Lowe’s Latest: Horford, Howard, Noel

The Hawks are reluctant to offer unrestricted free agent Al Horford a fifth year this summer, and if the team maintains that rigid stance it could risk losing him to another suitor, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com in his free agency primer. The scribe names the Pistons as a team to watch regarding the center and notes that Detroit is working to set up a meeting with Horford during the first 48 hours of free agency. With veteran point guard Jeff Teague having already been traded, if the Hawks were to lose Horford and swingman Kent Bazemore this summer, it could prompt a full rebuild in Atlanta, Lowe writes. The scribe also notes that coach Mike Budenholzer‘s status as a team executive gives him more security to undertake a re-tooling effort.

Here’s more from Lowe:

  • Hornets unrestricted free agent forward Marvin Williams may be in line for a deal this summer in the range of two years and $38MM, according to Lowe’s estimations.
  • Teams are balking at the notion of paying Dwight Howard a max salary, even if it’s on a short-term deal, Lowe notes. The scribe adds that the center has a free agent meeting set up with the Celtics.
  • The Nets and Sixers have enough cap room to create early havoc in the free agent market and drive up prices around the league if they are aggressive in going after restricted free agents, Lowe writes. Brooklyn has strong interest in adding some high-character veterans, including Jared Dudley, Lowe relays. There are a number of teams that are worried Brooklyn will jump the market on unrestricted free agents with ties to new coach Kenny Atkinson (Jeremy Lin, Bazemore), and some under-the-radar young players, the scribe adds.
  • The Raptors will need to move at least one large contract in order to have a shot at re-signing both DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo, Lowe notes. To that end, Toronto has approached the Sixers about a trade involving a rotation player and other assets in exchange for Nerlens Noel, who could potentially replace Biyombo as backup center. These talks have not gained much traction, according to Lowe.
  • The Magic‘s acquisition of Jodie Meeks from the Pistons will have no bearing on their plans for restricted free agent Evan Fournier, Lowe notes, with Orlando being unsure of Meeks’ health heading into next season.
  • Lowe also speculates that the cap boom may lead to an increase in contract extensions, noting that Paul George (Pacers), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), John Wall (Wizards) and Derrick Favors (Jazz) are all potential extension candidates this year.
  • The Pacers may look to trade shooting guard Monta Ellis this summer in an effort to free up more cap space, Lowe notes. Ellis, who is set to earn $10,763,500 in 2016/17, still has three years remaining on his current pact.
  • The NBPA is encouraging players to sign contracts that decline over time so they can get as much guaranteed money up front as possible, Lowe relays. This push is likely related to a potential lockout next summer when the league and union have the ability to opt out of the current CBA.
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