Free Agent Stock Watch Rumors

Free Agent Stock Watch: Antawn Jamison

August 29 at 3:29pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Two years ago, Hoops Rumors readers overwhelmingly voted for Antawn Jamison as the best minimum-salary signee in the league soon after his decision to sign with the Lakers for what looked like a steep discount. A year and a half later, Jamison’s stock had plummeted, and he’s been out of the NBA since the Hawks waived him shortly after acquiring him from the Clippers at the trade deadline this past February. No one is immune to the ravages of age, but it’s tough to imagine that Jamison’s skills have eroded so quickly after he scored 17.2 points per game for the Cavs in 2011/12 that he’s become unworthy of a place on an NBA roster.

The 37-year-old Jamison told DeAntae Prince of The Sporting News recently that he has options in free agency, as we passed along, but the one-time No. 4 overall pick didn’t specify whether any of those options included offers from NBA teams. The Wasserman Media Group client has signed with teams that figured to contend for titles the past two seasons. Should the right NBA opportunity materialize for him this year, it wouldn’t necessarily matter if it involved going to a team without a reasonable chance of winning the title, as Jamison also told Prince.

Jamison was reportedly among the players the Knicks were considering in February, shortly after his release from the Hawks, but that was before Phil Jackson took over the team’s front office. The Wizards were eyeing him around that same time, and Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld was in place there for the entirety of Jamison’s five and a half seasons in the nation’s capital. Still, one report suggested Washington’s interest in a reunion was only “lukewarm.” The Hawks and Jamison appeared to share interest in parting ways with each other last season, so it doesn’t seem like he’ll be returning to Atlanta anytime soon, even if he’s more willing to consider teams outside the title picture. Reports have linked the former University of North Carolina star to the Hornets (then Bobcats) in previous offseasons. Charlotte has 14 guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show, and while the team appears to be reluctant to use the final spot on a center, that probably doesn’t apply to a stretch four like Jamison. Still, there’s been no chatter connecting Jamison to the Hornets this summer.

The Spurs were apparently another team interested in Jamison this past February, and they wouldn’t force him to give up his title dreams. However, San Antonio is carrying 14 fully guaranteed pacts and three partially guaranteed deals, and the team still has a qualifying offer out to restricted free agent Aron Baynes, so it doesn’t appear there’s room for Jamison there. The Bulls were also linked to Jamison in that same report, and while the team only has 12 players, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and second-round pick Cameron Bairstow crowd the power forward position, so Jamison wouldn’t be a logical fit in Chicago, either.

Jamison took 17.5 shots per game in 2011/12 with the Cavs, matching a career high. His PER that season was 16.1, which set a career low at the time. That suggests that his high scoring average was at least in part the product of a stripped-down roster that gave then-coach Byron Scott few other choices for creating offense. Jamison’s efficiency has continued to decline over the past two seasons, coming in at a still-respectable 15.3 in his lone season with the Lakers before bottoming out at 7.8 in the small sample size of his 248 total minutes with the Clippers. There’s no doubt that Jamison is fading, but it’s debatable whether he’s any worse at this point than most of the players taking up space at the back end of NBA rosters.

He’s not going to win another Sixth Man of the Year award, as he did back in 2003/04, but the 6’8″ Jamison is not far removed from having nailed 36.1% of his three-point attempts with the Lakers in 2012/13, the third highest percentage he’s ever recorded. He’s been consistent from behind the arc, making 34.6% of his treys during his career, save for last season’s 8 for 41 performance in his brief stint as a Clipper. Last year might have soured the league’s front offices on Jamison, but in an NBA increasingly obsessed with analytics, I’m not sure his time with the Clippers provided an acceptable amount of evidence.

