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RUMOR ROUNDUP: Damian Lillard still out there, do Nets hold the high card?

Brooklyn Nets v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re still two days away from the first day of free agency but as Howard Beck told Zach Lowe on the Lowe Post podcast Tuesday, most NBA teams already know what they’re going to do ... or want to.

The buzz hasn’t reached earache level yet, but there’s some stuff out there.

Lowe and Beck in fact probably had the the most news in the ESPN podcast. Both believe that the Damian Lillard story still has more plot twists ahead but both think that if there is a deal, the Heat and Nets, both of whom Lillard identified as possible future venues, will be the only players. As Lowe said, there may be a “Cindarella team” out there he’s not considering but it would appear the two Eastern Conference clubs hold the key. (Of course, there could be a multi-team deal involving either team.)

And maybe in a bit of a surprise, the two writers believe that the Nets have the most to offer what will be a rebuilding team with all the picks they now hold, seven of which can be used in a trade at any point going forward. The Nets also have the rights to the two first round picks they drafted Thursday. The Blazers might be interested in them, Lowe surmised. One thing he and Beck agreed was that Bridges and Claxton aren’t going anywhere.

Also, although they didn’t mention it, Lowe’s ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst stated elsewhere where he thinks the situation between Lillard and the Blazers front office stands. Despite the upbeat statement by Blazers GM Joe Cronin, Windhorst believes Lillard will “wait around” to see what Portland does in free agency or as Lowe said, another 96 hours.

Later Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski said nothing has basically changed after Monday’s meeting…

And Bobby Marks went to the Big Board to talk about trade possibilities...

And ESPN is not alone in suggesting that the Nets offer the better long-timer future. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote this on Tuesday.

The Heat would offer a better chance to win a championship in the 2023-24 season, but the Nets would have more upside over the duration of Lillard’s remaining contract. Still, would Lillard want to gamble on a young and inexperienced team over the proven Heat? And would Brooklyn even want to pay what it’d take to acquire Lillard after its past two attempts at adding veterans didn’t lead to a single Finals appearance?

Again the key is the draft pick stash Sean Marks put together at the deadline.

Also on his pod, Lowe said Nets are asking a lot for Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith — “a first for O’Neale, a first plus something else for Finney-Smith” — and may have to come down a bit. He and Howard Beck think Nets will be “slow-rolling” it this year if they can’t get or don’t want Lillard.

In that same context, Jake Fischer reports that the Nets “are expected to match any practical offer for Johnson, and rival executives are prepared for Brooklyn to look at further cost-saving trades in the aftermath of a potential pricey new deal for Johnson.”

Beyond that, Fischer said the Nets along with the Suns and Hawks are interested in the Rockets Kenyon Martin Jr. (aka K.J. Martin) and have been since the trade deadline.

“The Rockets have held an increasing number of trade calls on Martin with several teams since the NBA draft,” Fischer wrote.

Meanwhile, Yuta Watanabe tweeted Monday night that he will play this summer for the Japanese national team in the FIBA World Cup.

That could mean his free agency has been resolved. Watanabe said in May that his free agency would determine his availability for the FIBA World Cup at the end of August. Watanabe said repeatedly how much he enjoyed his time in New York where he set career highs in virtually every individual category. However, the Warriors reportedly were interested in signing him.

Finally, Hoops Wire reports that the Wizards have interest in Seth Curry who is an unrestricted free agent.