NBA Rumors: Playing Fact or Fiction with Latest League Talk, Pre-Training Camp

Josh CohenCorrespondent IISeptember 25, 2013

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics practices shooting prior to a game against the Detroit Pistons on April 3, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Rondo, who is out for the remainder of the season, underwent ACL surgery in February. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

There are always rumors swirling in the lead-up to NBA training camp, but you can't trust everything you hear.

A lot of the whispers right now are speculative, of course. With no one on the court right now, the focus is instead on guys trying to get paid for what they have done in the past or working to get back to playing in the future. The present is an afterthought.

That said, we're still dealing with a lot of uncertainty. It's hard enough to suss out the facts when reporters have full access to players and coaches, let alone the ability to watch them on the court. At the end of the league's summer, prognostication is at its most difficult.

Some of the biggest names in basketball have popped up in the rumblings lately, so let's figure out how much of the talk is true.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 25:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics controls the ball against Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 25, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by download
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Rondo Returning for Opening Night?

On Jan. 27, 2013, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, knocking him out for the remainder of the season. On that same day, every Boston Celtics fan began looking ahead to the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign.

With nine months to recover, there was a chance that the Celtics could have their point guard back on the floor in time for the first regular-season game. Now that Rondo is the last star left in Boston and a new era is set to commence under Brad Stevens, his return is even more hotly anticipated.

However, ESPN's Chris Forsberg reports that with a month before Boston returns to play, it's time for fans to temper their expectations.

Forsberg's source for this report is none other than C's GM Danny Ainge, who not only has the best information on how Rondo is progressing, but also has a real incentive to bring him along slowly.

With a new coach and a gutted roster, these Celtics aren't going anywhere right now. This is Rondo's team for the foreseeable future, so his long-term health takes clear precedent over any short-term production.

Sure, guys have made it back from ACL tears in nine months, but Boston is more likely to opt for something closer to the traditional year without Rondo. That means a November return is looking like fiction.

Mar 11, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Nets 106-97. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports


Bynum Still on the Shelf?

The last time we saw Andrew Bynum in an NBA game was during the 2012 postseason. He is on his third franchise since then, departing the Los Angeles Lakers before torturing the Philadelphia 76ers with the hope he would return from catastrophic injuries to both knees.

Now he is with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have been sorely lacking a dominant big man for years. It's still possible Bynum can be that guy, but per Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he's going to need some more time before he can prove it.

Cleveland is prepared for this scenario. The return of Anderson Varejao will lessen the blow. Besides, this is why the Cavs gave Bynum just $6 million guaranteed on a deal worth just under $25 million, per Mark Deeks of Sham Sports.

Signing such damaged goods was an unambiguous gamble on the part of the Cavaliers. This was just the price they decided to pay to try to pair Kyrie Irving with an All-Star center. If Bynum is a shell of his former self, or if he doesn't make it back at all, it costs Cleveland little.

So we can say for a fact that no one's going to rush Bynum back.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 26, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images


King's Ransom for Boogie?

The Sacramento Kings have to build around someone, so why not DeMarcus Cousins?

Well, he's erratic, petulant, an unintelligent defender and an inefficient scorer for his size and ability. He has yet to put together an All-Star season and he has clashed with just about every authority figure he has encountered within the Kings organization. So that's why.

On the other hand, he easily has the most raw talent of any center in the league and he's the closest thing Sactown has to a star, let alone a superstar. That's why this report from ESPN's Marc Stein was bound to happen.

Giving Boogie a max extension isn't a idealistic matter; it's not as though an eight-digit salary is suddenly going to make him execute on his rotations and ease off the mid-range jumpers. That said, it would show the Kings' commitment to their talented big and provide the organization with some semblance of future direction.

This isn't a matter of whether this is a right or a wrong move for Sacramento. For now, it's simply enough to know for a fact that these negotiations are serious and an extension is imminent; we can discuss the ramifications of that deal for the next half decade and beyond.