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NBA News, Rumors and Speculation: Handicapping Latest Basketball Talk

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIDecember 31, 2016

NBA News, Rumors and Speculation: Handicapping Latest Basketball Talk

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    The NBA season begins just one week from today when Washington and Cleveland tip off, and speculative news and rumors continue to slowly creep in.

    What are the odds that the latest soundbites come to fruition? Read on and find out.

Samuel Dalembert Starts at Center for the Milwaukee Bucks on Opening Night: Even

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    When the Milwaukee Bucks traded Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors last March, the Bucks gained an athletic shooting guard in Monta Ellis, but they lost a tough-to-replace low post defender in Bogut.  

    With less than a week until the 2012-13 season starts, the team still has not officially named a new starting center. 

    Samuel Dalembert could be a safe bet. 

    Head Coach Scott Skiles places a real premium on defense. Last year's team was ranked 22nd in team defense. Skiles has already hinted that the moves the team made in the offseason were made in part to address last season's weak defense. 

    "We had to get some more size, some more length, we did that," Skiles said. "Hopefully we won't see a lot of the layup drills we were giving up last year."

    With Skiles already declaring that defense will be a priority, and that the offseason acquisitions were made to address the defense, it only stands to reason the best defensive big man the team acquired would be made the starter. 

    Samuel Dalembert is that man. He's a 10-year veteran who has averaged 8.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Those aren't numbers that jump off a stat sheet, but his commitment to rebounding and defense, blended with his willingness to allow other players to shine on offense, makes Dalembert a smart bet to start on opening night. 

The Miami Heat Will Trade Joel Anthony: 3-1

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    After five seasons and one NBA title, could Joel Anthony's time in Miami be nearing an end? 

    Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel thinks it could be.

    The Heat's new additions—Rashard Lewis, Josh Harrellson and Ray Allen—will certainly command minutes. 

    There are other players on the current roster such as Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman who are better fits for Head Coach Erik Spoelstra's rotations, which are not dictated by rigid positional definitions in the same manner other teams' rotations are.

    Anthony could be moved because he is probably appealing to other teams. It's one thing to want to move a player; it is a whole different thing if there are actually teams on the lookout for that type of player.

    Anthony doesn't score much, but at 6'9" and 245 pounds, he's a physical presence. His rebounding and blocked shot numbers on a per minute basis are solid.

    The real question is, would Miami shop him? Because if the Heat do, they are likely to find some suitors.  

James Johnson Will Win Starting Small Forward Job in Sacramento: 3-2

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    James Johnson probably didn't think he'd be competing for the starting small forward job in Sacramento, but that appears to be exactly what is happening. 

    As the odds above illustrate, his prospects seem pretty good. 

    Forget the odds above though. It's been some recent statements by Kings head coach Keith Smart that have been most telling. Smart has yet to name an official starting five for the Kings, but Jason Jones, who covers the Kings for the Sacramento Bee, seems to think Smart is leaning towards Johnson.

    Johnson has traditionally been a power forward. On July 16, he was dealt from the Toronto Raptors to the Kings. 

    Johnson may not have just changed addresses, but he may have changed positions as well. 

LeBron to the Los Angeles Lakers: 2-1

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    I know, 2 to 1! 

    Here's the issue.

    LeBron James is a free agent following the 2013-14 season. That's when the five-year deal he signed that moved his talents from Cleveland to South Beach expires.

    Other players with expiring contracts that year? How about two high-priced Lakers stars named Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol?

    For their part, the Lakers make no secret that with all that money freed up, the 2014 free agent signing period could be very eventful for them. Lakers Executive Vice President Jim Buss just confirmed that L.A. has its eyes set on 2014's free agency class when he sat down with Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register on October 18. 

    Add in a report by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com that states that rival NBA executives believe the Lakers are gearing up for a run at LeBron, and the scenario becomes even more believable.

    LeBron James has denied that there is any truth to the rumors, but what makes these types of rumors so believable is history.

    Specifically the history of the Los Angeles Lakers. A quick glance at their history reveals that in addition to the numerous NBA titles the team has won, they've also got a habit of acquiring NBA stars in the middle of their careers.

    Some names to ponder.

    Wilt Chamberlain, who the Lakers acquired via trade at the age of 32 in 1968.

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who the Lakers acquired in 1975 via trade. Abdul-Jabbar was 28 at the time.

    Then there's Shaquille O'Neal, who the Lakers signed as a free agent when he was just 24 years old.

    Finally, the Lakers dealt for Dwight Howard, who is still just 26, and also acquired Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns.

    The combination of approaching opportunity and past successes is just too compelling.

    LeBron in purple and gold? You might not like it, but it's probably not a bad idea to prepare yourself for it.  

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