Another day, another set of tantalizing NBA trade rumors. This offseason has proved that, like the NFL, the National Basketball Association is a 24/7, 365 sport. There is no getting away from it anymore, due to the intrigue surrounding the landing spots of potential free agents.
Star players such as Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Love make headlines for plane trips and closed-door meetings, while unknowns and veterans on their last legs play the game of basketball in the summer leagues.
The competition in the boardroom has become almost as captivating as the competition on the hardwood.
With that in mind, here is the latest rundown on big trade rumors from the Association.
New York Knicks Exploring Ways to Clear Cap Space
The Knicks are working hard to retain Anthony this offseason, but that potential re-signing isn't the only proverbial iron in the fire right now.
According to ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley, the Knicks are trying to move a big-name player to clear cap space for the summer:
Knicks president Phil Jackson has talked to multiple teams in recent days -– including the Philadelphia 76ers –- about moving Amar’e Stoudemire in an effort to clear more cap space this summer, sources say. Moving Stoudemire and his $23.4 million contract would allow the Knicks to take back players in a sign-and-trade and could give them more money to offer free agents such as Pau Gasol.
Amar'e Stoudemire has been a walking infirmary during his time in New York, but he did make a solid contribution at the end of last season.
|Amar'e Stoudemire, Late 2014 NBA Stats|
This improves his value somewhat, but he is still far from producing at a level worthy of his approximately $23 million base salary for next season, per Spotrac. If the Knicks can move his contract, they can snag a player such as Pau Gasol, who can not only produce more but will also come at a much cheaper price.
Of course, the team that gets involved in this potential deal needs to be willing to absorb a large contract. The Philadelphia 76ers have the cap space and could possibly pair Stoudemire with Nerlens Noel for a year, bridging the gap to the Joel Embiid era.
However, the New York Post's Marc Berman writes that the 76ers are looking for an extra piece in the trade: "The Sixers have $30 million in cap space and have made it known they’d be willing to accept an undesirable expiring contract if a pawn is thrown in. That extra pawn likely would be Iman Shumpert — something the Knicks prefer not to do."
Shumpert is a high-energy player, but he averaged just 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last year. The Knicks may not want to move him, but they can likely get players with his level of production on the cheap. Veterans could be willing to make the journey to New York if they are confident the team will have the cap space to sign the likes of Gasol and Anthony.
If Knicks president Phil Jackson can move these players before the biggest free-agent stars in the league make their decisions, this franchise could rapidly improve its situation before next season.
Celtics Working to Acquire Kevin Love
According to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, a key member of the Boston Celtics brass is working hard to bring Kevin Love to Beantown:
However, a league source said Monday that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is attempting to gather assets to acquire Kevin Love, convinced he can devise a package that would entice Minnesota Timberwolves president Flip Saunders to move the three-time All-Star, who will be a free agent next season.
Love is one of the best players in the league and could instantly turn around the Celtics' fortunes. The star power forward averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last season. He ranked third in the NBA with a 26.97 player-efficiency rating (PER) last season, behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant, via ESPN Insider (subscription required).
The Celtics have little in the way of salary-cap space; they currently have a $59.5 million cap figure for 2014, per Spotrac. They would need to move a combination of veterans with hefty contracts, such as Brandon Bass or Joel Anthony, as well as young assets or picks in order to entice the Timberwolves.
This deal could set the Timberwolves back for a long time should Flip Saunders agree to any trade proposal. They picked up Zach LaVine in the 2014 NBA draft, but he's more of a project player coveted for his athleticism. It's doubtful he will be a heavy contributor as a rookie.
This would also strand the slick-passing Ricky Rubio without his favorite target. The Spanish point guard averaged 8.6 assists per game last year, but there are few other shooters as well-developed as Love on the squad.
This hasn't stopped team president Flip Saunders from trying to whip younger players such as Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad into shape and revitalize the squad. Per Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, "Saunders called on second-year players Dieng to gain weight this offseason and Muhammad to lose some."
Dieng could become the main rebounding threat in Minnesota in Love's absence. He had a 20.0 percent rebounding rate last season (estimate of percentage of missed shots a player rebounded while on the court), good enough for eighth in the NBA, per ESPN Insider. He will need to grow into the game, as he played just 13.6 minutes per game last season.
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