The NBA regular season is moving into its home stretch, but there are a few players already thinking about the offseason.
Impending free agency and possible trades give a few star players a chance to change teams heading into next season. After terrible years with their current teams, it makes sense for each of them to look for more options.
Although nothing is guaranteed and all of these players can stay right where they are, here is the latest buzz surrounding a few stars who could be on the move this summer.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Throughout the season, the biggest story in New York has been what Carmelo Anthony will decide to do this summer. The free agent is at least considering staying with the Knicks, but what he will do remains anyone's guess.
ESPN's Ian Begley breaks down the situation:
Anthony has said that his first priority is to sign with James Dolan's club. He has also said that he’d be willing to take less money -- from the Knicks or another team -- if it helps the franchise attract other free agents.
Anthony can sign a maximum contract of five years, $129 million with the Knicks. He can sign for one year and $33 million less with another team.
Money might be the only reason for Carmelo to re-sign with New York at this point. The Bockers are 5½ games out of a playoff spot and have dealt with plenty of embarrassment on and off the court this season.
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News discussed the possibility of joining the Miami Heat in an effort to win a championship. However, he points out that the money might not be there for another big name:
The only buzz is that Miami’s Big Three is past the point of taking fewer dollars than it can get. The days of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh sacrificing millions for the good of the team are over, according to well-placed Heat sources. So that could play into what Miami could give Anthony, if it would even be interested in his services.
No matter what happens, the current situation in New York is bleak. The squad appears unlikely to make the playoffs this year and does not seem to be in a good situation going forward.
The good news is that the Knicks did not trade him at the deadline, which indicates there is at least a strong chance he stays. The front office would have dealt him if it thought he was planning on signing somewhere else.
New York remains in this race, but it will have to show a willingness to surround Anthony with more talent.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
After losing LeBron James a few years ago, the last thing Cleveland wants to do is watch another young All-Star leave town. However, this remains a possibility as soon as this summer, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst:
If Kyrie Irving truly wants to be on a different team next season he can probably make it happen.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will offer Irving a maximum contract extension once they're allowed to on July 1, and if he hasn't signed it by October, the team will likely be forced to trade him before the Oct. 31 deadline for third-year players to extend their contracts.
Windhorst also adds, "while Irving has said all the right things about staying put in public, it's no secret that Irving's camp has been making it known for years now the point guard would like to be elsewhere long term."
However, the Cavaliers are in no hurry to deal one of the best young players in basketball, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio:
And by "young core" of #Cavs, sources mean Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Not surprisingly, calls on either being shot down.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) February 20, 2014
Still, this situation could be out of the team's hands if Irving forces the Cavaliers to make a move. He would be risking a lot of guaranteed money in the process, but it could end up being a smart decision if he goes to a big market and earns it back in endorsements.
As far as talent goes, there are few doubting the point guard's ability. In his third year in the league, he is averaging 21.4 points and 6.4 assists. He not only was selected to the All-Star game this season, but he took home the MVP award in the contest.
If a team is able to steal him away from Cleveland, that squad will be getting a true star in the making.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
It seems like every season Pau Gasol is the focal point of dozens of trade rumors, only to be stuck with the Lakers at the end of the year. Now that he will be a free agent, that appears likely to change.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the forward wrote on his personal website:
Honestly, I'm not ruling out renewing my contract, I'm just open to every option. My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn't be any other way. I want to be in a team with a real chance of winning a ring and where I can help to compete for it. I would like to win another championship. The financial side comes second at this stage of my career.
This mindset does not look good for the Lakers, who have dropped to last place in the Western Conference with a 20-39 record. Considering there might not be enough money available to bring in more talent, it might be tough to turn things around any time soon.
To make things even worse, Steve Nash recently explained in an interview that he is considering retirement:
Nash to Grantland: "It's either back with the Lakers next year or this is it."— Bill Oram (@bill_oram) February 28, 2014
Los Angeles is pretty much dependent on a healthy Kobe Bryant, and even that is a mystery at this point. As a result, Gasol will look for somewhere else to make an impact.
Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding discusses this as a certainty:
This summer, Gasol will move on to some other NBA franchise where, along with his two championship rings, the fresh fans will respect all that is clearly good in him—much as Lakers fans saw generosity in his heart when Memphis Grizzlies fans only saw Gasol wasn’t selfish enough to prop up a team all by himself.
Anything can happen, but it seems like a return to the Lakers is extremely unlikely.
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