Washington Wizards

Wizards Rumors: Anderson, Horford, Batum, Beal

As we heard on Tuesday, the Wizards – having conceded that they’re not in the mix for Kevin Durant – have shifted their focus to Ryan Anderson, viewing him as a top free target. ESPN’s Marc Stein follows up on that report today by suggesting that Anderson isn’t the only name near the top of Washington’s wish list. According to Stein (via Twitter), the names that keep coming up as prime targets for the Wizards this offseason are Anderson, Al Horford, and Nicolas Batum.

Stein also adds (in a second tweet) that that the Wizards are expected to “quickly” enter negotiations with Bradley Beal on a new contract, after extending him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. That echoes a May report, which indicated the Wizards won’t waste time in offering Beal a long-term, maximum-salary contract when the new league year opens.

Kyler’s Latest: Durant, Conley, Whiteside, Rondo

The prevailing wisdom heading into free agency has suggested that Kevin Durant is likely to sign a two-year contract with a second-year player option this summer. After all, opting out a year from now and signing a long-term deal at that point figures to be the best way for the star forward to maximize his earnings.

Still, we’ve heard whispers that Durant may prefer to simply sign a long-term pact now to avoid having free agency looming over him for another year, and Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders cites sources close to the former MVP who echo that sentiment. According to Kyler, Oklahoma City remains the frontrunner for Durant, but the free-agent-to-be will hear out and consider all his suitors, and could make a long-term commitment to the team he signs with, whether that’s the Thunder or another club.

Here’s more from Kyler on a few of this summer’s top free agents:

  • Mike Conley is expected to listen to some free agent pitches, but will likely give the Grizzlies the last word, writes Kyler. Conley would like to see Memphis be aggressive about adding talent to fortify the roster if he’s going to return. If the veteran point guard decides to go elsewhere, the Mavericks, Rockets, Spurs, and even the Nets are among his potential landing spots, per Kyler.
  • The Lakers, Mavericks, Celtics, and Hornets are some of the teams expected to make a push for Hassan Whiteside if the Heat waver on offering him a max contract, says Kyler.
  • Kyler identifies the Heat as a potential dark horse in the Al Horford sweepstakes, if Whiteside does leave Miami. Horford is believed to be the next target on the team’s wish list, and that interest may be mutual, Kyler writes.
  • There’s mutual interest between Rajon Rondo and the Nets, who could be the favorites to land the point guard. However, according to Kyler, Rondo wouldn’t want to be Brooklyn’s only high-profile addition this summer, so the Nets might have to make a commitment to another notable free agent if they hope to lure Rondo.
  • Dwight Howard could end up being a primary target this offseason for teams like the Bucks, Trail Blazers, and Hornets, who aren’t necessarily expected to get involved with many top-tier free agents, per Kyler. Sources close to Howard and the Magic indicate to Kyler that the odds of D12 returning to Orlando are slim, despite the fact that the team expects to be active on the open market.
  • Kyler adds the Lakers and Grizzlies to the list of teams with interest in Ryan Anderson, and notes that there’s mutual interest between Anderson and the Wizards. Sources also tell Kyler that Anderson would prefer to land with a playoff team.

Qualifying Offers: Drummond, Beal, Powell

Players eligible for restricted free agency don’t become restricted free agents by default. In order to make a player a restricted free agent, a team must extend a qualifying offer to him. The qualifying offer, which is essentially just a one-year contract offer, varies in amount depending on a player’s service time and previous contract status. A qualifying offer is designed to give a player’s team the right of first refusal. Because the qualifying offer acts as the first formal contract offer a free agent receives, his team then receives the option to match any offer sheet the player signs with another club. You can read more about qualifying offers here.

Teams don’t always formally announce when they submit qualifying offers, which is the case with a number of players who have already been extended these offers by their respective clubs. The procedural moves listed below have been posted to the RealGM Transactions page, with more sure to follow in the next few days:

Also receiving a qualifying offer is Magic center Dewayne Dedmon, with Orlando submitting the $1,215,696 required to make him a restricted free agent earlier today, per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Hawks Want In On Kevin Durant Sweepstakes

Six teams – including the Thunder – have lined up free agent meetings with Kevin Durant so far, but there are still a handful of other clubs vying for the opportunity to sit down with the star forward. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, one of those clubs is the Hawks, who are trying to “wedge their way” into the KD sweepstakes.

