With the draft and primary wave of free agency in the rear-view mirror, the trade market is really the final option for NBA teams looking to make a significant offseason splash. Fortunately, no shortage of big names have surfaced on the market as teams look to shed or spend cap space.
Given that the pace of the league will slow down between now and training camp, it would not be surprising to see some of these trade talks drag out for a few weeks or perhaps even until the in-season February trade deadline. However, in other instances, teams will want to integrate new pieces into the roster as soon as possible, perhaps catalyzing some movement.
For all the latest trade buzz on three former All-Stars, check out the reports and analysis below.
Wolves-Warriors Reopen Love Talks
The Kevin Love saga appears bound to end poorly for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that does not necessarily mean it must end soon. According to the Associated Press (via CBS San Francisco), the T-Wolves and Golden State Warriors have recently reopened talks for Love:
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors have reopened trade talks for All-Star forward Kevin Love, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
With most of the NBA in Las Vegas for summer league games, the sides have had a chance to meet face-to-face to talk about a deal mentioned as a possibility for more than a month.
However, the source also notes that the main sticking point involves Klay Thompson's inclusion in the deal. It's unclear whether the Warriors have budged, though one plugged-in writer suggests that no further progress has been made on the Thompson front:
Again on Love-Warriors talk: only gets serious if GSW softens on Klay Thompson. If that happens, deal gets done. But no sign of that yet— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 16, 2014
Unless the Cleveland Cavaliers relent and offer a package centered around Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota does not hold much leverage here. Flip Saunders is wise to hold out for the best offer at the moment, but unless he convinces the Dubs or Cavs to offer their biggest trade chip, a bidding war for Love will never truly materialize.
Which player would be a better return for Kevin Love?
Unfortunately for the T-Wolves, it does not appear as though Cleveland is willing to budge. New Cavs coach David Blatt told ESPN.com that Wiggins will stay in Cleveland, which has been the general consensus. If LeBron James is genuinely willing to take his lumps for a year or two and develop a future championship contender, then there is little urgency for the Cavaliers to overpay for Love.
It's possible that Minnesota experiences the same fortuitous turnaround that the Portland Trail Blazers enjoyed last season, which soothed their own All-Star forward in LaMarcus Aldridge. However, if the Wolves struggle as much as everyone expects, then Saunders may have to hold out for a lower price in the end.
Smith Headed West?
From the beginning, it was clear the big triumvirate of Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe was doomed to fail. With Monroe a restricted free agent, it appears the Detroit Pistons are gearing up to match a potential max offer by placing Smith on the market, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein:
Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.
Stein notes later in his report that initial talks centered around a package of Jason Terry and Jason Thompson for Smith. Terry is on an expiring deal worth $5.8 million, while Thompson has three years and roughly $19.3 million remaining (though the final year is unguaranteed), according to ShamSports.com.
Neither Terry nor Thompson are likely to figure into Sacramento's long-term plans. The 24-year-old Monroe could be a different story, however, and it's clear the Pistons need to free up long-term money for him:
Asked if #Pistons amenable to 3-yr deal w/Monroe, w/'16-17 player option. SVG said many options explored. They're just stuck.— David Mayo (@David_Mayo) July 15, 2014
Which team is on a more promising rebuilding path?
Detroit could certainly use the flexibility, but Sacramento's willingness to accept Smith's onerous contract seems strange. As curious a fit as Smith was in Detroit, his potential pairing with DeMarcus Cousins does not appear much more amenable.
Coming off a historically poor shooting season, it's clear that Smith needs to move back to a post-centric offensive game. But Cousins is developing into one of the best young post players in the game, which makes Smith a potentially redundant (and expensive) option.
Smith does have the benefit of being close friends with Rajon Rondo, whom the Kings attempted to trade for last season, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears. Still, it's hard to imagine Rondo signing an extension with Sacramento unless the Kings turn into championship contenders, a standard Smith is unlikely to help them meet.
Rondo the Rocket?
Though the Boston Celtics have a treasure trove of future draft picks, general manager Danny Ainge has yet to cash them in for a meaningful star to accelerate the rebuilding process. With free agency looming for point guard Rajon Rondo next summer, recent reports suggested that the Houston Rockets were looking to pounce if Ainge reversed course and became a seller:
So look for Rockets to re-enter trade game for longtime Houston target Rajon Rondo as well as try to work their way into mix for Kevin Love— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 14, 2014
After Chris Bosh left the Rockets at the altar, causing them to also lose budding wingman Chandler Parsons, the Hail Mary play was at least worth a shot. Houston has had as bad a summer as any team in the league, but an unexpected coup like Rondo would totally change the tone surrounding the organization. However, it does not appear as though the Celtics are willing to play ball, per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:
In the wake of more reports that Houston again targeted Rajon Rondo, multiple sources confirmed that there has been no such communication between the Rockets and Celtics.
According to league sources, Danny Ainge has been pretty firm in the past on his need to get a major player in return for his All-Star point guard, and while the president of basketball operations has to realize Rondo’s impending 2015 free agency may change the game a bit, he is still under no time pressure to pull the trigger.
Unlike Love, who has given clear indications of wanting out of Minnesota, Rondo has never indicated a desire to leave the only team he has ever played for. Boston retains tremendous flexibility with eight likely first-round picks (depending on which protected picks transfer) over the next four years, including a pair of juicy unprotected first-rounders from the Brooklyn Nets in 2016 and 2018.
How will the Rajon Rondo saga end?
Besides, the Rockets are hardly the team capable of offering the type of Godfather offer that could tempt Ainge. Houston lost its most enticing asset in Parsons once they declined their team option, leaving the likes of Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas as the package headliners. Houston does not even own its own first-round pick due to the Jeremy Lin trade.
Boston is at a crossroads and will need to either make the leap to contender or consider dealing Rondo to revitalize a relatively barren roster. But at least for now, Ainge would be wise to kick the can down the road and exhaust all options to make the Celtics viable once again.