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NBA Trade Rumors: Examining Top Reports Entering 2017 Combine

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2017

Paul George is one of many names making the rumor rounds right now.
Paul George is one of many names making the rumor rounds right now.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the Association speeding toward the 2017 NBA Draft Combine, it's only natural the rumor mill kicks back into high gear. 

Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and others lead a league-altering class, both in terms of team standings and on-the-court evolution of the game itself. But the potential trade market once again features some of the globe's biggest names, and if there's one thing the sudden DeMarcus Cousins trade told the world, it's that anything can truly happen—and fast.

With speculation surrounding the futures of guys like Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony, among others, it's only natural the rumor mill spits out some noteworthy rumblings.

Here's a look at the latest.

    

Knicks Getting Calls for...Kristaps Porzingis?

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27:  (EDITORS NOTE: Multiple exposures were combined in camera to produce this image.) Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball during a game against the Detroit Pistons on March 27, 2017 at Madison Square Garden i
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The tension between the New York Knicks and Anthony is so palpable folks in California can probably get a whiff of it. 

So, naturally, one of the biggest rumors surrounding the organization so far is teams calling about Kristaps Porzingis.

Make no mistake, team president Phil Jackson isn't going to let a young, high-upside player like Porzingis go via trade. But the circumstances to even get to this point are worth a look.

Long story short, Porzingis skipped a season-ending meeting with Jackson and general manager Steve Mills, which ESPN.com's Ian Begley elaborated on recently.

"It is unclear whether the discussions led to substantial trade parameters. Teams were inquiring about trading for Porzingis, 21, after he showed his frustration with the direction of the franchise by skipping the meeting," Begley wrote.

Begley also noted the following: "But he had been frustrated by the drama and dysfunction surrounding the team this season, according to team sources."

This is a bad sign for the Knicks, who can't afford to lose a 7'3" stretch forward who averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and shot 45 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from deep in his sophomore campaign.

It's not even overly about the stats, though they should improve, as much as it is the fact building around Porzingis has always been the long-term plan, regardless of what develops with Anthony.

For now, Porzingis doesn't seem like a guy who wants to force an organization's hand. But based on the rumblings, the pressure has never been higher on Jackson and the front office to make a splash.

       

The Latest on Paul George

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers waits to be introduced against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 23, 2017 in Ind
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A Paul George trade almost seems like a forgone conclusion at this point.

The Indiana Pacers just got whipped at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sweep. A sense of gloom for supposed contenders in the Eastern Conference while LeBron James runs roughshod with no signs of slowing seems no more impactful than on the situation in Indiana.

Larry Bird stepped down as president after the sweep, though George's desire to win probably outweighs the move in the superstar's mind. He's also been open about wanting to play for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, according to Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News.

The Lakers would surely love to get something done. Look at this small, but significant note by ESPN.com's Zach Lowe: "The Lakers will dangle prospects for Paul George."

Los Angeles has any number of prospects to throw into a mix that gives the Lakers George, ranging from D'Angelo Russell to Julius Randle, if not Brandon Ingram or a rookie from the 2017 class.

Either way, George has one guaranteed season left on his contract. From a long-term outlook, letting George come to town via free agency and keeping any assets the team would surrender in a trade gives the Lakers the best chance to contend. But coughing up those assets to ensure George dons the Lakers' colors prevents anything silly from happening.

The general vibe, though, is George ready to move on. Unlike other small-market teams struggling to keep superstars, the Pacers appear in a position to get a reboot off on the right foot in a big way via a blockbuster trade.

         

Jimmy Butler's Name Persists

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the third quarter of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 26, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expr
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It's almost like Butler and George sit in a competition to see who might get traded faster.

Or maybe it's all a mirage. After all, Russell Westbrook shocked many by inking an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Maybe George and Butler follow suit.

But George, as mentioned, has been rather open about his love for Los Angeles. Butler is more secretive, but it's not hard to see why he might be open to the idea of a scenery change.

After all, the Bulls went into rebuild mode, then walked back the decision by bringing on Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. The two additions didn't matter much, at least until the playoffs, where the Bulls as a No. 8 flirted with the idea of knocking off the top-seeded Boston Celtics before a Rondo thumb injury.

As such, whispers about a trade continue, according to ESPN.com's Nick Silva: "There have reportedly been lingering tensions between the Bulls' front office and Butler for more than a year, which is why the All-Star continues to see his name in the rumor mill."

Butler's alleged beef with the front office isn't hard to understand. Not only did the sudden switch to win-now mode alter the franchise, a February trade saw the Bulls ship away Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a draft pick and get back Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow, three guys who hardly played at all during the playoffs.

It should go without saying, but it would take a monster offer to rip the 27-year-old Butler from the Bulls, no matter what direction the regime wants to pursue. But he'd be an interesting trade candidate for a team like the Celtics, an organization with plenty of assets, draft or otherwise, to dangle in a move.

Butler's situation isn't as dramatic as the one surrounding George, but the winds of unpredictability in Chicago make it something to keep an eye on this summer.

            

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.