NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz Heading into the 2012-2013 Regular Season

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 20, 2012

Oct 16, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (left) and guard Kobe Bryant watch on the bench during the game against the Utah Jazz at the Honda Center. The Jazz defeated the Lakers 114-80.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

From Dwight Howard's first appearance as a Los Angeles Laker to solving some of the starting lineup dilemmas across the league, there's plenty of buzz on the rumor mill with less than two weeks to go before the 2012-13 NBA season kicks off.

For the first time since Howard was traded from the Orlando Magic, it seems we are devoid of trade rumors in the league right now.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the Howard saga muddied up the unbelievably hectic, lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. Howard was joining the Brooklyn Nets every other week, and rumors were starting to get old.

For now, we'll get back to rumors that speculate lineup changes, coaching moves and the ever-unpopular injury reports. Here's a look at some of the latest player buzz across the league.


Player News

According to numerous reports, Dwight Howard will be joining his "Fab Five" teammates on the court on Sunday at home against the Sacramento Kings. This CBS Sports report seems to confirm it, but we'll have to wait and see if Howard is ready to go after offseason back surgery has kept him off the court since last April.  

Howard is the centrifugal piece to this Laker puzzle, and he'll be asked to stay healthy for 82 games after the team made Andrew Bynum available. There isn't much depth behind Howard, so medical personnel will have to be 100 percent sure this is the right time for D12 to don the purple and gold.


ESPN's Marc Stein does a great job in outlining some of the potential free agents from the 2009 draft class. Blake Griffin is already locked up, but big names like James Harden, Taj Gibson and DeMar DeRozan could be on the move due to salary issues with their current teams.

Gibson was quoted as saying he wants to retire a Bull earlier this week, while Harden is apparently garnering interest from franchises like Dallas, Houston and other dark-horse teams certainly going to be in the mix if he reaches free agency.

Sources note that Oklahoma City would be paying more than double the $60 million in salary cap (including luxury tax), were they to sign Harden to a max deal. We'll keep an eye on this, and other developing contract issues, as we inch towards the season opener.

It's unlikely a deal for any of these players gets done during the season, unless that player is having an MVP-type season, so the next 10 days will be crucial in seeing what teams are truly committed to these youngsters.


Injury Notes

Dallas Mavericks star power forward Dirk Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic right knee surgery, as TNT's David Aldridge helped report early Friday.

Boom: Mavs announce Dirk Nowitzki out six weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery.Surgery performed by team surgeon T.O. Souryal.

— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) October 19, 2012

With Nowitzki out, the slack was supposed to fall on new center Chris Kaman, but as ESPN's Tim MacMahon is reporting, Kaman might find himself on the bench next to Dirk after an apparent Achilles injury will keep him out of the team's next game against the Atlanta Hawks.

More bad news for Mavs: Chris Kaman has a strained Achilles and won't make the trip to Atlanta for Saturday's preseason game.

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 19, 2012

Paul Pierce is dealing with an ankle injury he suffered Thursday night.

Paul Pierce of Boston Celtics exits with apparent ankle injury

— ESPN New York (@ESPNNewYork) October 19, 2012

Pierce would return to the game, but it's something to monitor in the Boston locker room with all the age and veteran contributors on the team.

Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love is expected to miss six to eight weeks with his broken right hand, but he doesn't anticipate surgery in his future. His teammate, Ricky Rubio, seems likely to return from an ACL injury at about the same time, but will it be enough to make Minnesota playoff contenders?


Starting Lineup Shuffle

Bradley Beal entered the starting lineup this week for the first time in Washington, but that doesn't mean he'll get the nod come the start of the regular season.  

With A.J. Price and Jordan Crawford the penciled-in starters, coach Randy Wittman hasn't had time to make a final decision. He's got turmoil in the frontcourt with Emeka Okafor's illness, so this is a situation to monitor right up until the first game begins.

In San Francisco, the Golden State Warriors also have some controversy brewing over a rookie starting. Coach Mark Jackson is reportedly deciding between rookie Harrison Barnes and Brandon Rush, though this report suggests Rush's defense gives the veteran the upper hand.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are also looking more likely to start a rookie in their lineup, as reports from the city have guard Dion Waiters and swingman C.J. Miles the two most impressive candidates toward the shooting guard and small forward spots.

Elsewhere, the injury bug has affected what other teams are looking to do in their starting lineup. Dallas is now looking at a lineup with Elton Brand as the starting center, though coach Rick Carlisle is a noted user of obscure lineups.

Minnesota could slide Andrei Kirilenko over to the four in Love's absence and also has Derrick Williams primed to make strides in his second NBA season.

Scott Souza notes that Jared Sullinger could also be in line for a more expanded role with the Celtics, maybe even one that includes him in the starting lineup at some point.

Simply put, there's a lot of roster turmoil heading into these final few days of NBA training camp. Keep it tuned into Bleacher Report for up-to-the-minute updates on NBA rumors, news and notes as we get back to a full 82-game slate.