The San Antonio Spurs raised the Larry O'Brien trophy just a few days ago, but the NBA rumors have been swirling for quite some time now. The NBA's offseason is officially underway, and it's time for teams to gear up for big changes.
Even the Spurs will look to make improvements, but they won't be as drastic as some of the NBA's lesser squads from 2013-14. It all starts with the 2014 NBA draft on June 26. That's where lottery teams can make significant splashes that will impact the future direction of their franchises.
While some rumors are just rumors, many have major implications. Below are the most important rumors floating around the Association right now.
Kevin Love has been the talk of the NBA over the past month. That's right: Love has made headlines over the draft and NBA Finals—arguably the NBA's two most epic events.
This most recent rumor might actually have some legs, however:
Can confirm the Warriors are willing to include Klay Thompson in Kevin Love talks w/ Minny. Story broken by his father on ESPN LA radio show— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 19, 2014
On Warriors-Wolves talks for Kevin Love: Trade talks are ongoing and "fluid," league source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 19, 2014
Now that's interesting.
Which team benefits most from this proposed deal?
The willingness to deal Klay Thompson is certainly something to get the Minnesota Timberwolves interested, but is dealing Thompson the right move for the Golden State Warriors? Sure, Love is a special talent, but it's hard to argue with a lights-out backcourt of Stephen Curry and Thompson.
Then again, Love can provide a strong presence on the perimeter as well.
I think the inherent benefit of such a deal isn't necessarily in talent. The Warriors would be acquiring a more unique talent in Love. As a big man, Love can dominate inside and outside. Thompson is essentially your average shooting guard in terms of skills. He's a guy who can shoot well and defend capably.
The Warriors are a team on the rise. Breaking up the young core is a risky move, but Love is an established veteran hungry to make some noise in the playoffs. This deal could work out well for Golden State.
Joel Embiid was the consensus No. 1 overall pick for the past several weeks, but that could very well change after Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke some devastating news on Thursday:
Joel Embiid has suffered stress fracture in right foot and slated for surgery on Friday, agent Arn Tellem says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
The stress fracture is in the navicular bone in Embiid's right foot.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
That is the same bone that Yao Ming had issues with during the end of his career. It's good that doctors have caught this injury early, but the Cleveland Cavaliers might be scared to take him No. 1 overall as a result.
The last thing general manager David Griffin wants to do is grab a player who might have a short career in the NBA—especially after Anthony Bennett flopped so hard last season. Bennett might not have a short career, but his first-year numbers were more than disappointing.
In all likelihood, Embiid will still fall somewhere in the top seven or eight picks. If Cleveland does indeed pass, then a team like the Orland Magic at No. 4 or Los Angeles Lakers at No. 7 might be willing to take a chance.
This really impacts the top of the draft boards, as now Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker have to be the favorites to go first. From there, the likes of Dante Exum, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh and Marcus Smart should hear their names called.
It's not safe to jump to long-term conclusions regarding Embiid's injury, but this injury does have the potential to derail his career.
The Philadelphia 76ers already have the No. 3 and No. 10 picks in Round 1 of the draft, but Wojnarowski writes that they may be looking for yet another selection in the top 10:
Philadelphia has been intrigued with the possibility of drafting a point guard with one of its picks in the draft, closely studying Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, sources said. Smart wouldn't be selected with Philly's third overall pick, sources said, but Exum does become a candidate for the Sixers at No. 3. Philadelphia has had discussions with teams about gathering an additional pick between its two current choices at No. 3 and No. 10.
They'll probably have to move up to No. 4 for Exum, but Smart could be had somewhere around pick No. 7. To move up, the Sixers will have to move Thaddeus Young and a pick or two from Round 2.
It's probably worth it.
Imagine a haul of Parker, Smart and Nik Stauskas or Gary Harris in the first 10 picks. That's enough to incite plenty of excitement in the city of Philadelphia—even after last year's horrible showing.
Such a young core would need a year to adjust, but if all goes well in year one, this team could be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference by 2016.
It will be interesting to see if the 76ers move up and how much it costs them.