What happens with the Heat this summer will prove pivotal to teams around the league, and while LeBron James largely holds the keys, team president Pat Riley isn’t sitting idly as he attempts to improve the roster with the hope his star returns. Here’s the latest from South Beach:
- The Heat are “extremely interested” in Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng, Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick writes, adding that signing them would require both to tamp down their salary demands. Ariza’s camp has made it clear that he wants much more than $8MM a year, Skolnick hears.
- Miami indeed inquired about the availability of Lance Stephenson, Skolnick adds in the same piece, confirming a report by ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, but they didn’t come close to matching the five-year, $44MM offer from the Pacers that the shooting guard reportedly turned down.
- The Heat never made an offer to Kyle Lowry or Marcin Gortat, a source tells Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, and Miami never made either a priority, as Skolnick writes in his piece. The Heat believe that agents have been overstating Miami’s interest in some players as a means of driving up the value of their clients, and they’re even more frustrated with the high price of some of the deals so far in free agency, Skolnick hears. They had interest in Jodie Meeks and Avery Bradley, but not for the money they received, as the Bleacher Report scribe adds.
- The Heat never had a legitimate shot with mid-tier considerations like Lowry and Gortat anyway, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who hears that they’re going after Anthony Morrow. The Thunder are also pursuing Morrow and the Magic had been, too, before they reached their deal with Ben Gordon, Stein adds (All Twitter links). The Heat have had Morrow on their radar for quite some time, Skolnick tweets.
JULY 10TH: Lowry has officially re-signed, the team announced via press release.
“We made it known that our top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Kyle,” GM Masai Ujiri said in the team’s statement. “He was a key to our success last season and we are delighted that he wants to be here in Toronto to help us continue to build a championship program.”
JULY 2ND: Kyle Lowry has agreed to a four-year, $48MM deal to stay with the Raptors, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Lowry has been heavily courted by the Heat, Rockets, and others, but it appears that he’ll be staying put with the club that helped resurrect his career. The deal includes a player option for the fourth year (link).
It was expected that the Raptors would pitch Lowry on a deal with an average annual value of $12MM a year but the club was reportedly considering making it a five-year offer to help keep him away from other suitors. For one reason or another, a fifth year wasn’t necessary and the Raptors got to keep their standout guard on a deal that is probably much more comfortable for them. This is strictly speculative on my part, but the opt out clause after year three could have been the compromise that kept Lowry satisfied with four years rather than five.
The Andy Miller client had significant interest from an impressive group of teams including the Heat, Rockets, Lakers, and Mavericks but he’s slated to stay north of the border for at least the next three seasons. It’s easy to see why. After averaging 10.6 PPG and 5.0 APG for the first seven years of his career, Lowry blossomed into a star last year for Toronto, putting up 17.9 PPG and 7.4 APG. The 28-year-old led Toronto to the Atlantic Division crown and although they were bounced by the sixth-seeded Nets in the first round, the Raptors organization reinvigorated Toronto’s basketball fans.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
WEDNESDAY, 2:50pm: Bosh is seeking a deal worth $16-18MM, a source tells Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 4:00pm: Agent Henry Thomas, who reps both Wade and Bosh, told TNT’s David Aldridge that the salary figures reported for his client are inaccurate (Twitter link).
3:28pm: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com and Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report put the brakes on the idea of such deep discounts, having heard that Bosh and Wade aren’t expected to accept figures quite so low (Twitter link).
2:44pm: The Heat are telling free agents that they have more than $12MM to spend, indicating that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or both are willing to take major discounts, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The Oregonian’s John Canzano hears Bosh is set to sign a five-year deal worth $11MM in the first year, while Wade will get a four-year deal starting at $12MM. Grantland’s Zach Lowe hears those figures are $12MM for Bosh and $10MM for Wade (Twitter links).
