Now that the 2014 NBA draft is almost here, the rumors around the Association continue to grow, especially after the latest news surrounding Kansas center Joel Embiid.
The entire draft has been shaken up due to Embiid's latest injury. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Embiid's fractured foot is expected to take four to six months to fully heal, hurting his draft stock and completely changing the landscape of at least the top five selections, if not more.
Combine Embiid's injury with the fact the LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, and now there are countless rumors to keep track of. With the draft on Thursday night, here are just a few notable rumors surrounding the Association right now.
Chicago Bulls Looking to Make Deal for Arron Afflalo
While the Chicago Bulls try to make a move for a potential superstar, the team is also apparently working on adding more key pieces to try to become a contender once again in the Eastern Conference when Derrick Rose returns.
Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders reported that the Orlando Magic are willing to make deals for just about any of their players, and that the Bulls may be interested in Arron Afflalo, saying:
Sources say there really is not much that’s off limits in talks and that Orlando is willing to listen to overtures on their own picks in trade down scenarios too.
The Chicago Bulls have been linked most prominently to a deal with Orlando involving shooting guard Arron Afflalo, although sources say that’s not likely happening on draft night, but it’s still very much in play.
At 28 years old, Afflalo has been an established wing in the NBA for a few seasons now, and he likely feels ready to leave a team like Orlando. According to Spotrac, he has two seasons left on his deal, but has a player option after the 2014-15 season. Since the Magic likely won't be able to convince him to stay, they're likely trying to trade him so they can get something rather than nothing.
Offensively, the Bulls seriously struggled without Rose, ranking last in the NBA with just 93.7 points scored per game. Afflalo averaged 18.2 points per game this past season and was one of the best three-point shooters in the league, making 42.7 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
With Afflalo, the Bulls could have another go-to option on offense to take the pressure off of Rose when he returns, and that could be enough to help them make a push in the East, even if they can't recruit a superstar like Carmelo Anthony to join the team.
Lakers Willing to Deal No. 7 Overall Pick
With a draft class as deep as this one, a number of teams will likely be calling others with top picks to trade up and acquire a potential star. Apparently, one of the teams that's possibly willing to trade their top pick is the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Lakers are exploring possibilities to potentially trade the No. 7 overall pick, either by itself or with 40-year-old point guard Steve Nash:
Word is Lakers more likely than not to keep No. 7 but they ARE exploring what can be had for their pick (either solo or packaged w/SNash)— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 21, 2014
For the Lakers, they'll likely be willing to listen to deals to acquire young talent or trade down, but the fact that they've been in talks to also trade away Steve Nash might reveal their actual plans. According to HoopsHype.com, Kobe Bryant would be the only player on the team to make more than $2 million per year if Nash, who is making $9.7 million next season, were to be traded.
With a ton of cap space, the Lakers could be in play for one of the big free-agent superstars, including either Carmelo or LeBron. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers are trying to find a way to pair both with Kobe in Los Angeles, with Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst reporting:
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, had begun exploring such machinations even before the opt outs of James and Anthony had become known, according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.
The Lakers have been trying in recent days to package the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday's draft with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (who's owed $9.7 million next season) to free up enough room to offer James and Anthony at least $16 million each next season to join forces with Kobe Bryant, Shelburne reported.
There are a ton of pieces that need to come together for the Lakers to acquire both or even one of these superstars, but in the meantime, it looks like they'll keep listening to offers for the No. 7 overall pick.
Cleveland Cavaliers Torn At Who To Choose With No. 1 Pick
With Embiid's injury, it appears to be a two-way race for the No. 1 overall pick between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. However, the choice isn't an easy one, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are apparently still not 100 percent sure what they want to do.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Chad Ford reported that the Cavaliers were torn on which player to take the No. 1 overall pick. However, Parker's workout with the team didn't go well, with one source reportedly saying that he was "huffing and puffing early in the workout."
"You can't base everything on one one-on-none workout," a source told Goodman and Ford. "But Wiggins was great and Jabari wasn't. It makes an impact. It makes you go back and reassess everything you saw during the year."
Before both players went to college, Wiggins was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick. While he did shine and showcase his athleticism at Kansas, Wiggins wasn't as impressive as Parker, who appeared to be the more pro-ready prospect of the two, even if he wasn't the same athlete.
With the draft nearly here, the Cavaliers will need to make a decision soon, but the good news is that whichever player they pick, there's a good chance that they will become an All-Star in the future.