There’d be little call for Jamison to reprise the high-volume shooting role he played for the Cavs a few years ago, so even as he opens himself to signing with a non-contender, it seems Jamison is best suited to help teams that want to win now. There are plenty of teams with which he wouldn’t make sense, but it only takes one club that believes in him for the two-time All-Star to wear an NBA jersey again. Jamison said in Prince’s report that while he’s not ruling out retirement, he won’t know what he’s going to do next for at least another month, perhaps suggesting that he envisions signing with a team at midseason rather than going to training camp. Waiting a full year to return to the league would be risky, but when teams are allowed to issue 10-day contracts again in January, such a deal would allow Jamison to make at least small slice of guaranteed money while keeping a team’s initial investment minimal. There’s a strong chance that we’ve seen the last of Jamison in sneakers, but don’t bet on it.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Dante Cunningham

August 19 at 10:06pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Dante Cunningham never looked like a player who was going to draw significant attention in free agency this summer, but his arrest for domestic abuse last April seems to have all but eliminated interest from teams around the league. However, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN passed along Monday, the charges filed against the 27-year-old power forward have been dropped, and a report from Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press indicates that Cunningham plans to sue his accuser in an attempt to clear his name. It remains unclear how much the recent development in his legal narrative will influence teams’ perceptions of him, but Cunningham spoke with several clubs this offseason, each of which wanted to wait for the legal process to play out before discussing a contract, as Krawczynski details.

The Joel Bell client just completed a respectable year in which he came off the bench for the Timberwolves, but he still finds himself without a contract heading into the latter part of August. While Cunningham has reportedly been maintaining interest in a return to Minnesota, it doesn’t seem as though the team shares his desire. It could have been the legal issues keeping the Wolves from calling his name, but the more probable road block keeping Cunningham from returning to Minnesota is the club’s likely acquisition of Anthony Bennett and/or Thaddeus Young in the looming Kevin Love trade.

Retaining Cunningham would give the Wolves depth at the power forward position, which would certainly help the team, given that they don’t feature a true four outside of Love as it stands. However, Minnesota is already carrying 15 fully guaranteed contracts, and the team still hasn’t worked out a deal with second-round selection Glenn Robinson III. Unless the pending Love/Andrew Wiggins swap shakes up the Wolves roster more than current reports indicate, Cunningham seems like a long shot to return to the squad with which he’s spent the last two seasons.

As far as we know, the Rockets have been the only team outside of the Wolves who have been in discussions with Cunningham about a possible deal this offseason, as our rumor page for the big man shows. But, like Minnesota, Houston has limited flexibility to bring aboard Cunningham, currently rostering 13 players on fully guaranteed deals and four guys on non-guaranteed pacts. They could waive someone to make room for Cunningham, but they’re already set to open camp with Terrence Jones, Donatas MotiejunasJosh Powell, Jeff Adrien, Robert Covington, Joey Dorsey and Clint Capela all under contract, each of whom, like Cunningham, mans the four.

Despite a lack chatter surrounding him, there’s more than likely a team out there willing to offer Cunningham a deal with at least a partial guarantee. He was part of the Wolves’ rotation for the past two years, averaging 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists across 20.2 minutes per night this past season, when he appeared in 81 games. His career 12.9 PER is below the league average of 15.0, but he was never expected to put up superstar-caliber numbers when he was drafted 33rd overall out of Villanova.

Now that Cunningham’s legal issues seem to be resolved, it would be especially surprising to see him without a deal when training camps open up in late September. While Cunningham might be hard-pressed to land anything but a deal worth the minimum, his modest production on the hardwood over the past two seasons should at least help him find a home with an NBA club next season, even if it isn’t with the Wolves.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Jermaine O’Neal

August 17 at 6:41pm CDT By Zach Links

In his limited time on the floor last season, veteran big man Jermaine O’Neal proved that he still has plenty of basketball left in him.  In a little over 20 minutes per contest, the 6’11″ O’Neal averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG, good for a respectable 15.3 PER rating, just above the league average.  Sure, those aren’t the kind of numbers O’Neal posted during his best years (18.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 2.4 BPG with a 19.5 PER) but at 35, J.O. can still be a solid piece off of the bench.

As we learned last month, the Warriors are still in regular contact with O’Neal, but he’s also giving some thought to retirement.  O’Neal hasn’t lost his love for the game of basketball, but he badly wants to spend time with his family.  It’s hard to blame him.  The 35-year-old (36 in October) has spent the last 18 years on the road, bouncing from city to city ever since he went pro out of Eau Claire High School in Columbia, South Carolina.

