The NBA offseason has slowed down considerably after the draft and the initial surge of free-agent signings. That said, there are still some things to get sorted out before the focus shifts completely to the new season.
Though the dust hasn't totally settled quite yet, the upcoming campaign is already generating plenty of intrigue. The San Antonio Spurs are the defending champions, but there are several strong contenders, including the Cleveland Cavaliers following the return of LeBron James.
The Cavs are also involved in the most prominent rumor left on the table at this stage of the summer. Let's check out the latest on their pursuit of Kevin Love along with some other buzz making its way around the league.
The idea of teaming Love with James has been bantered about ever since the latter announced he was headed home. A trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves would give Cleveland two of the top three players in terms of last season's player efficiency rating.
Now it sounds like that's getting closer to becoming reality. Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN report top pick Andrew Wiggins can't officially be traded until Aug. 23 but all signs point to an agreement between the sides:
The Minnesota Timberwolves were engaged in serious Kevin Love trade talks with no teams other than the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, adding to the growing belief around the NBA that Love teaming up with LeBron James is inevitable, sources have told ESPN.com.
Love has remained relatively quiet about the process. Earlier in the offseason he did talk about the constant trade rumors during an appearance on SportsNation and Nick Solari of NESN provided his response about wanting to win.
Where will Love be when the new season begins?
"No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win," he said. "At the end of the day, I've played six years, haven't made the playoffs yet, that burns me and hurts my heart, so I really want to be playing."
Moving to the Cavaliers would definitely put him in position to chase a championship. As the rosters currently stand, the Spurs deserve the favorite label. But a roster with Love, James, Kyrie Irving and an improving group of reserves could very well shift the balance of power in Cleveland's favor.
Four seasons ago, Beasley averaged 19 points, five rebounds and two assists for the Timberwolves. His career has faded since that point, but he's still just 25 with some upside still left. He played well in limited duty for the Miami Heat last season.
In fact, the spark he provided off the bench in Game 5 of the Finals led many to wonder why he didn't see more minutes earlier in the series in an attempt to turn the tide. The small forward scored nine points in 17 minutes, showing off the offensive prowess he's always had.
One team that could certainly use some extra firepower on that end of the court next season is the Los Angeles Lakers. Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reports the team did in fact hold a workout for the unrestricted free agent earlier in the week:
The Lakers worked out free agent forward Michael Beasley in El Segundo on Wednesday, per multiple league sources— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 30, 2014
Signing him does come with some risks due to previous off-court issues. Yet, the Lakers have a strong group of veterans much like the Heat did while Beasley was there. And the potential reward of him helping an offense that was often sluggish last season is enough to warrant strong consideration.
Finally, one lingering issue the NBA continues to deal with is tanking. Teams not putting their best foot forward in an effort to win games with an eye on improving their chances in the draft lottery which usually features a select few elite prospects at the top.
It's impossible to blame the teams, of course. If they don't have a realistic chance of making the playoffs, the best thing they can do is bottom out and hope to land a game-changing prospect. A player to build a title-contending team around.
The NBA doesn't like the drop in the competition level, though. So Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports they have been considering different ideas to revamp the lottery system, but have received resistance from teams highlighted by the Philadelphia 76ers:
The NBA is pushing toward changes to the draft lottery system by next season but is facing a strong objection from the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise that could suffer the most from it, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
Philadelphia is building a young, talent-laden roster but isn't ready to contend quite yet. Another season near the bottom with a chance to get another promising player seems likely, which makes the team's objections unsurprising. The league will probably move forward with its efforts anyway.