Forget March Madness, the NBA rumor mill is currently in a frenzy as the playoffs draw closer.
With a little over a month remaining in the regular season, some teams have already begun looking forward to next season. For some, it’s the matter of replacing a head coach while others are searching for that missing piece to transform themselves into a championship contender.
All in all, expect the news to only heat up from here on out.
Kobe Snuffing D’Antoni’s Torch in Los Angeles
Unfortunately for Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni, the tribe has spoken.
Well, at least the outspoken leader of the pack has.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Kobe Bryant touched on various topics. When asked about the prospect of playing under D’Antoni next season, the 17-year veteran stated he had “no interest”, per SportingNews.com’s Sean Deveney.
Deveney also went on to note that Bryant isn’t alone with the way he feels:
Should be pointed out, Kobe not the only Laker who'd like coaching change. Vets who preceded D'Antoni --Gasol, Hill-- would be on board, too— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) March 12, 2014
The news shouldn’t really surprise many. Ever since the Lakers whiffed on bringing in Phil Jackson to replace Mike Brown, this seemed like an experiment doomed for failure.
In his first full season at the helm, D’Antoni hasn’t done much to prove otherwise. Los Angeles is currently 22-43 and is tied with the Utah Jazz for the worst record in the Western Conference.
With the Lakers expected to make a big push during free agency this summer, bringing in a new face could help draw in some big names.
Carmelo to Houston; Lin back to New York?
There’s no doubt that Carmelo Anthony is set to become the biggest free agent on the market this summer.
At 29, he is having one of the best seasons of his career. In 63 games, he’s averaging 28.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 45.4 percent shooting from the field and 41.8 percent from three-point range.
According to The New York Post’s Marc Berman, the Houston Rockets look to be a major player for Anthony over the summer. Not surprisingly, Berman also reports that the team asked the New York Knicks about the availability of Anthony during the February trade deadline.
However, given the Rockets’ lack of too much cap space, a sign-and-trade would have to be the route taken.
A possible solution could be for Houston to package Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in return for Anthony, per ESPN’s Nick Borges (subscription required). It would allow Anthony to create a formidable foursome alongside Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons while granting Lin a return to the city that gave birth to Linsanity.
It would be a win-win for both sides.
Gay Expected to Remain in Sacramento
One of the most underrated stories of the season has to be Rudy Gay’s return to form with the Sacramento Kings.
In 41 games since being traded from the Toronto Raptors earlier this year, Gay has averaged 20.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists on 49.2 percent shooting from the field. His marks in points, assists and field-goal percentage are all career highs for the 27-year-old.
As for his future, Gay owns a $19.31 million player option for next season.
Since there’s likely no chance any team would offer him that much in free agency, Gay is nearly a lock to exercise it. But it’s not just money—Gay seems to be enjoying his time with the Kings.
And according to general manager Pete D’Alessandro, the feeling seems to be mutual.
“Rudy has a decision to make on an option for next year,” he said on Thursday during a team chat, via NBA.com. “We traded for Rudy because we want him as a part of our team. He’s embraced the city and the city has embraced him. We hope for a long and prosperous relationship.”
Look for Sacramento to continue to build around Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats, rankings and other information are courtesy of ESPN.com.