In a chat with Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle in May, O’Neal admitted that he felt that he had unfinished business.

It’s been a fantastic run,” the six-time All-Star said, while adding that he’d ask his 8-year-old son for input. “You never picture your last game being one where you can’t be effective in a Game 7. That’s a tough pill to swallow.”

O’Neal went on to thank his teammates in Golden State for “injecting life back into [his] soul” and said that he would consider a front office job with the Warriors if he doesn’t continue his playing career.  You never know what might happen if an attractive contender comes calling, but as far as we know, it’s a two horse race between the Warriors and retirement at this point for O’Neal.  With a long, accomplished career, plenty of cash in the bank, and a young family at home, no one would fault O’Neal for calling it quits this summer.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Jordan Crawford

August 16 at 4:11pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The offseason is winding down, and most free agents capable of contributing on the hardwood have found homes by now. One player who’s been unable to secure a deal is the well-traveled Jordan Crawford. The 25-year-old out of Xavier has been a useful piece throughout his career, which has consisted of stops with the Hawks, Wizards, Celtics, and Warriors. Most teams’ rosters are looking pretty well-set as the regular season approaches, so Crawford’s options appear to be dwindling.

Crawford was shipped from Boston to Golden State last January as part of a three-team deal with Miami. Prior to the trade, Crawford was a big part of the Celtics offense, putting up nightly averages of 13.7 points and 5.7 assists while seeing 30.5 minutes per game. The combo guard has displayed good scoring instincts throughout his career, which his mark of 17.8 points per 36 minutes speaks to.

The strong start Crawford had in Boston had him looking like a potential candidate for the Most Improved Player Award, but his 2013/14 campaign took a dramatic shift post-trade. After being dealt to the W’s, Crawford saw his minutes drop to an average of just 15.7 per night, as he was not a major part of Golden State’s rotation. At season’s end, backcourt peers Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Steve Blake all played more minutes per contest than Crawford, who was never able to find regular playing time on his new club in spite of a strong start to the year with Boston. To no surprise, the financially limited and guard-stocked Warriors chose not to extend Crawford his $3,206,867 qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. The four-year veteran is still without a team midway through August.

Several squads were said to have interest in the former first-rounder, with the BullsMavericksLakersKnicks, and Nets all being mentioned as possible suitors. Since more than a couple of those teams have now supplemented their backcourts with other players, a question arises: why hasn’t Crawford found a team? It’s possible that the Creative Artists Agency client is holding out for more than the minimum salary, which is the most any of those clubs could offer him, as Hoops Rumors details. However, his lack of playing time in Golden State might have hindered his chances at drawing anything above that sum, so he might need to settle on such an amount.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see him on the Bulls next year, given their apparent dedication to bolstering their scoring. The Lakers would make sense too, given their dearth of backcourt depth and concerns regarding Kobe Bryant‘s health. The Mavericks, Knicks, and Nets all have rosters that currently boast at least 15 players so they seem like a less logical destination. There’s still time between now and the beginning of the regular season, and teams are capable of shuffling their roster, so really a move to any of the aforementioned teams wouldn’t be out of the realm of feasibility.

I’d be surprised if Crawford isn’t on an NBA by roster by the beginning of the season, as he’s proven throughout his career he can pack a scoring punch off of the bench. He’s lacked efficiency at times, taking too many shots, but his strong, albeit short campaign as a Celtic demonstrated he’s a player with the ability to contribute in a meaningful way. If he’s truly holding out for more than the minimum, and no team offers him an amount greater than that, he’ll have little choice but to simply take what he’s offered.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Andrew Bynum

August 15 at 10:40am CDT By Zach Links

It has been a rough couple of years for center Andrew Bynum.  Prior to the 2012/13 season, the big man was shipped from the Lakers to the 76ers as a part of the four-team Dwight Howard trade.  Unfortunately, knee troubles cost him the entire year and he never suited up for Philadelphia.

