Nothing can stop the NBA rumor mill from churning, not even the high drama of the looming NBA Finals. With the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat focused on championship glory, the league's 28 remaining teams are busy looking for ways to set up their rosters for future success.
Every team needs a player to become the bedrock of their franchise, whether it's on offense, defense or both. Fortunately for the buyers in this star-driven league, there are plenty of big names with the potential to make offseason moves.
Then again, those same players face strong overtures from their current franchises to stay put and help build a winner. The battle for talent never ends in the NBA.
Here are the latest updates on some of the top players with franchise-altering capabilities.
Are the Pacers Looking to Trade Roy Hibbert?
Roy Hibbert—the All-Star center on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2013-2014—could be on the move this offseason.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, both Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers would be open to the big man starting a new journey in a different city:
There is said to be some thought on both sides—management and Hibbert's—that a fresh start would be beneficial for everyone after the big man's second-half decline.
Hibbert's camp hasn't outright asked for a trade, sources say, but word is that it wouldn't exactly oppose one if the Pacers decide to actively shop their center.
You would be hard-pressed to find another example of a team so willing to break up a roster that made it to the conference finals, but few teams in history displayed the kind of debilitating breakdown in cohesion that the Pacers exhibited at the end of this season.
Successfully moving Hibbert after his roller-coaster finish to the season would take some deft negotiating from the Pacers' brass.
Although his late-season swoon began long before the postseason started, the difference in his numbers from the regular season to the playoffs tells a very troubling story.
|Roy Hibbert's 2013-2014 Stats, Regular Season vs. Postseason|
|Games||Minutes per game||Points per game||Rebounds per game||Blocks per game|
A 7'2" behemoth should never have that much difficulty bringing in rebounds.
His hefty contract could prove to be quite prohibitive in any future trade talks. According to Spotrac.com, Hibbert is due to make roughly $30 million over the course of the next two seasons, a high price to pay for a player that can't be trusted to take care of the basics a nightly basis.
However, Hibbert has proven to be quite healthy for such a large player and is still nothing if not a deterrent for players trying to attack the basket.
The two-time All-Star has never played less than 65 games in a season during his six years in the Association. He played in 81 games in 2013-2014 while averaging 29.7 minutes per game, the second-best nightly output of his career.
He still played high-quality defense despite logging all those minutes. Hibbert allowed opponents to shoot just 41.4 percent at the rim last season, according to NBA.com.
The Pacers have a few selling points for their enigmatic center, but it would be difficult to find suitors willing to give up valuable assets for a player who could opt out of his contract in 2015.
Kevin Love to Stay in Minnesota?
Kevin Love has been one of the most talked about players heading into the NBA offseason, but Minnesota Timberwolves president Flip Saunders was unequivocal in his comments regarding where he expects Love to be playing next season, via Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune caught more of Saunders' remarks.
Krawczynski then offered his own insight on the situation.
Saunders also commented on Love's trip to Boston, perhaps implying people are reading too much into his vacation plans.
However, this couldn't stop the Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz from making a recruiting push via Twitter.
Love had another sensational season in 2013-2014, averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He also expanded his game beyond the arc, shooting 37.6 percent from three-point range and sinking 190 total treys, the biggest haul of his career according to Sports-reference.com. Despite his efforts, the Timberwolves finished 40-42 and missed the playoffs.
It is possible Saunders is posturing in order to drive up a bidding war this offseason for Love's services.
Even if Love were to stay in Minnesota next season, there is always the threat that he leaves as a free agent in the summer of 2015 and the Timberwolves end up with nothing to show for an extra year of Love.
It is also difficult to determine how the Timberwolves can convince Love they can build for the future if he sticks around.
They have yet to fill their vacancy at head coach, and they can't expect to get much more than a role player with the No. 13 pick in the first round of this year's draft. Saunders will have to make some bold moves in order to convince Love to stay in Minnesota, but the team might be better off trading their highly-coveted asset.
Can Phil Jackson Convince Carmelo Anthony to Stick With the Knicks?
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson seems to believe that in order to reshape the Knicks into a potential contender, he will need Carmelo Anthony to stay in the Big Apple for at least another year, as per the Associated Press (h/t USAToday.com):
"I told him it might be a good idea to hang in here and see what it's like for a year, and go out the next year," Jackson said.
The Knicks are hamstrung by the fact that they have very little salary cap space to work with—a potential $91.2 million on the books for 2014-2015, as per HoopsHype.com—and no picks whatsoever in this year's draft.
Jackson clearly believes Anthony is the type of player the Knicks need if they are to survive in the playoffs, although the team looks far from reaching that goal in the coming season.
Jackson, via the aforementioned article by the Associated Press (h/t USAToday.com):
But this is a guy we recognize his talent and his skill is the kind of skill and talent that gets you through playoff games where things get sticky, grind out and basketball becomes a force game and suddenly you need to have a player who has the capabilities of scoring with someone hanging on them in a situation that's critical.
Anthony's career postseason statistics back up Jackson's assessment of him as a go-to player in the playoffs.
|Carmelo Anthony Career Postseason Stats (all stats per game)|
Jackson has already hit snags in his rebuilding effort—he was unable to convince Steve Kerr to join his organization as head coach. The former Chicago Bull won three championships as a player with Jackson as his head coach, but opted to join the Golden State Warriors instead.
If Anthony does decide to stay with the Knicks another year, it would be a sign that Jackson has the ability to lure other quality players to New York in the future.
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