NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kawhi Leonard, Warriors' Draft Plans, More
There's a lot going on in the NBA these days. The NBA Finals are either one or two games away from ending. The 2021 NBA draft is set for July 29. And the week after that, free agency will get underway.
So as the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns continue to battle for a title, they and the league's 28 other teams also have a lot to prepare for. They need to figure out who they'll add in the draft, then try to decide how to construct their roster ahead of the 2021-22 season.
As expected, plenty of rumors are swirling about free agency, the draft, trades and more. Here's some of the latest buzz from around the league.
Leonard Likely to Opt Out, but Will He Return to LA?
After spending the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Kawhi Leonard gets to decide whether he'll return for the 2021-22 campaign. The 30-year-old forward has a $36.016 million player option for next season. But even if he declines, he could still work out a new deal with the Clippers.
According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the "most likely scenario" is that Leonard will opt out and become a free agent. But there seem to be conflicting opinions about where he'll go from there.
"Leonard's well-known affinity for Southern California has led various rival front offices to presume that he would have no interest in switching teams for the third time, but the notion that Leonard is unattainable seems to be waning a bit as the Aug. 2 start of free agency nears," Stein wrote.
Of course, Leonard's status for next season is in jeopardy, as he recently underwent surgery to repair a partial right ACL tear. However, Stein reported that the Dallas Mavericks would be among the teams that "will not be dissuaded from pursuing Leonard even if he's forced to miss all of next season."
Leonard is a five-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP, plus he's played well for the Clippers the past two seasons. So it makes sense that teams will be willing to potentially wait a year for him to be healthy before adding him to the rotation.
Could Warriors Trade Both of Their 1st-Round Picks?
Last year, the Golden State Warriors used the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to add center James Wiseman. In this year's draft, they own two lottery picks—the Nos. 7 and 14 selections. However, they may end up not using either of them.
Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that the Warriors have a "Plan A" for the upcoming draft. And in that scenario, they'd be pulling off a huge trade.
"According to a league source, the Warriors' 'Plan A' is to package the Nos. 7 and 14 selections for a starting-caliber player in his prime," Letourneau wrote.
Even though Golden State didn't make it past the play-in tournament this season, it still has a core that could help it return to title contention. Stephen Curry continues to play at an exceptionally high level, while Klay Thompson will eventually get healthy and return to the court.
By moving their two first-round picks, the Warriors are likely to acquire a player who can help them build off last season and potentially get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019.
Will Nets Move Dinwiddie in Sign-and-Trade-Deal?
Even though Spencer Dinwiddie was limited to three games this season because of a partial right ACL tear, there were still rumors that the Brooklyn Nets might deal him before the trade deadline. But the 28-year-old point guard ended up staying with the team for the final year of his contract.
As it turns out, there was a reason why the Nets didn't trade Dinwiddie. According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, Brooklyn wanted to keep him for a potential sign-and-trade situation in which it could then add another key player to its rotation.
It's possible that's still the plan. However, Fischer also noted that Dinwiddie "could also return to the Nets." So there appears to be plenty of uncertainty surrounding his future.
Wherever Dinwiddie lands, he'll be looking to have a bounce-back season. He had a career year with Brooklyn in 2019-20, averaging 20.6 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 64 games. If he can return to that level of production, he'll be a valuable player for either the Nets or another team.