With a new NBA champion crowned, the league's top storylines will focus on the upcoming NBA draft and July's free-agency period.
The 2014 NBA draft conversation has centered on three elite prospects and the debate as to which one will go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 26. However, much of the free-agent talk has surrounded Carmelo Anthony and whether he'll stay with the New York Knicks or chase a ring elsewhere.
Here we'll analyze some of the latest buzz from around the league.
'Melo Leaning Toward Chicago or Houston?
With the New York Knicks in the midst of a transition period, superstar forward Carmelo Anthony appears to be in one of his own.
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Anthony is "leaning toward" exiting New York in free agency this summer and is rumored to have his sights set on the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets as potential destinations.
Wojnarowski quotes a source close to Anthony: "His heart is in New York, but he wants a chance to win now."
But as Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler points out, Anthony's future won't be determined for at least another month:
Important to keep in mind, that while Carmelo is planning to look and listen -- nothing can happen with him until July.— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 15, 2014
Although New York was supposed to be Anthony's ticket to a title, it's clear that the Knicks lack the pieces to contend for the Larry O'Brien trophy in 2014-15. And considering Anthony turned 30 last month, he's running out of time to contend for a championship in the prime of his career.
With 11 seasons under his belt, the time is now for Anthony. And the same can be said about the Bulls and Rockets, who each possess promising pieces and championship potential.
However, even if Anthony is interested in leaving the Big Apple, the teams pursuing him will have to free up cap space in order to land him.
Kevin Garnett's Future Up in the Air
Much like Anthony, there's significant uncertainty surrounding Kevin Garnett's future. The veteran center turned 38 last month and saw his numbers plummet this past season with the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, the Nets are expecting Garnett to return for the final year of his contract in 2014-15:
Nets continuing to operate with the belief that Kevin Garnett will return next season, sources say. KG has been in contact with the team.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 14, 2014
Although Garnett's current three-year deal doesn't expire until next summer, it's hard to imagine what he has left to offer. He played in only 54 regular-season games for Brooklyn in 2013-14 and averaged a career-low 6.5 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field.
After Brooklyn's playoff loss last month, head coach Jason Kidd offered some words of wisdom to Garnett, as noted by Newsday's Rod Boone:
Kidd on KG: "The biggest thing & concerns that I’ve talked to him about is you don’t want to leave with someone carrying you off the court."— Rod Boone (@rodboone) May 15, 2014
Garnett still brings tremendous experience and leadership to the table, but his diminishing athleticism and skill make him a liability at times.
There's no question the Nets believe he can play a key role for them in their championship pursuit next season. But the question centers on whether or not Garnett is willing to put up with the rigors of an NBA season for the 20th time in his career.
New Orleans Pelicans Eyeing Andray Blatche, First-Round Pick
The New Orleans Pelicans are looking to help out former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis this summer, but it remains to be seen how they intend to do so.
According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, the Pelicans may look to sign free agent center Andray Blatche:
I'm hearing there is mutual interest between the New Orleans Pelicans and free-agent-to-be Andray Blatche. Keep an eye on that after July 1.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 13, 2014
The nine-year veteran brings scoring and rebounding off the bench, two things the Pelicans need more of in 2014-15. What's more, Blatche could step in right away and play alongside Davis in the frontcourt.
But Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears adds that sources say New Orleans is eyeing a first-round draft pick this summer:
Pelicans aggressively trying to trade into 1st round in hopes of drafting a small forward or center, sources say.2014 1st dealt in Jrue deal— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 14, 2014
The Pelicans surrendered their 2014 first-round pick in last summer's Jrue Holiday trade, and their second-round pick in this year's draft belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Spears notes that the Pelicans are hoping to land either a small forward or a center. But if the team is in fact interested and feels confident about its chances of signing Blatche in July, it could look to trade into the first round and acquire one of the many talented small forwards available in this year's class.
In that scenario, the Pelicans would have addressed two big needs while surrounding Davis with what he needs heading into the new season.
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