Paul's desire destination a longshot, more NBA buzz (cont.)
Weak as this free-agent class might be (and it is), there is no shortage of veteran small forwards who would fit perfectly on a playoff team.
Tayshaun Prince leads the pack (which also includes Shane Battier and Grant Hill), and a source close to him said the veteran hasn't ruled out a return to Detroit just yet. Despite the overwhelming levels of dysfunction and defeats under coach John Kuester last season when the Pistons were 30-52, the presence of new coach Lawrence Frank and a chance to deal with "unfinished business" in Detroit has Prince keeping that option open.
"He's going to give [Pistons president] Joe [Dumars] an opportunity," the source said.
Miami has been linked to all three small forwards as possible additions in the past, and the source said the Heat did show interest in Prince this week (along with the Clippers, according to the Los Angeles Times). But, as detailed by SI.com's Zach Lowe, Miami's financial situation remains in flux because of the undetermined fate of Mike Miller.
If the Heat decide to amnesty their injured shooting guard, they would be able to use the full mid-level exception (four years starting at $5 million) while possibly retaining free-agent point guard Mario Chalmers. But free agents like Prince and center Samuel Dalembert (who is also being pursued by the Heat) are expected to command a higher rate than the mid-level and are watching closely to see if Miami finds some other way of clearing room.
While the 39-year-old Hill told reporters in Phoenix on Friday that the chances are good that he'll return to the Suns, the 33-year-old Battier's return to Memphis appears less likely. The Grizzlies are clearly determined to retain restricted free agent Marc Gasol, which will likely take a maximum contract offer starting at $14.8 million. That would result in a potential Battier offer being capped at a mid-level exception deal, leveling the playing field for some of his suitors and prompting him to consider the Heat, Bulls and Celtics. The Lakers have been linked to Battier, but their best offer would have to come in the form of the new "mini mid-level" (maximum of three years and starting at $3 million) because they are a tax-paying team.
Sources said Miami also has its eyes on center Kwame Brown. According to a source close to the center, the Heat, Knicks, Celtics, 76ers, Warriors and Bobcats have expressed interest in Brown.
Brown is coming off his most productive season since 2006-07, having averaged 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in 26 minutes over 66 games for Charlotte while making amends with the man who so infamously drafted him first overall in 2001: Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.
Adam Morrison is seriously considering a return to the NBA. The former Gonzaga star and No. 3 draft pick in 2006 was let out of his Red Star Belgrade contract in Serbia on Tuesday and headed for the United States on Wednesday. He has spent the week considering Euroleague and NBA options, both of which appear to be plentiful. Morrison was cut by the Wizards in Nov. 2010 and considered retirement before going to Serbia in October. The return of his fiery play and passion for the game has had everything to do with his reappearance.
If Donald Sloan keeps playing like this, he won't be in the D-League for long. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound former Texas A&M point guard is averaging 24.7 points and 9.7 assists in the Erie Bayhawks' first three games and is seeing a spike in NBA interest as a potent reserve guard. After being cut by the Kings last October, Sloan went on to average 10.7 points and 27.7 minutes per game with the D-League's Reno Bighorns.
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