We've reached the point in the NBA offseason where pundits start making their predictions for the upcoming season. Free agency is all but over, and no forthcoming trades are assumed to alter the league's landscape.
But there are a few minor deals that have yet to be made.
A trio of players highlight the mid-August rumor mill, whether for their free-agency or trade prospects. Let's examine each player's situation.
Markieff Morris' relationship with the Phoenix Suns has grown sour after the team traded his twin brother, Marcus, to the Detroit Pistons July 9.
The twins each signed four-year contract extensions with Phoenix last fall and were actually told they could split the combined $52 million however they wanted between each other, according to Suns senior advisor (then-president of basketball operations) Lon Babby in a press conference.
Markieff has demanded a trade and given the team the silent treatment, per the Burns and Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7:
But the most recent development in the combo forward's situation pertains to where he wants to play next season. Arizona Sports 98.7's John Gambadoro reported Friday that Markieff has two preferences.
"He likes Houston because of James Harden and Toronto because of Kyle Lowry, but he honestly doesn’t care where he gets dealt as long as he is not wearing a Suns uniform," Gambadoro wrote.
Either team could be a good fit for the versatile forward, but the Raptors might make a bit more sense. Patrick Patterson is a decent player, but Markieff could provide the Raptors with more scoring punch at the starting power forward position.
Father Time isn't usually kind to slam dunk artists like Jason Richardson. But the 34-year-old shooting guard started honing his three-point stroke early in his career, and it's paid off. He's now made at least 1.5 treys per game in his last 10 seasons.
According to Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears, Richardson will get a chance to extend his career even longer this fall:
The Hawks are an interesting choice for the veteran. They already have wings Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kent Bazemore and Justin Holiday as virtual locks for the 15-man roster, and Shelvin Mack will get some minutes at the 2 as well. It just doesn't seem like there's much playing time left for a guy like Richardson.
On the other hand, the contract isn't guaranteed, and Atlanta lost Elton Brand to retirement. The Hawks could be searching for a new end-of-the-bench veteran to be a leader in the locker room, and Richardson can fill that role if he is willing to take a huge decrease in minutes.
The Utah Jazz's soon-to-be sophomore point guard Dante Exum tore his ACL in international play earlier this month, which should keep him out for a huge chunk of the 2015-16 season. Exum's offensive showing last year was disappointing, but he showed excellent defensive tools that were key to Utah's 21-11 surge to finish the campaign.
To mitigate their depleted backcourt situation, the Jazz were rumored to be pursuing Washington Wizards veteran Garrett Temple, per the Deseret News' Jody Genessy:
However, CSNWashington.com's J. Michael reported Thursday the Wizards had not yet discussed a deal with Utah:
If the Jazz are truly aiming to get a short-term replacement for Exum, they're barking up the right tree. The 29-year-old Temple has a very similar game to the young Australian—both are defensive-oriented, lanky guards who don't have the offensive skills to rack up big points or assists.
But to get him, Utah needs to at least convince Washington to hear a pitch. That's something the Wizards should be willing to do.
Note: All stats used are from Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.