Prepare for an NBA rumor-mill landslide.
Now that LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have found homes, the floodgates have opened for most other notable free agents to go ahead and find new homes with the major pieces of the landscape set in stone.
James has taken his talents back to Cleveland, per Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, which creates a seismic shift in the Eastern Conference. Anthony elected to remain in the Big Apple, per USA Today's Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt, meaning one of the meccas of the sport will remain relevant.
The ensuing chaos can and will fully be blamed on the two. There are franchises trying to wiggle out of bad contracts, others in pursuit of major names on the trade block and even more bidding for the prized pieces still on the market.
In other words, it's a great time to be a fan.
Amar'e Stoudemire to Remain in New York?
Phil Jackson is on a roll in New York.
He's done away with bad contracts—and then some. He's brought on bright pieces for the future in rookies Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. He has arguably the second-best pure scorer in the NBA, who is smack dab in the middle of his prime, back in the fold.
But he's far from done.
In order for Jackson and Co. to presumably chase the likes of potential unrestricted free agents Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love next offseason, Jackson has plenty of work to do.
One such obstacle is the contract of Amar’e Stoudemire, who is due $23.4 million next season, per Spotrac. Now, Stoudemire's contract does expire after the season, but Jackson would much rather get something in return for his guaranteed departure, and it's not like recent numbers suggest a turnaround is in the cards for the 31-year-old forward:
One potential route was to ship the expiring to Philadelphia, but Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling says that is now off the table:
Source close to Amar'e: Don't think trade w/ 76ers happens along w/ Shump. "Bron's not coming to NY; only 1 made sense." Love unlikely too.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) July 12, 2014
One would think that Jackson would be all about shipping Iman Shumpert and Stoudemire away with Anthony back in the fold in order to not eat the massive expiring, but perhaps he sees the value in keeping the Georgia Tech product around, just in case.
Either way, know that the Knicks are still on the hunt to unload Stoudemire, and Philadelphia isn't necessarily out of what is a very fluid situation.
Lance Stephenson Next in Line
It was a matter of time before Lance Stephenson's name blew up on the market.
Thanks to his somewhat immature on-court antics and financial demands that saw he and the Indiana Pacers at an "impasse" in negotiations, the Cincinnati product was bound to sit on the shelf while names like James, Anthony and even Chandler Parsons were fought over by teams.
While the Pacers will presumably remain in the mix, not wanting to necessarily lose a critical cog of what has been consistent deep playoff pushes, another major contender for his services has emerged—the Charlotte Hornets.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, recent events have caused the Hornets to turn their attention in his direction:
That leaves the Hornets with about $20 million in cap space, and a roster it's seeking to upgrade aggressively, which a league source said will lead to the next big front in free agency — Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson.
Deveney also notes other franchises that have been linked to the 23-year-old star:
According to the source, the remaining serious suitors for Stephenson are expected to be Charlotte, Dallas ... and Indiana. Several teams mentioned in connection with Stephenson, including Boston, Chicago and the Lakers, have not been serious in their pursuit, the source said, while others could register late interest.
But the real focal point here should be the late entry of Charlotte, a team that lost out on Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward after offering him a max contract, which his team went on to match, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Losing out on a young superstar has a way of motivating a front office, especially a front office with cash to blow and a desire to really turn things around.
Stephenson would, of course, form a superb backcourt with Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, should he continue to develop in a positive manner. His toughness and overall production in recent years suggests bright things in the future:
There truly is no telling just how great Stephenson can be, even if questions about his maturity linger. He's a financial risk in that sense, sure, but it's rare that franchises in smaller markets have a shot at a player with such upside without either trading for a superstar or having a top-five pick.
Charlotte has an elusive opportunity that is surely a gamble, but one they sound ready to purse heavily.
Kevin Love No Longer Boston-Bound?
Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics have consistently been linked to Kevin Love throughout the offseason, although the general consensus seems to be that the 25-year-old unheralded superstar will eventually make his way to Cleveland with James back in town.
But remember, Ainge is one of the best in the business and has a promising backcourt with Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart to help jump start a rebuild after a 25-57 campaign a season ago.
At one point, it had sounded as if Boston's pursuit of Love would have a direct impact on Rondo's future with the team, as noted by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald (subscription required for archived material) before the draft:
If the Celtics cannot get Love, they are planning to continue with the longer and more methodical rebuilding process, a process that would likely see Rajon Rondo traded. (An NBA source said they would also have a taker for Jeff Green if they chose to move him.)
That was, of course, before The Decision II. Now it sounds as if Ainge is willing to step out of the running for Love if the Cavaliers truly have an interest, per Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe:
If the Celtics were ever really in the hunt for Kevin Love, well, one league source says, “That’s done now."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) July 12, 2014
Celtics are also well aware that Cavs have the assets to get a Kevin Love deal done immediately, provided they include Andrew Wiggins.— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) July 12, 2014
Ainge simply does not have the resources to compete with the package Cleveland can put together at this point, and there is an air of obviousness to the notion that Love, who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game a season ago, would do a long-term deal to stick with James, regardless of locale.
Of course, this opens up a Pandora's box of sorts in terms of how Ainge handles the rebuild. He could stick with Rondo and Smart, or shop the former and see what future assets can be gained in the process while potentially gearing up for 2015 free agency.
But above all else, the Boston-Love fit seems to be dead, a wish of Ainge's that seemingly could only be stopped by LeBron himself.