Now that the 2014 NBA Finals are in the books, it's time to look ahead to the roster-building portion of the offseason. After the 2014 NBA draft, NBA free agency begins.
Plenty of big names might be on the move this offseason. Some of the NBA's top players have found themselves involved in rumors in the past several weeks, but it's finally almost time to see if the rumors are true.
Below are the top free-agency rumors right now from around the NBA.
LeBron James has plenty of options this offseason, and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com pointed out one that would put other NBA franchises on notice:
...of all the convoluted superstar concoctions that are possible this summer, James and [Carmelo] Anthony joining [Kobe] Bryant with the Lakers might be the most plausible -- as long as you operate from the assumption that both would be willing to take a significant pay cut to do so. If the Lakers waived Steve Nash and stretched his $9.7 million over the next three seasons, they'd have about $30 million to allocate to free agents.
Now, there are a ton of "ifs" in this situation. James and Anthony would both have to opt out of their current deals. The Lakers would then have to waive Nash. Barring what they do in the draft, that move may (or may not) make sense.
Plus, such a trio may not succeed in Year 1. Sure, they won't be bad, but the team still lacks the depth necessary to really make waves. After one season of learning how to play together, the trio would probably fare better in Year 2, when they'd have an opportunity to form a more complete roster.
ESPN.com's Arash Markazi acknowledged, however, that the Lakers' chances of winning the 2015 NBA title would drastically improve with James in the fold:
If the Lakers signed LeBron James they'd move from 25-1 odds to win the title to 11-2.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 18, 2014
Needless to say, the team that gets James will undergo a drastic makeover from season to season. It'll be interesting to see where he lands if he leaves the Miami Heat.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that Anthony might leave the New York Knicks in hopes of landing in a more winner-friendly environment:
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is leaning toward leaving in pursuit of immediate championship contention, and awaits the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets to clear the necessary salary-cap space to sign him in free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
As re-signing with the Knicks continues to fade as his priority, Chicago and Houston have emerged as the clear frontrunners to acquire Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Who will Anthony play for next season?
The Rockets might be the best fit. They've already begun preparations for acquiring a third star. Chandler Parsons' team option will be declined, allowing the Rockets to potentially make room on the roster for Anthony.
If the team can't land the superstar, it will have the ability to re-sign Parsons. By declining his option, the Rockets make Parsons a restricted free agent. They can match any contract offer presented to him by another team.
If Anthony joins Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston, the Rockets have to be considered title contenders. The San Antonio Spurs are still the champions of the Western Conference, but the star power general manager Daryl Morey could generate by signing Anthony is enough to overcome any opponent.
This is a very realistic option.
There's a chance the Indiana Pacers don't want to deal with Lance Stephenson's on-court antics anymore, so they might allow him to walk this offseason. Then again, they might have no choice but to let him walk.
Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders thinks the Charlotte Hornets could dominate his market:
Call me crazy, but I think in hopes of taking the next step forward in the Eastern Conference and becoming more than just a fringe playoff team the Charlotte Bobcats are going to go after him hard and offer him more than the Pacers are willing to. I know he’s a little crazy, but you can harness that and use it in a positive way, see Metta World Peace with the Los Angeles Lakers his first season.
If the Hornets can harness Stephenson's energy into positive performances on the court, then this could end up being one of the better moves of the offseason. Aside from Kemba Walker, Stephenson would be the team's primary scoring option and threat to make plays offensively. This might encourage Stephenson, who often played second fiddle to Paul George in Indiana, to step up his game.
The Hornets are in a very good position to make immense improvements in the coming months. They own the No. 9 pick in the lottery and the No. 24 pick overall. With those picks, the team can go after offensive talents to help boost that unit.
Last season, the defense is where this team excelled.
Throw Stephenson into the mix, and this team can makes waves in a weak Eastern Conference.