You thought the madness of NBA free agency and trade speculation ended with July? Well, you were wrong.
Star players—cough, Kevin Love—are on their way out of the door and prized commodities—ahem, Andrew Wiggins—have yet to officially be moved, signaling the excitement won't soon reach a stopping point. And with veteran free agents still pondering decisions, contending teams aren't done filling out their rosters entering the 2014-15 season.
Only a few months separate us from the regular season, but these players are still figuring out what jersey they will don when that time comes. Let's break down the latest rumors.
The forgotten man in Thursday's Love-Wiggins deal between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves, which was reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, apparently wasn't forgotten about after all.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young—long coveted by the T-Wolves in any such deal—has thrust the Sixers into the Cleveland and Minnesota deal, according to Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News. Citing sources, Perner reported Young will be dealt for Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick.
However, the deal between the 76ers and the T-Wolves would have to be agreed upon before any direct trade between the Cavs and Wolves, thus violating the "agreement in principle" that would send Love to Cleveland for Wiggins, Bennett and a protected first-rounder.
In addition, Bennett isn't allowed to be traded for 60 days after moving to Minnesota. There's a presumed way around it that Tom Moore of The Intelligencer (subscription required) spells out, but one that the league might shoot down:
The way around that would be for Sam Hinkie and the Sixers to trade a second-round selection to the Timberwolves for Bennett soon after Aug. 23 and then acquire two players — and probably a protected first-rounder — for Young. The league could choose to not allow the Bennett portion because it would circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and salary cap.
Per KSTP.com's Darren Wolfson, Philadelphia's general manager isn't happy about the news leaking:
One certainty from league and #Twolves people: Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is pissed that the Thad trade talk got out.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) August 7, 2014
The 26-year-old Young has burst onto the scene as a young star in the league, averaging nearly 18 points per game along with six rebounds last season. He would be able to fill in for Love quite nicely, with a blend of athleticism and physical prowess that makes him tough to handle on either end.
Wiggins can't officially be dealt until Aug. 23, though, which means that this saga has weeks to go before anything official is even allowed to happen.
The T-Wolves moving for Wiggins makes plenty of sense, and Young's talent is undeniable. But Bleacher Report's Dan Favale wonders if Young—like Love—will hurry for the exits:
Thaddeus Young can leave Minny next summer as a free agent. Do Wolves value him that much, or Anthony Bennett that little?— Dan Favale (@danfavale) August 8, 2014
Young might not commit to a long-term deal off the bat, but he's not exactly forcing his way out on a lowly Sixers team. And the chance to pair with Wiggins as the young studs on a new-look team should excite him.
Bennett will make great strides in the league, but the former No. 1 overall pick's ceiling is less than Young's. Should the T-Wolves land both Young and Wiggins when this is all said and done, it will be an incredible coup.
As if Cleveland's front office hasn't been busy enough, general manager David Griffin continues courting veteran role players to fill the roster. Shawn Marion met with Cavs' brass on Monday as reported by ESPN's Marc Stein, and his visit has left LeBron James and company in a good position entering the weekend.
As reported by Wojnarowski, the Cavs are Marion's current preference:
Free agent forward Shawn Marion is leaning strongly toward signing with Cleveland over Indiana, league sources told Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
The former Dallas Maverick and Phoenix Sun has also been courted by the Indiana Pacers, who are scrambling for capable wings after Lance Stephenson's departure and Paul George's injury. But as Wojnarowski notes, the ability to offer more money hasn't given them any advantage:
As @daldridgetnt reports, Pacers applying for Disabled Players Exception of $5.3M for George injury. Indy could offer Marion more than Cavs.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
Marion hasn't formalized agreement with Cavs yet, but Indiana's already looking elsewhere than Marion for free agent help, sources said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
The obvious tough sell for Cleveland to make is its ability to win a championship sooner rather than later. James said himself in his Sports Illustrated essay that "we're not ready right now," but that was before the potential Love deal.
LeBron's fifth straight Finals appearance will come much tougher than his last four, but a Cavs team with him, Love and Kyrie Irving will be one of the East favorites. Add in some young talent and impact veterans, and Marion's decision will get even easier.
The 36-year-old can still bring elite defense to the perimeter. With much less defensive identity on this 2014-15 Cavaliers team than on any of James' Miami Heat teams, his impact will be huge right off the bat should he join forces with the King.
Jose Calderon's arrival in New York didn't seem to do much to shoo away Pablo Prigioni, as the popular Argentinian still seemed to own his spot backing up the starting point guard.
That may not be the case when the season begins.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported the Knicks might move the point guard:
Hearing rumblings Knicks may still trade Prigioni. Say it ain't so Phil.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) August 6, 2014
Of course, the Knicks later completed a small deal with Sacramento, which was reported by ESPN's Marc Stein (via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com). Prigioni was nearly dealt to the Jazz in the deal, but it ended up not becoming a three-team trade and Prigioni stayed put, per Stein.
Prigioni's 3.8 points and 3.5 assists per game last season don't do justice to his impact. His defensive tenacity and passing ability inject life onto both sides of the court, especially on a bench unit that often needs inspiration and organization.
A team like the Jazz could desperately use a veteran backcourt presence to help Trey Burke and Dante Exum. But Prigioni still holds plenty of value for the Knicks, who could use his impact even if Shane Larkin becomes the backup point guard.