The NBA Finals might be getting ready to tip off, but the offseason is already well underway, at least in terms of the rumor mill.
Big names are already linked with new homes, while teams are working the phones nonstop in order to hear out every draft trade scenario possible.
Keeping up with it all is exhausting work.
In order to make things a little easier, below are the most recent rumors for three of the biggest names who could be on the move this offseason.
Much like the Oklahoma City Thunder did with James Harden, the Houston Rockets are approaching a reckoning point in which they'll have to consider whether or not it's worth it to keep Chandler Parsons for the long term.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets will decline Parsons' option on the 2014-15 season, which will make him a restricted free agent:
The Houston Rockets plan to decline the fourth-year option on forward Chandler Parsons' contract, freeing him to become a restricted free agent this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Rockets hold a $960,000 option on the fourth and final year of Parsons' contract for the 2014-'15 season, but want to avoid letting Parsons, 25, become an unrestricted free agent next summer. As a restricted free agent in July, the Rockets can match an offer sheet and retain Parsons on a long-term contract.
The Rockets have until June 30 to formally decline the option.
One of the benefits of forgoing the option would be that Houston could match whatever deal Parsons signs with a new team. Plus, a year from now, his price tag will likely have increased even more.
Wojnarowski also wrote that the Rockets have another idea in mind:
In one scenario, Houston could secure three max-out players – including Howard, Harden and a potential star free agent – and then re-sign Parsons to an extension below the max-level range. Parsons could command in the $12 million to $13 million annual range, league executives tell Yahoo Sports.
James Harden is doing his best to ensure that Parsons feels wanted in Houston, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Answering fans' questions on Twitter, the 25-year-old signaled that his preference would be staying with the Rockets:
If Houston can in fact keep Parsons and add a big-name free agent, it will have a scary starting lineup and immediately vault to the top of the NBA title contenders for 2015.
Should Parsons hit the open market, he'll be coveted by many teams, but Kevin Love is the crown jewel of this offseason if the Minnesota Timberwolves make him available.
ESPNBoston.com's Jackie MacMullan reported that the Boston Celtics may have a fighting chance to lure in the three-time All-Star if he becomes a trade chip:
Love is under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves for another season, so he's not a free agent, but when the bruising All-Star was spotted lounging in the Fenway stands, hangin' with Rajon Rondo and sipping Sam Adams, it led to wildly hopeful speculation that Love would not only welcome a trade to the Boston Celtics, he would be willing to sign an extension that would enable him to roam the parquet alongside Rondo for years to come, the way Kevin Garnett once did.
In fact, team and league sources confirm, that's a scenario that Love is willing to consider.
MacMullan wrote that the Chicago Bulls would also have strong interest and could likely put together a more attractive trade package for Minnesota.
She also added, "Aside from Boston and Chicago, Golden State, Phoenix, the Lakers and Houston also will try to pry Love free. Cleveland has the No.1 pick and has interest in Love, sources confirm, but the feeling isn't mutual."
While that's a tough blow for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love never seemed to be a likely option, unless the Cavs somehow land LeBron James in free agency. Cleveland could put together a strong trade package, but Love would almost certainly rather play elsewhere.
And to think that the Kevin Love Sweepstakes haven't even started yet. Wojnarowski reported that the Timberwolves will hold out until they find a new head coach in the hope that a fresh coach with fresh ideas might entice Love to stay:
The rumors regarding Love's future will only heat up in the coming weeks and months.
Few free agents will be more intriguing to watch this summer than Lance Stephenson. The 23-year-old was at times brilliant and at others confounding during the postseason. The image of him blowing in James' ear will carry with him for his entire career.
Just as unpredictable as Stephenson's playing style is how much money he could make this offseason.
Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com reported that the Indiana Pacers guard could see offers fluctuate from $5.3 million a year—the non-taxpayer mid-level exception—all the way up to $10 million:
The mid-level exception indicates concern over Stephenson’s maturity level, while the $10 million mark reflects his pure basketball talent as Larry Bird, Indiana’s President of Basketball Operations, noted.
“I think his ceiling is what he wants it to be,” Bird said. “As a basketball player, you can’t find much more talent than what he has.”
According to league sources, Stephenson’s agent – Alberto Ebanks – believes his client’s value is closer to the $10 million range.
Wherever Stephenson ends up, his team will have to find a way to balance the eccentricity with the talent. Even Frank Vogel seemed to admit that his attempted gamesmanship was backfiring against the Pacers, per SportsCenter:
Stephenson will get paid this offseason, but he may not be satisfied with the dollar amount. And he'll have nobody to blame but himself.