NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) plays in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

The 2019 NBA offseason is off to the races.

Free agency opens in a matter of days, and it's so close that potential plans are becoming more transparent.

The latest batch of rumors involves three household names, each of whom could soon be searching for greener grass elsewhere.


KD Hits Market, Knicks' Interest Unclear

The time New York Knicks fans have waited all year for has finally arrived.

As expected, Kevin Durant has declined his $31.5 million player option and will enter unrestricted free agency, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Durant is reportedly in the Big Apple and mulling over his options as we speak.

You'd think there would be elation in the Empire State, but Durant's ruptured Achilles might have changed those feelings. Knicks owner James Dolan seemingly has some reservations about offering the 30-year-old max money.

Stephen A. Smith reported on First Take that Dolan wants the Knicks to take a long, hard look at Durant's medical report before extending the offer (via Adam Zagoria of the New York Times):

Adam Zagoria @AdamZagoria

"The New York Knicks, meaning specifically Mr. Dolan, expressed a bit of caution, or dare I say reluctance, to offer Kevin Durant the max....He wants to see the medical report, he wants to see the NY Knicks go through that with a fine-tooth comb." @stephenasmith on KD https://t.co/CUCtRwnR0Z

This is more than reasonable on the Bockers' part. Historically speaking, Durant suffered the worst possible injury for an NBA player. Even if he eventually returns to form (or gets close to it), he's still probably skipping the first season of his next deal and therefore would be 32 years old the next time he suits up.

The Knicks should be diligent. All of his suitors should. The problem is this is one of the most dynamic players in basketball. Someone is going to give him the max. If New York isn't comfortable footing the bill, it must get comfortable with the idea that he isn't coming to save the franchise.


Jimmy Butler Atop Lengthy Rockets' Wish List

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

With injuries derailing the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets appear ready to seize this opportunity.

Their summer has seemed tumultuous from the outside, between Mike D'Antoni's on-again, off-again contract negotiations and reports suggesting the relationship between James Harden and Chris Paul is broken beyond repair.

And yet, it seems like it's business as usual in Space City. The Rockets are star searching, as they always seem to be this time of year.

Houston sees swingman Jimmy Butler as "the dream addition," per The Athletic's Sam Amick, and feels confident it could either create the cap space to sign him or broker a sign-and-trade swap with the Philadelphia 76ers. But in the event Butler isn't coming, Houston has a slew of backup plans.

"A source with knowledge of the Rockets' plans said Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu, DeAndre Jordan, Brook Lopez and Kevon Looney are all possible targets," Amick reported.

While these players aren't the same caliber as Butler, it will be interesting to see how much easier they would be to get. Most teams shopping in the mid-tier market likely have interest in most, if not all, of them.


Lakers Possible Landing Spot for Carmelo Anthony

It wouldn't be an NBA offseason without a rumor linking Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers, right?

His near-silent 2018-19 campaign might've fooled you into thinking these talks were confined to the history books. After all, he made just 10 inefficient appearances for the Houston Rockets and was eventually traded to the Chicago Bulls, who waived him shortly thereafter.

But that apparently hasn't ruled out the possibility of an Anthony-Lakers partnership still coming to fruition yet.

"Most executives monitoring Anthony's free agency see the Lakers as the most likely destination for the 10-time All-Star," SNY's Ian Begley reports.

The links to L.A. are obvious. Anthony is a close friend of LeBron James, and the Lakers will need some cost-effective contributors.

But would Anthony actually embrace a limited reserve role? He could theoretically add value as a catch-and-shoot specialist, but that might be a hard sell to someone with career averages of 24.0 points and 35.8 minutes.

The Lakers, by the way, may not be Anthony's only option. Begley adds Anthony "would have interest in signing with the Knicks and finishing his career in New York, despite how his Knicks tenure ended."