Welcome to Day 3 of NBA Free Agency 2014. The consensus seems to be that the league is in somewhat of a holding pattern until the big name free agents make their decisions, which isn’t great news for those executives hoping to enjoy some down time over the Fourth of July holiday.
While there are rules about what teams can and can’t say during the free agency moratorium, we are allowed to post what others media outlets are reporting. So here, without comment, is today’s roundup of the most recent news regarding the Trail Blazers and free agency …
— Sources: Blazers Gauge Steve Blake’s Interest, Chris Haynes, CSNNW …
On Day 1 of free agency the Portland Trail Blazers inquired about the interest of veteran free agent point guard Steve Blake, league sources informed CSNNW.com.
These sources that requested anonymity describes the call to his representatives as merely a “feeler ” inquiry with sides expected to reengage down the road.
Blake, 34, is no stranger to the city of Portland. He played three and a half seasons with the team and loved his experience so much that he purchased a home in Portland where his family resides in the offseason. We’re told by one of the sources that Blake “would love to come back to Portland to play for the Trail Blazers.”
Ryan (The D)
Where does Monroe end up? Is it realistic to hope for sign and trade with Portland that sends Batum to Pistons?
No. That wouldn’t fill a need for the Blazers, and would create one in the process.
what are some realistic options for the Blazers this off season? who should they be looking at?
They seem to be focused on using their MLE on a stretch big man, which is a little disappointing for Thomas Robinson given how well he played late in the season, but understandable nonetheless. In that scenario, they probably bring back Mo Williams using his non-Bird Rights. If they don’t use the full MLE on a big, I’d encourage them to look at Bo McCalebb as a Williams replacement.
How crazy is this idea: Heat sign and trade Bosh to Portland for Nic Batum and T-Rob. Then with remaining cap space, Heat sign Okafor. Remotely possible? Would PDX move Batum for Bosh?
The Blazers aren’t trading Batum for a starter at a position where they already have a perfectly good starter in Robin Lopez.
who would Portland trade Batum for?
Well, if someone wants to offer a younger/better small forward, the Blazers might listen. But a challenge trade is the only thing that really makes sense with Batum.
Would you match a MAX offer for Hayward or try and work an S&T?
I would probably match it. I feel similar to this about Nicolas Batum and Minnesota, when lots of intelligent people felt the Blazers should sign-and-trade him for Derrick Williams, a move that would not have worked well. At some point, you’ve got to keep quality young starters.
— Short-term deal may be best option for Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons, Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press …
In numerous conversations with league executives, scouts and agents over the past two years, not one considered Monroe a max player.
Let’s look at the reported suitors: Portland, Washington, Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta, Cleveland and the Lakers.
It’s hard to see the Wizards’ interest when they will retain center Marcin Gortat.
Monroe’s camp was working on a deal with the Blazers as agent David Falk was trying to get something in place quickly. The Blazers have reportedly met with free-agent center Spencer Hawes.
Sources: Kyle Lowry reaches agreement on a four-year, $48M deal with Toronto. http://t.co/oF4O0LJA6L
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2014
Free agent CJ Miles has agreed to 4-year, $18M deal with Pacers, league source tells Yahoo. @CandaceDBuckner 1st reported an agreement.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2014
Darren Collison’s new three-year contract with the Kings is actually paying $15 million and is fully guaranteed, a source told Yahoo Sports.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 3, 2014
It’s unclear where that leaves Isaiah Thomas, but he’s still a restricted free agent & has always viewed himself as a starter. We shall see.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 3, 2014
Deal for Spurs’ Patty Mills, I’m told, is in $12 million range over three years. One of my heroes @Buck_SA first reported the agreement
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2014
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 3, 2014
Teams and agents agree: Outside of role players now, the market is frozen until Miami’s free agents and Carmelo Anthony make decisions.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2014
If you follow the NBA closely, you probably already know that Adrian Wojnarowski, the unquestioned top dog in NBA reporting, recently launched a new Yahoo! Sports property called The Vertical. As editor-in-chief, Wojnarowski has put together a stable of NBA journalists and experts for the new site, including former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks, who has become an authority for those interested in the inner workings and thought processes of NBA front offices.
