NBA Free Agency Intel & Trade Rumors: Bruce Brown, Fred VanVleet, Dejounte Murray & More
Via Cole Burston/Getty Images. Pictured: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors chases down a loose ball from Bruce Brown #11 of the Denver Nuggets during the second half of their NBA game at Scotiabank Arena on March 14, 2023 in Toronto, Canada.
On the morning of free agency, here's a very quick look at some of the minor moves while everyone waits to figure out where James Harden is going to go…
Gin and Bruce
Bruce Brown isn't the biggest name on the market, but he's definitely the name attracting the most attention because of his situation.
Due to CBA restrictions, the Nuggets are prohibited from paying him more than $7.8 million per season. While Brown would prefer to stay with Denver — it's a good fit in terms of role, competitive environment, city for Brown's tastes and locker room — the reality is that this is his best chance at a significant long-term contract.
As such, he's started slowly gaining traction in the market. The Lakers were the first interested team discussed as reported by the Denver Post. Since then, the Mavericks, Knicks, and Rockets have all been mentioned as potential suitors.
Hall of Famer Marc Stein reported Thursday that the Pacers had emerged as another threat. League sources told Action Network that the Pacers were considered the most serious suitor due to their combination of available money (the Pacers currently have $16 million in available space) and a potential starting position next to Tyrese Haliburton.
The Nuggets losing Brown would be a big blow to the organization, but if he's to return to the defending champs, it would likely be on a make-good offer that sees Brown sign a one-year deal with the understanding of a bigger deal waiting for him next summer.
Ask James Harden how that goes.
The Lakers continue to try and find ways to reshape the roster. Their decision this week to decline the options of Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba, two of the three players they acquired in their so-called huge trade deadline deal that "turned their season around" (who never played past the first round) signaled their intention to use the mid-level exception to sign a player or players.
Much of the roster will have to be buffeted with minimum veteran contracts. This isn't exceptional for the Lakers; most teams will be facing this same situation if they have more than one max-contract player on the roster.
Two names that have surfaced in recent days connected to the Lakers are Cam Reddish and Miami Heat forward, Kevin Love. Love is weighing several options on where to continue his career next season after being bought out and proving to be a key part of Miami's Finals run. But the Lakers are considered one team, along with the Suns, to be on Love's list, which is expected to continue to grow before he eventually signs.
Reddish is pretty easy to figure out. He's a Klutch Sports client. Current and former Klutch client Lakers include LeBron James (obviously), Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV, Talen Horton-Tucker, Troy Brown Jr., Tristan Thompson and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Reddish has long been linked in reports to interest from the Lakers.
Raptors Still Keeping the Course
The odds seem to be declining that Fred VanVleet will remain a Raptor.
Toronto has a sizable offer on the table for FVV to stay with the team he won a title with four years ago, but once the Houston Rockets moved on from pursuing James Harden, multiple league sources said, VanVleet became their No.1 target.
It's not a done deal at all, but the Raptors are going uphill in their pursuit of retaining VanVleet.
Other than that, however, it certainly looks like the Raptors will return a very similar team to last year's wildly disappointing team. Both Jakob Poeltl and Gary Trent Jr. are expected back on either big-money or long-term deals on extensions. (Gary Trent Jr. opted into the final year of his contract recently.)
There's been zero discussion of OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam in the circles I've poked my head into since the draft. If Masai Ujiri deals one of those two, it will be done suddenly and with very little advance discussion.
Bits & Bytes
- Cleveland is predictably seeking a wing who can shoot. Max Strus, Georges Niang, Eric Gordon (released by the Clippers Wednesday) and Royce O'Neale (currently under contract with the Nets) are among the players they've targeted.
- League executives expect a quick agreement from the Pelicans with Herb Jones on a four-year deal.
- The going price multiple teams have found from Detroit for Bojan Bogdanovic is one first and multiple seconds, which is too steep for any suitor so far.
- I have heard a surprising number of rumors about Dejounte Murray being available from the Hawks. Given that they gave up five picks for Trae Young's very good friend last summer, I'm a bit skeptical of these rumors.
- The market for Draymond Green has developed enough that all offers are starting at four years, though it's not clear whether the fourth year will be guaranteed, a player option or team option. The Warriors are still widely expected to retain their future Hall of Famer.