The NBA rumor mill is already heating up ahead of what could very well be one of the most active offseasons in recent memory. With several big names either potential free agents or on the trade block, the landscape may change significantly over the summer.
At the very least, it should make for an extremely intriguing start to the offseason. Between the draft, the wheeling and dealing that always comes with it, and players deciding whether to opt out of their current deals, a lot of key choices will be made over the next few weeks.
With that in mind, let's check out some of the latest talk making its way around the league just a week after the San Antonio Spurs claimed their fifth NBA title. The moves made over the summer are with an eye toward ended their current reign at one year.
If James decides to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat he'll become the most coveted free agent since, well, himself four years ago. He has the ability to turn any franchise around by serving as a go-to superstar and helping to attract other top players.
One team interested in making a serious run at him is the Houston Rockets. Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reports the franchise is looking to make another high-profile splash after landing James Harden and Dwight Howard in recent years:
League sources say that Houston is preparing to make an all-out push to land James when free agency opens on July 1, assuming James opts out, as expected. If the Rockets miss out on James, they will turn their full attention to Carmelo Anthony. Chris Bosh is also on the radar.
As expected, James was peppered with questions about his future once the NBA Finals came to an end in surprisingly quick fashion. Michael Wallace of ESPN passed along comments from the four-time MVP, who wasn't ready to make any declarations:
I'm in position to be able to do that. Not saying I want to take that option right now. I'm not sure yet. There's a lot of time when you're not in control of your future in professional sports. I've been fortunate to have two opportunities to do that—in 2010, and if I decide to use it now, I can be in control of my future now.
Adding James to Harden and Howard would immediately make Houston the team to beat next season. That said, right now the idea still belongs in the long-shot category. It would still qualify as a surprise if he decides to leave Miami this summer.
Should the Wolves deal Love?
Love was quietly one of the best players in the NBA last season. He ranked third in player efficiency rating (26.97) behind only the aforementioned James (29.40) and Kevin Durant (29.90), according to ESPN. Now his stay with the Minnesota Timberwolves may be nearing its conclusion.
He has one season left on his current deal before holding a player option for the 2015-16 season. Instead of risking him walking away for nothing, Minnesota could strike a deal. Marc Stein of ESPN reports at least three teams are heavily involved in the sweepstakes:
The Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets also remain at the forefront of the Love pursuit, sources said, but Golden State appears to possess the most appealing combination of players who can make an immediate impact for the Wolves, whose team president—Flip Saunders—is also their new coach.
Love would be an ideal fit alongside Stephen Curry with the Warriors. They are the perfect inside-outside combination to challenge in the tougher Western Conference. The question is: Exactly how much of its depth is Golden State willing to move to get him?
First Overall Pick
The top of the NBA draft was already filled with question marks even before Joel Embiid suffered a foot injury. Now there are even more determinations to make for the Cleveland Cavaliers with the June 26 draft day less than a week away.
One option is to trade the pick for an established building block. Joe Kotoch of Pro Basketball Draft reports the Cavs have discussed a potential deal with the Utah Jazz that would see them move down four spots while picking up Derrick Favors:
Hearing the Cavs and Jazz have discussed a swap of picks. Jazz would move up to take Parker and Cavs would likely get Favors and 5.— Probasketballdraft (@Probballdraft) June 19, 2014
If the Cleveland front office isn't convinced Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins is future superstar, it's an interesting option because Embiid may now still be available at No. 5. On the flip side, the Jazz would be getting the go-to scorer the team has lacked in recent years.