In some ways, the National Basketball Association offseason is more exciting than the league’s regular season. The majority of knowledgable fans realized the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers would be the two teams to again meet in the NBA Finals in June 2017, and most assumed the Cavaliers didn’t have enough firepower to hang with Golden State in a seven-game series. That, of course, proved to be accurate, as the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in five games to win a second title in three seasons. Since the end of the Finals, the NBA has been dominated by rumors and transactions involving big-name players making moves as clubs attempt to keep up with both Golden State and Cleveland months ahead of the start of the 2017-18 season.
One shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that many interesting and noteworthy current NBA rumors you need to know about this summer involve none other than Cleveland Superstar LeBron James. After all, James moves the needle, as it pertains to television ratings, and generates clicks more so than most athletes because of his fame. It also doesn’t hurt that James could change the landscape of a conference and even the league by deciding to again leave the Cavaliers to sign with a different team following next season. He could be persuaded to do so were the right situation to arise, and such speculation has created several fascinating rumors that shouldn’t be ignored by passionate basketball followers or by casual fans who only tune into games once the playoffs begin.
15 ‘Melo Wants Out
Odds are you probably haven’t been following the NBA all that closely over the last several years if you don’t know the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony want and need a clean break from each other. That may prove to be easier said than done. Anthony would obviously prefer a buyout, as doing so would allow him to leave the Knicks on his own terms and keep all options on the table for him at any point.
The Knicks, meanwhile, understandably want to receive at least some compensation, and, thus, rumors that Anthony could be traded to a club such as the Houston Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers have surfaced. As of the posting of this piece, Anthony’s basketball home come next October is just about anybody’s guess.
14 LeBron James Still Resents Dan Gilbert
When LeBron James left Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, Cavaliers team owner Dan Gilbert responded by writing a letter in which he trashed his former employee. In a video released by Uninterrupted this past June, James spoke about the letter and also Gilbert, and it’s clear the Superstar still isn’t on the best of terms with Gilbert.
In fact, there were even portions of the segment where James didn’t mention Gilbert by name. The reason this rumor is relevant is that James has already brought a championship to Cleveland, meaning he may not feel much regret in ditching Gilbert and the Cavaliers next summer to make a move to what he sees as greener pastures in 2018. This rocky relationship could change the NBA before the end of the decade.
13 Banana Boat Crew Unite On The Court
The previously mentioned James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have become known as the “Banana Boat Crew” because of how those players like to spend parts of their vacations on bodies of water.
Don’t look now, but the situation could arise in July 2018 where all four men could feature for the same team. All four could enter free agency next summer, and not all will sign max contracts with any franchise. Paul joined the Houston Rockets via a trade following the 2016-17 season, and the other members of the crew could be persuaded to link up with him in Houston or join up with a club available to sign multiple big-name free agents such as the Los Angeles Lakers next summer.
12 Kevin Love Trade
Here is another current NBA rumor that has become impossible to ignore because it seemingly arises just about every month of the year. The main point behind these rumblings is that the Cleveland Cavaliers cannot, as the team’s roster exists today, defeat the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals unless calamity strikes the Warriors or the Cavaliers move a piece to obtain additional talent and depth.
Forward Kevin Love continues to be mentioned in these rumors, largely because he's considered the most movable valuable asset playing for Cleveland. Love could be included in a transaction that involves Carmelo Anthony playing alongside LeBron James with the Cavaliers next season. Such a trade may need to include multiple teams because of salary reasons, but there’s little question the Cavs will plan to look at all options considering James could be enticed to leave the franchise in July 2018.
11 Dan Gilbert Low-Balled Chauncey Billups
Many observers were left dumbfounded upon learning that Cavaliers franchise owner Dan Gilbert and team General Manager David Griffin decided to part ways after the 2017 NBA Finals. There were rumblings money was an issue, and those rumors became more believable after ESPN reported the Cavaliers offered a “below-market salary” to former player and future would-be executive Chauncey Billups.
