Stephenson to test the market, though, is that some franchise may be willing to offer him a deal he simply can’t refuse. If that happens, then the Pacers will be left scrambling.

Stephenson is coming off a career season in which he averaged nearly 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game. Few players in the NBA are capable of stuffing the stat sheet quite like him, but that isn’t the only benefit of signing someone like Stephenson.

While volatile and somewhat of a loose cannon at times, Stephenson is also a gamer. He is a catalyst capable of changing the game on both ends of the floor once he gets going, and he definitely adds another dimension to the Pacers that wouldn’t be easily replaced.

On top of that, he is quite young at 23 years of age and has plenty of growing left to do as a player and person.

As much as Indiana wants to keep him, Stephenson may want to stay even more. According to Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star, agent Alberto Ebanks believes the Pacers may represent the best possible situation for his client.

He expects to be in a position with a team to compete for a championship. If he stays with the Pacers, he doesn’t have to look very far with the No. 1 team coming out of the East. You want to make sure that there’s a good fit. The more I describe what he’s looking for, the more that the picture perfect next place for him is right where he is right now. It’s just a matter of can we can come to terms with the Pacers. If we can, there’s no need to really change something that’s been working.

The Pacers seemingly feel the same way, but the two sides have yet to come to an agreement. Stephenson already knows how he fits and what role he’ll play in Indiana, which is a positive, but he could be intrigued by other situations.

Indiana really struggled to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, and there is no guarantee it will get that far again despite the relative weakness of the conference. Stephenson may see better championship opportunities elsewhere, which could force Indiana’s hand in terms of offering more money.

Losing Stephenson would be a major blow for the Pacers, so they may have to play ball sooner rather than later. Stephenson holds the upper hand in negotiations since he is a highly sought after asset, which means the Pacers will almost certainly have to up their offer.

 

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Paul Pierce Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Guard

The Jason Kidd saga appears to go deeper than just the Brooklyn Nets needing to find a new coach. Players who were inclined to stay with the team because he was leading them apparently no longer have that connection.      

Paul Pierce, who was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Nets last June in a package with Kevin Garnett, is a free agent and is looking for a place to play next season. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that Kidd’s departure opens the door for a Western Conference power to land the 36-year-old:

The Nets aren’t going to let Pierce go without putting their best foot forward. According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Nets will negotiate with their own free agents but will let the market determine Pierce’s value:

The Los Angeles Clippers make sense as a potential landing spot for Pierce. Last year, L.A. tried to acquire Pierce, Garnett and Doc Rivers in a package deal with the Celtics.

The Clippers were able to get Rivers as their head coach from Boston, but Pierce and Garnett were dealt to Brooklyn along with Jason Terry in exchange for Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries’ expiring contract, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. 

Pierce is coming off his worst season, at least by points, as a professional. He had a reduced role with Brooklyn, playing just 28 minutes per game and averaging a career-low 13.5 points per game. 

However, the 10-time All-Star had his best shooting percentage (.451) since 2010-11 and shot 37.3 percent from three-point range.

Pierce is no longer capable of being the No. 1 guy on a playoff team, but add him to a franchise like the Clippers, who have arguably the sport’s best point guard (Chris Paul) and two dominating inside players (Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan), and suddenly his ability to pop shots from the outside becomes more valuable. 

There is also the built-in trust that Pierce has with Rivers, who coached him in Boston for nine years, and the ability to play for one of the best teams in the NBA hoping to get at least one more championship before hanging up the sneakers. 

 

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Trevor Ariza Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent Forward

Fresh off of arguably the best season of his 10-year NBA career, Trevor Ariza is attracting lots of interest. Before his expected flirtation around the Association, though, he’ll meet with current Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman. 

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has the news: 

Ariza was vital in helping Washington to its best season in nearly a decade. In 77 games, he averaged 14.4 points, a career-high 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest. He also established himself as one of the best shooters in the league, knocking down 2.3 treys a game at a career-best 40.7 percent. 

Once regarded as a defensive specialist, he has developed into an all-around stud. When he was on the court last year, the Wizards averaged 104.8 points per possession and allowed just 101.2, per NBA.com. When he went to the bench, those numbers went to 99.9 and 104.9, respectively. That’s a massive net difference of 8.5 points per 100 possessions.

He certainly made life easier for point guard John Wall, who told the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee he wants Ariza back: 

In a free-agent class that features names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Luol Deng, it might have been conceivable that Ariza could fly under the radar or be had at a bargain, but he is clearly a very hot commodity after such a standout campaign. 

