The Lakers are privately concerned about the quality of the free agent market this summer, and they’re worried about the prospect of a third straight season outside of the title picture next year, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports. Stein’s note comes within a piece in which he and other ESPN.com writers examine the early-termination option decisions facing LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Most of them believe the quartet of stars, all of whom are in the top 10 of our Free Agent Power Rankings, will indeed become free agents. While we look forward to the summer, here’s the latest from around the league:
- Phil Jackson “went out of his way” to clarify in an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today that Joe Dumars made the decision last summer to hire Maurice Cheeks as Pistons coach, Amick writes. Jackson served as a consultant during the team’s coaching search last year, and Amick wonders if the Pistons would make a play to replace Dumars with Jackson, who reportedly has an offer to join the Knicks front office.
- The Bulls haven’t begun to seriously crunch the numbers for a pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, downplaying the idea that Chicago is gearing up to chase the Knicks star.
- League sources tell Berger that Nikola Mirotic will be seeking salaries worth $3-4MM from the Bulls this summer, as Berger writes in the same piece. That’s a surprise, since an earlier report indicated that Mirotic would probably ask for significantly more than the mid-level exception, worth a starting salary of $5.305MM next season.
- The Wolves were in deadline talks about trading J.J. Barea, but they aren’t so eager to get rid of him that they’d waive him this summer and use the stretch provision on his more than $4.5MM salary for next season, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cites.