NBA Rumors: Rounding Up Buzz on Steven Adams Trade, Kawhi Leonard and More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 24, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - APRIL 19: Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder backs down Meyers Leonard #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers during game three of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 19, 2019 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 Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics failed in their quest to trade for one prominent Western Conference big man, but they are reportedly in the market for another. 

Boston is one of a few franchises in the Eastern Conference looking to improve its title-winning credentials in the coming weeks. 

Toronto's quest to repeat its championship during the 2019-20 season could be contingent on Kawhi Leonard's free-agent decision. 

The Raptors are in the mix to sign Leonard to a long-term deal, but they have plenty of competition in the race to ink the two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player to a contract. 

Elsewhere across the league, a few big men are sorting out their respective futures, as one has an eye on staying put, while another is looking for a way out. 


Latest NBA Buzz

Adams on Boston's Radar

With Anthony Davis on his way to the Los Angeles Lakers and Al Horford attracting interest elsewhere in the free-agent market, the Celtics need to find a consistent producer in the frontcourt. 

According to NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely, Oklahoma City center Steven Adams is on Boston's radar, but it is unclear where he lands on the list of players the franchise is looking to pursue. 

Adams is coming off a season in which he tied his career high in points per game and set a career high in rebounds, assists and steals per game. 

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The center would help the Celtics replace the scoring production with Kyrie Irving and Horford potentially on the way out. 

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Nets believe they are the front-runners for Irving's signature. 

Stein also reported that numerous teams believe Horford has a four-year deal worth $112 million waiting for him in free agency. The Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks are the two teams linked to Horford, per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. 

Boston has to make a splash in the offseason to keep up with Toronto, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Brooklyn in the East, but Adams may come at too high of a price. 

Boston would likely have to give up one of its young stars in order to persuade Oklahoma City to make the deal worth it from its perspective. 

But the risk could be worth it from the Celtics' point of view if they believe Adams is the best possible option on the market to upgrade their roster. 


Leonard to Decline Option, Could Land in Toronto 

The first domino in Kawhi Leonard's free agency appears to have fallen. 

According to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, Leonard will decline his $21.3 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent. 

Haynes also reported Leonard is seriously considering re-signing with the NBA champions, who could offer him a max deal of five years and $190 million.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Toronto helped its case to retain Leonard by defeating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals to earn its first title. 

The allure of building up a dynasty north of the border could be intriguing for Leonard, who is one of the hottest commodities on the open market alongside Irving. 

In addition to being able to earn the maximum amount of money in Toronto, Leonard could also be lured to return because of the presumed easier path to the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference compared to what he would face in the Western Conference if he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. 

It makes perfect sense for Toronto do everything in its power to keep Leonard since he delivered a title in his first season with the franchise. 

But the Raptors will have real competition from the Clippers, who could bring Leonard back to his home state of California to combine with one of the up-and-coming squads in the league.


Whiteside to Opt In, No Trade Demands Made

Hassan Whiteside is reportedly coming back to the Miami Heat for the final year of his contract. 

According to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald, Whiteside opted into the last year of his four-year contract and will be paid $27.1 million for the final year of the deal. 

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Chiang also reported that no trade demands have been made by Whiteside, and none are expected to come from the 30-year-old center. 

In 72 games last season, Whiteside averaged 12.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, marking the fifth straight year in which he averaged a double-double. 

With Whiteside back in the fold, the Heat should be able to make a push further up the Eastern Conference standings after finishing two games out of the final playoff position last season. 

Between Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, the Heat should have enough firepower to push for a playoff spot, especially with some teams not returning their full complement of stars for the 2019-20 season. 


Kings Mulling Options on Cauley-Stein

If you believe what Willie Cauley-Stein's agent said Saturday, the big man is on his way out of Sacramento. 

However, Jason Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reported that the Kings are still mulling their options on the 25-year-old, who they could offer a $6.3 million qualifying offer. 

The whole saga was set in motion Saturday, when Roc Nation Sports representative Roger Montgomery told Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee that Cauley-Stein needs a fresh start. 

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

"I really think Willie needs a fresh start," Montgomery said. "Based on how things have gone for him there in Sacramento, I just think it's time for Willie to move on, and we'd really like him to move on."

If the Kings make a qualifying offer to Cauley-Stein, they would have the power to match any offers from other teams since he would be a restricted free agent. 

Cauley-Stein is coming off a season in which he averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and shot 55.6 percent from the field. He was one of six Sacramento players who averaged over 10 points per game last season, and that high-level production brought the Kings to the brink of the Western Conference playoffs. 

If the Kings believe Cauley-Stein is still a vital piece to the roster, they should do everything they can to keep him and continue their progress. 

Sacramento has to be careful in its decision-making because the landscape of the Western Conference is changing fast. One move could be the difference between contending for a playoff spot and being on the outside looking in.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.