NBA Rumors: Making Sense of the Smokescreens
So much for an uneventful preseason on the NBA rumor mill.
The Oklahoma City Thunder's trade of James Harden not only shakes the foundation of the team and the Western Conference, but it also could lead to other squads re-evaluating their talent.
As most NBA fans know, big moves hardly ever come in isolated packages. Nonetheless, with so many rumors now flying around before the 2012-13 season kicks off, some of it is bound to wind up as pure speculation.
Which of these rumors will wind up on the cutting-room floor? Here is a look at all the rumors that will wind up as smokescreens.
Raja Bell Not Going to Be Traded by Jazz?
Contending teams hoping to land disgruntled Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell may not be able to do so via trade after all.
Disputing a previous report, Bell's agent Herb Rudoy denied that the team had moved on from buyout talks in favor of trading Bell, according to the Deseret News' Jody Genessy:
Raja Bell's agent disputed an Internet report that claimed he said the organization is trying to trade the shooting guard rather than working out a buyout.
"Absolutely not," agent Herb Rudoy told the Deseret News when asked about Tuesday's RealGM.com article, which reported that he'd talked about the Jazz moving on to considering trade scenarios instead of finding a financial settlement.
For obvious reasons, I'm not buying this one. The relationship between Bell and the Jazz has gotten so unbelievably toxic that both sides are best served to move on by any means necessary.
And if the buyout talks have ended as reported, that means doing so via trade. Even Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey refused to comment about a possible Bell trade in the same article where Rudoy denied that the team had moved on.
One way or another, it seems apparent that this relationship will end. For now, it seems the best way to do that is through a trade.
Luke Walton Impressing at Cavs Camp?
What looked like an obvious smokescreen from Day 1 may actually not be for the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd, the team actually does believe that Luke Walton is the biggest surprise of the preseason.
Fans might have thought the Cavs were just trying to pump Luke Walton’s trade value when Byron Scott said recently that Walton was the biggest surprise of camp. But the Cavs truly believe it. Walton believes a combination of yoga, pilates and strength training over the summer left his back feeling better than it has in years. He dealt with a minor hamstring issue recently, but appears healthy and moving well.
Simply put, I'm not buying it and this all still reads as a ploy to raise Walton's trade value. Had Walton been so unbelievably impressive, the Cavs would have played him more than 16 total minutes the entire preseason.
Remember, this is a player who has not been effective since 2008-09—and that's only if you count accumulating an 11.32 PER as being effective.
Cleveland would be best served to simply chalk up Walton as a sunk cost, allow him to collect the $6 million he's owed this season and move on.
Talks Between Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets at a Standstill?
With so little time remaining between now and the Halloween deadline for the draft class of 2009 to reach an extension agreement, any and all developments can be the difference between getting a deal done and wading into the season with uncertainty.
Well, according to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy, that uncertainty could be coming for Ty Lawson, whose talks with the Denver Nuggets have stalled:
I'm hearing that extension talks between Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets have stalled. The two sides have until Oct. 31 to reach agreement.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) October 28, 2012
For me, this reads as a simple snag late in negotiations. Both sides desperately want to get this deal done, and Lawson has been one of the few classmates most think will actually get done.
Even at this late stage, it's far more likely that Lawson's camp and the team are posturing over a few million dollars. Expect them to find a middle ground eventually—even if they take it down to the very last minute.
$8 Million Separating Taj Gibson and the Bulls?
Like Lawson, talks between power forward Taj Gibson and the Chicago Bulls have hit a snag over— you guessed it— a few dolla dolla bills, y'all.
How many of those dollars? Eight million to be exact, according to the Chicago Tribune:
Talks between the Bulls and Mark Bartelstein, Gibson's Chicago-based agent, continue. Sources said the roughly $8 million gap over four years isn't atypical for this stage of negotiations. Gibson has said he wants to remain with the Bulls long term. He got a reminder of what chasing the final dollar can do on Saturday, when the Thunder traded James Harden to the Rockets.
The reason this is a smokescreen is exactly the same as Lawson: Both sides desperately want to get a deal done.
Chicago lost Omer Asik this offseason because the center's value was infinitely higher on the open market and Gibson will certainly see the same thing if he hits restricted free agency.
Gibson, meanwhile, seems to just want to get this thing over with already.
"I'm getting tired being asked questions about (my extension) and people worrying about it," said Gibson (via the Chicago Tribune). "I just want to get back to playing basketball, get focused on the season and helping this team win games."
Yep, this is getting done before Wednesday.
Steph Curry to Get an Extension from Warriors?
Ankle injuries have riddled Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry's young career, particularly last season, where he missed 40 games due to injury.
That, along with the fact Curry again injured his ankle in the preseason, has led to rampant speculation that the team would allow the gunner to wade into the restricted free agency waters.
Nonetheless, ESPN's Marc Stein expects the Warriors and Curry to reach a deal:
Stein's expectation flies directly in the face of a report from Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler, who wrote that the two sides have agreed to table their talks.
In this case, I'm siding with Kyler here. Curry's injuries make it impossible for either side to actually know the young guard's worth. Theoretically, he could range anywhere from a mid-tier NBA starting point guard all the way up to a maximum contract player.
Waiting the season out is best for both the team and Curry, so look for that to happen.