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NBA Rumors: Latest on Carmelo Anthony, Celtics' Kawhi Leonard Trade Offer, More

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 30, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 25:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder pushes Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during game 5 of the Western Conference playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 25, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Things have calmed down in the NBA after a fast and furious stretch of trades and free-agent signings.

This is merely the calm before the storm, however, as the 2018-19 regular season should be intriguing thanks in part to the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers, the Kawhi Leonard-led Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors with center DeMarcus Cousins manning the post.

Until the beginning of the season in October, here's a look at a few interesting rumors and news items that have floated around the league in late July.

              

Carmelo Anthony

At this moment, Carmelo Anthony is a member of the Atlanta Hawks. However, once Anthony clears waivers, he plans to sign with the 65-win Houston Rockets, who were one game away from making the NBA Finals last season.

Per Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, it sounds like some Rockets are excited to have him:

Alykhan Bijani @Rockets_Insider

Btw. With Capela coming back. Next would be signing Carmelo once he’s officially through the waiver process. If there was any question about how #Rockets players feel about Melo, one source told me the players feel “very positive” about him joining. Know what he can bring. https://t.co/AV7X7TVZZz

Although the Rockets are retaining their three best players from last season (James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela), the team will have a different look next year. Gone are Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, two solid defensive players who helped Houston improve on that end.

Anthony should help the team on offense as Houston's third scoring option behind Paul and Harden, presumably, but he's not known for his defensive prowess. The Rockets are going to have to find a way to keep that defense strong (it finished sixth in efficiency last year) if they are to unseat the Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference title.

         

Kawhi Leonard

The Toronto Raptors beat a host of teams vying to trade for San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. It took trading All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan to land Leonard, and that proved to be the kicker toward a deal.

However, per Zach Lowe of ESPN (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), the Boston Celtics had a sweet deal on the table for the Spurs as well:

"As all the reporting from this sort of trickled in, I think the Celtics offered most of their best draft picks. I don't think the Celtics just offered, 'You could have a bunch of our picks.' I think some of the picks they ownat least two of the picks, if not all of themthat they own from other teams, including the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers, I think those were all in the deal."

The Kings and Grizzlies picks are particularly intriguing. Per RealGM, Boston will get the "more favorable" pick between the Philadelphia 76ers' and Sacramento Kings' first-rounders next year (top-one protected). The Kings are a long shot just to make the playoffs, so unless Sacramento wins the lottery, Boston could end up with a top-five pick yet again.

The Memphis pick is top-eight protected in 2019, top-six protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021. Like the Kings, the Grizzlies will likely be on the outside looking in to the playoff picture, and that may be the case for a few seasons. Ultimately, it won't be a surprise to see Boston land another lottery selection as well.

Long story short, if San Antonio turned down a deal involving a few of those aforementioned picks, then they must really covet DeRozan, who averaged 23.0 points per game last season and has made the Eastern Conference All-Star team four of the past five years. DeRozan and big man LaMarcus Aldridge will co-lead San Antonio's scoring efforts next season, and it will be interesting to see how the two jell.

       

Greg Monroe

The Raptors may not be done making moves in advance of the 2018-19 regular season.  Per Josh Lewenberg of TSN, Toronto is looking into center Greg Monroe: "With 13 players on guaranteed or partially-guaranteed deals, the Raptors are looking to fill that 14th spot with another big and have shown interest in a number of available players, including former Pistons centre Greg Monroe, according to league sources."

Monroe is a 6'11" big man who can provide instant offense off the bench in the paint. Of note, he averaged 10.3 points in 20.4 minutes per game last year.

The issue with Monroe's game is two-fold: First, he's not a good fit for today's NBA, where small ball reigns supreme and big men such as Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns can stretch the floor with three-pointers. Monroe is not particularly mobile, nor can he shoot the three.

Second, Monroe is a below-average defender: Per ESPN, he ranked 73rd out of 84 centers in defensive real plus-minus.

That being said, he's not being asked to play 30-plus minutes per night at this stage of his career, and he can certainly play the role of backup center thanks to his solid offensive efficiency.

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