As July approaches, Atlanta’s top free agent priorities involve re-signing Al Horford and Kent Bazemore, but the Hawks are also working to convince Durant and his representatives to allow them to make a face-to-face pitch. According to Stein, the chances of such a meeting occurring appear dim for now, but Grant Hill – a member of the Hawks’ ownership group – is expected to lead the club’s lobbying efforts, giving Atlanta a glimmer of hope.

Atlanta’s pursuit of Durant may be a long shot, but if the team falls short in its pursuit of its top target, it has at least one more big-name free agent on its list of possible alternatives. Stein reports that the Hawks are strongly considering pursuing Atlanta native Dwight Howard, who will also hit the open market this week.

According to Stein, the Hawks would go after Howard with the idea of playing him alongside Horford in their frontcourt. However, Howard could also represent a viable alternative at center if Horford ultimately signs elsewhere. While Atlanta is optimistic about retaining the All-Star center, Horford is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Rockets, Magic, Pistons, Wizards, Celtics, and Nets, among other teams, Stein writes.

The Hawks are currently projected to have about $47MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2016/17, which includes cap holds for their two first-round picks, but not Jeff Teague‘s $8MM salary. Even if the team re-signs Horford, there could still be room for another max or near-max salary.

Wizards Setting Sights On Ryan Anderson

After years of speculation about a return to D.C. for Kevin Durant, the Wizards have all but conceded that a Durant signing isn’t in the cards, and have moved on in their free agency plans, as we heard on Monday. And according to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com, one of the top targets next up on Washington’s wish list is veteran sharpshooter Ryan Anderson. Michael reports that the Wizards will “make an aggressive move” in the hopes of securing Anderson when free agency begins.

Anderson, a former 21st overall pick, has only played more than 66 games once in a season, but is coming off a solid year for the Pelicans. He averaged 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, to go along with a shooting line of .427/.366/.873. Anderson’s ability to score from outside despite his 6’10” frame will make him a coveted free agent this summer.

According to Michael, Anderson is expected to wait for Durant’s decision before making a decision of his own, since many of the same teams currently in pursuit of KD could turn their attention to Anderson if they miss out on Plan A.

While the Wizards intend to be aggressive in their pursuit of Anderson, he’ll have plenty of other suitors and he won’t come cheap. As Michael writes, one general manager recently told him that Anderson could land a deal in the range of $17MM annually. Given the impending salary cap spike, something closer to a maximum-salary contract for the 28-year-old isn’t out of the realm of possibility. If the bidding goes that high, it would be problematic for the Wizards, says Michael.

Outside of the Wizards, teams expected to be among the contenders for Anderson include the Rockets, who reportedly hope to land one of Anderson, Durant, Hassan Whiteside, and Al Horford; and the Kings, who are said to have Anderson and Courtney Lee at or near the top of their list of free agent targets.

The Wizards are believed to have made a strong push to acquire Anderson from the Pelicans via trade at the deadline in February, but Washington didn’t want to give up the first-round pick that ultimately wound up going to Phoenix in the Markieff Morris deal, according to an April report from TNT’s David Aldridge.

Horford, Joakim Noah, and Darrell Arthur are a few other frontcourt free-agents-to-be expected to receive interest from the Wizards this offseason.

Six Teams Solidify Meetings With Kevin Durant

8:08pm: Durant will not meet with his hometown Wizards, J. Michael of CSNMidatlantic.com reports. The Wizards have already moved on with their free agency plans, as league sources told Michael that the idea of returning home “doesn’t resonate” with Durant.

MONDAY, 12:41pm: Durant and his representatives have now scheduled meetings with the Celtics, Clippers, and Heat, bringing the total number of meetings on tap for KD to six, reports ESPN’s Chris Broussard. A meeting with the Knicks also remains in play, but hasn’t yet been confirmed.

FRIDAY, 10:44pm: The Warriors, Spurs and Thunder will be the first three teams to land face-to-face recruiting meetings with Kevin Durant, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein adds that the meetings will take place next week and more teams are expected to be granted an opportunity to make a pitch. Durant’s representatives are working to solidify meetings with the Celtics, Clippers and Heat in addition to the aforementioned teams, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports.

Both the Warriors and Spurs are planning on having key members of their respective organizations in attendance, Stein adds. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be among the attendees for Golden State’s pitch, while San Antonio will have Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan among the attendees at its meeting. Sources tell Stein that the Warriors believe their chances of landing Durant have increased as a result of losing to the Cavs in the NBA Finals. Earlier this week, a source suggested to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that the Warriors appear to be the biggest threat to land the 2013/14 MVP should he leave Oklahoma City.

