With the preseason beginning, the NBA rumor mill is finally back to firing at all cylinders.
After weeks of dormancy, we are beginning to see position battles develop in training camp, making the 2012-13 season feel real.
There are so many rumors being tossed around that it's hard to keep up, even for the most diehard hoops fan.
For that reason, here is a look at the latest rumblings flying around the Association.
After a breakout campaign last season, the expectations are high for Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic in 2012-13.
A free agent in the offseason, the 26-year-old could instantly become a hot commodity if he lives up to the lofty prognostications. Nevertheless, it seems that the Timberwolves will get the first crack of re-signing Pekovic when he hits the open market, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda.
Here is what Pekovic said, via the Star Tribune:
I would like to stay here because of everything. I just like everything. I like the area. I like the team. I like all the stuff. Now I got some friends here. Now it's real easy. It's just nice, nice people, nice town. I would like to be here.
While you can't doubt the sincerity, you should take those words with a grain of salt. If history tells us anything, it's that free agents go where the cash is most plentiful, especially when that player is in for his first big contract.
Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday has already made it apparent he thinks he's worth a maximum contract (via Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears).
While it remains to be seen whether he will get that coveted deal, the two sides are negotiating an extension, according to CSN Philly's John Finger.
If he does not take the qualifying offer from the Sixers, it means Holiday could be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. Of course, if an extension is agreed upon before the Oct. 30 deadline, then none of that matters. Holiday would be with the Sixers for a few more years.
General manager Tony DiLeo could not comment on the status of negotiations between the team and Holiday’s agent.
However, a source says the two sides have been in contact about an extension.
Though it's apparent that the Sixers would love to keep the 22-year-old long term, his play simply is not indicative of a max contract. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to find many talent evaluators who think Holiday is anything more than an $8 million per-year player.
Nonetheless, if the team and Holiday are close to a contract, it seems apparent that we're about to see a massive overpayment or a compromise from the former UCLA star.
Ostensibly drafted to take over the power forward spot, Sacramento Kings rookie Thomas Robinson has been getting run at an unforeseen place during camp: small forward.
Via the Sacramento Bee:
Don't rule out Thomas Robinson seeing time at small forward during the preseason. During one 5-on-5 session, Robinson was the small forward with Chuck Hayes and DeMarcus Cousins the other frontcourt players. Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton were the other players on the squad.
For Kings fans, the team's experimentation at the small forward spot is nothing new. Recent years have seen both Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans play out of position at the 3, and Robinson has the athleticism to guard NBA-level talent at the position.
However, unless Robinson's outside jumper and ball-handling skills have vastly improved, this doesn't seem like a long-term fix. The former Kansas star could stretch out in the mid-range in college, but he did not hit the shots with enough consistency to make that a translatable skill.
It's an interesting experiment that could pay dividends if it works out, but let's just say we're a little skeptical on this one.
Coming into the 2012-13 season, it's looking like New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith will get an opportunity to be a regular starter for the first time since his rookie season.
With top competitor Ronnie Brewer battling injuries, and incumbent Iman Shumpert not expected back until sometime in 2013 with a knee injury, the depth chart looks wide open.
According to what Smith told the New York Post's Marc Berman, that opportunity to start might be coming at a perfect time, as the guard has grown tired of his bench-scorer label.
It gets frustrating after a while. People saying, "he’s a sixth man, sixth man, sixth man" when you believe you’re a starter. But you have to understand, it’s a team game and have to put individual goals aside.
From Smith's perspective, you have to understand his frustrations. No one denies his talent; however, his inconsistencies have relegated him to a permanent bench role.
If coach Mike Woodson winds up giving Smith the starting nod, it will certainly be interesting to see what he does with it. Free agency looms for the 27-year-old sharpshooter, so a huge season could net a pretty hefty contract.
Acquired in the offseason as the haul the Orlando Magic received for Ryan Anderson, the team likely assumed that they were entering a long-term relationship with center Gustavo Ayon.
However, listening to the 27-year-old speak makes you wonder about his long-term plans inside and outside the NBA.
Here is his full quote, transcribed from a series of tweets sent by the Orlando Sentinel's Joshua Robbins:
It doesn't depend on me. It depends on the opportunities that I have in basketball. At that time I'll see if I have any other options. For right now, I'm with Orlando and I think I'll be here this year and many more to come. But after this year it's not my decision.
Ayon spent six years as a professional overseas and in Mexico before joining the New Orleans Hornets last season.
This is certainly a situation worth monitoring going forward as Ayon battles Nikola Vucevic for playing time in training camp.