The Cavs then seized the opportunity to sign a potentially elite big man at a discounted rate and inked him to a two-year, incentive-laden deal.  Bynum conceded early in the season that his knees were still holding him back and, for one reason or another, he wanted out of Cleveland.  He wrote his ticket out by shooting every time he touched the ball in practice regardless of where he was on the floor.  Apparently unimpressed by his confident approach to offense and his long-distance range, the Cavs packaged his contract and draft picks to acquire Luol Deng from the Bulls.  The Bulls dropped him, the Pacers picked him up, and he played in a grand total of two games for Indiana.

This isn’t quite how we all envisioned things working out for the former No. 10 overall pick.  Of course, while the last couple of years have raised major concerns about Bynum’s health and general attitude, it’ll be hard for teams to overlook the potential upside in signing him.  After all, he’s only a few years removed from his 2011/12 campaign where he averaged career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8) on his way to his first career All-Star nomination.

Thanks to his physical condition and reputation, one has to imagine that Bynum can be had for the minimum salary.  And, even though he might not be the consummate teammate, we’d be surprised if someone wasn’t willing to roll the dice on him.  Earlier this month, the Clippers reportedly auditioned the big man while also scoping out Andray Blatche and Greg Oden in the same week.  Agent David Lee said in July that the Knicks could also have interest in his client while Bynum himself would like to reunite with the Lakers.  One has to wonder whether the Doc Rivers-led Clippers would want to chance tinkering with locker room chemistry.  Same goes for Phil Jackson in New York who waived fellow former pupil Lamar Odom after his conduct was apparently not up to par.

Bynum is also thinking about undergoing German Regenokine therapy on his knees which would cost him the entire 2014/15 season, so he might not sign with anyone for the upcoming season.  And, if Bynum decides to never return at all, he won’t be hurting for cash as he has earned nearly $80MM over the course of his career.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Andray Blatche

August 11 at 10:30am CDT By Chuck Myron

It’s worth wondering why Andray Blatche is without an NBA contract in the middle of August. He’s 27 years old, stands 6’11″, and is coming off a season in which he averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game with an 18.8 PER for a Nets team that went to the conference semifinals. He’s an unrestricted free agent, without the encumbrance of restricted free agency that’s holding up deals for Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe and without the strong leads on a job that Shawn Marion has. He’s not considering retirement like Ray Allen. There are questions about his character, dating back to his pre-amnesty days with the Wizards and reverberating most recently in a report about the Heat’s longstanding reservations about his maturity and behavior. Another dispatch asserted that Blatche’s midseason absence this past year was a de facto suspension meted out by then-coach Jason Kidd, a punishment that left Nets management impressed with the coach. But such trouble has not kept lesser players out of the league.

There could easily be more than meets the eye to Blatche’s locker room issues, but those reports may also be the extent of it. His continued free agency might stem simply from a demand for more money than the market is bearing. He turned down a player option to stay with the Nets for a salary of nearly $1.438MM, slightly more than the minimum, so he probably envisioned a raise, which wouldn’t be easy to find at this stage of free agency. He’s been linked to a few teams in some form or fashion this summer, dating back to a mid-June report that he and the Pelicans had mutual interest, though a follow-up indicated that Blatche was the only party eyeing such an arrangement. Around the start of July, Blatche had apparently been telling many around the league that he would end up in New Orleans, but there’s been no movement toward that end.

The Raptors were reportedly to have met with Blatche about a week or so into free agency, but Toronto appears to have moved on. There was a report that he would work out along with a few other big men of note for the Clippers, but agent Andy Miller quickly dismissed that as false. Whether or not the Clippers enter the picture legitimately at any point, it seems a reunion with the Nets isn’t forthcoming. Blatche was the only one of the team’s free agents to whom GM Billy King declined to reach out at the start of free agency, a strong signal that there’s little, if any, interest from the club.

That might have more to do with the emergence of Mason Plumlee and the expected return to health of Brook Lopez than any shortcoming of Blatche’s. Kidd is gone, having jumped ship to Milwaukee, so any clash between Blatche and his coach is no longer germane. Brooklyn had its greatest success last season playing small ball, so an abundance of big men probably isn’t what the team has in mind.

