As the conference finals heat up, most of the teams around the NBA have already turned their entire focus to the offseason. Judging by some of the early buzz and speculation, it should be a very interesting couple of months around the league.
A small group of franchises has dominated the championship picture for the past couple years, led by the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. It wouldn't be a surprise if that landscape finally changes once the dust settles after the summer wheeling and dealing.
At the very least, all of the potential moves should make for an intriguing offseason for fanbases waiting for a game-changing addition. Let's check out some of the latest buzz making its way around the league and discuss its possible impact.
Love is a lightning rod for rumors because he can opt out of his current deal and become a free agent after next season. The Minnesota Timberwolves wouldn't want to lose their star for nothing, so trading him with a season left on his contract makes sense in order to get a good return.
The top of the organization doesn't necessarily agree, though. Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press passed along comments from owner Glen Taylor, who said the current assumption is the talented power forward will be back with the team to start next season:
At this point, we're not talking to any teams. I haven't heard from Kevin or his agents or anything like that. We're assuming that Kevin will be here next season, and we're working with that scenario. This isn't the time for us to do anything but to prepare for next year.
Of course, the Wolves probably wouldn't want to tip their hand at this point. The rumor mill suggests differently, as well. Marc Berman of the New York Post reports the New York Knicks are one team working behind the scenes with an eye toward landing Love:
According to an NBA source, Knicks president Phil Jackson has been plotting to be involved in making something happen with Love via a trade.
Love led the league with 65 double-doubles. Given the lack of reliable frontcourt depth around the league, his trade value should be sky-high, despite the contract uncertainty. He would fit in perfectly at power forward for the Knicks, especially if they can also lock up Carmelo Anthony.
Although the Golden State Warriors featured plenty of depth this season, they lacked a true No. 2 option to take some pressure off Stephen Curry. Changing that fact should be atop the front office's to-do list this offseason, but it will take some other moves to make it possible.
Trading Lee could be part of the process. Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News reports all indications suggest the power forward's days with the organization could be numbered after the arrival of new head coach Steve Kerr:
The Warriors have tried to move David Lee in the past. But it needed to be a no-brainer in order for them to pull the trigger. But now, per a couple league sources, the Warriors have lowered the bar realizing they've got to come off that contract so they can go after a co-star for Stephen Curry. Plus, with Steve Kerr acknowledging he wants a stretch-four, which Lee is not, the writing is really on the wall for Lee.
Which player would provide the most bang for the buck?
The report mentions the Orlando Magic as a potential landing spot. While Orlando certainly has some holes to fill in the frontcourt, it has two picks inside the top 12 of the draft. So it would probably want to wait and see how that falls before going all-in with a trade offer.
That said, if the Warriors are focused on moving Lee, they should be able to find a partner. He's averaged nearly a double-double for his career while shooting 53 percent from the floor. A very solid asset, just not what the Warriors are seeking to headline with Curry.
After a breakout 2012-13 season that saw Asik average 10 points and nearly 12 rebounds while starting all 82 games for the Houston Rockets, he's coming off a season to forget. The arrival of Dwight Howard made him far less of a factor and a common name in the rumor mill.
Nothing happened before the trade deadline, but that could change this offseason. Sam Smith of Bulls.com reports multiple teams are expected to pursue a deal for Asik, including the Atlanta Hawks to pair him with Al Horford:
Houston is looking to unload Asik and Lin to make a run at Anthony. I don't think you can move Lin and the $15 million backloaded he's due next season. But you may be able to move Asik, whom I've already heard several teams, like Atlanta to move Al Horford to four, are pursuing. The Hawks could look pretty good with that front court.
Asik took a major step back by appearing in just 48 games and averaging less than six points this season. The Rockets probably should have moved him immediately after signing Howard if his role was going to become that limited, thus hurting his trade value.
Now it's unclear what Houston could get from the Hawks or another interested team. As for Asik, a change of scenery would do wonders for his ability to make an impact. He can be a productive member of a starting lineup. It just won't happen with the Rockets.