The NBA offseason is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.
It's already sent shockwaves across the hoops landscape, with LeBron James heading west and DeMarcus Cousins joining the defending champs. Judging by the latest chatter on the rumor mill, the player movements are far from finished.
The latest round of updates shed light on Kawhi Leonard's trade market, Carmelo Anthony's future and the Miami Heat's inability to uncover potential trade partners.
Teams OK With Kawhi's Uncertainty?
There are multiple layers to the Leonard/San Antonio Spurs saga that have left the disgruntled superstar stuck in the Alamo City nearly a month after his trade request leaked.
Because clubs can't contact Leonard directly, they're trying to make sense of several critical uncertainties. How healthy is he after a nagging quadriceps injury limited him to only nine appearances last season? And is the Los Angeles native dead set on heading home when he hits free agency next summer?
Those sound like questions that must be answered before any deal can take place, but that might not be the case.
"Nearly half a dozen GMs told Bleacher Report during the first weekend of the Las Vegas Summer League that they would trade for Leonard even without a guarantee he'll stay beyond next season," Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher wrote.
As Bucher noted, some clubs have found success by acquiring guys with undetermined futures and convincing them to stay. Paul George did so recently by re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Chris Webber overcame initial hesitation to ink a seven-year deal with the Sacramento Kings in 2001.
"I wouldn't say we're all scared to death to make a deal because there's no chance he'll re-sign [with a team somewhere other than L.A.]," an Eastern Conference general manager told Bucher. "PG did. C-Webb did."
The Spurs, of course, must be willing participants in this. They apparently haven't reached that point yet. Bucher reported hearing "the Spurs have yet to concede they have to trade Leonard and remain hopeful they can convince him to accept their offer of a supermax contract worth $219 million over five years."
Maybe a massive trade offer would change San Antonio's mind. The question is whether any franchise will sacrifice major assets without any assurance Leonard would consider staying beyond next season.
Carmelo Waiving No-Trade Clause?
Anthony's first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder was rough enough that there won't be a sequel. ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young previously reported Anthony's exit will happen sometime this summer, potentially saving OKC more than $100 million in salary and luxury tax.
While Anthony could be traded, waived through the NBA's stretch provision or jettisoned by a combined buyout-and-stretch, the Thunder are hopeful of finding a taker. Anthony is reportedly trying to help them make that happen.
"Anthony is waiving his no-trade clause, with the understanding that if he's not sent to a team he approves, it'll buy him out and make him a free agent," Erik Horne wrote for The Oklahoman.
If Anthony hits the open market, he's unlikely to be there for long. He and his representatives reportedly met with both Houston Rockets and Miami Heat officials in Las Vegas, sources told Wojnarowski.
Houston has already lost forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. Miami needs to upgrade its scoring punch on the perimeter. Anthony could help either club.
The 34-year-old just had the worst scoring season of his career, but he still averaged 16.2 points in 32.1 minutes per game. He also made a career-high 169 three-pointers and bettered his career conversion rate from distance (35.7 percent last season, 34.7 for his career).
Heat Having Trouble Finding Takers?
The Heat have a .518 winning percentage and only a single playoff series victory since LeBron bolted back to Northeast Ohio in 2014.
On the court, Miami bears zero resemblance to a contender. However, it has the payroll of one—$119.3 million on the books for next season, as much as $126.8 million for 2019-20, per Basketball Insiders. And that's without any money added for free-agent sharpshooter Wayne Ellington.
Barring drastic change, the Heat could be stuck waiting until 2020 to again become players in free agency. They're hoping to speed up this process by moving major money now.
"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," Barry Jackson reported for the Miami Herald. "Dion Waiters' name also has been raised, one of these people said."
It's hard to imagine any of these trade markets improving.
Whiteside, who could make $52.5 million the next two seasons, saw both his playing time and stats slashed in 2017-18. Johnson, whose salary balloons to $19.2 million the next two years, works best as an offensive spark off the bench. And Waiters, who has three years and $36.3 million left on his deal, had a grisly 39.8/30.6/73.9 shooting slash before ankle surgery prematurely ended his campaign.
It's possible all three would need sweeteners attached to them for other clubs to have interest. Miami doesn't have many to offer, with few prospects coming through the pipeline and its 2021 unprotected first-rounder already traded away.
Maybe the Heat will have better luck next summer when Whiteside and Johnson would have expiring contracts (assuming both exercise what seem to be no-brainer player options). For now, though, dramatic changes may be impossible to come by.