These are the times that try NBA fans' souls. In these final weeks, when the summer's drama has largely played its course and training camp is fast approaching, they cling to the remaining rumors and submit some final prayers for their team to tie up any loose ends that could prevent a successful season.
There are only a handful of active rumors occupying the NBA's segment of the Internet these days, but their ramifications could be far-reaching.
Tristan Thompson remains a free agent while he and the Cleveland Cavaliers try and fail to agree on a contract. After publicly demanding a trade and receiving the subsequent fine for that kind of behavior, Markieff Morris still wants out of Phoenix. And Metta World Peace could bring his personal brand of strange back to the Association after spending some time overseas.
In this space, we'll check in on those rumors and explore updated likelihoods for their respective resolutions.
Back in January, Thompson elected to hold off when the Cavaliers offered him four years and $52 million (via Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski). He followed that gamble with a postseason in which he averaged the ninth-most rebounds per game and registered the second-best average on the offensive glass.
This summer, that bump in Thompson's stock chemically reacted with the hefty contracts being doled out elsewhere in the NBA, and the result was another rejected offer, this time in the neighborhood of five years and $80 million (via Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler, h/t NBC Sports Dan Feldman).
So where do we stand now, with training camp opening in full on September 29? It's clear that Thompson and his camp aren't going to play ball with Cleveland until their lofty demands are met. Literally, Thompson is refusing to play basketball with LeBron James and 11 other Cavaliers in a James-organized pre-training camp in Florida, according to Cleveland.com's Chris Haynes.
Thompson wants a max contract, and the Cavaliers are obviously hesitant to facilitate that wish. And if the 24-year-old is forced to take a qualifying offer, he won't be in Cleveland come the start of the 2016 season.
"Suppose the Cavs offered Thompson something in the range of $86 million over five years -- more than the other three players, yet below the maximum," Pluto wrote. "It could be considered a negotiating win for both sides ... or a compromise."
There's no guarantee Thompson would even blink at a non-max offer now that his heels are dug in this far. But Cleveland is running out of time to present a long-term deal of Thompson's liking before he accepts that qualifying offer and bolts after the season.
If you're a Phoenix Suns fan and you own a Markieff Morris jersey, Markieff Morris is here to tell you that was a bad investment.
In August, in the wake of brother Marcus's trade to the Detroit Pistons, Morris publicly demanded a trade by way of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey. After receiving a $10,000 fine from the NBA for his comments, Morris is insistent he will not play in Phoenix this season, and the Suns are insistent that he's mistaken (via the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro).
In an effort to help mend the relationship between Morris and his organization, 14-year veteran and brand new Sun Tyson Chandler is prepared to do some counseling. Chandler hasn't spoken to his disgruntled teammate yet, but he offered Coro a preview of his pitch.
"It’s not about them," Chandler said. "That’s no offense to Ryan (McDonough), the GM, or the owner (Robert Sarver). Players play for players and the coaches. You’ve got a bond. Management has nothing to do with anything that goes on when you’re on the court. That’s just my thoughts. I'm not saying this for anything against Keef either. He’s a man and he has to go through his own process. But he can be special and I know he will. I feel like all this stuff will be forgotten once we kick off and we’re having success."
Morris' determination not to start the season with Phoenix could come to fruition in a different sense, even if the likely scenario that the Suns don't trade him plays out. Following April assault charges for both Morris twins, the two appeared in court Wednesday and suspensions could be looming.
Former NBA executive Bobby Marks took to Twitter last week to offer a glimpse at some potential ramifications of the incident.
There's almost no chance the Suns cave to Morris' demands because of his favorable contract and the on-court value he provides the team. But the situation is wildly unpredictable, and the story is likely far from over.
Metta World Peace
Following a 21-61 finish last season, the Los Angeles Lakers are quietly gearing up for a season in which they might not be completely dreadful.
The returns of Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle, the additions of Lou Williams, Roy Hibbert and D'Angelo Russell, and the emergence of Jordan Clarkson all have the Lakers in position to improve on last year's product. And you can count Deadspin's Chris Thompson, B/R's Zach Buckley and free agent Metta World Peace among those who are willing to entertain the possibility of Metta World Peace's return to the Lakers serving to advance that goal.
Earlier this month, Wojnarowski reported World Peace is "inching closer to a return" to Los Angeles on a one-year contract. And as the month has progressed, nothing has dampened the rumor to this point.
Several days after that report, USA Today's Sam Amick reported Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is considering the reunion. And not long after that, in an interview with Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News, World Peace offered some assurance that he's mentally and physically prepared for a return to the NBA.
"I work out. I’m still one of the best small forwards in the world but my career has been up and down," World Peace said. "With my career being up and down, some teams are like, 'Can we use Metta World Peace, where is he going to fit in? Is he going to be good for the rookies? Can he still play?' I'm still one of the best small forwards in the world so that’s not a question."
World Peace's self-evaluation is a bit of a stretch, but his point is still taken. He's been playing competitively and staying in shape with an eye towards a return to the NBA after his brief globe-trotting hiatus.
The line between shooting guard and small forward is blurring for Bryant (via the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan). And World Peace's availability off the bench could be the incentive head coach Byron Scott needs to give his aging star more rest during the grind of the regular season.