NBA Rumors: Rounding Up Latest Buzz on 2022 Free Agents and Team Draft Plans

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 25, 2022

NBA Rumors: Rounding Up Latest Buzz on 2022 Free Agents and Team Draft Plans

0 of 3

    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    The 2022 NBA offseason is coming alive.

    And it hasn't even officially started yet.

    Still, with 26 of the Association's 30 teams having already learned their 2021-22 fate, there are enough conversations happening to ignite the rumor mill. We're here to track all of its movements and break down the latest buzz.

Suns May Not Match Max Offer for Deandre Ayton

1 of 3

    Michael Gonzales/Getty Images

    Before the season started, the Suns could have kept Deandre Ayton out of this summer's free agency by giving him a contract extension. The top pick from 2018 wanted a full five-year max, and Phoenix balked at the asking price, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst.

    Fast-forward to now, and it sounds like the Suns' evaluation of their starting center hasn't necessarily changed.

    "Ayton is expected to command a maximum salary, sources said, but there is skepticism among league executives the Suns would match such a lucrative offer," B/R's Jake Fischer reported.

    Ayton is a walking double-double (career 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game) and could perhaps be even more productive on a less loaded roster. Interest in the 23-year-old should be significant, as Fischer identified at least five potential suitors. Should one put a max offer on the table, that might be enough to pry him out of Phoenix.

Potential for Major Changes in Atlanta

2 of 3

    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Disappointing seasons often beget busy summers. It sounds like that could be the case in Atlanta after the Hawks' followed last year's run to the Eastern Conference finals by falling into the play-in tournament and being subsequently scorched in the first round by the Miami Heat.

    "League insiders consistently mention Atlanta as a team willing to make wholesale changes," Fischer reported. "Rival executives view all Hawks players aside from Trae Young as eligible for trade."

    Atlanta's roster has long appeared perfectly constructed for a consolidation deal. There are a slew of above-average or better players—many in their prime or still ascending toward it—but there isn't a true co-star for Young. There also aren't nearly enough high-level defenders to balance what's essentially an offensive specialist team.

    If prominent players become available in trades elsewhere, expect the Hawks to be near the forefront of those pursuits. They can outfit win-now teams with win-now talent or send long-term assets to forward thinkers. They could wind up sacrificing some really intriguing players, but if they walk away with a second star, it may all be worth it.

Top Suitors Named for Zach LaVine

3 of 3

    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    This was supposed to be a straightforward, drama-free summer in the Windy City. So much for that.

    Zach LaVine's free agency once appeared as a formality. He would technically hit the market, but only long enough to let the Chicago Bulls slide a max contract across the table for him to sign. Buzz around the combine, though, says LaVine's future with the franchise is "no longer...considered the slam dunk it once was," NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson recently reported.

    While the Bulls "are still considered likely" to keep LaVine, per Fischer, the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers are regarded his "top" suitors if he leaves. The San Antonio Spurs could be another option, per Fischer.

    Chicago strengthened its roster around LaVine this past summer, but it also nudged him out of the spotlight because DeMar DeRozan was so good, particularly late in games. As Fischer relayed, LaVine's reduced role "provides necessary context as to why [he] is suddenly viewed as a gettable free agent from rival front offices."