In his first “Front-Office Perspective” column, Marks writes about some of the preparation that NBA teams are likely working through as the February 18 trade deadline approaches. Along with a roundup of information such as which teams have trade exemptions and open roster spots, Marks list a “free agent on teams’ July wish list,” which he tabs as Portland third-year wing Allen Crabbe…
The restricted free agent has had a breakout year for the young Trail Blazers. The 23-year-old has seen his minutes double from last year and has been a key rotational player for Portland. Once thought of as a developmental project, he’s now turned into a possible Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Crabbe will have full Bird rights this summer with Portland having the ability to match any offer sheet that comes his way.
Crabbe has played in all 49 of Portland’s games this season after appearing in 66 games combined in his rookie and sophomore seasons and has responded by averaging 11.2 points on 47 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from three. And while he’s shooting with the utmost confidence this year after deferring almost entirely to teammates on the offensive end in his first two seasons, Crabbe still plays the smart, consistent defense that makes him an excellent candidate to become a highly sought after “three-and-D” player. He’s also a darkhorse candidate in the crowded Most Improved Player field.
Given that, it’s not surprising that Crabbe, who the Trail Blazers acquired during the 2013 NBA Draft from Cleveland in exchange for two future second-round picks, is already drawing interest as a free agent target. The Trail Blazers brought Crabbe along slowly but have always been optimistic about his NBA potential since he came out of Cal after his junior season, so you can be sure they’re not going to let him go easily if and when another team tenders a restricted free agent offer sheet. He’s making less than a million dollars this season in the third year of a three-year second-round contract, so regardless of where he signs, he’ll be due for a significant raise.
According to David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com, Trail Blazers guard Arron Afflalo will opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. Afflalo joins the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez as unrestricted free agents going into the July moratorium.
Afflalo played 25 games for the Trail Blazers after being acquired along with Alonzo Gee at the 2015 trade deadline in exchange for Will Barton, Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver and a lottery-protected 2016 first round pick. The 6-5 guard in his eight season out of UCLA averaged 10.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in just over 30 minutes a game as a Blazer, shooting 41 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.
The Trail Blazers were tied for the third-best record in the Western Conference when the team acquired Afflalo with hopes that the veteran wing could bolster Portland’s bench and improve their perimeter defense going into the playoffs. Though he had been a starter for the majority of his career, Afflalo accepted a reserve role and seemed excited about the opportunity of playing for a Western Conference contender.
But the plan for Afflalo to play the role of super sub was dashed when starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews was lost for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon. While it was fortuitous for Portland to have a starting-caliber guard in Afflalo, a player who shares some similarities to Matthews, already on the roster, the injury scuttled any real chance for a deep postseason run, which was the stated goal of the trade.
Afflalo started 19 games in place of Matthews but was limited late in the season after suffering a right shoulders strain. The injury kept Afflalo sidelined for the final three games of the regular season and the first two games of Portland’s first-round playoff series versus the Memphis Grizzlies. He played in the final three games of the series, albeit with limited effectiveness due to the injury.
Afflalo forgoing the final year of a five-year contract, originally signed with the Nuggets, was always the most likely scenario, though there was some speculation he might wait until the 2016 to hit free agency due to the expected jump in the salary cap. That approach, while potentially more lucrative, also caries significant risk, so it’s not surprising for Afflalo to seek a long-term contract sooner rather than later.
While Afflalo will be free to join with another team once free agents can sign on July 11, he could potentially sign a new contract with the Trail Blazers, as is the case with Matthews. CJ McCollum is the only shooting guard the Trail Blazers currently have under contract for the 2015-16 season.
Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com recently put together a ranking of the Top 30 free agents (he includes free agents, restricted free agents and players who have options allowing of becoming free agents) in the upcoming 2015 class. A bevy of big-name players, as well as quality rotations players, are heading into free agency this summer, one year before the salary cap is expected to see a major increase with the influx of money from the NBA’s new television deal.
