The NBA offseason is a time when rumors and speculation abound among fans, media and players alike. No one really knows how everything is going to shake out, and that is the fun part of it all.
Free agent signings, possible trade developments, summer league gossip and Olympic basketball are all in full swing. There are plenty of interesting rumors out there to process, including plenty from just the past few days.
Here are the biggest news items, buzz and rumors from the past week in the NBA.
The Portland Trail Blazers have to be anything but dissatisfied with their sixth overall pick from the recent NBA draft. As USA Today reports, Damian Lillard has been among the best of rookies in summer league.
The former Weber State point guard is leading all rookies in points (26.5 per game), is second in assists (5.3 assists per game), and is averaging four boards a game. He is showing himself to be more than capable of being the dynamic player the Blazers need at the point.
Lillard has also developed a good rapport with fellow Blazers’ first-round pick Meyers Leonard, a good sign, given that the two should be a big part of Portland’s future.
According to Yahoo Sports, the NBA Board of Governors has decided that the use of instant replay will be expanded next season. Right now, officials are able to use video replay in the final two minutes of overtime to review calls on possession, goaltending, and charging or blocking.
Under this new rule, officials will be able to review all flagrant fouls, determining whether they are Flagrant 1’s, Flagrant 2’s or regular fouls.
The Board also signed off on allowing advertisers to buy space on team jerseys beginning in the 2013-14 season, according to the same report from Yahoo Sports. This change will reportedly generate an additional $100 million in revenue.
The only problem with money is that there is never enough of it, right?
Stackhouse believes that if Howard, who has waffled, wiffled, flipped and flopped too many times to count over the past year, had merely let his agent do the talking, Superman would happily be a Brooklyn Net right now.
Instead, he is still stuck in Orlando, a place he does not want to be in and his chances of being where he wants to be (Brooklyn) are much, much lower than they ever have been before. Stackhouse has a point.
No teams other than the Lakers have contacted Andrew Bynum and his agent, according to the Los Angeles Times. That bit of information, if true, drastically changes the rumors that have been thrown around about the Lakers trading Bynum for Howard.
Apparently, Bynum has not told his agent, David Lee, that he is willing to sign an extension with anyone other than the Lakers. That alone could be a big reason why Howard never dons a Laker uniform.
If Bynum refuses to sign an extension and opts for free agency next summer, he will be virtually untradeable, just as Howard has been. That is not good for the Lakers or the Magic.
It appears that the Chicago Bulls will not keep backup center Omer Asik, who signed an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets as a restricted free agent. According to ESPN Chicago, the Bulls are on the verge of signing veteran big man Nazr Mohammed.
Mohammed has been a bit of a journeyman in the league, finding the most success as a backup the past couple of seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder and winning a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005.
He is a serviceable backup, but, as a 34-year-old who has played in the league for over a decade, he does not have the potential of Asik.
The Rockets structured the offer sheet for Asik as such that the Bulls would have taken a $15 million cap hit next season. It appears that will work and the Rockets will have their center. No, it is not Dwight Howard, but it is a young, talented center.
Antawn Jamison is chasing a championship and apparently believes he can catch one in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant. According to ESPN, the 36-year-old forward will sign a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum to come off the bench for the Lakers next season.
Last season, Jamison proved that he still has plenty of basketball left in his body. As a starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jamison averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. With Steve Nash passing him the ball, Jamison should fit in nicely for the Lakers.
Jamison gives LA legitimate bench production, an area in which the Lakers have struggled since trading former Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom. Jamison can fill that role and possibly be in contention for the same award if he gets enough playing time.
Richard Hamilton never looked comfortable as a member of the Chicago Bulls, and he may not get a chance to fix that. According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls have been shopping the veteran shooting guard.
The Bulls are clearly trying to cut salary considering the moves they have made recently concerning Kyle Korver and Omer Asik. Hamilton’s deal is expiring and cheap, but paying less money is always helpful.
Johnson also states in his piece that no one has showed much interest in Hamilton. That seems odd, considering the number of teams out there that would like an expiring deal like his.
It is also sad, considering how good Hamilton was once. The 2004 NBA Finals were a long time ago.
It looks like Greg Stiemsma is headed to Minnesota, so the Boston Celtics need a center for their bench. Rookie Fab Melo will not be ready for a while, so Boston needs a fill-in while he develops.
According to ESPN, the Celtics and veteran big man Jason Collins are nearing a deal that would put him in Boston for a year in exchange for the veteran’s minimum. Collins, a former Stanford standout, played just 10 minutes a game for the Atlanta Hawks last season.
He is clearly just a backup, but he is a veteran and is better than the alternative for Boston. He does not make them much better, but he does give them necessary insurance.
The Celtics have little at the center position other than Kevin Garnett, a natural power forward. Every little bit of experienced size can help.
David Stern, as the commissioner of the NBA, represents the interests of the owners. That is why he would want an age limit on which NBA players who can participate in the Olympics, as reported by Boston Globe.
Players can get hurt in these competitions, as Blake Griffin did, and the owners want to protect their investments in such high-profile players.
It makes sense for Stern to want this, but it is still, as Kobe Bryant described it, “stupid.” Athletes who wish to represent their country internationally should not be restricted by their employers.
As Bryant said, playing in the Olympics with constant attention from coaches and medical staff is much better than playing pickup ball with a bunch of nobodies who would have a story to tell by taking out a star.
And make no mistake about it: NBA players play basketball year-round. So the owners have to decide where they want this to happen. Do they want their players to play in the Olympics, where they can get attention from some of the best training staffs the world has to offer?
Alternatively, do they want their players to play pickup ball in high school gyms in the middle of nowhere? One sounds much riskier than the other does.
The only way the NBA could make this happen is if individual teams put it in the contracts players signed with them. No superstar is going to do that, unless they are either well past their Olympic days or are from a country that has a weak international presence in the sport.
To sum it up: it is not happening.
Rob Hennigan may be new as the Orlando Magic’s general manager, but he is going through the process of dealing Dwight Howard like a wily pro. According to Sam Amick of SI, Hennigan and the Magic are “hopeful” that they can get rid of Howard by early August.
No one can blame anyone who dismisses this bit of news as unlikely. We have been hearing all these rumors about Howard for months, and nothing has happened.
If history has taught us anything, it is that the Magic will not pull the trigger on a Howard deal, no matter how many people think it will be at a given time.
However, there is another way to look at this. A deadline is new for Hennigan, who was intent on doing his due-diligence as the brand-new GM.
It is clear that he is ready to begin his rebuilding project and wishes to get the best deal he can for Howard. Optimistically, we may know just what deal he wants by early August.