NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kemba Walker's Future, Terry Rozier and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 9, 2018

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) reacts to his basket against the Miami Heat in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

While the NBA rumor mill has essentially become a yearlong attraction, this time of year still ranks as one of the high points.

With almost a month's worth of regular-season games in the books, teams are gaining a better understanding of what they have and what they don't. Self-assessments have tangible statistics attached to them. Strengths and weaknesses are magnified. Clubs know now better than ever what would make 2018-19 a successful season.

This learning process can keep the rumors flowing, as you will see below.


Kemba Walker Still a Keeper?

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

There are plenty of reasons to think the Charlotte Hornets might entertain trade offers for Kemba Walker.

For as productive as he's been over seven-plus seasons in Buzz City, the organization has failed to translate that into team-wide success. And with unrestricted free agency awaiting the 28-year-old next summer, the Hornets are facing the worst-case scenario of losing him for nothing.

But for now at least, Charlotte views Walker as the driving force of both its present and its future, as Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported:

"Teams inquiring about Kemba Walker this offseason received the same message, league sources said: the Hornets are committed to contending for a playoff berth with Walker as the face of the franchise. For now, Michael Jordan has a strong desire to re-sign Walker as a free agent next summer, and teams around the NBA have recognized as much."

It's possible some will label this as a bad business move. Those who think the Hornets need a full-on reset will both identify a Walker trade as the biggest boon to that effort and list the pitfalls of trying to rebuild around a player who could demand max money into his mid-30s.

Yet the Hornets' stance is perfectly defensible.

For one, Walker is an incredible talent. He's been an All-Star before (twice), but he's hit an even higher gear to start this season: 28.1 points on 47.1 percent shooting (40.4 from three) and 5.9 assists per game. In a league dominated by stars, no one can fault a franchise for wanting to retain its brightest.

Plus, he's an elite talent who seemingly wants to be in Charlotte. How often is that going to happen? The Hornets may look like they have 99 problems at times, but Walker isn't one. For all the voids they are trying to fill on the fly, trying to replace an in-prime franchise icon could take them the better part of a decade.


Terry Rozier Trade Not Happening?

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

"Scary" Terry Rozier is having something akin to a nightmare follow-up to his playoff emergence.

After starring in place of an injured Kyrie Irving in the spring, Rozier has fallen victim to the Boston Celtics' incredible depth. He went from averaging 16.5 points in 36.6 minutes during the playoffs to notching just 7.5 points over 22.7 minutes a night.

To make matters worse, the downturn is coming at a terrible time. The 24-year-old will be a restricted free agent in July, meaning the statistical hits he's taking could carry a cost on his next contract.

It made sense, then, when The Ringer's Bill Simmons reported Rozier was unhappy with his minutes. Then, Charania dropped a tidbit on "at least seven teams" tracking Rozier and gauging his availability.

But none of this means a trade is imminent or even likely. In fact, a source told Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb that a Rozier trade "is extremely unlikely."

Celtics president Danny Ainge said as much during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

"I talked to Terry quite a bit, and I haven't heard any of those types of things," Ainge said (h/t ESPN's Tim Bontemps). "I don't know how reliable any of the sources or rumors are. ... Terry knew going in this year what his situation, what his role was going to be, and he was as excited and enthusiastic as anyone on our team for the upcoming season."

While Rozier conceded the transition is "not easy," per Bontemps, he added he is "not complaining" and "would never go to the media or bring out the unhappy thing."

These things are always subject to change, but this hardly seems messy enough to force Boston into dealing him. The potential reward of keeping Rozier around as depth and Irving insurance far outweighs the risk of losing him over the summer.


Patrick McCaw Talking to Dubs, Other Suitors?

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 31: Patrick McCaw #0 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on March 31, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by do
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

While there were bigger surprises this past offseason, Patrick McCaw's venture into restricted free agency might have been the strangest development.

To cut a long story short, his situation is unresolved to this day. The Golden State Warriors made him a two-year offer, he declined and it's seemingly been a stalemate ever since.

But if McCaw has moved out of the minds of NBA fans, that hasn't happened with league executives.

"McCaw remains in discussions with several other teams—including Golden State—league sources said," Charania reported.

The 23-year-old is still a restricted free agent, so Golden State retains the option of matching any offer he inks. As a player with career averages of 4.0 points and 1.2 assists, he's not exactly likely to break the bank.

He's also seemingly a long shot to leave the Bay Area. Assuming the money is reasonable, the Warriors could use another proven piece among their second-team perimeter collection.

They won't want to overextend 30-somethings Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, and they can only depend so much on Alfonzo McKinnie (26 career NBA appearances) and rookie Jacob Evans.