Hope springs eternal in the summer before the NBA regular season begins. New York Knicks fans are hoping that what they are seeing out of rookie forward Kevin Knox in Las Vegas turns out to be the real deal, and Chicago Bulls faithful are coveting the same following Wendell Carter's summer displays.
Outside of the rookies, a few teams will still wheel and deal as they look to acquire veteran players and take a shot at making the next step.
Here's a look at some recent developments from around the league.
The wheels are in motion to expedite a trade of forward Carmelo Anthony from the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, and the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat are interested:
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
Thunder are working on trade scenarios where Anthony, 34, would be moved as an expiring contract and be waived, becoming a free agent once his $28M clears waivers. OKC needs the Anthony’s permission to waive no-trade clause, which he has done to facilitate his exit, sources said. https://t.co/1p6hoBvTIs
Of those two teams, Anthony makes more sense on the Heat, where he can be one of the team's top two scorers. Granted, 'Melo is 34 years old and in the twilight of his career, but the Heat need at least one other player who can be counted on offensively.
Right now, point guard Goran Dragic leads the way with 17.3 points per game, but no one else on the team posts 15 or more per night. Another dependable scorer could help the Heat offense.
The Rockets don't seem as great a fit. The team excelled last year because the top trio James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela shined as a group of players who can shoot from beyond the arc and/or play defense (P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, etc.). Anthony is a career 34.7 percent three-point shooter, makes his offensive living primarily within the arc and has not fared as well on defense during his career. He doesn't seem to mesh as well with the team's identity.
The guess here is that Anthony has something left in the tank, but he's better suited on a team like the Heat where his skills will be better utilized.
Rockets center Clint Capela enjoyed a breakout season last year, as he averaged career-high marks in points (13.9), rebounds (10.8), blocks (1.9) and field-goal percentage (65.2). The 24-year-old was also fifth in the NBA in defensive real plus-minus among centers who averaged at least 25 minutes per game, according to ESPN.
Capela is a restricted free agent this offseason, although the Rockets want to retain him after he was a key part of the team's 65-17 regular season, which was good enough for first in the Western Conference. The team lost to the Golden State Warriors in seven games in the conference finals.
Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Jonathan Feigen @Jonathan_Feigen
Rockets offer to Clint Capela on July 1 was five years, $85 million, two individuals with knowledge of the offer said. With incentives, the deal could be worth $90 million. Rockets remain optimistic sides a deal will be reached. "Absolutely," one of the individuals said.
Losing Capela would be tough for the Rockets, who have already seen two solid defensive players in Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute leave this offseason. If Houston does not retain Capela, it is going to be in a serious bind on the defensive end. The Rockets defense is partially what caused a significant improvement last season, as it ranked sixth in efficiency.
Ultimately, the Rockets should break the bank even if another team comes over the top with an offer. Without him, Houston would have trouble finding a player to man the post.
The Heat are a middle-of-the-pack NBA team that looks stuck in neutral right now. On paper, they don't have the talent to compete with the best of the Eastern Conference (e.g. the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers). However, they are way ahead of other rebuilding teams in the East, who are years away from being competitive just for a playoff spot (e.g. the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic).
Miami wants to get out of that middle ground, and they are trying to move some players, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald: "The Heat has tried to move Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson this offseason but has not found a trade market, according to three people in contact with the team. Dion Waiters' name also has been raised, one of these people said."
Focusing on Whiteside for a moment, the big man lost a lot of playing time in the playoffs as the Heat played small ball with Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson patrolling the paint. The seven-footer averaged just 15.2 minutes per game against the 76ers in the first round, with just 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. However, it wasn't just the playoffs where Whiteside saw decreased time, as his minutes dropped from 32.6 to 25.3 from the 2016-17 season to last year's regular-season campaign.
Whiteside has shown tremendous rebounding ability (14.1 per game in 2016-17) and blocking ability (3.7 per game in 2015-16). At his best, he's an exciting player and a dominant force in the paint.
However, it may be hard for the Heat to find a trading partner given the end of Whiteside's season coupled with the fact that he is turning 30 years old next June. The two sides may have to work it out and hope for a better year.