Durant is expected to have his agent Rich Kleiman and a few family members and friends alongside him during the initial meetings. The meetings are expected to take place in New York, according to Wojnarowski, although teams are still awaiting official word. It was reported last week that the meetings would take place in Los Angeles, where Durant owns a home.

The Knicks and Lakers remain hopeful about getting a meeting, Stein adds. Despite no definite report of a future meeting with Durant, Ian Begley of ESPN.com tweets that the Knicks are expected to get one.

The Rockets are not expected to get serious consideration, as was previously reported, and Stein adds that the Wizards are not optimistic about their chances of landing Durant.

Durant’s top priority for a destination remains competing for a championship and doing it immediately. A source tells Wojnarowski that Durant has plans to go on a publicity tour starting on July 9, and he expects to make a decision before that date.

Wizards Interested In Darrell Arthur

No Meeting Lined Up Yet For Durant, Knicks

We’re just four days away from the start of the NBA’s 2016 free agent period, and while players can’t sign contracts with teams on July 1st, plenty of clubs will be prepared to make pitches to newly-available players on Friday. We’ve heard that the Thunder, Warriors, and Spurs have scheduled meetings for Kevin Durant, with the Celtics, Heat, and Clippers also working to solidify sit-downs of their own. However, it remains to be seen whether the Knicks will be given the opportunity to meet with Durant, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

According to Begley, no meeting has been scheduled – or agreed to – between New York and Durant, and while the Knicks remain optimistic that they’ll ultimately receive consideration from the star forward, it’s not a great sign that they aren’t among the initial group of suitors with whom he’ll meet.

Sam Amick of USA Today suggested on Sunday that the acquisition of Derrick Rose had put the Knicks back on Durant’s radar, but Amick conceded within that report that a meeting between the two sides was no sure thing. It’s possible that after meeting with his initial six suitors, Durant will remain undecided and would be willing to take a meeting with the Knicks or another team. Still, the Knicks appear to face long odds, considering the former MVP isn’t expected to take a ton of time to make a decision.

A meeting with Durant at least remains a possibility for the Knicks. For other would-be suitors, such as the Lakers and Wizards, such a meeting appears increasingly unlikely, as Amick wrote on Sunday. The USA Today scribe hinted that if Durant takes a meeting with the Lakers, it may just be a way to help the franchise save face. As for the Wizards, they’re waiting for a call from Durant’s camp “with hopes of being surprised,” but are preparing for free agency as if the D.C. native won’t be a part of their plans.

Bulls Notes: Noah, Gibson, Gasol, Valentine

Free agent center Joakim Noah is putting together a list of possible destinations and seems increasingly likely to leave Chicago, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Noah and his agent, Bill Duffy, are working though a priority list as they search for Noah’s next team, Cowley reports. In order, those are a winning team, a chance to start and finish games and a franchise that will support his foundation, Noah’s Arc. The Knicks’ prospects for landing Noah improved with the Derrick Rose trade, according to Cowley. The Wizards and Timberwolves, under the direction of former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, will also be contenders.

There’s more tonight out of Chicago:

  • The Bulls have been talking to a few teams about a trade involving Taj Gibson, Cowley writes in the same piece. The 31-year-old power forward will make $8.95MM next season in the final year of his contract. Cowley says the Bulls also seem likely to lose free agent center Pau Gasol, who will turn 36 soon and doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project.
  • Denzel Valentine‘s college coach says the No. 14 pick will be fine in the NBA despite concerns about the condition of his knees, relays K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “I think he’ll be great for the Bulls,” said Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. “I know people are worried about the knees. I’m not saying he’s got 20-year-old knees, but the guy played in 144 of 148 games. He missed some practices when he had surgery on it, but that was it. I used to have to drag him out of games. He practiced. He worked out. He loves the game.”
  • Free agent point guard Brandon Jennings could help fill the void left by the loss of Rose, suggests Kendall Gill of CSNChicago. Jennings averaged 6.9 points and 3.5 assists this season in 48 games with the Pistons and Magic.

Wall: Durant Turned Off By Wizards' Fans

John Wall thinks fan overreaction may have discouraged Kevin Durant from considering the Wizards in free agency, relays J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Because Durant hails from the Washington, D.C., area, the Wizards were once thought to have a chance at landing him, but they aren’t among the seven teams expected to meet with Durant after free agency begins on Friday. “A lot of people will be devastated. But at the end of the day he never promised us anything,” Wall said. “Every day, everybody said KD-to-DC, coming to our games wearing all the Kevin Durant stuff, he didn’t like it at that time because you should cheer for the team that you got.”

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