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Saturday Open Thread: The Rumor Mill

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The NBA’s crazy free agency begins in one day

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The most important free agency in recent memory is just a bit over 24 hours away. The balance of power in the league could radically shift depending upon a few key free agents decisions. The Wolves are even in on the fun this time, as they have been continuously hyped up as “having a plan” for the last few weeks, even getting featured in Zach Lowe’s free agency preview.

It’s very likely a lot of information (or disinformation) and rumors are going to come out today, but little real decisions. But let’s check in on where we are.

Wolves News

The Wolves are officially meeting with D’Angelo Russell on the first day of free agency.

This is huge news. We have been speculating how the Wolves could pull this off, but they certainly have Russell convinced if they got a meeting on Sunday. However, we still have no idea what path the Wolves are going to take. It seemed like the sign-and-trade route would be easiest, but some of the recent reporting is making me question if this is the Wolves plan. Cam Reynolds was just released and he was a possible small contract to package with Teague to potentially get up to a max offer for Russell.

There has also been a lot of unexpected rumbling around possible Andrew Wiggins trades.

The problem is that the Wolves would still have to trade Wiggins and either Jeff Teague or Gorgui Dieng to have enough cap space to outright sign Russell. The Wolves seem to have something up their sleeves, but it is unclear what that would be.

Shuffling Stars

As the Wolves figure out if they can truly land Russell, the NBA stars will be making their decisions. Right now, what seems to be happening is:

  • Kyrie Irving - Very likely going to Brooklyn. Lakers potentially trying to swoop in.
  • Kevin Durant - Will be either Brooklyn, Warriors, Knicks, or Clippers. New reporting has Durant and Kawhi Leonard talking about teaming up.
  • Kawhi Leonard - Toronto and the Clippers were the frontrunners, but now he is taking a meeting with the Lakers (requiring Magic Johnson to be included!) and may be interested in teaming up with Durant.
  • Jimmy Butler - Likely staying with the 76ers, but Houston is trying to poach him in a sign-and-trade.

The next tier of players, including Russell, are likely dependent upon what happens with those four main guys, but there is a bit more clarity here.

  • Kemba Walker - Going to Boston
  • Nikola Vucevic - Staying in Orlando
  • Tobias Harris - Possibly going to Brooklyn, incredibly unpredictable
  • Russell - Seems like Minnesota, the Lakers, and the Nets are the frontrunners
  • Malcolm Brogdon - Reporting is that Chicago is going to propose a huge offer sheet
  • Al Horford - Unclear who the reported huge contract offer is from. The Kings?

Odds and Ends

The big news from last night was Darren Collison’s unexpected retirement announcement. Collison was likely going to receive around $10 million this offseason and now there is one less point guard on the market. This further cements the Ricky Rubio and Indiana connection, but does take away a mid-level point guard option from the Lakers.

The biggest question of this free agency will be timing. There is so much money out there, but there are also a ton of free agents. Players could lose out on large deals if they wait for the stars to make their decisions. Would Patrick Beverley wait to see if he is going back to the Clippers if the Suns offer him $15 million a year? Can the Mavericks try to grab a mid-level free agent at the right price while the big names are negotiating? Can the Wolves wait around for the Nets to figure out if they are getting Kyrie and someone else to execute a sign-and-trade?

Things are only going to ramp up. It seems like no one has any idea if we are going to start seeing trades to clean up salary books soon, or if everything will cascade at 6 pm tomorrow. It’s going to be a wild ride. We could have a very different Timberwolves roster, not to mention a different NBA, in 48 hours.