We’re heading into Day 10 of free agency and we haven’t really seen too much action. My colleague Ryan Knaus addressed all of the free agent signings here in his column from Monday, so check that out for all the details. Usually, I’d be summing up moves, but we’ll be leaving that to Ryan next week. He’s covered every player picked up and broke it down.
That said, I kind of have to talk about the past couple days in free agency just because it’s crazier than Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Let’s just take a look at some of the moves and rumors from the past two days:
Well, the LeBron-a-thon just got a little more intense. The Cavs made a three-way deal to get Jarrett Jack off their books, which gives them about $24 million in cap space. Yes, the first year of LeBron’s four-year max deal would be at around $20.7 million. Yes, we’ve come a long way.
Not too long ago back on June 19, Chris Broussard of ESPN.com and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe both said there was “no real chance” LeBron would join the Cavs with David Blatt as the head coach. Well, Broussard was on SportsCenter on Wednesday saying the Cavs have an 85 percent chance to acquire LeBron. I’m not trolling here and I also thought the Cavs had no shot, but it’s just crazy to think how little of a chance the Cavs had in the grand scheme of things.
Similarly, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com said the Cavs have a 90 percent chance to sign LeBron on Tuesday, and now he’s saying he’s going to the Cavs. So think about that however you want. Plus, there are other reports saying the Cavs are in the lead. Obviously, Pat Riley’s meeting on Wednesday in Las Vegas with LeBron had just a bit of pressure, and it’s going to be the only official meeting for LeBron and teams.
The Cavs have their deck pretty much stacked for slotting LeBron in there. Kyrie Irving was an All-Star starter last season, Andrew Wiggins is one of the best prospects to be drafted since Anthony Davis, and they have a decent rebounder in Anderson Varejao. While they do need some more help up front, it’s a little better than what the Heat have. Well, that could be where Kevin Love comes in.
The Wolves are reportedly talking trade with the Cavs and it may be for Wiggins. Obviously, if the Cavs do make that offer, the Wolves would have to take that deal. It would likely have to be a three-team trade with several players moving around.
On the Miami side, it would appear Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh may have to take a pay cut, assuming they get LeBron back. With the Rockets set to offer Bosh a max deal, that seems even more unlikely. It's not looking good at all and it’s crazy to say, but the Heat are suddenly the underdogs. It sounds like Chris Bosh is on his way to Houston, which leaves Wade by his lonesome. This would be a horrible turn of events for the Heat, which would mean there could be a lot of opportunities in fantasy land because of the lack of top-end talent. We'll see what happens.
Hey hey, Hayward!
The Hornets made their first big move of their new-old identity, offering Gordon Hayward a max four-year, $62 million deal. The deal also has as opt-out clause and a trade kicker, which makes this one of the tougher RFA deals to match in recent memory. Still, the Jazz are almost certainly going to match, but let’s think about what happens if they don’t.
First and foremost, the Jazz are going to have to overpay for a player to hit the salary floor. If they don’t bring back Hayward, their team salary could fall well below the newly-announced salary floor of $56.8 million. Secondly, this would make for an interesting opportunity for teams to dump salary on the Jazz. They were able to do that last year with Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush from the Warriors. However, it’s not going to be easy this year without a trade exception, so teams would have to get really creative. A more recent example was the Celtics using their trade exception in Wednesday’s trade involving Jarrett Jack.
Chandler Parsons Project Tour moves to Dallas?
Suddenly, Mr. Rocket is may not be going to be with the Rockets anymore. Chandler Parsons agreed to a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Mavericks on Wednesday.
The Rockets chose not to use their option on Parsons because they wanted to have a little extra flexibility to make other moves, but it may have come back to bite them. It’s still possible they bring him back as long as they're willing to lose other guys.
It sounds like Chris Bosh is going to agree on a max deal with the Rockets, which will take up $20 million of the cap. The Rockets have deals in place to unload the $29.8 million due to the contracts of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Believe it or not, they could actually keep Dwight Howard, James Harden, Bosh and Parsons. Bosh would have to agree to a deal before Parsons' clock expires and Houston would waive basically their entire team, including Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones -- kind of crazy after TJ had a big 2013-14.
Parsons' fantasy value is likely going to take a hit here. He has done a lot of work in transition with 21.4 percent of his points coming in fast-break. Plus, the Rockets were first in the NBA in 3-pointers. Although, coach Rick Carlisle likes his teams taking treys. I’d look to target him in the fifth or sixth round with the Mavs, or Rockets with Bosh. He'd be a third or fourth on Houston sans Bosh.
UPDATE: The offer sheet has not been signed as of early Thursday afternoon. That means the 72-hour clock hasn't started yet and the Rockets and Mavericks could work out a sign-and-trade.
Vegas, Baby! Vegas!
I’m happy to say, that I will be in Las Vegas to enjoy some Summer League action. This will be my second time there and I have been looking forward to it all year. Plus, this year’s crop is phenomenal.
Last year, only four of the top-13 picks were playing in Las Vegas with Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Shabazz Muhammad and C.J. McCollum — excluding Otto Porter suffering a hamstring injury off the bat. This year it’s a lottery fest. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, Julius Randle, Nik Stauskas, Noah Vonleh, Doug McDermott, Zach LaVine and T.J Warren are the nine lottery picks. Plus, we get to see other first rounders like Adreian Payne, Tyler Ennis, Gary Harris, Bruno Caboclo, Rodney Hood, P.J. Hairston, Shabazz Napier and Kyle Anderson. So 17 out of 30 isn’t bad. Oh, and Delonte West is playing for the Clippers! Beware of wet willies.
