With the start of free agency now just about 24 hours away, the NBA rumor mill his really heating up. Ahead of the action officially beginning (Thursday at 6 p.m. ET), here’s a look at some of the latest intel from across the league, including some notes on the futures of Damian Lillard and Victor Oladipo. (We have more here on Bradley Beal, James Harden and Dejounte Murray).
Blazers to offer Lillard big extension
The Trail Blazers went full tank mode last season, but that was just a short-term solution to some of the team’s problems — most notably, Damian Lillard’s abdominal surgery. Now, with Lillard healthy once again, the Blazers are hoping to re-tool their roster and get back into the playoffs.
Of course, trying to win isn’t the only avenue towards keeping Lillard happy. In addition, the Blazers are set to offer him a two-year extension worth over $100 million, according to Jake Fischer. Lillard is currently in the middle of a four-year deal that runs through 2025 (with a player option for the final season). If he signs this two-year extension, that will keep him in Portland through 2027.
Barring a trade request at some point over the next few seasons — something Lillard hasn’t been interested in pushing for to this point — such an extension will likely ensure that he finishes his career with the Blazers. He will be 37 in the summer of 2027.
Oladipo likely to leave Heat
Victor Oladipo underwent another surgery on his quad tendon in May of 2021, and missed most of last season while he went through rehab. He finally returned in March, but played sparingly through the end of the regular season. While he earned more minutes in the playoffs, as the Heat went to the Eastern Conference finals, his playing time was still understandably sporadic.
Though clearly not the player he was pre-injury — Oladipo shot 36.8 percent from the field in the playoffs — he did have his moments. He scored 40 points in the Heat’s regular season finale, and made an impact on the defensive end, especially in the ECF against the Celtics.
As a result, Oladipo is expected to have multiple suitors as he hits free agency this summer. The Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons are among the teams interested, per Jake Fischer. Oladipo is not expected to return to the Heat.
Magic won’t make qualifying offer to Bamba
Mo Bamba’s tenure with the Orlando Magic appears to have come to an end. Despite Bamba coming off the best season of his career, the team is not expected to make a qualifying offer to the big man, which will make him an unrestricted free agent this summer, according to Khobi Price.
Bamba, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has not lived up to expectations thus far. However, he appeared to figure some things out last season and put up 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, while shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point land — all career-high marks.
Even if he isn’t going to be a star, Bamba still has the potential to be a productive player and is only 24 years old. It’s no surprise, then, that he’ll have a ton of interest across the league. The Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves have all registered interest, per Price.
Mavericks not giving up on Brunson sign-and-trade
Late on Tuesday night, the New York Knicks pulled off another trade with the Detroit Pistons. This time, they sent Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to Detroit along with two future second-round picks and $6 million in cash in order to clear more cap space for their pursuit of Jalen Brunson.
That deal, combined with their draft night move to shed Kemba Walker’s contract, means the Knicks now have around $30 million in cap space this summer. That will be more than enough to sign Brunson to a four-year deal worth somewhere around $110 million, and they are now considered the favorites for his signature.
Because they’ve cleared the requisite room, it appeared the Mavericks’ hopes of salvaging a sign-and-trade from the situation were gone. However, the Mavs have not given up hope on that possibility, per Tim Cato. Whether they’ll be able to do so remains to be seen now that the Knicks have all the leverage, but it would be far superior to letting Brunson walk for nothing.