Crazy Sports Rumors That May Come True in 2017

Zac Wassink@https://twitter.com/ZacWassinkFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2017

Crazy Sports Rumors That May Come True in 2017

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    Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

    Sports rumors generate clicks and drive discussions on talk radio stations each and every year, and that likely will again be the case in 2017. Just as in other forms of entertainments, some sports rumors are crazier than others. 

    With that said, a crazy sports rumor comes true every now and again.

    Cristiano Ronaldo may decide that he is ready to leave Real Madrid for the right money before the end of the year. The Cleveland Cavaliers could make a splash by acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks. A dream match-up between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather may become a reality before December 31 arrives. 

    It's possible none of these ten rumors will come to fruition. Any one of them becoming a reality would make headlines and potentially change an organization or league, and that's one reason why it's so much fun to speculate about such stories. 

Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine to Chicago Bulls

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    Paul Battaglia/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Timberwolves probably believed they were getting a pair of franchise cornerstones when they completed a trade in August 2014 that involved sending Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins and other assets and by drafting forward Zach LaVine that same year.

    It's now January 2017, and the Timberwolves remain one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. Minnesota is above only the Dallas Mavericks in the conference standings. 

    Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported this past November that Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau, known for being an impatient figure, may become interested in trading a young star for a proven veteran who could help him win as soon as possible.

    Both Wiggins and LaVine will be only 22 years old come the end of March, but their ages may not prevent Thibodeau from pulling the trigger on a blockbuster trade for a player he knows and trusts such as Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls. 

    According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports/The Vertical, Minnesota "explored several trade options" this past June. One of those options included looking into Butler's availability. No trade occurred, obviously, but there's currently no guarantee Thibodeau won't revisit that idea this summer. 

    Per Spotrac, Butler is signed through the end of the 2018-19 season, and he has a player option for the following campaign. Chicago's latest experiment that involved acquiring Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo hasn't produced positive results, as the Bulls posted a record of 18-18 after 36 games this season. 

    Those running the Bulls may feel this coming summer is the time to build for the future. Either Wiggins or LaVine could be part of that future, while Butler could help Thibodeau compete for a playoff spot next season. 

Jimmy Garoppolo to Cleveland Browns

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns making a move for current New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is, on its own, not all that crazy a rumor. 

    According to SpotracGaroppolo will be a free agent after the 2017 season. There is currently no indication Tom Brady is retiring in early 2018. The Browns desperately need a franchise QB. 

    The transaction makes sense for all involved. 

    Stories linking Garoppolo with the Browns became a little crazy, though, after ESPN's Adam Schefter told WEEI's Kirk & Callahan the Patriots wanted a first-round and fourth-round draft pick for the QB's services.

    Garoppolo remains an unproven commodity. The 25-year-old started only two games for the Patriots this past fall until he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 of the campaign. Garoppolo played well in his limited time on the field, but he didn't even make it through six full quarters of action being sidelined due to that physical setback. 

    The Browns, nevertheless, may be desperate enough to go all-in on Garoppolo, especially if those running the franchise believe no QB in the upcoming draft is better than the New England backup that the Patriots acquired via the 62nd pick in the spring of 2014. 

    As Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal explained, former Cleveland and New England executive Mike Lombardi claimed in December he believes Garoppolo is "on top" of the Browns' list for potential quarterbacks for 2017. On January 2, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com stated the Browns will "probably take a long, hard look at Jimmy Garoppolo" this offseason.

Dele Alli to Real Madrid

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    That sound you hear is Tottenham Hotspur supporters yelling in anguish at the thought of this potential transfer becoming reality. 

    As Michael Butler of the Guardian wrote earlier this month, Tottenham and Real Madrid embarked on a "partnership agreement" in the summer of 2012 that included Spurs sending dynamic midfielder Luka Modric to the Spanish giants. Tottenham then sold Gareth Bale, the Premier League's top star for the 2012-13 campaign, to Real the following summer. Spurs, meanwhile, gained little of note from Real other than transfer fees. 

    Why, then, would Tottenham allow 20-year-old midfielder and England international Dele Alli to join Real in the summer of 2017? 

    To begin with, Real have the necessary funds to match any fee attached to Alli, and the club can afford to pay Alli higher wages than what Tottenham could offer him at any point in the foreseeable future. Real are also one of the biggest clubs in the world and a team essentially guaranteed Champions League football through at least the end of the decade. 

    Spurs are likely keen on retaining Alli as long as possible, but Tottenham may be forced to make a difficult decision later this year if the club misses out on the Champions League after making a brief return to club football's top competition last fall. 

Kevin Durant to the Los Angeles Lakers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    We understand some may be skeptical about this potential sports rumor. After all, Kevin Durant hasn't even spent one full season with the Golden State Warriors after making the move from the Oklahoma City Thunder this past summer. Why, then, would Durant leave the Warriors, one of the best teams in the NBA, to join the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers? 

    It was back in September 2015 when ESPN's Stephen A. Smith claimed Durant had an interest in joining the Lakers per Steve DelVecchio of Larry Brown Sports. While Durant landed in a different part of California last July, his contract includes a player option for next season, according to Spotrac

    Per Spotrac, the Warriors have to pay two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry after the current season. Golden State already has both Klay Thompson and Draymond Green signed through the next several years. Letting Durant go may be the best business move for Golden State, especially if the Warriors fail to return to the NBA Finals this spring. 

    Durant, meanwhile, could become the top star and face of the Lakers were he to sign with that club. He could also, theoretically, begin to create his own "super-team" if interested. 

