Even as the NBA Finals approach, the majority of the league is already well into offseason mode. Thus, as the draft and free agency approach, the rumor mill will continue to swirl at a relentless pace.
While trades and free-agent destinations are simply conjecture at this point, some teams are also still in need of filling out their coaching staffs. For a couple of glamorous franchises in need of direction, the next week could determine the fate of their next era.
For all the latest buzz on the NBA offseason, check out the rumors below and what they could mean going forward.
Love in Boston
The Kevin Love saga will rage on until the Minnesota Timberwolves reach a conclusion with their All-Star forward. One potential suitor, the Boston Celtics, received plenty of hype last weekend when Love was spotted wandering the streets of Boston and meeting up with point guard Rajon Rondo at a Red Sox game:
However, Celtics fans should not start purchasing their Love jerseys yet, as the meeting was not premeditated. According to ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg, Rondo only spoke briefly to Love, though he openly speculated about what the forward would add to the Celtics lineup:
So when I saw Kevin, I spoke to him. I wished him good luck here -- his time in Boston. He spent a couple days here in Boston. I told him I was spending a couple months here in Boston.
I think we'd be a lot better if you add a guy like Kevin. He's a range-shooting 4, he's going to help on the glass -- obviously we haven't been the best on the glass the past couple years. But he'll do a better job in that aspect.
In terms of draft-pick compensation, no other suitor can match Boston's haul. While teams like Cleveland could offer a higher pick in this year's draft, the Celtics are armed with as many as 10 first-round picks through 2018. Moreover, with three unprotected picks from the Clippers (2015) and Nets (2016 and 2018), the Celtics can offer some juicy future assets for teams willing to gamble on collapses from veteran squads.
Which team do you believe is the front-runner to land Kevin Love?
Of course, Boston's current roster is fairly barren, as they are unable to compete with the young talent a team like the Warriors could offer. Jared Sullinger is essentially a poor man's version of Love, a stretch 4 who cleans up on the glass. 2013 first-rounder Kelly Olynyk offers more offensive upside than Sullinger, though his short arms and slight frame will almost certainly make him a defensive liability his entire career.
Nonetheless, Love has reportedly expressed interest in Boston before, according to CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely. Danny Ainge's track record of building a contender is well-known, and precocious coach Brad Stevens received positive reviews during his rookie season.
The T-Wolves will likely continue to hold firmly onto Love as long as they can, perhaps even past the draft. But so long as he remains resolute on leaving town, Minnesota would be foolish not to consider rebuilding packages like the one Boston could offer.
Lakers Coaching Search
The Celtics' longtime rivals are not nearly as stocked with assets. The Los Angeles Lakers have little in the way of salary-cap relief or future draft picks arriving soon and are currently looking for the right voice to lead them into the post-Kobe era.
For now, it's unclear who the Lakers are looking for. ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne recently reported that Los Angeles is looking at a pair of veteran coaches:
Sources say that the Lakers, meanwhile, remain interested in discussing their vacancy with Fisher but also continue to proceed with a more deliberate coaching search than the Knicks. The Lakers -- who have interviewed coaching veterans Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and Mike Dunleavy, in addition to discussions with former Lakers player and coach Kurt Rambis and ESPN analyst George Karl -- are not yet locked into one candidate. The Lakers, sources add, have also internally discussed reaching out to Scott Skiles and former NBA championship-winning coach Larry Brown, who has spent the past two seasons in the college game at SMU.
Skiles and Brown are commensurate with the veteran coaches the Lakers have interviewed, though neither fared particularly well at his last NBA stop. The Lakers went for a pair of name-brand coaches in Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni after Phil Jackson's retirement, so it's not entirely shocking to see them shy away from a young coach like Derek Fisher.
With a likely barren roster headed into free agency, the front office can mold the 2014-15 team in the shape of its own vision. Though it seems reasonable that a coach would want input on the team he plans to lead, it appears the Lakers might not hire anyone for weeks:
Lakers determined to cast very wide net and take their time w/ coaching search. This could take weeks still. And really, what's the rush?— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 2, 2014
Who would be the better coaching hire for the Lakers?
It certainly would not be unprecedented; last season, the Philadelphia 76ers did not hire Brett Brown until August. But the Sixers were a team hell-bent on tanking for a top pick, whereas the Lakers have never been patient rebuilders and are likely advertising their brand to veteran free agents.
Until the Lakers find a face of the franchise to succeed Kobe Bryant, the new coach will be working with bit pieces and future promises. Thus, even with the 16 banners in the rafters, history may not be enough to entice the big-name veteran coaches.
Fisher to Knicks?
Conversely, the New York Knicks have appeared intent on hiring a young first-time coach for Phil Jackson to mold. According to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, Thunder point guard Derek Fisher has emerged as the leading candidate to coach in Gotham:
Knicks president Phil Jackson has been eager to sell Fisher, 39, on the possibility of Jackson mentoring him as part of a direct move from Fisher's playing career into the Knicks head coaching job. Fisher is taking a few days to finalize his thoughts on the likely end of his 18-year playing career before fully engaging in talks to become a head coach.
The Knicks' support system, centered on Jackson, is an attractive part of the job to Fisher. For all the allure of New York and Madison Square Garden, New York offers a faster route to a rebuild and the playoffs over the Lakers simply because of the disparity in strength between the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Like the Lakers, the Knicks have little in the way of cap relief or future picks. New York will not have meaningful cap space until the ghastly triumvirate of Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani all see their contracts expire after next season. The Knicks also do not have consecutive first-round picks until 2017 to 2018, the residue of the Bargnani and Carmelo Anthony trades.
If Fisher is hired, who will be the better first-time coach?
If Anthony re-signs in New York this offseason, that would provide Fisher and the organization an important building block, albeit one entering his post-prime years. Still, the Knicks are not a true allure for championship-chasing free agents unless they have a star in place, so Anthony's retainment will remain the offseason's top priority.
Until then, it appears Fisher looks like a no-brainer for the Knicks. If Jackson really is resolved on hiring a first-time coach, then Fisher's experience in the triangle offense should make for a more seamless transition. Fisher has already acknowledged that his past with Jackson could play a role in his decision:
The Knicks have often sought short-term fixes in numerous ill-fated quests to surge to the NBA mountaintop. In hiring Fisher, New York would finally be demonstrating some long-term planning.