Kevin Love, Jeremy Lin and Eric Gordon have a ton in common, believe it or not.
Not only is the trio mostly responsible for what is known as the NBA trade rumor mill this offseason, they are some of the NBA's most popular names and—above all else—seem poised to join new teams before next season tips off.
But for as much as they have in common, there are also stark differences. One is a highly valued backup. Another is a budding superstar with an iffy health track record. The other is one of the best players in the league, who seems disgruntled and set to leave no matter what.
In other words, this is a fun time for fans. Let's take a look at the latest gossip surrounding the trio.
Pelicans Want to Deal Eric Gordon or Other Pieces
The New Orleans Pelicans must find a way out of their current cap predicament in order to bring on former Houston Rockets center Omer Asik. As John Reid of NOLA.com points out, the team is willing to move some big names to obtain some wiggle room:
While Morrow continues to attract attention, the Pelicans' primary focus continues to be finding a willing trade partner to move either Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers or center Alexis Ajinca in an effort to create enough cap space to absorb center Omer Asik's $8.3 million salary.
The Pelicans reached a trade agreement on June 25 to acquire Asik from the Houston Rockets. As part of the deal, the Pelicans will also receive $1.5 million in cash, but they agreed to surrender their 2015 first-round pick if it falls between picks 4-19.
To be blunt, Asik on the current roster makes the Pelicans quite the formidable squad. A Jrue Holiday-Gordon-Tyreke Evans-Anthony Davis-Asik lineup is outstanding on paper, but the financials must work out, too. As Reid notes, the front office would also like some cap space in order to bring on role player Anthony Morrow.
Now, the idea of moving on from Gordon is likely to be tough for fans, but his annual absence from a large chunk of contests in most years since he joined the team is an issue:
There is always the possibility the team moves promising swingman Austin Rivers (especially with the addition of Russ Smith in the draft) or role player Ryan Anderson, but either way it is clear New Orleans is far from nailing down a final lineup for next year, and some fan favorites may be on the cutting board.
Jeremy Lin Continues to be on Fire
The Houston Rockets remain on the prowl for a top-tier free agent such as Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh, meaning expendable pieces who offer value to other franchises are on the block.
Most notable of fitting that qualification is one Jeremy Lin, who was a rotational piece at best last season with the team thanks to the strong play of Patrick Beverley. The Harvard product has been linked to various locations, most notably the franchise with which he began his career, the Golden State Warriors.
But ESPN's Marc Stein says a new favorite has emerged—the Philadelphia 76ers:
Story going online now: ESPN sources say Sixers have expressed interest in trading for Jeremy Lin. Sources say Bucks are also exploring it— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 5, 2014
In his writeup, Stein notes that the decision would purely be a financial one for the Rockets, while a forward-looking investment for the 76ers:
It's believed that the Rockets would have to send Philadelphia at least one future first-round pick to convince the Sixers to go through with the deal, given that Lin is owed $15 million next season despite the fact that his contract will only count for $8.4 million for salary cap purposes.
Sources say that the Sixers, though, are happy to take on Lin—despite the presence of reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams as their starting point guard— provided that the extra asset or two they get from Houston is sufficiently attractive.
The Milwaukee Bucks are also listed as a potential suitor, but what sticks out here is Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie's willingness to continually throw away next season in favor of future playoffs pushes.
Already under scrutiny for a draft class that features two players who will not even take the court next season, credit is due for the fact Hinkie and Co. remain dialed in on their strategy.
"I have been borderline shocked in the last month at how smart our fans are and the price you have to pay to go to where you want to go," said Hinkie, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. "It has been remarkable to me to watch the level of intrigue and the level of patience and understanding."
Lin, under contract for one more season and going on 26 years old, fits the plan quite well. One year removed from averages of 12.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game on 28.9 minutes, the situation gives Hinkie a chance to see if Lin can improve and fit into the long-term plan.
If not, the 76ers get other assets for the future on a one-year rental. Not bad.
Celtics Still on the Hunt for Kevin Love
If one thing has been crystal clear about this rather wild offseason, it's that Danny Ainge wants Kevin Love in Boston.
By any means necessary.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the previously presumed dead trade talks between the Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves have yet to fade:
Here's something that remains unchanged: Danny Ainge's relentless pursuit of creative ways to engage Minnesota on a Kevin Love deal.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 5, 2014
With the focal point being "creative," perhaps Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe can shed some light on Ainge's pursuit of the unheralded superstar:
Celtics also willing to use their picks to acquire players from other teams that they could then ship to Minnesota in a deal for Kevin Love.— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) July 5, 2014
Discerning the logistics of whatever Ainge may have up his sleeve is nearly impossible, but it's clear there is no end to the Love-Boston talk in sight.
After all, the Celtics are coming off a 25-57 season in full rebuild mode and have two promising rookies in Marcus Smart and James Young, not to mention superstar point guard Rajon Rondo, who returns from an injury.
In the Eastern Conference, Boston certainly has the pieces in place to at least make a postseason push if Love comes to town. The price is huge and the long-term implications steep, but for a 25-year-old superstar who changes the franchise for a decade upon arrival, Ainge is clearly intent on sacrificing whatever it takes.