Last year's NBA offseason featured plenty of excitement and intrigue. LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, and Kevin Durant made the decision to stay with the Golden State Warriors.
With players like Durant and Leonard in the free-agent pool—and guys such as Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal possibly on the trading block—this offseason could be even more impactful. There's no telling exactly what will transpire, but as usual, the rumor mill is churning out possibilities.
Let's take a look at some of the latest NBA offseason buzz.
Kyrie Irving Leaning Toward Brooklyn, Los Angeles
It doesn't appear that the Boston Celtics are going to retain Kyrie Irving this offseason. Seeing as how he failed to develop into a leader in Boston, that may not be a major blow to the franchise. However, it does mean that another talented scorer is headed to market.
Irving has been painted as a potential target for the New York Knicks for some time now, but according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report and Fox Sports 1, he's more likely to end up with either the Brooklyn Nets or with Los Angeles—and former Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has gotten involved with the recruiting process.
"It's between Brooklyn and the Lakers," Bucher said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. "...I was told in the last 24 hours Kobe has been recruiting Kyrie in particular, to get him to the Lakers. Everything I've heard I would still expect Kyrie is going to go to Brooklyn... He just bought a place in South Orange."
Both of these options make some sense for Irving. The Nets were a playoff team this past season, and his addition could turn them into a strong Eastern Conference contender. In Los Angeles, he would be reunited with Cleveland Cavaliers teammate James.
According to Anthony Puccio of SNY, Irving "kept a close eye" on the Nets during the season.
Possible Beal, Ball Trade
If the Lakers cannot land Irving—and possibly even if they do—they could turn their attention to Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal.
Beal could be traded—likely before or during the draft—according to Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington. He also named Los Angeles as a possible destination, with point guard Lonzo Ball as a preferred trade option.
"If there's a deal with the Lakers, most sources would want Ball involved regardless of any parent distractions from his attention-seeking father, Lavar," Standig wrote. "'People just don't grasp how good he is,' a source said."
Ball has shown glimpses of promise with the Lakers, but he has been plagued by injuries and struggles with shooting consistency. He shot just 41.7 percent from the free-throw line this past season. A change of scenery might do him some good, while the Lakers could benefit from adding the more consistent and seasoned Beal.
Could the Cavaliers Land RJ Barrett?
Ball alone may not be enough for Los Angeles to pry Beal away from the Wizards. The Lakers may also have to trade away the fourth overall pick in next month's draft. If they don't trade the pick, though, the Lakers appear to be zeroing in on either Virginia's De'Andre Hunter or Vanderbilt's Darius Garland with the selection:
This potentially creates a scenario where the Cleveland Cavaliers could land Duke's RJ Barrett. He is widely considered one of the top prospects in the draft, and he's a prospect the Cavaliers are very high on.
"One member of the front office thinks he's on the same level as Ja Morant when it comes to ranking this draft class and Barrett will lead the class in scoring," Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com wrote. "The Cavs also recognize the drop in talent after Barrett, believing there's a clear line of demarcation before getting into a cluster of prospects that can be ranked any possible way starting at No. 4."
Of course, for Cleveland to actually get a crack at Barrett, both the Lakers and the Knicks would have to pass on him. This doesn't feel likely, but it is at least possible.
As Ian Begley of SNY pointed out, New York is at least considering Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver at No. 3:
If the Knicks do zero in on Culver and the Lakers prefer a two-way player like Hunter or a shooter such as Garland, then yes, Cleveland may find Barrett falling into its lap.