Blatche’s minutes and production increased slightly this past season over 2012/13, his first in Brooklyn, though his PER and per-minute output went a hair in the other direction. He’s still at an age that suggests he’s entering his prime, if he’s not already there, and he still has a few more years before any precipitous decline should start to set in. He’s not the shot blocker he was in his early 20s, swatting fewer shots per game last season than he did in any season except for when he only saw 6.0 MPG as a rookie. Still, his defensive win shares have exceeded his offensive win shares every season of his career, demonstrating his impact when the other team has the ball. The Nets were slightly better defensively when Blatche was off the court than when he was on it in each of the past two seasons in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com, but each year the team’s net rating went up when he played.

The 49th overall pick from 2005 seems to be a plus on the floor, so unless teams have universally decided his off-court reputation is simply too much to bear, which doesn’t seem likely, there are certain to be NBA teams in touch with Miller as the summer wanes. The Lakers joined a list of 11 other teams I recently outlined as being limited to paying the minimum salary for this coming season, but while Blatche’s options for a non-minimum deal are dwindling, they aren’t gone yet.

There’s no urgency for either Blatche or teams to come to an agreement with training camp still about six weeks off, and as the Paul George injury showed, a need could crop up at any time to spur the market for someone who can fill it. The unresolved situations of Bledsoe and — for Blatche in particular — Monroe loom over part of the landscape. So, perhaps a team like the Hawks, who have cap space and have been linked to Monroe, could look to Blatche should the Pistons big man end up elsewhere. It was a little surprising to see his agent so quickly deny the Clippers rumor, so maybe there’s traction with other teams that such news would jeopardize, though that’s just my speculation. In any case, Blatche probably would find a guaranteed minimum-salary deal to sign this week if he wanted to, but he’s probably best advised to continue to wait until the pace of the market quickens and teams are more aggressively filling their rosters for the season ahead.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Ramon Sessions

August 6 at 9:35pm CDT By Cray Allred

One of the most productive free agents who still hasn’t found a team this summer is Ramon Sessions. In fact, of the 30 point guards who scored at least 10 points per game while averaging over 4 assists, Sessions is the only player without a contract. Sessions wasn’t far off his career PER average of 16.7 last season, a number that ranks with many of the league’s better rotation players. Perhaps Sessions’ situation will look less bleak in the coming days, but at the moment there are not a lot of landing spots where Sessions could sign for at or above the $5MM annual salary he just earned on his (expired) two-year deal. As our own Chuck Myron detailed in today’s Ray Allen Stock Watch piece, the teams with much more than the veteran’s minimum to offer are dwindling.

Sessions’ skill set is an odd mix for today’s NBA. In four of his first five seasons in the league, Sessions averaged over 7 assists per-36 minutes, but that rate slipped well below 6 per-36 over his last two seasons. The point guard position is evolving from a pass-first mold, however, with unconventional scoring guards becoming more accepted. Sessions’ most glaring weakness is his poor three-point shooting, which stands at 31.1% over his career, and 28.2% last season. As the league moves away from mid-range shots to emphasize the three-pointer, teams are increasingly unenthusiastic about perimeter players with no long distance range. In fact, Charlotte traded away Sessions last season in order to bring in shooting specialist Gary Neal as the Hornets geared up for the 2014 playoffs.

One of Sessions’ greatest strengths does fit the advanced team-building strategies in today’s NBA, however. Sessions has an elite free throw rate. At 6.6 free throw attempts per-36 minutes, Sessions ranked 12th in the league last year, behind only Ty Lawson at the point guard position. Teams increasingly value trips to the charity stripe as one of the most efficient elements of a strong offense; if Sessions could convince teams he could put up even mildly below average shooting averages to go with his ability to draw fouls, I can’t imagine he’d still be unsigned today.

