The NBA rumor mill has been churning faster over the past couple weeks, which makes sense as we drift closer to the Feb. 21 trading deadline.
But not all the rumblings have to do with potential deals, as one of the most intriguing to pop up in the last few days involves arguably the best player on the face of this planet returning to the team he once spurned in free agency.
Obviously, we’re talking about LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers; so let’s get to that and more in Monday’s rumor roundup.
LeBron Back to Cleveland?
While this sounds completely far-fetched, there’s apparently a possibility that King James returns to the Cavs as early as 2014.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
Executives and agents around the league are convinced the Cavaliers won’t do anything to jeopardize their ability to sign a free agent to a max contract during the summer of 2014, when LeBron James can again become a free agent. As fans in Northeast Ohio continue to howl and remain divided about the possibility of his return, more and more people around the league believe there is a strong possibility James will indeed return to Cleveland after next season.
If this is true, this is terrible news for Cavs fans.
Not only is the city of Cleveland is still trying to heal the wounds stemming from “The Decision” (which prompted a comic sans rant from owner Dan Gilbert that absolutely attacked James as a loser), but it basically ensures the team will be terrible until 2014.
Kyrie Irving is without a doubt a superstar on the rise, but he needs more help around him. The Cavs are going to have cap room over the next two summers, and hoarding it on the outside chance that James opts out and signs in Cleveland in the summer of 2014 is preposterous.
LBJ back with the Cavs is a complete pipe dream and anyone in the organization who seriously believes this could happen should be immediately canned. The team has the pieces to become a contender without James. The decision-makers just need to be optimistic and realistic.
Gay and Randolph on the Block?
The Memphis Grizzlies are a fringe contender in the Western Conference, but there is a chance they move one of their two key pieces prior to the deadline.
As per Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Jason Levien—former player agent and managing partner of the franchise—is “open to moving Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph for the right price.”
While the “right price” hasn’t been specified, we do know that the Grizz are $4.6 million over the cap and could be looking for someone to take either Gay’s or Randolph’s salary off their hands.
Both players have been key contributors to the franchise over the past few seasons and a reason for its postseason runs, but a younger—read: less expensive—piece plus draft picks could be what Levien is looking for in exchange for one of his stars.
It would be tough for the fanbase to swallow, but moving Gay or Randolph may be the right move for the longterm health of the Grizzlies.
Jazz Making a Move?
The Utah Jazz have a strong need for a point guard if they are going to compete for a playoff spot, and have two impending free-agent power forwards who could be used to acquire one prior to or at the deadline.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are the two likeliest candidates to be moved, although Millsap is apparently “more of a Jazz guy” due to his lower salary.
It’ll be interesting to see what the franchise can dig up for Jefferson—owed $15 million in the last year of his deal—or Millsap—who is only guaranteed $7.2 million in 2012-13.
Expect GM Dennis Lindsey to leave no stone unturned in order to find his organization a legitimate point guard for one of their services.