    Maybe Durant and Russell Westbrook could reunite on the west coast. 

Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Evgeni Malkin

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    As Lyle Richarson of Hockey News wrote in June 2016, rumors about the Pittsburgh Penguins potentially trading Evgeni Malkin are nothing new. There was speculation in June 2008 about Malkin's long-term future with the Pens, and SportsNet's Nick Kypreos wondered this past June if Pittsburgh could trade the superstar. 

    Richardson and Kypreos are not the only two individuals to speculate about a potential Malkin trade over the past year. Newsday's Steve Zipay reported in June he heard the Chicago Blackhawks were "seriously kicking tires" on a move for Malkin. 

    Why would the Penguins trade one of the best players in the NHL? For starters, Malkin's value may never be higher than it will be this coming summer. The two-time Stanley Cup champion turns 31 years old in July, and Malkin is signed through the end of the 2021-22 campaign. Pittsburgh could begin to plan for the future while, at the same time, building around team captain Sidney Crosby. 

    Crosby, roughly one year younger than Malkin, is the face of the Penguins and one of the faces of the league. Trading Malkin to acquire the rights to draft a player who can make an immediate impact and be the club's future could be what's best for the Penguins overall, as it would take some pressure off Crosby during the twilight of his career.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to MLS

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has impressed during portions of his first stint with the club. The lengthy 35-year-old striker is behind only Diego Costa in Premier League goals per the league's official website. As ESPN FC staffers explained in November, United manager Jose Mourinho stated this past fall the club plans on extending Ibrahimovic's contract for one more season. 

    That does not, however, mean Major League Soccer and United couldn't come to terms on an agreement for Ibrahimovic's services next summer. 

    Ibrahimovic told Johanna Franden of Aftonbladet this past November he envisions himself "conquering the U.S." before the end of his entertaining and extraordinary career. That same month, the Mirror's John Cross wrote MLS side LA Galaxy could offer Ibrahimovic a contract during the summer transfer window. 

    Ibrahimovic would immediately become the biggest and most recognized star in MLS if the Galaxy were to acquire him. That, alone, is a reason to believe such a rumor may not be all that crazy regardless of what United do regarding Ibrahimovic's option past the spring of 2017. 

Ron Rivera to Los Angeles Rams

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    Phelan Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera had a rough 2016. 

    The Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos 24-10. Carolina then struggled at the start of the 2016 NFL campaign, as the reigning NFC champions lost three of the team's first four games. The Panthers finished the season 6-10 and well out of the playoff race.

    The Los Angeles Rams, meanwhile, need a new head coach after parting ways with Jeff Fisher. Rivera may be the right man for the job. 

    NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Christmas Eve that Rivera could be a solid fit for the Los Angeles gig. Rivera is from California, and he has a relationship with former NFL head coach and retired coordinator Norv Turner. The duo of Rivera and Turner may be tempted by the thought of molding young quarterback Jared Goff, who was the first overall pick of last year's draft. 

    "Riverboat Ron," as he is affectionately known, could become the face and potential savior of a franchise that plays in one of the biggest sports markets in the United States.  

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Unless you completely ignored stories about combat sports throughout 2016, you probably heard or read at least one rumor regarding a potential fight between UFC champion Conor McGregor and retired boxer Floyd Mayweather. It's a story that won't go away for multiple reasons. 

    Per Chisanga Malata of the Daily Sun, UFC boss Dana White claimed before UFC 207 that a fight between McGregor and Mayweather is "unlikely" but also that he "stopped saying never" regarding speculation about the bout. 

    There's little left for McGregor to accomplish in the UFC following his stellar 2016. McGregor became the first individual in the promotion's history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes. As Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting explained this past September, McGregor is already the biggest draw in the UFC. 

    Warren Haughton and John Hutchinson of the Sun speculated in December both McGregor and Mayweather could potentially make £100 million each from a single encounter. It's possible this super-fight would be the biggest pay-per-view in the history of combat sports. 

Carmelo Anthony Playing Alongside LeBron James

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    LeBron James is the king of northeast Ohio after helping guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to a title in 2016. James should receive pretty much anything he wants from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert until the greatest basketball player of his generation rides off into the sunset.

    This includes James making roster moves per his liking.

    Before the start of the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Bleacher Report's Howard Beck explained James would one day like to spend at least one season playing alongside friends such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. Per Beck, James stated he would even take a cut in pay to make that dream a reality. 

    James isn't getting any younger, as he is a 32-year-old who entered the NBA in 2003. Anthony, meanwhile, is no longer the future of the New York Knicks. That label belongs to 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis. 

    The summer of 2017 may be the perfect time for Anthony to make the move to Cleveland, especially if James and the Cavs repeat as champs. 

Cristiano Ronaldo to China

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    Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    As the legendary World Wrestling Entertainment character "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase used to say, everybody's got a price. 

    What is Cristiano Ronaldo's price? One can't help but wonder after reading the rumor mentioned by ESPN's Ed Alvarez earlier this month that claimed the Chinese Super League offered Real Madrid €300 million for Ronaldo's services, according to agent Jorge Mendes. Mendes also stated Ronaldo would've made €100m per season had he accepted the offer. 

    This past December, Fred Nathan of the Sun speculated Ronaldo possesses a net worth "between £210m and £230m." While Ronaldo is already rich, he turns 32 years old in February. His physical prime, as a player, will come to an end sooner rather than later. 

    Would Ronaldo turn down a contract that included €300 million guaranteed over three seasons in China? Remember, before answering, that deal likely would also lead to additional advertising and other business opportunities. 

    Money talks, and €300 million over three years makes a deafening noise.