We are only a couple days away from the start of NBA Free Agency on July 1 and the rumors continue to heat up, especially involving some of the bigger names.
As noted earlier Thursday, Paul George declined the final year of his contract making him an unrestricted free agent. While several teams will pursue the five-time All-Star, the front-runners appear to be the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kawhi Leonard trade talk has heated up again with San Antonio talking with several teams, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Spurs are fully engaged in trade talks with several teams on Kawhi Leonard, including the Lakers and Celtics, league sources tell ESPN. Boston has long had the assets that the Spurs most covet in a potential Leonard trade.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2018
In addition to the Lakers and Celtics the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, and LA Clippers have also made offers for Leonard according to a report by Wojnarowski along with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, and Brian Windhorst:
Leonard has been adamant that he doesn’t want to step into the San Antonio locker room again, and the Spurs have been adamant that they won’t be forced into a trade, or a timetable, prior to the February trading deadline, league sources said. No team talking with the Spurs about Leonard has found them to be in a rush to make a deal.
According to SI.com’s Jake Fisher, “San Antonio has informed teams its preferred target in any Leonard trade is the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum.” In his report, Fisher also laid out a trade package discussed by the 76ers and Spurs:
One team source says preliminary discussions with San Antonio revealed the Spurs have strong interest in a package involving burgeoning forwards Dario Saric and Robert Covington as well as a future first-round pick. A potential, more serious offer that Philadelphia is weighing internally includes Saric and Covington and the 2021 Miami Heat unprotected first-round pick the Sixers obtained in their draft-night deal with the Phoenix Suns.
Jordan Schultz of Yahoo! Sports reports Leonard reached out to LeBron James about playing together (presumably with the Lakers):
A source close to #LeBron tells me that #Kawhi Leonard reached out to James, telling him he very much wanted to play together. They spoke about Kawhi's lockdown defensive ability, which would alleviate pressure off of LeBron.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) June 28, 2018
As noted by Wojnarowski, Shelburne, and Windhorst a Laker deal for Leonard could involve Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and more:
The price for Leonard would be substantial. The Lakers could have to surrender a combination of former first-round picks -- from Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart -- and future first-round picks and perhaps restricted free agent Julius Randle in a sign-and-trade agreement.
The pressure to get a deal done would be on the Lakers, not the Spurs:
The Spurs can still play long game with Leonard, try to repair relationship and get to a place where they're comfortable offering $219M super max. The urgency to get a deal done belongs to Lakers now, but circumstances and leverage can change quickly. https://t.co/RIralTBUe9— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2018
Steven A. Smith reported on ESPN’s First Take that James had texted Kevin Durant about joining him in LA. Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, however, refuted that report:
Sources close to LeBron: He didn't text KD and his going to the Lakers would not be sealed (or doomed) by whether or not they trade for Kawhi. ... Man, we'll all be better when this is over, one way or the other— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) June 28, 2018
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin is reporting that Cleveland is picking up Kendrick Perkins’ option as a potential contract to trade:
New story: The Cavs are picking up Kendrick Perkins’ option, sources tell ESPN, as a potential contract added to a trade as the team continues to explore ways to improve ahead of LeBron’s decision https://t.co/gogHdcNfiX— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 27, 2018
In other news, the Dallas Mavericks continue to have interest in LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, according to Yahoo’s Shams Charania:
Sources: As Dallas remains engaged on DeAndre Jordan talks with the Clippers, Mavericks have rescinded qualifying offer tender on Salah Mejri.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 28, 2018
Charania is also reporting that Houston Rockets wing Trevor Ariza is planning on meeting with teams once free agency opens:
Sources: Houston free agent Trevor Ariza, one of the top wings on the market, plans to schedule meetings with interested teams after free agency opens July 1. No truth on Ariza demanding $50-60M.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 28, 2018
Potential offer sheet target for Indiana Pacers' anticipated $20M-plus in salary cap space, league sources tell ESPN: Orlando Magic restricted free agent forward Aaron Gordon.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2018
One team consistently mentioned as strongly considering a run at Zach LaVine in restricted free agency: The Kings.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 28, 2018
Indian Pacers forward Thaddeus Young will not be entering free agency. The veteran has exercised his player option with $13.7 million, according to Wojnarowski:
Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young has exercised his $13.7M player option and will bypass free agency this summer, league sources told ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2018