The NBA media frenzy truly lasts 365 days a year. Week in and week out, NBA executives, coaches and players provide an abundance of interesting quotes for observers to consider while they attempt to pin down the opaque intentions of those involved in basketball drama.
The trade rumors are especially abundant this year thanks to the vaunted depth of the 2014 NBA draft class. An early first-round pick is a tantalizing asset for general managers to dangle in front of their less fortunate counterparts.
The NBA is at its best when every team looks like they have the potential to make some offseason moves. Here is the roundup on the latest potential trades that could shake up the NBA.
Could Ricky Rubio Follow Kevin Love Out of Minnesota?
According to NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio plans to talk Kevin Love into staying in Minnesota and building a playoff team in the frigid north. However, his comments in that very same report revealed he might have a mind to move on from Minnesota himself if it looks like they will struggle to be competitive.
Rubio, while saying he wants to stay, made it clear his own future in Minnesota would be in play. He, too, could take a similar tact and try to force a trade if a Love deal meant gathering picks and prospects.
Rubio stated he enjoys Minnesota, but isn't keen on another rebuilding period. Via Howard-Cooper:
I like Minnesota. But I want to win too. Of course when a big guy like him leaves you’re thinking about what’s going to be happening with the team. Are we going to lose a lot? Before I came to Minnesota, the season before they won like 17 games. I was a little scared when I went there. I’m coming from Europe, where I was playing in Barcelona. I think we lost six games or seven games in two seasons and every loss was a disaster. I don’t want to go through a process like every win is something special.
The twin atrocities of losing Rubio and Love in the same offseason might cause team president Flip Saunders to seriously reconsider the stress of running an NBA franchise.
Rubio is one of the best passers in the NBA, averaging 8.1 assists per game over his three-year NBA career. He also impressed enough observers on defense to draw a few votes for the NBA All-Defensive teams, although he fell short of the final cut. Via Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
#Twolves Ricky Rubio had 19 points for NBA all-defensive teams, with five votes for 1st team. Minimum points - Roy Hibbert - was 76 for 2nd.— Andy Greder (@twolvesnow) June 2, 2014
There are plenty of teams in need of a point guard with the pieces available to make a play. The Orlando Magic own the No. 4 and No. 12 overall picks and are unlikely to count on an aging Jameer Nelson for much longer. The Los Angeles Lakers also need a floor general for the future and have the No. 7 overall pick in this year's draft.
If Love departs this offseason, what would become of Rubio?
If Rubio decides he wants out after a Love departure, the Timberwolves would have to act quickly in order to make sure they got something in return.
Rubio's contract is up after the 2014-15 season, per Spotrac.com. He will be a restricted free agent in 2015, but a trade demand this offseason would still force the Timberwolves into an awkward situation, as they wouldn't have much leverage with his contract winding down.
This doomsday scenario does hinge completely on Love, but Rubio seems highly averse to the trials and tribulations of building a small-market team into a perennial contender.
The Denver Nuggets Are Shopping Their Draft Picks
The Denver Nuggets figure to be very active in the buildup to the 2014 NBA draft. According to their general manager, Tim Connelly, they've put in plenty of work behind the scenes already.
Connelly, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: "We've had a lot of conversations about a ton of different things—picks, trades. We're pretty active right now."
Dempsey, after citing the Nuggets' valuable No. 11 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, offered up this insight on the Nuggets' machinations:
So they'll retool, and they'll start by using the pick as a key cog in the improvement. Trading the selection for a veteran and moving up in the draft are the two areas of most interest to the Nuggets.
The Nuggets certainly can't afford to spin their wheels in the Western Conference. They finished 36-46 in 2013-14. The Dallas Mavericks—the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference—finished 49-33. There is plenty of work to be done to make up ground in this half of the NBA.
The difficult part will be picking out which of their current players are expendable in order to facilitate an upgrade at a certain position.
Which position requires the biggest talent upgrade in Denver?
Ty Lawson led the team with 17.6 points and 8.8 assists per game; he is likely to be untouchable, as backup guard Nate Robinson isn't capable of leading a team full time. Kenneth Faried's unstoppable motor could certainly tempt some teams in a packaged deal and allow the Nuggets to move into the upper reaches of the NBA draft—although it might be difficult to crack the top three considering the prospects available this year.
Whomever the Nuggets make a move for will have to be able to run the floor; Denver utilized 100.7 possessions per game according to ESPN.com, trailing only the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.
The team needs a marquee scorer rather than an unproven rookie, someone who can take the pressure off Lawson and allow him to focus on his role as a distributor. The Nuggets were perennial playoff contenders with Carmelo Anthony on the team, although they never rose to the top of the league with the volume scorer.
Perhaps they find the right balance under Connelly.
Arron Afflalo Open to Trade
It's quite possible Afflalo has seen enough of Orlando and wants to work his way onto a championship contender prior to hitting the downslope of his career.
Via Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:
Orlando's classy leading scorer wouldn't mind being moved to a playoff team. The clock is ticking loudly on his career as he'll turn 29 in October.
The Magic can select a point guard at No. 4 this month, perhaps a signal that Victor Oladipo would move to Arron's position full-time. Afflalo could be in play at the June 26 draft. Chicago, Charlotte, Phoenix and Oklahoma City could use two-guards and have multiple first-round picks.
The seven-year pro has raised his scoring average every season in his career, culminating in the 18.2 points per game and 45.9 field-goal percentage he posted during 2013-14.
He was easily the most reliable scorer on the Magic last season and would likely retain that role next season. Victor Oladipo shows promise, but shot just 41.9 percent from the field and lacks the mid-range game Afflalo wields on a nightly basis.
Afflalo is not the type to kick and scream about a difficult situation, and this report is jarring considering Afflalo's recent statements about being a veteran leader for a young Magic team.
Will Arron Afflalo be a member of the Orlando Magic in 2014-2015?
"I'll be ready," Afflalo told Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida. "My intent is to be here and help this group grow. I love my situation here. I couldn't ask for more."
Afflalo could be an excellent trading chip for a Magic team fortunate enough to have the No. 4 pick in this year's draft.
If the Magic draft Dante Exum, they could flip Afflalo for assets and maintain their height and athleticism in the backcourt. Exum is capable of playing both guard positions and gives Oladipo the flexibility and perimeter partner he needs to expand his already considerable offensive repertoire.