February 23, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) moves the ball against Brooklyn Nets power forward Mason Plumlee (1) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
None of the big names have shifted the winds of NBA free agency just yet. Still, what are the latest updates?
Carmelo Anthony race likely between Knicks and Bulls
He said from the beginning what his intention were regarding his NBA free agency tour and Carmelo Anthony is sticking by his word as he visits Houston, Dallas and L.A. However, for those reading between the lines it’s becoming clear that two favorites have emerged to win his service. Either he will return to the New York Knicks or join the Chicago Bulls. The reasoning for each is quite clear as well. Chicago is in much better position to pursue a championship with a core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. New York has the money. They can pay Anthony $30 million more than any other team. One thing is clear. His intentions will be brought to light based on whichever team he signs with.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook pitch OKC to Gasol
The Oklahoma City Thunder are beginning to feel a sense of desperation. After years of being championship favorites they know they don’t have forever. So the team is hard at work to strengthen their roster however possible. One avenue that is gaining ground is luring veteran forward Pau Gasol from L.A. His presence in the front court would be a great help against the Western powerhouses. Even Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the team stars reached out to Gasol, urging him to join the cause. Whether that has a decisive effect remains to be seen.
San Antonio Spurs retain Patty Mills
Meanwhile, the world champions continue to conduct their business quietly. Intent on re-signing point guard Patty Mills when NBA free agency started, they finally got their wish. Mills signed on with a new three-year deal, keeping a key member of the San Antonio Spurs bench intact. Many will say the team was aided greatly by the fact Mills was diagnosed with a shoulder injury following their Finals victory, an injury that will require seven months to heal. It’s a steal for San Antonio, but personally devastating for Mills.
Lance Stephenson raises eyebrows by declining Pacers offer
One of the biggest wild cards entering the market had to be Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson. While he is easily one of the best two-way athletes available, he’s also one of the biggest head cases. His antics during the Eastern Conference Finals alone prove that. So when the enigmatic 23-year old chose to turn down a five-year, $44 million deal from the Pacers, it certainly came as a surprise. Many find it hard to believe he will get a better offer from anywhere else. Stephenson’s reps claim it’s not all about the money. If true, then the only explanation could be that he doesn’t trust that the Pacers are real contenders, which would be very revealing.