After watching LeBron James sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony agree to a long-term deal with the New York Knicks, the focus has shifted to the rumors surrounding the NBA and which pieces will be the next to fall.
With trade rumors swirling around Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love, Eric Bledsoe having trouble working out a deal with the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers considering a free-agent contract with Michael Beasley, there is still plenty of ongoing drama.
Here are the latest rumors from around the league.
Kevin Love to Cleveland a Foregone Conclusion?
The most prominent rumor of the 2014 NBA offseason has been the possible trade between Cleveland and Minnesota for the services of Love. While other teams were reportedly interested in a possible deal, Cleveland looks to be the clear favorite.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavaliers are the last team standing:
ESPN sources say Wolves currently only in talks w/Cavs on Love deal; Bulls essentially moving on and GSW still not giving up Klay Thompson— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 31, 2014
With the Chicago Bulls making a substantial offer and the New York Knicks even throwing their name into the hat, Cleveland's reported willingness to include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in a deal is likely too good for Minnesota to pass on.
Love could leave the Timberwolves via free agency during the 2015 offseason. The offer from Chicago is intriguing, but a package headlined by a player like Wiggins, who could blossom into a legitimate star, is exactly what a franchise like Minnesota wants.
Giving up Wiggins would be a huge leap of faith considering Love's contract status, but with James and Kyrie Irving needing a third piece to the puzzle in order to contend for a championship, this is a trade the Cavaliers must go all in with.
The Timberwolves are simply trying to get the biggest return possible before Love leaves without any return, and the deal with Cleveland looks to be a matter of when it happens, not if it happens.
Trouble in Phoenix Paradise for Eric Bledsoe?
One of the best players on free-agent market is Phoenix Suns restricted free agent and star point guard Eric Bledsoe.
Despite averaging 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game last season, Phoenix is offering lowball deals. The relationship between the team and the player is reportedly deteriorating due to the inability to work out a new contract.
In a report from Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, the contract negotiations could get ugly:
According to league sources, an "ominous development" has arisen with sides still "very far apart" in contract negotiations. It has even escalated to the point where the "relationship is on the express lane to being ruined," a source with knowledge of the situation informed CSNNW.com.
The Suns offered Bledsoe a four-year, $48 million deal with declining salaries each year, two sources said. That proposal was quickly turned down. Bledsoe's camp is putting a max price tag on the player Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek called "a Top-10 player in the NBA in coming years", another source said.
This is bad news for Suns fans. Bledsoe is arguably the most talented player on the team, and he is only 24 years old. With a high upside and plenty of experience already, he is the kind of player Phoenix should be building around moving forward.
With an incredibly young roster and Bledsoe already having four years of NBA experience, he is the kind of player who can be a leader on and off the court. The Suns should lock Bledsoe up to a high-priced, long-term deal and set a precedent for other potential free-agent targets.
Phoenix has plenty of talent with Miles Plumlee, Alex Len, the Morris brothers and Goran Dragic, but the team needs at least one more big-name player before they can be considered a viable contender in the Western Conference.
Paying Bledsoe what he's worth will be the first step to enticing potential free-agent additions.
Los Angeles Lakers Kicking Tires on Michael Beasley?
After a terrible season and an offseason full of change, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to add affordable players to bolster the talent and depth of their roster. One option Los Angeles is exploring is former Miami Heat small forward Michael Beasley.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, the Lakers are very interested in Beasley:
The Lakers worked out free agent forward Michael Beasley in El Segundo on Wednesday, per multiple league sources— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 30, 2014
Not only would a free-agent contract be reasonable since Beasley is coming off a down season, but Los Angeles would also find a forward who can add depth while still pushing Nick Young and Wesley Johnson for playing time.
Beasley's versatility could have him playing power forward or small forward off the bench, but the key will be keeping him motivated. New Lakers head coach Byron Scott has the ability to get the most out of his players, and Beasley should have the chance to shine.
With elite scoring ability and a knack for rebounding, Beasley is still a serious threat off the bench. His defensive issues will limit his overall minutes, but the former No. 2 overall pick will be given the playing time he lacked in Miami.
*Stats via NBA.com.