The 2014 NBA draft brought serious attention back to the sport after the this year’s championship, and the recent influx of trade rumors has many basketball fans excited about the possibilities.
With huge names like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony on the free-agent market, the possibility for blockbuster changes this offseason could drastically shift the landscape of the league as we know it.
Here is all the latest buzz surrounding the biggest names in the NBA.
Houston Posturing for a James Harden for Carmelo Anthony Trade?
The Houston Rockets already have a strong core of stars with center Dwight Howard and shooting guard James Harden, but the franchise could be looking to make a huge move this offseason.
While the team would undoubtedly like to sign Anthony or James via free agency without the drama of a sign-and-trade deal, Houston is preparing for all possible options.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (subscription required), the Rockets have the potential to pull off one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the summer:
In any event, assuming the Rockets obtain the cap room to sign James or Anthony, the next step would be to give up star guard James Harden in a sign-and-trade for whichever superstar (James or Anthony) they don't sign as a free agent. Faced with the prospect of losing their superstars, both New York and Miami would be open to accepting Harden in a sign-and-trade.
Houston should be looking for a way to keep Harden and Howard while still signing Anthony or James, but the franchise must do what’s best for the long-term success of the organization.
If that means trading away Harden to lay the groundwork for a deal to sign both James and Anthony to pair with Howard, then the Rockets must do whatever they can to make this deal come to fruition.
If Houston builds its own Big Three consisting of Howard, Anthony and James, the Western Conference and the entire NBA will be put on notice.
Sacramento Looking to Acquire Josh Smith?
The Sacramento Kings are already stacked in the frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, but the organization may be looking to add even more firepower in the form of Detroit Pistons power forward Josh Smith.
In a report last week from Marc Stein of ESPN.com, new head coach Stan Van Gundy may already be looking to trade the best player on the roster, and Sacramento is reportedly interested:
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Pistons have engaged the Sacramento Kings in trade discussions this week that would potentially land Josh Smith in the same Sacramento frontcourt as DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Sources say that Smith being swapped in exchange for the combination of Sacramento's Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams is one trade construction that the teams have discussed. Although one source insisted Tuesday that no deal is imminent, another source told ESPN.com that the teams have continued to exchange proposals, with Williams potentially being replaced by another Kings player such as Jason Terry or Carl Landry.
There may be questions about how the three players would work together, but with Cousins controlling the low post as the center, Gay and Smith could work together at the small and power forward positions.
Smith is the bigger body and the more physical player. His game lends itself to the grind of playing the 4, and Gay’s offensive approach makes him more of a scoring small forward.
The men could give each other time to rest on the bench as they substitute at each position, but together with Cousins the three stars would form a tall lineup that could be tough for any team to break through.
Houston Ready to Deal Jeremy Lin?
It is clear from all of the recent reports that the Houston Rockets are going hard after the current crop of free agents, but the organization is facing a dilemma in terms of the salary cap.
In order for Houston to be able to sign a player like Anthony or James, the franchise may be forced to deal high-priced point guard Jeremy Lin. If the team doesn’t sign one of the top free agents, though, Lin likely won’t be dealt.
According to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, the Rockets have a contingency plan in case the team is able to pull off a blockbuster free-agent signing:
Rival exec tells me Rockets already have a Jeremy Lin deal lined up and ready to execute if they need the cap room to sign Melo or LBJ.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 26, 2014
As I noted yesterday, Rockets plan to keep Lin unless they get a commitment from one of their top FA targets. But Lin deal is ready to go.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 26, 2014
The franchise is doing what is best for business, but Lin is once again hung out to dry as the possible odd man out. There are plenty of teams that would love a smart point guard like the former Harvard star, so dealing him shouldn’t be an issue if it comes to that.
The problem is the lack of depth that will surround the potential free agents Houston is targeting. As seen with James and the Miami Heat in the championship, the best players in the league need a great supporting cast.
Just look at the San Antonio Spurs.
*Stats via NBA.com.