The struggle is real when the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics are leading the way as teams on the hunt for superstars.
For the Knicks and president Phil Jackson, who has been a bit of a magician in his retooling of the roster so far, the focus is all about Carmelo Anthony. While his return seems obvious, certain allures—such as joining LeBron James in Miami—have thrown a wrench in things.
For the Celtics, Danny Ainge's infatuation with Kevin Love has not ceased, and just how much he is willing to surrender via trade with Minnesota is impossible to know.
So no, the NBA rumor mill is not quite dead just yet. No matter, as it makes for quality entertainment for all. Here's the latest.
The Pau Gasol Saga
Before getting into the major superstars supposedly set to be on the move, it is important to place the focus on someone who can have just as big of an impact, should he land with a contender.
That man is veteran Pau Gasol, who at 34 years old remains a force on the offensive side of the court, even if fans somewhat forget he existed after getting lost in the quagmire that was the Los Angeles Lakers a season ago.
If one had to guess, Gasol is content with going wherever as long as he gets paid his proper value and gets another shot at a title. All things considered, that sounds like the Oklahoma City Thunder, among other teams listed by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Spurs staying diligent on free agent Pau Gasol, but Bulls and Thunder -- with Lakers lurking -- lead the way, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 8, 2014
Yet, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Thunder are not all too confident in their chances:
League source tells me the Thunder, once confident they had a legit chance at Pau, now consider it a long shot to land Gasol— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 8, 2014
Something has to be off if a team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in place is one fading from Gasol's attention span. Then again, perhaps the big man, who in 60 games last season averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks, wants a change of scenery and out of the Western Conference.
No matter how it plays out, it's a mistake to not take wherever Gasol ends up very seriously.
Carmelo Anthony's Future Destination in Doubt
There was a point in time where Anthony's return to New York seemed all but assured because of the way Jackson has handled the offseason, namely by grabbing draft picks out of thin air and trading away dead weight.
But like any of us, Anthony is a complex man with needs and wants, and hesitation on his part has incited a bit of panic in the Big Apple, as ESPN's Marc Stein illustrates:
Vibe I get out of New York, meanwhile, is legitimate unease ... given that some in the organization expected a decision from Melo by Monday— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 8, 2014
It gets even better.
Apparently because the Big Three are dragging their feet, namely big man Chris Bosh—who is pondering an offer from Houston—it is in turn causing a delay as Anthony may be of the mind to team up with the King:
Popular question raised by last five teams I've talked to: Is Melo holding out in hopes Bosh goes to Houston so he can join LeBron in Miami?— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 8, 2014
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News also notes that Anthony is weighing a few offers at the moment:
According to a friend close to the Knicks’ All-Star forward, Anthony is still debating his next move, with the Knicks, Lakers and Bulls all regarded as the most likely landing spots. Anthony has not ruled out the Rockets and Mavericks but those clubs are not considered realistic possibilities for Anthony, who last week received a max offer — five years, $129 million — from Jackson despite the team president hinting for weeks that he wouldn’t offer the max.
So what does all of this mean? The unease in New York is very warranted, as the superstar who averages 25.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals on .455 shooting from the field for his career has plenty of suitors, as expected.
The brass in New York better hope their phone rings soon after James makes his decision.
Boston on the Hunt for Kevin Love
To wrap things up, let's take a look at the latest development in a story that will never end—the Love to Boston narrative.
“You never know what to expect,” Ainge told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “When you have conversations, I have a great deal of respect in the league and what they’re all trying to accomplish. I don’t know what’s going to shake out when it’s all said and done.”
Indeed, Ainge is a man on a mission, and Washburn hears that he will stop at nothing to make his goal a reality:
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.
That said, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald hears that the Timberwolves are simply not enthused with the packages the Celtics can put together.
Translation—Boston has to find a third team willing to enter the fray.
Ainge seems hesitant to give up Rajon Rondo, even if he is coming off a major knee injury. That goes twofold for rookie point guard Marcus Smart, and one would think giving up promising rookie James Young is not an attractive option, either.
The hoopla, of course, is over an elite player ready to get out of a floundering small-market team:
It's not hoopla over nothing, as Love would be the final piece in a stellar rebuild for the Celtics, but one has to wonder what the tipping point is for Ainge, as a completely neutered roster with just Love to speak of does not help things a whole lot.