I’ll be live tweeting much of the action @MikeSGallagher, so follow along if you share my love for rookies, younger players and/or Delonte West.
Let’s take a quick look at some story lines from Orlando and some players who are creeping onto the radar in deep leagues:
KCP the real MVP?
He has become a volume scorer this week, which isn’t a new thing for young players in Vegas or Orlando. Every year, there is a young guy who becomes the main option at summer league. We all get excited and it turns into nothing. A perfect example was C.J. McCollum last year, who shot the ball 23 times per game in Vegas and wasn't even really in the rotation in his rookie season at Portland. However, Reggie Jackson became a volume guy in Orlando and flourished last season.
Caldwell-Pope is averaging 27.0 points, 8.0 boards, 2.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 3.0 triples on 42.0 percent from the field. Before we get too crazy, let's not forget how bad he was last season. He was supposed to be a decent 3-point shooter with his 37.3 percent in his last year at UGA, but that dropped to just 31.9 percent. Plus, he had a ton of uncontested looks. KCP shot just 34 percent on his catch-and-shoot treys, which really has to come up in Stan Van Gundy's system.
I mentioned Reggie Jackson, but RJ at least showed some flashes before his breakout last season. KCP didn't. I'd only take him in the last round of a 14-team league right now. Although, I probably will have my heart set on another guy.
If the Glove does not fit...
Elfrid Payton is shaping up to be a bit like Gary Payton. While he hasn’t been scoring in bunches lately, Elfrid has arguably been the second most-impressive player in Orlando. He’s leading the event with 5.7 assists per game to go with 6.7 points, 4.3 boards, 1.0 steals and 3.7 turnovers on 72.7 percent from the field.
The Louisiana-Lafayette product shot just 1-of-4 to start his summer league, but he’s turned it around and made all seven field goals in his last two games. The main reason has been his ability to get out in the open floor and get layups. Payton didn’t take any triples in his first game, which is probably a good thing after he hit just 26 percent of those last season.
The big question is whether or not he’ll be able to get to the rim in the NBA. He has some decent size at 6’4” and a 6’8” wingspan, so it wouldn’t be an impossible task. If he is able to do so, he might be a 45 percent-type guy in the league, which would be great.
He definitely will have a downside, though. His turnovers are high, he only shot 61.1 percent from the line in his three years at Louisiana-Lafayette and he’s not going to take any treys. I love drafting rookies more than most, but you can’t take him in the first half of your draft. I’d say like sixth round is his peak ADP (for what it's worth, I had Damian Lillard in the top 50 for his rookie year and people thought I was crazy). Although, I would take him over starters Raymond Felton, George Hill, Steve Nash (duh), Mario Chalmers and Trey Burke.
He’s not having a monstrous summer league in Orlando, scoring 14.5 points, 6.5 boards, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.0 triples. On the bright side, his turnovers were just at 2.5 and he wasn’t taking bad shots in his two games.
Now that Arron Afflalo is out of the picture, Oladipo seems like an absolute lock for 35 minutes. He played just 31.1 per game last season and those minutes were actually trending down due to some sub-par play. He’s a mid-round pick right now.
Patience is a virtue
The 76ers took their time with Nerlens Noel and it’s paying some early dividends. In his three Orlando games, last year’s sixth pick in the draft averaged 9.7 points, 5.7 boards, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 3.3 blocks on 59.1 percent from the field in just 21.0 minutes.
The team held him out of their first back-to-back set over the weekend, but he played in both the Tuesday and Wednesday games. That’s a fantastic sign that he’s over his ACL reconstructive surgery. By the time the season comes around, Noel will have almost 21 months of recovery time since suffering the injury back on Feb. 12, 2013.
The 76ers have a dreadful perimeter defense and run a really fast tempo, so there really could be some major shot-blocking potential here. He also has very little competition. I do think his scoring is going to fall off, though. Noel has just dominated the lesser competition in Orlando, and that’s probably not going to happen with the big team. At worst, he's a pick in the late double-digit rounds right now.
The new K.J.?
Sadly, McDaniels suffered a left ankle sprain on Wednesday to end his day and perhaps his time in Orlando. Hopefully he will play in Las Vegas, though. The Clemson product was selected with the 32nd pick in the draft and is looking like a steal. His perimeter game has jumped out and he didn’t disappoint in the transition game.
While Jason Richardson will be around this year, you’d think McDaniels should get all he can eat as long as he’s playing well. He’s shaping up as a late-round lottery ticket in what should be a fantasy-friendly system in Philly.
Another reason to hate Kendrick Perkins
It seemed like McGary was a tiny reach at 21 during the 2014 NBA Draft, but he’s looked like a top-10 pick. The Michigan product may be the most productive offensive big man in Orlando, averaging 13.7 points, 6.0 boards, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.7 blocks. He’s really had a Kevin Love-like showing with some nice mid-range touch and also putting the ball on the hardwood. No, I’m not saying he’s going to be Kevin Love.
McGary could potentially be a stretch five and hit triples for the Thunder, which would be big on offense with the way Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook get to the rim. There won't be enough playing time for him. In case you forgot, Steven Adams came out like gangbusters in the preseason, but he fizzled out quickly during the regular season.