Those numbers, together with the maximum deal that LeBron James is insisting upon, would appear to give the Heat even more flexibility, since LeBron’s max is projected to be around $22MM. That would leave the Heat with $44-45MM or so in commitments, not counting roster charges and the cap hold for first-round pick Shabazz Napier. The salary cap is projected to come in at $62.3MM, so it seems Heat president Pat Riley is leaving room for a player or two at above the minimum salary in addition to a $12MM acquisition. That might come in the form of a signing at the value of the $2.732MM room exception.
The Heat are trying to arrange a meeting with Kyle Lowry today, according to Windhorst, who also suggests the team could go after Marcin Gortat (Twitter link). The Heat reportedly see Luol Deng and Lowry as their top free agent targets from outside the team, and while Deng is unwilling to take a discount to sign in Miami, $12MM appears to be close to market value.
WEDNESDAY, 7:59am: Lowry wants nothing less than a deal worth $40MM over four years, sources tell Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, who hears the Raptors would be comfortable at four years, $44MM. That’s less than the $12MM a year that Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported earlier that the Raptors would offer, but the key may be whether Toronto extends its offer to a fifth year, as Grange suggests and as Stein reported that the team is considering
TUESDAY, 10:00pm: Lowry’s bidders include the Raptors, Rockets, and Lakers. The Heat have not progressed their talks with him, however, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.
9:08pm: Guard Kyle Lowry told the Raptors today that he’ll take a few days to make up his mind, tweets David Aldridge of NBA.com. The Raptors, meanwhile, are still confident that they’ll retain the point guard. “He knows us, and we know him,” a source said.
Lowry has been an extremely popular guy over the last ~22 hours. A number of clubs have reached out to the 28-year-old, including the Heat. Miami is reportedly telling clubs that they have about $12MM to spend, which is in line with the reported offer that the Raptors are making to Lowry.
Toronto, meanwhile, was said to be thinking about making a five-year offer to the veteran. It’s not known for certain if the Raptors went through with that pitch in their meeting with Lowry in Philadelphia earlier today.
The Heat‘s infatuation with free agent guard Kyle Lowry has been well documented, but the Big Three haven’t been actively recruiting him, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. More from the Southeast Division..
- Josh McRoberts‘ agent tells Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer that there’s mutual interest between his client and the Hornets. “Quite a few teams have expressed” interest, Mike Conley Sr. said in a phone interview. “We haven’t gone into any in-depth discussions yet, but we know how the Hornets want him.”
- The Hornets approached Shaun Livingston about a possible return to Charlotte, a knowledgeable source tells Bonnell. Livingston played for Charlotte in the 2010-11 season when they were under their maiden Bobcats moniker.
- Kent Bazemore has heard from the Hawks, Celtics, Mavs, Lakers, Suns, and Bulls, tweets Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link) adds the Spurs to that list.
3:34pm: Lowry is thinking over an offer from the Rockets, Wojnarowski tweets. That’s presumably a scenario that would see him sign outright with Houston rather than via sign-and-trade.
3:17pm: Lowry is also considering a meeting with the Lakers, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who have interest, as we noted below. Lowry already met with the Rockets.
2:41pm: The Rockets were trying to work out a way to acquire Kyle Lowry via sign-and-trade with the Raptors, but Toronto isn’t playing along, and that appears to have put Houston out of the running for the free agent point guard, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The Rockets had reportedly viewed Lowry as a fallback option if bigger names proved out of their reach.
Lowry met with the Raptors today and is mulling an offer from them, a league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The Raptors have apparently been preparing to pitch a four-year, $48MM deal to the Andy Miller client, though another dispatch indicated that they were thinking about tacking a fifth year onto that.
The Heat are reportedly attempting to set up a meeting with the point guard, too. The Lakers and Mavs also apparently reached out to Lowry, who this spring made his affection for Toronto clear while stopping short of promising a return.