Elhassan ranks the top free agents not necessarily on how good they are, though that’s obviously the most important variable, but by his estimate of what their “average annual value” or “AAV” for short, which he write is based off of “age, injury history, value of recent comparable player contracts, irreplaceability of skill set, contribution to winning, history of production, fit with style and culture, marketability and current cap situation.”
The Trail Blazers have eight players (!!!) who could potentially be free agents come the 2015 signing period (remember, teams can go over the cap to re-sign their own free agents), with four of those making Elhassan’s Top 30 …
The first is LaMarcus Aldridge (obviously), who comes in at No. 3 on Elhassan’s list behind LeBron James and Marc Gasol …
2014-15 salary: $16.3 million
Suggested AAV: $20.7 million/year ($82.8 million over four years, player option on fourth year)
Joining Gasol and James on the “not likely to leave incumbent team” list is Aldridge. The Blazers’ offense is geared around his ability to knock down the midrange jumper, which has become a sort of market advantage for Portland, as more teams try to prevent only FGAs from beyond the arc or at the rim. Even so, Aldridge has expanded his game to include corner 3-point range, making him a more dangerous offensive option. He’s not the central figure that Gasol is, but we’re handcuffed by the rules of the CBA that dictate they’re worth the same amount of money (max).
Even on a completely open and unregulated market, Gasol and Aldridge are getting comparable numbers. They’re both fringe MVP candidates who are arguably the best players at their positions and both are undoubtedly the best players at their positions who are going to be free agents this offseason.
No estimating is necessary with this one: Aldridge is going to get a max contract no matter what.
Next up is center Robin Lopez, who comes in at No. 15 behind Tyson Chandler and ahead of Tristan Thompson …
2014-15 salary: $6.1 million
Suggested AAV: $14.0 million/year ($56.0 million over four years)
It’s not mentioned frequently, but one of the big reasons Aldridge has taken a leap forward in recent seasons has been the presence of Lopez, who has been the perfect complement, as a defensive stalwart who can cover for Aldridge (and other teammates), a relentless presence on the glass and the owner of a solid midrange jumper that keeps defenses honest.
And that’s not to mention being universally beloved. You’re always going to have to pay a premium for quality centers who can stay healthy, and Lopez has shown himself to be just that since the Trail Blazers acquired him from the New Orleans Hornets.
Next up, shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who is listed at No. 20, directly behind Reggie Jackson and ahead of Omer Asik …
2014-15 salary: $7.2 million
Suggested AAV: $12.0 million/year ($48.0 million over four years)
The poster child for any undrafted player, Matthews is like a light version of two-way wings such as Leonard and Butler. He’s one of the league leaders in 3-point makes, and a solid defender, and represents the next wave of positions that will attract more free agent dollars.
It was almost five years ago that the Trail Blazers signed Matthews to his current deal in his second season. At the time, some thought giving a second-year player a five-year, $32 million contract was ludicrous, though he’s more than proven worthy of the investment, and is likely to get a huge bump from his current salary once he hits the open market.
Finally, Arron Afflalo, who can either opt into the final year of his current contract or become an unrestricted free agent, comes in at No. 29 on the list, just behind Danny Green and ahead of DeMarre Carroll …
2014-15 salary: $7.8 million
Suggested AAV: $8.0 million/year, ($24.0 million over three years, player option on fourth year)
Afflalo was once a promising 3-and-D player, but somewhere along the way, being a marquee offensive player outweighed his desire to be an elite defender. Being traded back to a winning situation in Portland affords him the chance to prove he can still bring it on the defensive end consistently.
It’s interesting that Elhassan has the average salary of Afflalo’s next deal as roughly the amount that he’s making this season and, subsequently, next season should he decided to put off free agency for another year. If that were the case, one wonders if Afflalo might opt to push his free agency to 2016 when the cap is expected to make a monumental jump. There’s certainly risks involved in going that route, as is the case for most situations when it comes to free agency, but the reward might outweigh that risk.