Charlotte trading the veteran to the Bucks blindsided Sessions, but he was still open to reuniting with the Hornets as his free agency approached this summer. The Hornets sent mixed signals as to their own interest in a reunion, but eventually signed veteran backup Brian Roberts along with Lance Stephenson, a combo guard capable of running the point to complement starter Kemba Walker. In any case, Charllote was just one of many teams that had the point guard on their radar as free agency began. One of those teams was the Bulls, but they have since re-signed Kirk Hinrich alongside newcomers Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, and Doug McDermott. Considering Derrick Rose‘s return, it would be surprising if they even wanted Sessions at the minimum now, considering the cap ramifications.

Some of the teams with cap flexibility might not be interested in upgrading their point guard slot. The Bucks haven’t been reported as interested in bringing Sessions back, and have already added the cheaper Kendall Marshall to a backcourt that includes Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters. The Jazz have two young point guards in Trey Burke and Dante Exum, but appear comfortable letting the raw Exum grow alongside Burke, rather than developing behind a veteran like Sessions. The Sixers have the most money available, and the thinnest roster, but have done nothing to bring in solid talent this offseason via free agency.

The Pacers haven’t been named as a Sessions suitor, but stand as a potential match. The team is seeking offense after losing Stephenson to free agency and Paul George to injury, and that is definitely Sessions’ strength. They are also applying for the disabled players exception, which would allow them over $5MM in signing ability if granted. The Rockets are another team without a reported connection to Sessions, but could theoretically be a good match for his talents. After trading away Jeremy Lin, Houston was left with Patrick Beverley as their only proven commodity at point guard. Beverley is a much better defender than Sessions with more success behind the arc, but Sessions has a longer track record than the likes of Ish Smith or Isaiah Canaan, Houston’s current bench pieces behind Beverley. Houston also has the flexibility to sign Sessions for significantly more than the minimum.

The Allegiant Athletic Agency client will hope that his strengths will eventually outshine his weaknesses in the eyes of a front office with money to spend. Just two years ago, the point guard was confident enough in his market value to decline a player option of over $4.5MM, and wound up getting a raise. It remains to be seen if the market will provide such a soft cushion this time around.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Ray Allen

August 6 at 10:58am CDT By Chuck Myron

Ray Allen‘s offseason stands as a reminder that probable outcomes don’t always come true. A report in June indicated that he was leaning toward returning for another season and that he wanted to continue playing alongside LeBron James. That pointed to a return to the Heat, who kept the NBA’s all-time leading three-point maker in their plans. Once James bolted to the Cavs, it sent the league for a spin, and perhaps no player felt the dizzying effects as much as Allen did.

The Cavaliers reportedly began their pursuit of the 18-year veteran even before James made his choice to return to Cleveland. Mike Miller started recruiting Allen to come north as the Heat renounced their rights to Allen and used their cap space on others, leaving Miami only the minimum salary to offer. Multiple reports indicated that Allen had begun to lean toward the Cavs, but he put the brakes on that idea, dismissing not only the idea that he preferred Cleveland but raising doubt about whether he’d play at all this coming season.

That sort of back-and-forth suggests that Allen is torn about his next course of action. As he told Don Amore of the Hartford Courant this weekend, he has nothing left to prove after breaking the all-time record for three-pointers made and winning two NBA championships. He’s headed for the Hall-of-Fame sooner or later. He nonetheless remained a productive player this past season even as he stared down his 39th birthday, which took place last month. Returning for another season would allow Allen to put his three-point record further out of reach and chase one more ring, alluring draws for any competitor.

Allen’s 37.5% three-point accuracy fell below his career mark of 40% for the first time in four years this past season, but he shot just 36.3% from long range in 2009/10 and bounced back with new career highs in three-point percentage in each of the next two seasons. A more disconcerting stat from last season is his 12.8 PER, the sort of number that’s usually the domain of below-average NBA players. It was the worst PER that Allen had ever recorded, and teams considering him for more than the minimum salary might worry that his efficiency will suffer another decline.

The Jim Tanner client seemingly rebuffed the idea that he’s only worth the minimum at this point in his career during a conversation a few days ago with Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. The Cavs and Heat can offer only the minimum, and Cleveland, with rookie head coach David Blatt, doesn’t appear to fit Allen’s preference for a veteran coach, unless he’s willing to count Blatt’s experience overseas.

