Deng, Heat meet and other free-agency news

Deng, Heat meet and other free-agency news

Posted by mikemcgraw on Sat, 07/05/2014 - 14:33

Let's take a tour of Saturday's NBA free agency news:

One interesting development today was Pat Riley reportedly arriving in Chicago to meet with Luol Deng and his representatives. Deng, the long-time Bulls forward, is not expected to re-sign with Cleveland, especially after the Cavs drafted small forward Andrew Wiggins.

Deng would make a good LeBron James replacement in Miami, but how would he fit with the Power Trio? Maybe not so bad, considering the Heat uses a small lineup so often. If Riley can keep the core together, Miami's primary lineup could include Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Deng, James and Chris Bosh.

Would Deng be happy as the fourth wheel in this lineup? My guess is no, but it's a team that would obviously challenge for a title every year. If Miami doesn't work, Deng will likely choose between Atlanta and Dallas, although Phoenix and the Lakers could become contenders.

The future of Miami's Power Trio has become an interesting storyline. James' agent met with Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and the Lakers last week.

With LeBron's Miami future unsettled, will Chris Bosh look elsewhere? Bosh could get close to a maximum deal in Houston or Dallas, two solid playoff teams. If he stays with the Heat, Bosh is expected to take a paycut so the team can add talent. If Bosh leaves, what would Miami do for a big man?

Riley is always scheming, so it will be fun to watch this play out.

We'll start the Carmelo news roundup with the odd story from claiming Derrick Rose wasn't part of the Bulls' recruiting efforts on July 1 and was “surprised” to see Anthony at the United Center.

First of all, everyone in Chicago knew Anthony was visiting that day, so it makes no sense that Rose wasn't aware. Also, Rose's camp has been pushing the Bulls to add Anthony since the high-scoring forward was on his way out of Denver during the 20101-11 season.

Back in 2010, Rose told the Bulls he wasn't comfortable recruiting LeBron James, because he thought it was disrespectful to Deng, his teammate.

The Bulls are usually looking out for Rose's comfort level and he's not really a sit-down-and-have-a-long-conversation type of person. A quick chat with Anthony is a better scenario for Rose. The Bulls brought in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson for the serious pitch.

For Bulls fans looking for some positive news, there's this story from USA Today, which suggests New York sees the Bulls as the only serious competition for Anthony. Most news outlets have been saying that all along.

The story also believes Phil Jackson would be open to a sign-and-trade if Anthony says he's leaving. Makes sense, but Anthony has to make that move. A decision could arrive by Monday, but no one knows for sure.

Meanwhile, the New York Post stuck to its theme of “Carmelo is not leaving New York, everyone is just wasting their time.”

I agree with several points in this story. Yes, the Knicks look like the clear favorite to keep Anthony. His wife La La's reluctance to move is probably a key factor. And it makes sense for Anthony to take less than the maximum salary from the Knicks.

Taking the full max contract would cut into the Knicks' potential cap space in 2015 and perhaps sabotage efforts to improve the team.

So that part makes sense, but take a closer look at the roster scenario painted by the Post. Anthony convinces Pau Gasol to sign for the mini mid-level this summer, then Pau and Marc Gasol split the cap space in 2015.

When the 2015-16 season begins, Pau Gasol would be 35, Knicks point guard Jose Calderon 34 and Anthony 31. As it stands now, New York will have less than $20 million in cap space for 2015. If Anthony took the max, the Knicks used the mid-level this summer and NY keeps guys like Shane Larkin and Tim Hardaway Jr, the cap space would likely be less than $15 million. How many Gasols could you really get for that amount?

If the Bulls are still in the running for Anthony's services, that's likely the reason. Anthony can re-sign and hope Phil Jackson makes the right moves to create a contender, or he can join the Bulls for a similar annual salary and be part of a competent lineup immediately.

Another storyline from Friday was Nikola Mirotic alerting the Bulls and Real Madrid that he plans to jump to the NBA this summer. This isn't surprising news. The Bulls figured to sign Mirotic this summer, with a chance he might wait another year while his buyout decreased.

Some outlets are painting this news as the Bulls are chasing Mirotic because they know Anthony is a lost cause or will kill their potential cap space by signing Mirotic immediately.

Here's a news flash: The Bulls aren't the dumbest organization in professional sports. They'll wait for Anthony's decision before making anything official with Mirotic. If the Bulls could do a sign-and-trade for Anthony, they'd keep the full mid-level exception, worth $5.3 million.

Mirotic reportedly has a $3 million buyout. The Bulls are allowed to contribute $600,000 to the buyout without counting against the salary cap.

No one can sign before July 10, anyway. The window to amnesty Carlos Boozer is July 10-17.

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