Plenty of teams are hoping for a chance to pitch to LeBron James, but the Wizards aren’t one of them, as owner Ted Leonsis explained in an appearance on 106.7 The Fan today. Scott Allen of The Washington Post has the transcription.
“You’d have to have cap space and you’d have to renounce all your free agents,” Leonsis said. “Then you’d have to be able to call their agent and say, ‘Would you think he would consider coming here?’ So, I never understood the grandstanding. Some of the bloggers have said, just get in the mix and throw your name out there. OK, so you generate positive pixels and it creates these faux expectations, and LeBron is in total control of his future. LeBron will do what LeBron wants to do. We have to be able to control what we want to control, and right now our main targets are retaining our players.”
Here’s more from around the Southeast Division:
- The Heat‘s top two targets for outside improvement appear to be Kyle Lowry and Luol Deng, but neither seem likely to end up with the team, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Deng is unwilling to take a discount to go to Miami, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, probably putting him out of reach (Twitter link).
- Hornets free agent power forward Josh McRoberts and the Blazers have mutual interest in a deal, as Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com hears.
- The Wizards would like to bring back free agent point guard Garrett Temple, but they face competition from the Heat, Magic and Bulls, who have also expressed interest, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
- The Hawks are interested in re-signing Elton Brand, but the Knicks are eyeing him, too, writes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
1:27am: Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and coach Dwane Casey will meet with Lowry in Philadelphia later today, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo (on Twitter).
1:03am: The line of teams chasing Kyle Lowry is so long that the Raptors are now said to be weighing whether to offer a fifth year to clinch his re-signing, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. As Stein reported earlier tonight, the Raptors are pitching a deal with an average annual value of $12MM/year, so a five-year deal would be quite a get for the 28-year-old.
The Heat have been known to be fans of Lowry and really appeared to ramp up their pursuit early Tuesday morning. A source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that Miami reached out to his agent, Andy Miller, and the sides are planning to talk in the morning.
In addition to the Heat, the Raptors will have to contend with the Lakers, Rockets, and Mavericks, who all reached out to Lowry tonight, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.
The Mavs are prioritizing a meeting with Carmelo Anthony before locking in a date with LeBron James, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. That speaks to the belief around the league that LeBron is staying in Miami, Berger adds. There’s more on the Mavs within the latest from the Southwest Division:
- The Mavericks were the first team on the phone with Luol Deng‘s representatives tonight, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
- The Mavs‘ first face-to-face meeting tonight is between owner Mark Cuban and point guard Devin Harris, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
- Rockets GM Daryl Morey has traveled to Philadelphia to meet with free agent guard Kyle Lowry tonight, a league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Coach Kevin McHale is also there for the pitch, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link).
- Andray Blatche has been telling people around the league that he may end up with the Pelicans, sources tell Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard the Nets big man linked to New Orleans.
Pau Gasol won’t be having any in-person meetings tonight, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The big man will be taking calls at his home in Los Angeles instead. The market for him will take shape over the first week of free agency as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James make their choices. Of course, many free agents will find themselves in a holding pattern until those two decide on where they’ll sign. In the meantime, here’s more news from the Pacific Division:
- The Lakers registered interest in Carmelo Anthony tonight and will be meeting with him on Thursday, a source tells Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link).
- Spencer Hawes is a free agent target for the Clippers, tweets Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Clips targeted him at the trade deadline.
- The Clippers are interested in bringing back Darren Collison, Glen Davis, and Danny Granger in that preferred order, Markazi also reports (on Twitter).
- One of the top off-season priorities for the Clippers is upgrading at small forward and they will reach out to Paul Pierce and Trevor Ariza, Markazi tweets. Clippers coach/president Doc Rivers will recruit his former pupil Pierce while Chris Paul will work on his former teammate Ariza (link).
- The Lakers like Ariza, Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, and Chandler Parsons, but won’t offer any of them deals longer than one or two years, tweets Mark Medina of the Daily News.
- The Kings will look to add a point guard even if they re-sign restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.