Heat Check: Miami has sights set on Kyle Lowry
NBA free agency kicks off tonight at 6:00 p.m. ET, and fans should expect plenty of fireworks with several key players making contract decisions that will have ripple effects across the league. As we await the inevitable wave of activity, here are some of the biggest potential trades to watch for this week.
Golden State has been conspicuously quiet
After months of speculation that the Warriors would be shopping for a big-name star like Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, or Ben Simmons, the latest intel suggests they may be removing themselves from any major trade talks.
The Warriors had two first-round picks this year and appeared ready to deal former lottery picks Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman as well, but may now be content to stick with their core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Wiggins and recently drafted Moses Moody might be a perfect second-team combination, and a second-year leap by Wiseman could give the Dubs the athleticism at center they desperately need.
Regardless of how things play out, the decision by the Warriors to avoid a big splash is very notable and leaves big name players looking to chase a ring with one less viable destination.
is Lauri Markkanen "finnished" in Chicago?
The Chicago Bulls had high hopes for Lauri Markkanen when they drafted him in 2017, but the former Arizona standout has yet to blossom into an All-Star in the pros.
Markkanen isn’t a traditional NBA center despite his height, and fits more in the power forward role with his desire to play a bit farther from the rim. With Chicago's drafting of Patrick Williams at No. 4 in 2020, the Bulls are likely ready to move on from Markkanen, and appear ready to execute a sign and trade with someone looking for a power forward. The Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves are the likeliest future landing spots for the Finnish marksman.
Miami is targeting Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry is a seasoned veteran with a championship on his resume, and could be a very valuable asset for a team looking for a true point guard in a leadership role. The Phoenix Suns took a major leap this year with Chris Paul leading the way, and other teams surely noticed.
Lowry surprisingly stayed with the Raptors last season, but appears destined for a sign and trade this offseason. The leading contenders to acquire his talent are the Miami Heat, who would certainly love to pair Lowry with Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, and Bam Adebayo.
If Lowry ends up with Miami it will be a costly acquisition, but one that keeps the 2020 NBA runners-up as contenders in an Eastern Conference that has become significantly more competitive in recent years.
Is a Simmons-Lillard swap inevitable?
The Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons appear ready to change "The Process" and part ways. After a devastating playoffs loss to the Atlanta Hawks in which Simmons looked hesitant and unconvincing, a divorce seems inevitable.
The 76ers are demanding a high price for the former first overall pick, though, which could result in a prolonged negotiation process. Simmons has a unique combination of talents, but there are also obvious red flags that would prevent most general managers from going all-in to acquire the three-time All-Star. With rumors that Damian Lillard may desire a trade to Philadelphia, however, perhaps a deal involving the two stars will become the most obvious move for both sides.
ESPN Sources: Sixers continue to canvass the league for Ben Simmons trades — armed with a steep asking price. Simmons and his agent, Klutch CEO Rich Paul, are in step with a move elsewhere. Draft night is always an ideal vehicle for a deal, but talks could continue into summer.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 28, 2021
Lillard has become an icon in Portland since beginning his career in Rip City, but is focused on winning a championship, and the Trail Blazers don't appear ready to contend for a title in 2021-22.
Simmons and Lillard are the best players that may move this offseason, and all eyes will be on any updates involving either of them.