The NBA, with ample help from Twitter and the 24 hour news cycle, have done a phenomenal job of turning the stroke of midnight Eastern time on July 1 into a "thing." It is the witching hour, when NBA teams can now tamper and negotiate in full public view with free agents, which ultimately (no disrespect to trades) is ultimately the fuel that makes the NBA engine go in the summertime.
Technically, this summer's best free agent is last summer's best free agent, but the story line is vastly different. LeBron James was the trigger domino in the entire 2014 NBA off-season. Once he chose Cleveland over Miami, then everybody else could go about their business. LeBron's decision (I refuse to capitalize the word "decision" anymore) captivated all of us.
This year, for LeBron, there appears to be no decision. He will be staying in Cleveland, he just wants leverage to make sure the Cavs do everything
LeBron asks them to do including his laundry they need to in order to win a title. So this year, LeBron is technically a free agent, but not really.
If NBA free agency were Wrestlemania, last year LeBron was The Rock fighting in the main event. This year, LeBron is The Rock making a special guest appearance to wave to the crowd.
So with that said, who are this year's main eventers, what's happened so far, and how does this all impact the Rockets? Let's do a quick run through of what's happened these first 12 hours or so...
Oddly enough, Aldridge is probably this year's main event in NBA free agency, which makes this year's free agency like one of those Wrestlemanias where someone solid but not spectacular was in the main event. (Think one of those Manias where Bret "The Hit Man" Hart was in the main event.) Aldridge has already had his first two meetings at the stroke of 9:00 p.m. pacific time last night in Los Angeles, including a meeting with the Rockets that saw, among others, James Harden in attendance. This was followed up by a breakfast meeting with the Spurs this morning (which I'm sure, knowing the Spurs, was a sensible balance of fruit, fiber, and dairy). San Antonio would seem to be the favorite, but LA is trying to make a run at both Aldridge and…..
Supposedly, the Lakers are furiously trying to clear out salary cap space to rebuild around rookie second overall pick D'Angelo Russell, a rebuilt Kobe Bryant, Aldridge, and Jordan with cap space to chase another big name next season. It's not the worst strategy in the world, and the Lakers are the one crappy team with enough cachet to pull this off. For now, Jordan met with the Mavericks last night, a traveling party that included Chandler Parsons. Oh and did I mention that Parsons is also recruiting….
Beverley has a decent amount of buzz going around the league, especially for a guy who can't seem to finish a season healthy. But in a 3-and-D type of scenario, he's a good fit, since the main things he is proficient in are on-ball defense and knocking down open threes. The Rockets are interested in retaining him at the right price, but Beverley is getting love from Dallas, the Knicks, the Kings, and the Cavs, where presumably he and Matthew Dellavedova will have a trial by combat to see who becomes the team's "red ass, borderline dirty point guard."
Two of them were agreed to right after the stroke of midnight, neither of them at all surprising. Kawhi Leonard inked a five year, $90 million deal to stay with San Antonio, and Anthony Davis agreed to a five year, $145 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, making him the highest paid player in the league when it kicks in. If you're wondering why Davis' max deal is so much more than anyone else's, it's based off a percentage of the cap in future years (which is set to explode to $90 million or even $100 million) because of the "Rose Rule" where the Pelicans can pay him more for having been first team All-NBA.
OTHER DEALS OF NOTE SO FAR….
* Goran Dragic stays in Miami with a five year, $90 million deal, putting the Heat a Dwyane Wade re-signing away from having possibly the best starting five in the Eastern Conference, short of the combo of anything-including-LeBron.
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* Danny Green stays in San Antonio with a four year, $45 million deal, and the Spurs immediately ship out Tiago Splitter to re-create maximum cap space to sign Aldridge. The moral of the story is the Spurs are smarter than you.
* The Nets re-signed Brook Lopez (3 yrs/$60M) and Thaddeus Young (4 yrs/$50M), thus making them the Nets forever.
We will keep things updated throughout the day if anything HUGE breaks…..
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