You know this is going to be a special year for the NBA because we are two months removed from crowning the San Antonio Spurs champions and have yet to stop talking about the league.
Whether it's because of free agency, June's draft, trades or unfortunate injuries, basketball has been at the front of every major sports conversation this summer. Even in August, things aren't slowing down.
In fact, if the rumors are true, we could be on the verge of a story in the same vicinity as LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this offseason. We won't know definitively for a few weeks, but that isn't stopping us from breaking down some reports that are floating around.
Kevin Love to Cleveland All but Done?
After LeBron returned to Cleveland, rumors of Kevin Love joining him picked up almost instantly. They were pushed along by a July report from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, who said the power forward would sign an extension with the Cavaliers if a trade materialized:
Now, nearly one full month after Stein's report, it appears we are moving closer to a trade between Cleveland and Minnesota. During an appearance on ESPN Radio 98.7 in New York, Brian Windhorst reported that a deal is all but official, via ESPN.com (subscription required):
The deal is done but not done. The teams have agreed but they can't say they've agreed and they can't agree because we're in this weird moratorium period. Because you can't trade Andrew Wiggins until the 23rd of this month...But essentially, before the papers have been signed there is a handshake agreement that [would send] Kevin Love to the Cavs, Andrew Wiggins to the Timberwolves, and I believe Thaddeus Young will end up in Minnesota either as part of the deal or a separate deal.
Windhorst does mention that it's possible another team could swoop in with a deal that entices Minnesota, but the handshake agreement makes things as official as they can be, as Andrew Wiggins can't be traded until the end of August.
This also matches up with comments Minnesota owner Glen Taylor made to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Taylor said Love would likely be traded by August 23 or 24 "because Kevin has made it pretty clear that that's what he wants to do."
The Cavaliers know they have to put all their chips on the table with LeBron returning. Since most top-tier free agents aren't going to choose Cleveland on their own, the best way to build a championship roster is through the draft and trades.
For Cleveland, a potential deal for Love would fit in both categories. The front office, based on the reported trade proposal, is including the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 to acquire a superstar talent in Love.
This potential move will also give the Cavaliers a little more separation in the top-heavy Eastern Conference. Chicago is also in the mix for the top spot, with Derrick Rose looking good this summer and Pau Gasol in the fold.
Cavaliers After Shawn Marion
Just when you thought the Cavaliers didn't have any bullets left in the chamber, assuming the Love deal comes together, Stein reported that Shawn Marion is on the team's radar:
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has a strong relationship with Marion from their Phoenix days together and Cleveland, sources said, would love to bring Marion in to add depth, experience and versatility to a core that is expected to also feature Kevin Love if the Cavs complete their long-anticipated trade with Minnesota for the All-Star power forward later this month.
Stein also noted that Marion was meeting with the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Monday. The 36-year-old spent the last five seasons in Dallas, winning a championship in 2011 and producing solid offensive numbers, with 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year.
However, the Cavaliers would not be acquiring Marion for his offensive prowess. If the Love deal comes through, they will need to shore up their defense and depth on the bench.
For all the double-doubles Love brings, defense isn't an area in which he excels. Marion, on the other hand, has averaged more than one steal per game in each of the last three years and at least 2.1 defensive win shares in each of the last five years.
Adding Marion's defensive prowess to a roster that includes offensive weapons such as LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Mike Miller would make Cleveland the most complete team in the Eastern Conference.
MarShon Brooks to Indiana?
While the focus for basketball fans is on Paul George's recovery from the gruesome leg injury he suffered during a Team USA scrimmage Friday, the Indiana Pacers have to find a replacement for their All-Star small forward this season.
Not known for spending extravagantly in free agency, the Pacers are looking at capable players who won't cost an arm and leg. According to Shams Charania of RealGM.com, MarShon Brooks is one possible option:
Scouring for a wing player in the aftermath of Paul George’s leg injury, the Indiana Pacers have MarShon Brooks on a short list of free agent possibilities, league sources told RealGM.
The Kings and an Eastern Conference contender have also been in discussions with Brooks, sources told RealGM. Brooks split last season with the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.
A first-round pick in 2011, Brooks hasn't been able to build on a solid rookie season in which he averaged 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He played in just 35 games last season and averaged 4.5 points per game.
The good news is Brooks would likely come to Indiana cheap, though there is apparently competition, based on Charania's report. Of course, the Pacers have the greatest need and may be able to promise the 25-year-old more playing time to rebuild his value for next season.
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