NBA Rumors: Rounding Up Buzz on Ben Simmons, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 3, 2021

NBA Rumors: Rounding Up Buzz on Ben Simmons, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The NBA offseason is quickly approaching, and there are plenty of star players with uncertain futures. Some could soon be testing free agency, while others may get traded from their current teams. But either way, some won't be 100 percent sure who they'll be playing for during the 2021-22 season.

    Considering the 2020-21 campaign still isn't over and the new season won't begin until October, there are going to be a lot of rumors between now and then. 

    Here's some of the latest buzz pertaining to several of the NBA's top stars.

76ers Will Still Only Trade Simmons for Package with Star

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Will the Philadelphia 76ers trade Ben Simmons? There continue to be rumors swirling about the 24-year-old point guard and where he could be playing in a potential new chapter of his career. 

    If he's to leave Philadelphia, it appears the 76ers will have to be really enticed. According to Jason Dumas of KRON4 News, the Sixers "continue to hold a stance that they will only trade him for an All-Star-caliber player." And so far, it seems Philadelphia hasn't received an offer that fits the bill.

    Dumas reported that the 76ers rejected an offer from the Indiana Pacers that included guard Malcolm Brogdon and a first-round draft pick. So Philadelphia is expecting to receive bigger assets than that.

    Perhaps Simmons will return to Philadelphia, where he's spent his first four NBA seasons, especially if the 76ers don't receive any larger offers. But there's still plenty of time for that to change, and there's surely going to be more buzz regarding Simmons' status.

Will Leonard Be Back with the Clippers Next Season?

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Kawhi Leonard has a $36.016 million player option with the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2021-22 season. Despite that, there's already been some buzz about where the 30-year-old forward could go if he leaves L.A., as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported that the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat are looking to make a "hard push" to acquire Leonard.

    However, that may not end up mattering. According to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times, league insiders continue to believe that Leonard coming back to the Clippers is the "most likely option, while reiterating the difficulty of reading Leonard's intentions."

    Still, Leonard will have plenty to consider. As Greif noted, should Leonard decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent, he could "sign a contract worth 35 percent of the salary cap, in effect worth a projected maximum of $176 million over four years." So that may be an enticing choice for the five-time All-Star to consider.

    Leonard has spent only two years in Los Angeles, but he helped the Clippers reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history this season. And with fellow star Paul George under contract until 2025, there's the potential for plenty more success in the near future should Leonard decide to stay.

Could Paul Leave Phoenix to Head to New York?

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Amid his first season with the Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul is having a ton of success. The 36-year-old point guard is currently preparing to play in the NBA Finals, marking the first time he's made it there in his 16-year NBA career.

    Considering how well Paul and the Suns have fared, it could make sense for him to return for another season. He has a $44.21 million player option for the 2021-22 campaign, so he can come back if he wants to. But what if he decides the best route is to decline and become an unrestricted free agent?

    In that case, it appears the New York Knicks could be a team to watch. SNY's Ian Begley reported that Paul has "come up internally as one of the players the Knicks could target at point guard this summer."

    "If Paul and Phoenix can’t reach an agreement, the Knicks certainly will have the cap space to make him a multi-year offer," Begley wrote. "Several agents for point guards in the 2021 free agent class fear New York as a possible landing spot for Paul."

    At this stage in his career, Paul might want to secure a contract that guarantees he'll be paid well for several more years, rather than potentially just one.