NBA Rumors: Latest on Kawhi Leonard Trade, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan WhitesideJuly 15, 2018
The NBA's 24-hour, 365-day news cycle continues in July as summer-league games take place and big names change cities via free agency or trades. Although most of the notable free agents have found new homes, a few others could soon be headed elsewhere.
Here's a look at three players who have been involved in recent trade rumors and the latest reports on each of them.
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard averaged 23.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game over his past two full NBA seasons. He earned All-NBA First Team honors twice and is one of the best defensive players in the league.
After a midseason rift between Leonard and the Spurs, it seems possible that the two sides could be parting ways. However, it's an odd situation. Leonard is under contract for one more year, so the Spurs don't necessarily have to make a panic move. Likewise, other teams looking to obtain Leonard don't necessarily have to sell the farm to do so because they could look to persuade him to join via free agency in 2019.
One team likely interested in Leonard is the Los Angeles Lakers. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on The Woj Pod (h/t Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation): "To this point in trade discussions, the Lakers have not shown a sense of urgency to make a Kawhi Leonard trade."
That makes sense. The Lakers can simply use their boatload of cap space in 2019 to sign Leonard as a free agent, so why not wait until then? That way, they can keep their young talent core intact (point guard Lonzo Ball, guard Josh Hart, forwards Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma) and build around those players, Leonard and LeBron James.
It will be interesting to see how this all develops. It looks like nothing is imminent, so expect this saga to drag on deep into the summer and perhaps into the fall.
It has become clear over the past few weeks that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony will be playing elsewhere next season, but the question remains as to where that will be.
Per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, it looks like Anthony may not be going too far:
Marc Stein of the New York Times provided more information on Anthony's prospective departure from Oklahoma City:
Marc Stein @TheSteinLine
The Thunder have been working all week to try to find a trade home for Carmelo Anthony so they don't have to incur the considerable full cost of outright waiving him. One way or another, Melo is leaving OKC and it's simply a matter at this point of how soon https://t.co/yBagNpsDnn
The Houston Rockets' offseason hasn't gone particularly well on paper. They lost two key cogs from their rotation: forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. While neither player was a tremendous offensive asset, they were both solid on defense and helped the offensively oriented Rockets become a more well-rounded team. That saw Houston emerge with the league's best regular-season record at 65-17.
While Anthony could help Houston on offense and give the team a dependable third scoring option after James Harden and Chris Paul, the 15-year veteran is not known for his defensive prowess. The Rockets are likely going to take a hit on defense as is and may further have troubles on that end of the court with Melo in the mix.
Still, it's important to note that Anthony is still one of the best offensive players this century. While he had a down year last season and is in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career, his 2017-18 campaign could be attributed to the fact that the new-look Thunder simply didn't mesh well together. Anthony looks to be the odd man out, and it's possible he fits better with the Rockets.
Overall, Houston's offense shouldn't take much of a dip this year. However, the Rockets need more than Anthony to win the Western Conference.
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside had a tumultuous season last year, culminating just a 15.4 minutes-per-game average in five playoff contests against the Philadelphia 76ers. His regular-season minutes average dipped from 32.6 to 25.3.
Offseason talk out of South Beach centered around the possibility that Whiteside could be headed elsewhere, but according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, it looks like the 29-year-old will be staying: "Whiteside's return now appears likely, so much so that all parties have begun the process of mending a relationship that grew strained on several occasions last season. Coach Erik Spoelstra said last week that he and Whiteside have been in communication and went to lunch."
On the positive side, Whiteside is an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker when he's at his best. He led the league in rebounds per game (14.1) in 2016-17 and blocks per game (3.7) in 2015-16.
However, the 7-footer's offensive skillset is rather limited, as his scoring efforts largely come around the rim. He's also not a great fit in a small-ball era wherein teams are playing forwards who can stretch the floor at the 5.
Whiteside would have been an excellent NBA fit in the 1990s, when All-Star centers who made homes in the post ruled the NBA. In this era, Whiteside sometimes doesn't work as well against other teams' personnel.
Still, Whiteside is more of an asset than a liability to the team, so it might be best for the two sides to work things out and look toward a brighter future.