NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Carmelo Anthony, Jordan Clarkson and More

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on during a game against the Washington Wizards on April 6, 2017 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Even in the doldrums of the NBA's offseason, the league is continuing to generate some buzz from the rumor mill.

The Carmelo Anthony saga with the New York Knicks has yet to be resolved, even though it appears he's narrowed his options down to one team.

And he may not be the only player on the move in the form of a trade. The Los Angeles Lakers may be circulating Jordan Clarkson's name as well.

Finally, there's Josh Richardson, who appears to be on the opposite track of Anthony and Clarkson. Over the next few weeks, he can sign an extension and solidify his position with his current team.

Which is most likely to happen before training camps tip off? A look around the league might offer some clues.


Where Will Carmelo Anthony Land?

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 12:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks waves to the fans as he walks off the court after the 114-113 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden on April 12, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
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Anthony wields a considerable amount of power in his situation with the Knicks. Having a no-trade clause basically allows him to pick his next team.

And Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that Anthony may have zeroed in on the Houston Rockets:

The fit makes perfect sense for Melo. He's 33 years old and has had to carry significant chunks of his teams' scoring loads throughout his career.

As a third option behind James Harden and Chris Paul, Anthony would face significantly less defensive pressure than he has throughout his career. Not only would he catch loads of wide-open kickouts from two of the game's best distributors, he'd likely be attacking the opposition's third-best defender.

Those two ingredients should lead to an efficiency hike. His current career-high True Shooting Percentage is .568, and he registered that all the way back in 2007-08 with the Denver Nuggets, per Basketball Reference.

His True Shooting Percentage playing alongside multiple stars on Team USA for FIBA events? .615, per RealGM.


Jordan Clarkson Expendable?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 5: Jordan Clarkson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw against the San Antonio Spurs on April 5, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
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The Lakers figure to be major players in free agency next summer. Even if the salary cap stays level at around $99 million, they'll have enough room to sign a max player. If they can move one of their two $10-plus-million players, they might be able to squeeze in a second.

LeBron James and Paul George, anyone?

With Luol Deng set to make $18 million in 2017-18 and $18.8 million in 2019-20, moving him would be tough. That leaves Clarkson, who's under contract for the same amount of time, but at about $5 million less per year. Plus, Clarkson is seven years younger.

Those factors, and a few flashes over the course of his first three NBA seasons, appears to have given L.A.'s front office some hope that it may be able to unload Clarkson's salary.

"Perhaps [Magic] Johnson and [Rob] Pelinka's confidence stems from conversations they've had with teams over the course of the past few months," Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus wrote. "One person within the organization who isn't permitted to speak publicly on the subject told Bleacher Report the team is confident it can move Clarkson if needed to open space."

It'll be tough to find teams willing to just absorb money next summer if the salary cap remains as stagnant as it was this offseason. But if the Lakers can pull it off, we could be looking at the next super team.


Will Josh Richardson Sign an Extension?

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 12: Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat handles the ball during the game against the Washington Wizards on April 12, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloa
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Richardson, the 40th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, has already exceeded expectations. Rotation players are tough to find in the second round, and Richardson may be more than that.

Over his first two seasons, Richardson has attempted 342 threes and has a three-point percentage of 37.4, a Steal Percentage of 1.8 and a Block Percentage of 1.8.

According to Basketball Reference, the only player who matches or exceeds all those marks over the last two seasons is Kawhi Leonard.

Now, obviously, Leonard does it on much greater volume while facing defensive game plans designed to stop him. But Richardson being in his company says a lot.

And Miami understandably wants to keep him around as he continues to grow. The question is: Should Richardson re-sign now or enter restricted free agency in 2018?

"The Heat is expected to discuss an extension with him, and my impression is that Richardson will at least consider it," the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote. "Though a strong case could be made for gambling on himself and waiting for restricted free agency next summer."

The real gamble may not be on Richardson's talent. Even if he improves on his performance from the last two years, there still might not be a ton of money out there for him to get. Due to the spending spree of 2016 and the cap rising much slower than expected, the number of teams with significant space will be limited next summer.

Perhaps even more than this one, we're in an offseason in which quality restricted free agents like Nerlens Noel, Nikola Mirotic and more remain unsigned in August.

If Miami, one of the most stable organizations in the league, offers a reasonable extension now, the safe choice for Richardson may be to take it.