If there's one thing we have learned from the NBA this offseason, it's to take everything you hear with a grain of salt. There are a lot of well-informed people trying to pass along information, but so much of it also comes with an agenda from teams or agents trying to drive up prices.
Even now, with the free-agent well largely dried up, trade rumors are once again dominating the sport. A lot of these are the same deals we have been hearing about for weeks with no movement on them.
It goes to show how long these deals really take to consummate, not to mention teams trying to get others involved to land a better package. Whatever happens by the time games start, these rumors are lighting up all the talk shows right now.
Cavaliers Making New Push for Kevin Love
In what has turned into a game of Kevin Love hot potato, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a move that doesn't change the landscape of the NBA but does put them in better position to deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Cavaliers acquired three players from Utah to give themselves more financial flexibility in potential discussions with Minnesota for Love's services:
The Cavaliers unloaded the guaranteed deal of Carrick Felix – along with a future second-round pick and $1 million – for John Lucas, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy, sources said.
Those three players can be included in packages as preludes to a Love deal, or in a Love deal itself to give Minnesota salary-cap relief. The Cavaliers hold an interest in keeping Thomas, who could be an inexpensive role player to strengthen their frontcourt depth, sources said.
This deal came about shortly after it was reported the Chicago Bulls renewed their pursuit of Love, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst.
Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com reported on Wednesday the specifics of the deal Chicago offered Minnesota:
Therein lies the dilemma for Minnesota in this situation. If the Bulls are serious players for Love, their package sounds more immediately appealing. Gibson is a defensive stalwart in the paint, Doug McDermott has potential as a shooter, and Nikola Mirotic is a talented player set to debut in America this year.
The Cavaliers are offering more future potential if they include Andrew Wiggins, as has been rumored for weeks, but that's all it is because no one knows what the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft is right now.
Minnesota would also get financial flexibility for the future, as Wojnarowski's report noted, but the whole package rests on Wiggins' shoulders because he's the top name.
Love teaming up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would make Cleveland an instant favorite in the Eastern Conference. It's just up to the Timberwolves to decide which direction they want to go.
Josh Smith Apparently Not Moving
Keeping with this summer's theme of conflicting reports, Josh Smith has been teetering on the edge of being traded a few times.
According to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, Pistons coach and head of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy is willing to move Smith if the value is right:
SVG has met with Josh Smith and hasn't made any promises about keeping him. He'll move Smith but he wants value— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) July 17, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on July 21 that Smith is no longer likely to be traded anywhere this summer:
Detroit Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy reached out to forward Josh Smith to tell him that reports of the franchise engaging in substantive trade talks with Sacramento centered on Smith have been inaccurate and – barring an unexpected turn of events – Smith will be in training camp with the Pistons this fall, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Smith isn't making that much money, by NBA standards, given his age (28) and solid all-around game with 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. He's due to make $40.5 million over the next three years.
Which team needs to make a trade the most?
For a team like the Pistons, which isn't ready to compete for a playoff spot in the increasingly tough Eastern Conference, paying a single player that much money doesn't make sense. You can understand why Van Gundy was entertaining the idea of trading Smith.
However, Van Gundy also understands that building a team is more than just dumping assets when they are inconvenient. He didn't cave in on Dwight Howard in Orlando for a long time, even though that marriage was doomed.
Smith is still a solid player who can be a key factor on a playoff team, though he's got the difficult task of being the No. 1 option on a team without a lot of depth. As a result, his shooting percentage dropped to a career-low .419 last year.
Phil Jackson's Next Move
With Carmelo Anthony returning to New York, Phil Jackson's next order of business for the Knicks will be clearing up all the cap space he can over the next 12 months to build the roster however he chooses.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are due to become free agents after the season, but Jackson isn't waiting on those two to leave. According to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, the Knicks are trying to open up space in the backcourt:
Working to clear the logjam in the backcourt, the Knicks are discussing their potential trade options with guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, a league source said Sunday.
The idea that the Knicks are trying to make a trade to balance the roster isn’t earth-shattering. President Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have mentioned the Knicks have a surplus in the backcourt, with Mills saying last week the Knicks are “heavy” at shooting guard.
The players Begley mentions aren't going to bring back a franchise-changing haul. Shumpert is a strong defender who can't shoot, as evidenced by a 39.1 career field-goal percentage. Larkin is a bench player who averaged just under three points per game as a rookie.
Then there is Smith, who drew more attention last year for his Twitter feuds and ability to untie shoelaces at a rapid rate.
Smith is due to make $6.4 million this season, but any value he had after winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award two years ago likely dissipated following his antics last season. It also doesn't help that the 28-year-old lost nearly four points per game (18.1 to 14.5) and seven points off his shooting percentage (.422 to .415) last year from his 2012-13 award season.
Jackson knows how to get creative building a team, as he so often showed during his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, so if anyone can find a move out there involving one of the excess shooting guards, it will be the "Zen Master."
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