A dozen NBA teams can give Allen no more than the minimum, as the Lakers have since joined those ranks since I compiled this list last month. The only teams that employ a coach with more than a season of NBA head coaching experience and have more than the minimum salary to spend are the Pistons, Rockets, Pelicans, Magic, Spurs, Raptors, Thunder and Timberwolves. Minnesota can offer just about $100K more than the minimum with the partial amount of its mid-level left over from its deal with Mo Williams, and the Thunder would be unlikely to spend more than the minimum on Allen since they’re bumping up against the luxury tax. The Raptors are flirting with the tax line, too, so they might be similarly hesitant.

That leaves just five teams capable of meeting Allen’s preferences, and only Houston and San Antonio among them are within hailing distance of a title. The Spurs could throw their entire $5.305MM mid-level exception at him if they see fit, while the Rockets could come within about $500K of matching that. Both teams have made three-point shooting a premium over the years, so Allen would fit that bill.

The Rockets would seemingly make more sense, stung as they are from an offseason that didn’t go as hoped and without a logical backup to James Harden. The Spurs have plenty of depth, but they’re closer to the title, a factor that Allen surely wouldn’t dismiss. The team-oriented culture of San Antonio might hold appeal as well, but Houston appears to be in a position of greater need and perhaps greater willingness to make a more lucrative offer, though that’s just my speculation.

Allen said to Murphy that it would take a “perfect storm scenario” for him to play this season, and while the conditions in Texas seem ripe for clouding his thoughts of retirement, the most likely outcome at the moment suggests that Allen has played his final game. But, as we’ve learned from following him this summer, there’s no safe bet.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Michael Beasley

August 5 at 7:16pm CDT By Zach Links

As teams look to make high-upside, low-risk pickups around this time of year, they could do a whole lot worse than adding a former No. 2 overall pick.  Forward Michael Beasley remains on the open market and it certainly stands to reason that he could be had for a minimum salary deal.  There has been interest out there for the talented but troubled 25-year-old but at this moment it’s not clear where he might wind up.

The Lakers, who are one of several teams that are limited to offering the minimum salary, auditioned Beasley late last month.  It would seem to be a logical pairing for a Lakers team that could probably use a boost in talent after losing Pau Gasol to free agency and whiffing on their top targets, including Carmelo Anthony.  However, since the July 30th tryout, the Lakers have added a couple of players - ex-Michigan State point guard Keith Appling and former UNLV and UConn forward Roscoe Smith – on training camp deals, so it’s not clear if B-Easy is truly in the plans in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, a return to Heat could still be a possibility even though it appeared to be a longshot at one point given his limited role in the postseason.  When asked if Beasley could get a new deal in Miami, team president Pat Riley responded, “He’s still a consideration, absolutely.”  It’s not hard to see why, even though he fell out of favor in Miami’s rotation when it counted the most.  Beasley still averaged 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game across 55 regular season appearances and his 16.8 PER, above the league average, was the second best of his six-year career.  However, the Heat recently added Shawne Williams, who would appear to be a replacement for Beasley off the bench. If Riley opened the door to a reunion on July 31st, the addition of Williams has closed it at least part of the way.

It’s hard to say where Beasley will end up since there are now roadblocks with the two clubs that have been publicly linked to him.  However, agent Jared Karnes maintained in late July that multiple teams aside from Miami have expressed interest, so there should be a place for him somewhere.

This is entirely speculative, but it’s conceivable that the Cavs, who are looking to add frontcourt depth, could be interested in Beasley.  The Cavs hosted Shawn Marion for a visit yesterday, but they’re not the only team looking to add him, so Beasley could be a Plan B if that doesn’t pan out.  One potential roadblock there could be LeBron James and his reported dissatisfaction with Beasley’s play and focus last season in Miami.  According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, James was furious with Beasley and his spacey antics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.  Still, there could be a fit if Beasley can convince Cavs management and the club’s star player that he’s ready to zero in a bit more on the court.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Shawn Marion

July 30 at 11:45am CDT By Chuck Myron

The snail’s pace of negotiations for Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe are somewhat explainable, given that both are restricted free agents. It’s a little harder to believe that unrestricted free agent Shawn Marion still remains unsigned. He started 76 games for the Mavs last season and all seven contests during the team’s first-round challenge of the eventual-champion Spurs. The 36-year-old is nearing the end of his career, but he still appears to have a lot left to give.

