Free Agent Rumors: Durant, Conley, Whiteside

Within his latest piece for Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler examines a few of this year’s top free-agents-to-be, taking stock of their situations and passing along the latest notes and rumors he’s heard on each player. Here’s a round-up of some of the key info from Kyler’s piece:

  • Even though Kevin Durant is considered most likely to return to the Thunder, he’s expected to take meetings, and Kyler hears that the Warriors and Spurs are “planning big pitches.” The belief around the NBA is that Durant will return to OKC on a deal that allows him to opt out in a year so that his free agency will line up with Russell Westbrook‘s and Serge Ibaka‘s in 2017.
  • Sources close to Mike Conley‘s camp have suggested recently that Conley is “more open to new situations” than the Grizzlies would like. According to Kyler, those sources believe that the point guard wants to see signs that Memphis is serious about fortifying its roster with other pieces before committing to the team for the long term. Kyler identifies the “dark horse” in the Conley sweepstakes as the Spurs, who are believed to be willing to make some changes to their core if it means landing another high-level player.
  • Hassan Whiteside is expected to land a maximum-salary contract, with the Lakers and Celtics among the teams believed to be interested. The Heat remain the favorites for the big man, but if they “try to play games,” Whiteside will shop around for other offers, according to Kyler.
  • The Raptors and Knicks are among the clubs with interest in Nicolas Batum, but Batum will likely be in line for a max contract or something close to it, and the Hornets are viewed as the team most likely to accommodate such a deal.
  • DeMar DeRozan is viewed as a near-lock to return to the Raptors on a max deal.
  • Assuming they don’t land Durant, the Warriors sound prepared to keep their current roster intact, even if that means matching a “crazy offer sheet” for Harrison Barnes, writes Kyler.
  • The odds of RFA-to-be Jordan Clarkson ending up with any team besides the Lakers are slim, but it’s possible his camp will seek out an offer sheet from another club if necessary, in order to get more favorable terms.
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