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, two of the league’s best teams are potential suitors: 

In addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers, Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears cited a source saying the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns will also be in the mix. 

Things are going to get interesting, and a bidding war could potentially drive Ariza’s price up. Either way, Wittman, who is also concentrating on bringing back Marcin Gortat, has his work cut out for him. 

If Ariza continues to build off of last year’s tremendous campaign, though, the work will be worth it. 

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Isaiah Thomas Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Guard

Isaiah Thomas‘ first foray into free agency had many expecting a major financial windfall for the second-round pick turned 20-point scorer.

Recent reports indicate that assumption may be wrong. 

Sam Amick of USA Today recently spoke to a source who indicated Thomas’ market value may be depressed due to his status as a restricted free agent. The source estimated that Thomas will receive offers in the range of $4 million and $6 million per season.

While that’s a massive pay raise over the $884,293 he made in 2013-14, it’s pittance compared to the salary level of most players with Thomas’ statistical output. The diminutive guard averaged 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds this past season, his first getting full-time starter minutes. Thomas’ 20.5 player efficiency rating was fifth league-wide among point guards, per Basketball-Reference, and he’s a relatively young free agent (25).

Thomas recently told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders he feels he’s established himself as one of the league’s top guards:

I felt like if I was given an opportunity, I could be one of the top guards in the NBA. I’ve said that before and people kind of looked at me sideways. But I feel like it’s all about opportunity and taking advantage of what people give you. The Sacramento Kings and Mike Malone gave me an opportunity and I just ran with it and did the things that I know how to do.

Amick’s source, however, highlights the tricky nature of restricted free agency. The Kings have the right to match any offer sheet signed by Thomas. Because of the NBA’s moratorium on official transactions, no deal can technically be signed until July 10. That gives Sacramento until July 13 to decide whether or not whatever offer put on the table is worth matching.

With unrestricted free agents offering a far less onerous path, teams are often more cautious with their restricted free agent overtures. Thomas will be the third or fourth option down the line for a team with cap space, rather than possibly being first or second if he was unrestricted.

There is also the question of how much Thomas’ size plays a factor. At 5’9″, he’s always going to be at a defensive disadvantage despite his strong build. The Kings ranked in the NBA’s bottom 10 in defensive efficiency, and it’s hard to tell whether Mike Malone can build an above-average defense with Thomas earning major minutes. The point guard position is too good across the league, and Thomas’ size puts him at a disadvantage against every other position.

Still, if Amick’s source proves correct, the Kings would be getting a steal with Thomas at the mid-level. A score-first point guard, the former Washington standout has an innate ability to finish through traffic. He made 62.4 percent of his shots inside the restricted area this past season, better than contemporaries Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry.

Factor in Thomas’ career 36 percent shooting from three-point range—roughly league average—and he’s a uniquely gifted player worthy of being an NBA starter. If his size and his restricted free agent status depress his market, the Kings may get a bargain. Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom noted Sacramento has already been getting quite a value:

Then again, maybe Thomas will be better off accepting Sacramento’s qualifying offer. Although that would hurt his bank account in the short term, he could do free agency all over again next summer without the looming worry of a matched offer sheet. An extra season as a starter would also help Thomas prove his breakout 2013-14 campaign was not a fluke and flash much-needed improvement on the defensive end.

The Kings, already above the salary cap, would welcome the high production at a cheap cost. It’s difficult to tell what will happen. In most cases, the allure of long-term security winds up trumping the possibility of delayed gratification.

With Thomas having to suffer through second-round money his first three seasons, he might be satisfied with grabbing his first multi-million dollar check. It just not might be as many millions as he initially hoped.

 

All salary information is via Sham Sports. Statistics, unless otherwise noted, are via NBA.com.

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Gordon Hayward Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Jazz Guard

The Phoenix Suns have a lot of money to burn this offseason, and they may be using a chunk to try and sign Gordon Hayward.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reported that the Suns will likely offer the 24-year-old an offer sheet worth the maximum allowed:

The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.

Boston and Charlotte are two other teams whom the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward.

The problem for Phoenix is that Hayward is a restricted free agent. Even if the Suns throw a max deal at him, the Utah Jazz have the chance to match it. According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, they almost certainly would:

Sources told The Salt Lake Tribune that the Jazz will tier the available free agents, have conversations and see where there is a common interest. But at the top of the priority list is Hayward, the best all-around player on the team. While the former Butler star will have significant interest on the market, (general manager Dennis) Lindsey has said for two months that the Jazz plan to match whatever offer comes his way.