The Heat had been expected to make a push for Marion when free agency began, apparently viewing him as the sort of player whose addition could help convince LeBron James to stick around. Of course, LeBron ended up elsewhere, and Miami committed its available cash to Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger and its own free agents, leaving only the minimum salary left to chase anyone else. The Mavs can’t offer Marion more than the minimum, either, having renounced their Bird Rights on the versatile forward, exhausted their cap space, and spent the room exception on Jameer Nelson.

The Dan Fegan client probably would have signed by now if he had been willing to accept the minimum salary, and it appears he continues to hold out for more. That’s in spite of a growing number of teams limited to paying only the minimum. There were 11 such clubs when I ran them down this past Friday, and the Lakers have since joined that group. Similarly, Marion probably would have signed by now if teams with the $5.305MM mid-level exception or better thought he was worthy of that sort of cash, so it seems there’s a disconnect at play. Marion doesn’t appear too worried, recently telling Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News that, “It’s only July, man. We got two more months. We’ll just wait and see how it works out.”

Yet teams rarely dole out more than the minimum salary once September rolls around, and if they do, it’s not much more than that. So while there’s no need for Marion to sign now if he intends to play in the NBA next season, there’s urgency if he wants to play on a salary befitting his production.

Marion remains valuable, but there’s no doubt that he’s slowing down. The Mavs outscored opponents by 7.8 points per 100 possessions whenever Marion sat this past season, but they only broke even when he was on the floor, according to NBA.com. He put up a career-worst 13.7 PER this past season, a rather steep decline from his 18.0 mark in 2012/13. His 10.4 points per game in 2013/14 were his fewest since his rookie season, though that was a product of his shot attempts per contest nearing a career low as he played on a Mavs team that could draw its offense from an array of other capable sources.

More encouraging was his three-point stroke, as he nearly doubled his attempts from that distance over the previous season and improved his accuracy to 35.8%, his best mark in 11 years. That percentage is just about average in today’s NBA, but it nonetheless represents growing proficiency in a sought-after skill that’s extended many careers. It’s more difficult to gauge just how strong a defender Marion remains, but suffice it to say that the Mavs entrusted him with holding together their defense in a lineup largely devoid of stoppers.

The Bulls and the Rockets are the teams other than the Heat and the Mavs to have been linked to Marion this month. Chicago, like Dallas and Miami, has only the minimum to offer, but Houston would be an intriguing suitor if its efforts intensify. The Rockets have most of their non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception to spend, as well as their $2.077MM biannual exception. It would surely please Rockets GM Daryl Morey to poach the Mavs’ starting small forward after Dallas had done the same to Morey’s team with a near-max offer sheet to Chandler Parsons. It’s worth wondering if Fegan, who represents Marion as well as Parsons, harbors ill feelings toward Morey and company, given the acrimony surrounding Parsons’ cross-Texas move. Still, that probably wouldn’t forestall a deal in the end, especially since the Rockets employ star Fegan client Dwight Howard.

There are other seemingly attractive teams with either the cap space or the exceptions to give Marion a fair deal, including the Spurs, Hawks and Nuggets. Still, none have appeared to show interest. It’s conceivable that the market for Marion will soften once the fates of Bledsoe and Monroe are resolved. He’ll have opportunities, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t field multiple offers for better than the minimum. The questions are whether those offers will be for substantially more, just how long the deals would run, and just which teams will come to his doorstep. It seems as though Marion has ideals in mind for each, and, as he indicated, he doesn’t feel the need to compromise now, regardless of whether he’d ultimately be better served by doing so.