Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: By 5 p.m. Sunday, all the pieces had fallen into place for Part A of the Miami Heat's offseason overhaul, with the formal announcement of Chris Bosh's opt-out. Now comes Part B of the process, which will reshape a roster beaten down by four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and this month's collapse against the San Antonio Spurs that denied the Heat a third consecutive championship. ... Because of the way the Heat have operated, Tuesday's start of free agency likely will include immediate pitches to the top of the free-agent class, basically with now-or-never offers below what such players could make in other situations. What follows, however, could offer a truer read, the two, three or four pieces that once again complete the Heat, make the roster something far closer to whole than what was in place by the time the NBA Finals ended earlier this month.
George Willis of the New York Post: Look, the Nets can hire George Karl or Lionel Hollins or even Mark Jackson, and few could argue the choice. They all have enjoyed success as head coaches. But by hiring Kidd last year, the Nets have shown they’re not afraid to think outside the box and give someone a chance to prove his worth. Ewing deserves that chance. His Hall of Fame career as a player speaks for itself. If you question that because he never won an NBA title, then you don’t really know basketball. He played under John Thompson at Georgetown and for Rick Pitino, Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy with the Knicks. And he is currently the associate head coach with the Charlotte Hornets. He has interviewed for head coaching vacancies in Charlotte and Detroit, but hasn’t gotten the promotion every assistant coach wants. His biggest shortcoming seems to be that he wasn’t a point guard. For some reason, that seems to be part of the criteria these days.
Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Jason Kidd could become the new coach of the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday if the team can reach an agreement on compensation with his current team, the Brooklyn Nets. But at the moment that's a big if. A league source told the Journal Sentinel that the 10-time NBA all-star has been offered the Bucks coaching position only, not a basketball front-office job as first speculated. ... The source indicated he thought the situation regarding compensation between the Bucks and Nets would be resolved in the next 24 hours. The Bucks are willing to give up a 2015 second-round draft pick in compensation for signing Kidd, but the Nets are holding out for a first-round pick, according to the source. ... The negotiations have made for an awkward situation for current Bucks coach Larry Drew, who has two years remaining on his contract. On the same day that the new owners were meeting with Kidd, the day after the NBA draft, Drew and general manager John Hammond flanked the Bucks' No. 2 overall pick, Jabari Parker, at his introductory news conference in Milwaukee.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: While other teams will line up with a chance to lure bigger catches — the most prominent names expected to appear on change-of-address forms include New York's Carmelo Anthony, Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Cleveland's Luol Deng — the Spurs will open free agency at first attempting to reassemble the roster that earlier this month earned the fifth Larry O'Brien trophy in team history. Forward Boris Diaw and reserve guard Patty Mills, two players vital to the Spurs' toppling of Miami, will join Bonner as unrestricted free agents. Reserve center Aron Baynes will be a restricted free agent. By virtue of the $1.115 million qualifying offer the Spurs have tendered, the Spurs retain the right to match any offer the big Australian receives. The Spurs' brain trust — headed by coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford — has signaled its preference to bring back the bulk of last season's team, market forces willing.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Derrick Rose not recruiting Carmelo Anthony isn't a surprise. Derrick Rose saying he hasn't fully committed to participating in July's USA Basketball minicamp is. Rose told Yahoo Sports on Sunday he remains uncertain if he will participate in the camp, which begins July 28 in Las Vegas and from which the U.S. World Cup team will be selected. "I still don't know yet," Rose said, speaking after surprising former teammate Drew Gooden at his basketball camp near Oakland, Calif. "If I'm feeling right and the time is (right), for sure I will go out there. My body is responding good, but you never know." ... As for Anthony, Rose reiterated he won't recruit the All-Star forward in free agency, saying he can play with anybody. The Tribune reported last week that Rose's camp has made clear to Anthony's camp he'd be fine with his addition.
Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: At 11 p.m. Monday night, it officially becomes crunch time for Mark Cuban. It’s time to execute. Just like when Dirk Nowitzki has to make a buzzer-beater, the Mavericks’ owner, along with president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, must perform. Free agency officially begins at midnight in the Eastern time zone, and the Mavericks’ first two orders of business are to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki and formalize their sales pitch to Carmelo Anthony. In that order. If the owner and president are showing up on anybody’s doorstep with flowers and chocolates at 11:01 p.m., it will be Nowitzki’s.
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: It is a strange position the Raptors find themselves in on the eve of NBA free agency.For the first time in four summers they face a tricky decision on a key player. They have some money to spend, at a time when the roster is at a crossroads, and general manager Masai Ujiri will be under pressure to make the right decision to continue a building process that took a quantum leap last season. What he does, how he handles the next 10 days, could define the franchise for the next five years, a dicey proposition for a general manager who has to find a delicate balance between meeting immediate needs and long-term goals. It starts with point guard Kyle Lowry. For the first time since Chris Bosh bolted as a free agent in 2010 to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami, the Raptors have an asset highly coveted throughout the league.
Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: The Utah Jazz aren't expected to be big players in the upcoming free agency market, which officially opens up Monday at 10 p.m. But they do have their sights set on two familiar faces. Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams. And Hayward, who earned $11 million in his first four NBA seasons, is about to get a huge pay raise. The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources. Boston and Charlotte are two other teams whom the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward. However, the Jazz plan on matching any offers for Hayward and intend to keep the versatile wing player in the organization as a major cornerstone in this rebuilding era, according to sources.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: With free agency to begin overnight Tuesday, Chandler Parsons’ days as one of the league’s most underpaid players is nearly over. Everything else is uncertain. Parsons will become a restricted free agent on Monday when the Rockets officially pass on picking up the final season of his contract, instead making him a qualifying offer to retain the right to match any offer sheet he signs. Parsons will go from the $964,750 he was scheduled to make to a contract that could start at more than $10 million. (For comparison sake, Portland’s Nicolas Batum signed a four-year $46 million offer sheet that the Trail Blazers matched when he was a restricted free agent.) Parsons is certain to generate widespread interest, with his restricted free agent status not likely to limit his suitors, as is often the case when teams can match offer sheets, because of the uncertain status of the Rockets’ other free agency goals. The Lakers, Mavericks, Cavaliers and Timberwolves are teams with cap room that are expected to show interest in Parsons.
Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: When headlines state that the Suns are pursuing James and Anthony, it is not Mike James and Joel Anthony. Think bigger. The Suns are. Free-agency negotiations tip off at 9 Monday night and the Suns have a bold plan that to lure LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh to Phoenix. It might be nearly as far-fetched of a dream as it sounds, but the Suns are positioned with the cap space and maneuverability to chase James and the co-star of his liking without yielding Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, James' close friend, in the process. That second star pursuit could be USA Basketball buddy Anthony or fellow Miami free agent Chris Bosh in free agency or USA Basketball teammate Kevin Love down the line in a trade or 2015 free agency.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: At some point on Tuesday, perhaps as early as 12:01 a.m., the Orlando Magic will call LeBron James' agent to see if James has any interest in joining the Magic in free agency. Once the Magic are rebuffed — and even the Magic expect to be rebuffed quickly — reality will set in. The reality is the Magic are unlikely to make a major splash in the upcoming free-agency period, according to a league source with knowledge of the team's strategy. If the worst available free agent rates as a "1" on a 1-to-10 talent scale and James rates as a "10," the Magic likely will target a player or players who rate as a 5½ or a 6. To put it in plain English: The Magic will not make a free-agent signing this summer that will immediately transform the franchise from a bottom-feeder into a high-level playoff team. ... Part of the answer is that the Magic would rather hoard as much cap room as possible for the 2015 free-agency period when Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge or Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol can become unrestricted free agents. Another part of the answer seems to be that — at this stage of the Magic's rebuilding process, when the team still doesn't have a superstar player on its roster — Magic executives recognize that the team is still years away from contention.
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: Only Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are signed through the 2014-15 season, though rookie Julius Randle will etch a deal soon. The Lakers will try to meet with James and Anthony once they become free agents tonight. Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million extension ensures only that one of those stars could sign to a max-level deal. To further maximize cap space, the Lakers also will not extend a qualifying offer to reserve Kent Bazemore to make him a restricted free agent, according to a league source, The Lakers would like to re-sign Gasol, though that could hinge on whether he can attract an NBA contender. “We were kind of starting over from scratch again. With the Shaq trade, though, the difference is we had more established,” Walton said. “They have a lot more to work to do this time around.” Yet, Kupchak believes he can complete this work quickly, even fast enough to give Bryant a chance to win an NBA championship before his contract expires following the 2015-16 season. “We both want to win as much and as soon as possible,” Kupchak said of Bryant. “But, once again, it takes an organization a long time to get in the position that we’re in where we have options financially going forward for the next year. two or three. We just have to make wise decisions using that space. If you don’t make a wise decision, then you can set yourself back six to seven years.” As Kupchak saw during the Lakers’ last rebuilding project, that patience may become necessary to ignite another championship run.
Arn Tellem special to The New York Times: One of Adam Silver’s top priorities since he became the N.B.A. commissioner this year has been to raise the draft eligibility age. The current minimum, 19 or one year removed from high school graduation, was established in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement. With this year’s top four overall draft picks being college freshmen, Kentucky Coach John Calipari has denounced the so-called one-and-done rule and hopped aboard the stay-in-school bandwagon. John Skipper, ESPN’s president, has called one-and-done “the single worst violation of student-athlete relationships.” Given all the unjust N.C.A.A. regulations that govern amateur athletes, and given that only about eight freshmen are drafted every year, that’s saying a lot. ... In the end, despite all the earnest harrumphing of Emmert and Silver, age restrictions can be legislated only through collective bargaining. As the N.B.A. pushes for greater restrictions in the 2017 agreement, the players union should demand a rollback of draft eligibility rules to what they were a decade ago. The typical N.B.A. career is quite short and very fragile. I hope the players come to appreciate why injury and salary concerns make none-and-done worth fighting for. They must speak with one voice, arguing for fair play and, in the case of one-and done, exposing unfair practices.