“We anticipate Gordon being a part of our franchise for a long time,” Lindsey said in the moments following last week’s NBA Draft.

Lindsey also spoke about how he feels Hayward will thrive under new head coach Quin Snyder, per Genessy:

Many will argue that the ninth overall pick in 2010 isn’t worthy of a max contract. He had a career year in 2013-14, but that only translated to 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

Basketball-Reference.com indicates his player efficiency rating (PER) was 16.2, which actually represented a slight drop from his 16.8 in 2012-13.

Chris Towers of CBSSports.com thinks that signing Hayward to a max deal—while still a bit extreme—might be a sounder decision than matching whatever price tags Klay Thompson and Lance Stephenson will carry:

Hayward is still pretty young, so there’s the chance that this past season was only a taste of what is to come.

If that’s the case, then giving him the max wouldn’t be all that far off from what his value will beespecially when compared to what other players with his kind of numbers are making.

The Jazz have been putting together a young core of talent and added to that in the draft with Dante Exum and Rodney Hood.

Keeping Hayward around would help secure their future a little more, so paying him a little bit more than they’d like would be worth it if it furthered the team’s progress.

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Chandler Parsons Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Forward

The Houston Rockets allowing Chandler Parsons to hit restricted free agency this summer was seen in some circles as a savvy move that allows them to control the process. That process might wind up costing them. 

Parsons is said to have multiple suitors waiting in the wings, most notably the Lakers, Timberwolves, Bulls and Mavericks, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Spears notes that the Parsons market will largely be decided with what happens with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony—and to a certain extent Warriors guard Klay Thompson.

The same teams expected to pursue Anthony, who will be testing free agency for the first time in his career, will push for Parsons if their pitch fails. Because Parsons is a restricted free agent, interest in him league-wide will be dictated by the market. Restricted free agents often go one of two ways, garnering an instant overpay or sitting and waiting for a high-salary offer while the unrestricted shuffling commences.

Houston can match any offer sheet Parsons signs with another franchise. The team is largely expected to do so, and part of its plan in declining Parsons’ option for next season is to keep him and sign another star player long-term.

The Rockets are attempting to clear near-max room to make a run at a high-profile name to pair with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Trading Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans was the first step in that plan, and moving Jeremy Lin’s contract would get the team in serious contention for a star. If they are able to sign a veteran, the Rockets can then go over the salary cap to match an offer sheet for Parsons—provided the moves happen in the correct order.

But Parsons might not be incentivized to help management out. A second-round pick in 2011, the former Florida standout has been one of the league’s biggest bargains throughout his career.

He made less than a million dollars this past season, one in which he averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Only seven NBA players matched or eclipsed those totals last season, per Basketball-Reference. Factoring in Parsons’ three-point shooting—he’s a career 37 percent shooter from distance—and it’s fair to say he’s among the league’s best offensive small forwards.

Because of his relatively paltry contract, Parsons might emphasize financial stability over helping the Rockets structure their roster the way they want. He told Spears that while he never created a fuss behind-the-scenes about his salary, Parsons knew he was worth more.

“When I got drafted in the second round, I signed the four-year deal and everyone has to go through their rookie scale,” Parsons said. “It was all part of the process. I obviously thought I deserved more. But I never was bitter or jealous of anyone making more than me. I was just fortunate enough to do this for a living.”

If Houston gets a serious challenger before it expected, it will be interesting to see how the situation is handled. Landing three stars has always been a part of the long-term plan. Parsons is a fine player, but also a defensive minus and someone who is on the next tier down from All-Star consideration. Paying him eight figures per season is fine if Parsons is the fourth star; doing so if he’s third in command might limit the Rockets’ ceiling.

As Nate Jones points out, merely re-signing Parsons is a “worst” possible outcome for Houston:

Morey, ever the opportunist, knows what he’s getting himself into. The July moratorium period in this way might be a godsend. Teams and players can begin negotiating deals on July 1, but they cannot be completed until the NBA re-opens for business on July 10. That means Morey would have until July 13 to match any deal Parsons signs on the first “official” day of free agency.

He’ll have to move quickly, but the NBA calendar allows the Rockets boss time to execute his plan. Parsons, meanwhile, will be out on the market hoping to extract every possible dime as he prepares for his first big-money professional contract.

 

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