NBA Rumors: Playing Fact or Fiction with Latest League Buzz
With training camps officially opening across the NBA, it finally feels like the 2012-13 season is upon us.
The time for trades, free agent movement and coaching changes is over, and it's time for the work of teams' offseasons to finally bear the laborious fruit.
Well, that would be the case in a normal professional sports league. As most NBA diehards know, the rumor mill is constantly spinning in the Association and there is never a dull minute on the wire.
While some of those rumors eventually come to fruition and we see blockbuster trades or huge signings, there are far more ones that were ridiculous from the very beginning.
When taking a look across the league, it can often be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Luckily, we're here to help. Here's a look at the latest rumblings across the league and some verdicts on their validity.
Gilbert Arenas Considering Playing in China?
After spending nearly his entire summer working out in Los Angeles campaigning for a spot on the Clippers' or Lakers' roster, it's rumored that Arenas has begun considering his alternatives.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, one of those options that keeps popping up is playing in China.
So word is that Arenas, while still holding out hope that the Lakers or Clippers decide they need him, has begun to assess his non-NBA options.
And China is said to be at the top of the list, given the fact that former NBA All-Stars who go there tend to be well-compensated ... and the helpful knowledge that the short Chinese season allows for a return to the NBA in March or April if he impresses.
Though it is a little hard to see a former All-Star like Arenas making such a drastic move at such a young age, I'm buying it. We've seen with the recent success of Stephon Marbury overseas that former NBAers can go over, play in the short Chinese season and thrive.
Even if it doesn't end in a final shot at glory stateside, Arenas expanding his worldwide brand is something all athletes in his position should consider. Even at just 30 years old, Arenas is a shell of his former self and is no longer an asset beyond name recognition.
While everyone in NBA circles knows Arenas as well as humanly possible, the same cannot be said for Chinese fans. Smart all-around business decision if Arenas decides to go through with it.
James Harden Willing to Take Less Than Maximum Deal?
Throughout the offseason, the running subplot for the Oklahoma City Thunder was the team's seemingly inevitable decision between James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already locked into maximum contracts and the NBA's new luxury tax situation taking hold in the 2013-14 season, it stood to reason that the team would not be able to keep all four stars.
When Ibaka signed his new four-year contract in the offseason, that seemingly spelled the beginning of the end for Harden in Oklahoma City.
However, both sides are putting on a brave face thus far. Harden, speaking to reporters on Monday, said that he'd even consider a contract less than the maximum salary, according to The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry.
James Harden says he's still willing to sacrifice something to stay with the Thunder and says a max contract is not the goal.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) October 1, 2012
Let's just make one thing abundantly clear: Harden will not turn down a maximum contract from another organization to stay with the Thunder. If this was the shooting guard's second or third big-time NBA deal, that would be a reasonable expectation.
It's not. Harden is a 23-year-old who is about to sign his first big NBA contract. And, as we unfortunately see so many times in sports, your first can often be your last. Harden will and should take the maximum payout possible, and no one should vilify him when he does.
Josh Howard Down to Three Teams?
Considering the amount of attention he's gotten on the market recently, it's more than a little surprising to see Howard still without work as camps are opening.
Perhaps it's a situation where he wants to avoid as much training camp as possible or simply wants to make the correct career move. Nevertheless, his list of suitors is long and full of playoff contenders. And, according to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling that list is also down to just three teams.
Source close to #Knicks believes Josh Howard will sign elsewhere b/c Utah, Philly, Charlotte, etc. are better fits. All min money like NYK.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) September 30, 2012
This one seems like an obvious buy to me. These were the three teams that stood out the most in terms of needing Howard and seemed like places he would be comfortable.
Though he's certainly not worthy of a starting job or anywhere among the top seven in the rotation, Howard could be an interesting fit wherever he goes. The 32-year-old swingman is still a strong perimeter defender and has playoff experience that could help in Utah or Philadelphia.
If he wants playing time and to serve as a mentor, however, Charlotte could be a perfect fit. Howard and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are similar players, and the elder statesman could help the youngster with tips on how to stop the greats from getting to the rim.
Either way, Howard going to the Knicks or San Antonio Spurs never made much sense, and these other three franchises all have their benefits.
Adam Morrison to Retire If Cut by Blazers?
A surprising emergent star over the summer, former first-round pick Adam Morrison is currently trying to make his way onto the Portland Trail Blazers' roster for 2012-13.
When asked what he would do if he wound up getting cut, the 28-year-old small forward gave a rather candid answer: finish school, give up on playing basketball and start coaching the sport.
Here is what Morrison said, via CSN Northwest's Chris Haynes:
I'm going to finish school and start coaching (If he didn't make the Trail Blazers roster)...I did the Europe thing and it just wasn't for me. Not saying the (Europe) culture or anything like that, (or) the people, it just wasn't for me. So, yeah, if it doesn't work out, I'm willing to look myself in the mirror and say, 'I gave it a honest shot' and turn the page. Do something else.
Though I believe the sentiment in theory, I'm not buying that Morrison would actually retire if let go by Portland.
Despite his NBA journey being anything but ideal, he's still a man who so obviously loves playing the game. Those passions do not die overnight. And while he thinks he may be able to substitute coaching for playing, history tells us that is rarely the case.
If he's cut by the Blazers and another team tries to give him a chance, don't expect Morrison to send the call to voice mail just yet.
Anderson Varejao to Be Dealt by the Trade Deadline?
Rumored to be on the move all offseason as part of a potential trade for Andrew Bynum, the Cleveland Cavaliers were unable to pull off the move, and Varejao is back in training camp with the team.
Despite the calm waters in Cleveland camp, there are still rampant rumors that the franchise will look to move the 30-year-old forward during the season.
Via the News-Herald's Bob Finnan:
Varejao, who is entering his ninth season with the Cavs, is the longest-tenured player on the roster. It wouldn't be easy to deal him, since he's popular with the fans and his teammates.
If the Cavs are able to acquire a first-round pick for him, in addition to a young prospect, they might pull the trigger.
While Varejao is still a solid nightly double-double threat, a possible move makes complete sense.
Despite a cavalcade of young talent, this is still a team that is two or three years away from deep playoff contention. By then, Varejao will be 32 or 33 years old and his NBA journey will be on a steep decline.
Quite frankly, he and the franchise are on two completely different paths. It's probably best for both to move on to relationships that are more beneficial.