With no disrespect to the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas and the Washington Wizards’ John Wall, most agree that this is a four-player race. Yet as was revealed in a survey by USA TODAY Sports of 32 league executives, this race is as unclear as it is compelling. The executives requested anonymity because of competitive reasons, and participants did not include members of the Thunder, Rockets, Spurs and Cavs and the Los Angeles Lakers’ new general manager, Rob Pelinka, because he was Harden’s agent until a few weeks ago.
June 29, 2022 | 7:11 pm EDT Update
There’s no indication that the Heat wants to move on from 36-year-old Kyle Lowry – who is very close with Jimmy Butler – but Pat Riley has said that Lowry needs to get in better shape. The Heat has assured Lowry that it has no intention of trading him for Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, according to a source briefed on the situation. We’re told that Lowry wasn’t upset when Riley said publicly that his conditioning must improve.
Wizards All Star guard Bradley Beal declined his $36.4 million player option but has not requested a sign-and-trade to another team. The Heat would have interest in Beal if he asked to be traded to Miami. But as of Wednesday, he had not.
Power forward Bobby Portis opted out of his $4.6 million player option with Miwaukee, according to ESPN. According to a source, the Heat would be a team that appeals to him if he doesn’t sign with Milwaukee, but Miami is reluctant to give him or anyone the full mid-level exception, making Portis not likely for Miami. Portis can sign for four years and as much as $49 million with Milwaukee.
Todd Whitehead: Interesting nugget from Draymond’s appearance on Old Man and the Three: he credits Warriors turnaround to an emphasis on forcing Boston’s ball handlers to drive left. pic.twitter.com/6Of0QvthQi
June 29, 2022 | 6:55 pm EDT Update
The Lakers could also look to acquire players via trade, with rival executives believing Chicago’s Coby White could be a target. Moving Talen Horton-Tucker, a player whose ball-dominant skills are viewed by rival scouts as being redundant with the Lakers’ stars, could be a way to upgrade to suit the Lakers’ needs.
Jon Krawczynski: The Timberwolves have exercised the options for both Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell, sources told @TheAthletic. Expected moves for two good players who will each be under contract for about $1.9 million next season.