NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Potential Ben Simmons Trade, Lauri Markkanen and More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 19, 2021

NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Potential Ben Simmons Trade, Lauri Markkanen and More

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The NBA recently announced that the first games of the 2021-22 season will take place Oct. 19. Not only that, but the league also unveiled the star-studded matchups that will take place on Christmas Day.

    Even though it's exciting to look ahead to the return of basketball, it's still the offseason. Teams aren't done making moves, and players and coaches aren't thinking about regular-season games. In fact, there could still be some substantial moves that occur to shake things up before the season begins.

    Here's some of the latest buzz from around the NBA with the offseason in full swing.

Timberwolves Remain Interested in Simmons?

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Ben Simmons has been featured in trade rumors all offseason, and the Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of the teams with reported interest in the Philadelphia 76ers point guard.

    According to The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, the Timberwolves have "continued to have discussions" with the Sixers about a Simmons trade. But as mentioned in some previous reports, there appear to be hang-ups that are preventing a deal from being completed.

    "The lack of win-now assets they could provide the Sixers in their pursuit of a championship has been a hindrance," Krawczynski wrote. "A third team would almost assuredly have to be brought in to get more immediate impact assets to the Sixers, and that is a complicated endeavor."

    Krawczynski also noted that Minnesota could include newly acquired point guard Patrick Beverley in an offer for Simmons. Beverley has already been traded twice this offseason, going from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Memphis Grizzlies to the Timberwolves.

    But for now, Simmons remains in Philadelphia and chatter continues to take place with uncertainty surrounding his future.

Could Bulls, Mavericks Swing Markkanen Deal?

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Because Lauri Markkanen is a restricted free agent, the Chicago Bulls remain in control of the situation of the 24-year-old forward. They can either bring him back, or they can facilitate a deal to get him to another team if they decide they want to part ways.

    According to The Athletic's Tim Cato, the Dallas Mavericks remain interested in trying to acquire Markkanen, but the Bulls aren't "incentivized in helping the Mavericks for no cost at all." While the Mavs would like to try to sign Markkanen using their $11 million traded player exception, per Cato, that may be tough to make happen considering Markkanen could be looking for more money.

    So Dallas could instead try to arrange a trade in which it sends some salary back to Chicago. If that's the case, Cato reported that one player the Bulls may want is forward Maxi Kleber.

    "I've heard Chicago has interest in Kleber; it's a riskier deal for Dallas giving up both a rotational player and signing Markkanen to a higher salary point," Cato wrote.

    Perhaps that means it will come down to just how much the Mavericks want to add Markkanen, a four-year NBA veteran who has provided consistent play during the start of his career.

Which Other Free Agents Could Lakers Sign?

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers have been busy this offseason, and they have frequently been dipping into the free-agent market to sign more experienced veteran players. It seems that strategy hasn't changed as the Lakers look to add the final piece or two to their roster.

    Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Los Angeles has recently worked out a trio of guards: Isaiah Thomas (32), Darren Collison (33) and Mike James (31). However, the Lakers aren't close to signing any of the three, and they may wait to bring players into training camp to compete for the open spots, according to Haynes.

    Los Angeles has 12 players under contract for the 2021-22 season and will be looking to end up at 14, as Haynes noted the team's top priority is signing a third point guard. It could also look to add another wing player.

    Of the three guards who recently worked out for the Lakers, Thomas could have the best chance of ending up with the team as he looks to return to the NBA after playing only three games last season. Haynes reported that Thomas worked out with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on Tuesday in Los Angeles.