Blockbuster Offseason Moves That Could Alter the NBA Landscape
The 2014 offseason looks like it should be packed with drama.
Star players like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love could potentially change addresses, and big-market teams like the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks could have their futures drastically altered by where they end up.
While a trade for Love and Anthony's free agency would shake up the NBA landscape, there are other moves that could change the power structure in the NBA as well.
Will the San Antonio Spurs make another run at it, or is the end finally here? Will LeBron James be tempted to leave and break up the Big Three in Miami?
Let's take a look at the biggest blockbuster offseason moves that will shape the NBA going forward.
Carmelo Anthony to the Houston Rockets
The Deal: The New York Knicks sign and trade Carmelo Anthony to the Houston Rockets for Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Terrence Jones, Troy Daniels and Houston's 2015 first-round pick.
Carmelo Anthony's free agency isn't as cut-and-dried as you might expect. Some of the most attractive suitors, like the Rockets and Chicago Bulls, would have to make some prior moves before being able to sign Anthony outright, so long as he wants a max deal.
Here's Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports with more:
Anthony has free-agent options, and two have risen above everything else: Chicago and Houston, sources with direct knowledge of his plans told Yahoo Sports. The Bulls have an easier path to clear the necessary salary-cap space to sign Anthony, but the Rockets believe they can shed the contracts necessary to offer a third near-max deals alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden, league sources said.
"He'll give New York every option," one source with knowledge of Anthony's plans told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. "But he has options – and he's going to explore them all.
While the Rockets and general manager Daryl Morey showed they're willing to do that last year when they signed Dwight Howard, it may be easier to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with New York instead.
If Anthony makes it clear to New York that he's not re-signing there, you would think the Knicks would refrain from calling his bluff and would agree to get assets in return as opposed to just losing him outright. The benefit for New York in dealing with Houston is that a big-ticket player like Jeremy Lin will be coming back, which will take at least some of the sting out of losing Anthony.
All things considered, this would be a decent haul for New York given the circumstances. Terrence Jones has a ton of potential and is still cheap, and Troy Daniels looks like he could be one of the league's next best shooters.
Is it a fair return? Of course not, but again, it's better than nothing. Anthony joining James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston would set them up to be the league's next great dynasty, even if there would certainly be some kinks to work out on both ends. Still, this would be one of the most talented teams we'd ever see, which would certainly rock the NBA.
The league would lose one of its biggest stars in its biggest market, but the Knicks would be perfectly established to be a major player in the 2015 offseason with virtually no contracts on the books and a clean slate to work with.
Chicago Bulls Trade for Kevin Love
The Deal: Chicago Bulls trade Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer, Tony Snell, the 16th pick of the 2014 draft and a 2015 top-10 protected first-round pick via the Sacramento Kings for Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Kevin Love has made it clear to the Timberwolves that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after next season and has no interest in a contract extension to stay in Minnesota, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls are among the potential trade destinations that intrigue Love.
Chicago's struggles offensively would certainly be addressed by adding a capable inside-outside threat like Love, and the pairing with Noah in the frontcourt would be perfect on both ends. A lot would depend on Rose and his health, naturally, but the potential for multiple titles would be here.
For Minnesota, moving Love for one of the most underrated power forwards in basketball in Taj Gibson would stave off a lengthy rebuilding period and keep the team in the hunt. Gibson's defensive abilities would be welcomed next to Nikola Pekovic, and there's probably a pretty good chance either Snell, the 16th pick or the Sacramento choice turns into a real player down the line.
The addition of Boozer might confuse some, but his expiring contract has real value for a team saddled with bad long-term deals like the Wolves. Budinger and Mbah a Moute will make nearly $10 million combined next year, which is absurd. There's also the chance that Boozer could be flipped at the deadline for more useful pieces.
Getting Love to a major contender in the East could shift the balance of power between conferences a bit, and it would certainly put Chicago in a position to dominate going forward.
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich Retire
We've all been sitting around and waiting for the San Antonio Spurs to get old and fade away, but it's never happened. Here's guessing they go out on top instead.
If the Spurs win the championship this year, or maybe even if they don't, it would be a pretty big surprise to see Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich come back for more. What's left for them to prove? Avenging last year's Finals loss is one thing, but there just might not be too much incentive to keep going after this season.
Obviously, losing this trio would change the NBA greatly. The Spurs have been such a mainstay over the years, and you could always tune in and know what to expect. There's something discomforting about projecting so much change for them, but it very well could be the perfect time for that to happen.
Watching how the Spurs reload without one of the greatest players and coaches ever will be interesting to say the least. We'll see if one of the league's greatest dynasties can keep plugging along or not. Either way, major changes to the Spurs of all teams would definitely alter the NBA as we know it.
Greg Monroe Joins Anthony Davis in New Orleans
While I think post-apocalyptic San Antonio could be the perfect destination for Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe, the New Orleans Pelicans might have more firepower to get it done.
Monroe is a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning Detroit will have the ability to match any offer sheet he signs in order to retain him. With Stan Van Gundy in Detroit and the frontcourt still crowded with players who can't provide space, though, you have to wonder if the Pistons would consider dealing the talented young big man for a better fit.
If they do decide to go the sign-and-trade route, the Pelicans would be a logical destination. Monroe grew up in New Orleans, and there's been a constant search for a reliable big man to help Anthony Davis who can use his size, clean the boards and play in either post offensively. That's Monroe.
The potential of this young frontcourt would be something to keep an eye on, as we could see a new "Twin Towers" in New Orleans. For Detroit, landing one of the league's best three-point shooters in Ryan Anderson would also make plenty of sense, especially because Anderson started off his career under Van Gundy in Orlando.
While Monroe joining Davis might not seem like a huge deal right now, Davis is just going to keep getting better. It might not be long before we consider him the best big man in basketball, and having an extremely solid frontcourt partner like Monroe will make New Orleans even more dangerous.
Miami's Big Three Stays Put
All three players have the ability to exercise the early-termination options in their contracts this offseason, which could break up the league's most dominant team and potentially change the course of basketball for the next decade or so, or however long James wants to play.
It seems unlikely that will happen this offseason, however, as Miami is still competing for rings and everyone is still getting along. Unless boredom sets in or some drastic injury happens in the Finals, it's hard to imagine any of these three players leaving town. There's just no real incentive to part ways quite yet.
That's a big deal, if only because it sets 2015 up to be a free-agent bonanza. A lot can change over the course of a year, and given Wade's health, perhaps the trio will decide to part ways once their actual contracts are up. Don't completely rule out retirement for Wade, either, as he has a lot of miles on the odometer.
For now, though? Keeping the Big Three together for another year means trouble for the rest of the NBA, as everyone else will once again have to try to catch up to King James and company.