The possibility of LeBron James going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers has the NBA frozen.
The potential for what would perhaps be one of the biggest moments in sports history has not only put a halt to any and all transactions and has the city of Cleveland in an uproar, but it has also overshadowed the summer leagues and other potentially big deals.
Believe it or not, there are other major rumblings around the league in addition to the Cavaliers' desperate attempts to lure back The King. Let's check them out.
Cleveland's Confusing Path to Reuniting With the King
Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers are willing to do whatever it takes to bring James back home.
Well, almost everything. According to Fox Sports' Sam Amico, there are three players not eligible for trades at the moment—but it sounds as if No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins is:
The Cavs are not even slightly concerned about available salary-cap space. They believe that resources are in place to "create monumental space for talent," a source said Saturday. ...
As an organization, the Cavs are upbeat. They've been talking to a couple of teams about trades, and they are more than willing to bring on another All-Star and enhance the roster should they land LeBron. Everyone other than Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson can be had for the right price, sources said. It should be noted that, yes, the Cavs strongly prefer to retain No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins as well.
It's quite obvious the Cavaliers will have to clear cap space to bring on James, although one has to wonder if Wiggins gets dealt in the interim to make everything fit correctly.
But it is perhaps 2012's fourth-overall pick, Dion Waiters, who is more likely to move, as Amico notes that several teams have inquired about the up-and-down shooing guard. This is not exactly new info, though, as Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy noted some time ago that the Cavaliers might just view Wiggins as a 2-guard:
David Griffin said he sees Andrew Wiggins as "a big two-guard" on Friday, which has some execs believing Cavs may look to move Dion Waiters.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2014
Did a light bulb just go off? Wiggins at the 2-guard spot and James next to him is quite formidable, no? That said, giving up on the 22-year-old Waiters will be a tough pill to swallow when one glances at the numbers:
One name sure to be gone regardless of James' decision? Veteran point guard Jarrett Jack, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports notes:
In pursuit of max slot for LeBron James, Cavs searching for team to take Nets' Marcus Thornton in deal to unload Jarrett Jack, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
"He's gone, one way or the other," a source told Amico of Jack.
A journeyman at 30 years of age, Jack's 9.5 points per game from a year ago and mostly declining numbers across the board won't be missed. If and when he is moved, it will likely confirm that the Cavaliers want to bring Waiters off the bench if James is around, and if not, it will ensure that promising younger players like Joe Harris will have a secure roster spot.
Regardless, much has changed since James left, and the final pieces to the puzzle are not yet in place. Even if James does not come to town, credit goes to the Cleveland front office for building a playoff contender and still having potential moves in the pipeline which will do nothing but improve the roster.
Pacers Shopping Roy Hibbert?
After the seemingly dysfunctional season the Indiana Pacers in 2013-14, which was capped off with yet another postseason failure, it is no wonder that some of the key pieces appear to be on the way out.
Lance Stephenson is a free agent, and it is hard to tell if Larry Bird and the front office will be comfortable dishing out enough cash to keep him around.
Should the Pacers trade Hibbert?
It also sounds like big man Roy Hibbert is on the block: “I would say they’ve been doing that, but quietly,” one front-office source told Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
Any potential deal to dump Hibbert, though, will be quite the costly one for all teams involved, considering the Georgetown product is due to earn more than $14.8 million in each of the next two years, per Spotrac.
Pair that with the diminishing returns Hibbert has offered in critical areas the past three seasons, and any potential deal is going to take some serious negotiation:
Of course, there are names Bird is unwilling to move in any deal, per Deveney:
One source noted the obvious, which is that star small forward Paul George is untouchable in any deal with the Pacers, and added that power forward David West was all but off the table, too. He added that Indiana’s preference would be to send Hibbert to the Western Conference.
Portland originally gave Hibbert his max offer, and the Blazers have been intermittently linked to Hibbert. But the Blazers are focused on keeping star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge with a contract extension and making smaller tweaks to their bench.
Developments in this year's free-agency period will be critical for Hibbert's future. Should James leave Miami or some other event make the conference even weaker, it is hard to imagine that the front office in Indiana would continue to disassemble a roster that has made deep runs in each of the past two years.
Either way, the Eastern Conference might look drastically different next season.