This is important because the team’s front office is still without a General Manager following the July 4th holiday, which shows there is, at the very least, a little dysfunction hovering over the three-time reigning and defending Eastern Conference champions. Perhaps this uncertainty coupled with the fact nobody knows if James will remain with the club explains why the Cavs haven’t attracted any noteworthy stars in July 2017.
10 Derrick Rose to Milwaukee?
The future of guard and former NBA MVP Derrick Rose is very much in doubt after the first full week of July. Unless the Atlanta Hawks match the four-year, $71 million offer sheet awarded to Tim Hardaway Jr. by the New York Knicks, it's almost a certainty Rose has played his final home game at Madison Square Garden.
One team to keep an eye on regarding the 28-year-old is the Milwaukee Bucks. Rose will likely have to take a pay cut next season to prove his durability and worth to NBA franchises, clubs such as the Dallas Mavericks, allegedly linked to Rose in rumors, are looking to get younger, and the Bucks have the opening and the need for a former Superstar who would be a rental.
9 Could Kyrie Irving Leave Cleveland?
All indications are that this current NBA rumor isn’t going to disappear at any point between July 2017 and the start of June 2018. According to reports, Superstar Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving, the man who made the franchise-changing three-pointer late in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals versus the Golden State Warriors, could force a trade from the Cavaliers if LeBron James takes his talents elsewhere for the second time of his career.
Irving is currently signed through the spring of 2020, and he unquestionably has MVP talent when at his best. He would undoubtedly be worth quite a lot on the trade market, and the Cavaliers may have no other choice than to move him and begin a massive rebuild if James isn’t planning on remaining in Cleveland through the end of his career.
8 Kristaps Porzingis’ Future
Even the idea that the New York Knicks could possibly shop big man and fan-favorite Kristaps Porzingis at any point in the foreseeable future may have resulted in the club moving on from former team president Phil Jackson. All automatically assuming Jackson’s ouster guarantees Porzingis will remain in the Big Apple on a long-term basis need to pump the breaks on those hopes.
The Knicks are not anywhere close to competing for a spot near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and keeping "Lordzingis" and also moving on from Carmelo Anthony in one way or another won’t make the Knicks a contender anytime soon. Porzingis is the Knicks’ only real asset at the moment, which is why trading him, if the right offer were to come along, cannot immediately be brushed aside by those running the franchise. Sorry, New York fans.
7 DeMarcus Cousins to Cleveland?
Here’s a rumored Cleveland trade that actually doesn’t involve forward Kevin Love leaving the Cavaliers before October 2017. In this scenario, the Cavaliers could send center Tristan Thompson to the New Orleans Pelicans for DeMarcus Cousins in a like-for-like trade.
Thompson was lackluster against the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, but he has three years left on his current deal. Cousins, meanwhile, has only one season left on his contract, which could entice a New Orleans side that clearly isn’t winning a title next June to pull the trigger on this transaction. Yes, this trade could leave the Cavaliers in quite a scary predicament next summer, but the club is currently in win-now mode. They’ll worry about July 2018 when it arrives.
6 Rajon Rondo To The Lakers
31-year-old guard Rajon Rondo clearly isn’t the player of old anymore, and he was never a real fit during his brief tenure with the Chicago Bulls. Neither of those facts mean Rondo has nothing to offer to a franchise with a young roster that could use a mentor for a similar player learning how to adapt to life in the NBA as a rookie.
Specifically, Los Angeles Lakers first-year pro Lonzo Ball could learn a thing or two from Rondo. Rondo, meanwhile, would be able to live on the West Coast, make a decent paycheck and quiet critics who believe he isn’t worth a whole lot these days. The Lakers, meanwhile, wouldn’t have to worry about Rondo eating up a massive amount of salary cap space.
5 Koby Altman is Cleveland General Manager?
We again look at the front office of the Cavaliers. Once the club failed to land Chauncey Billups as the team’s next General Manager, speculation and rumors began to rise that Koby Altman, an unexperienced 34-year-old most people who aren’t fans of the Cavs have never heard of, is currently the top man sitting in the seat most recently occupied by David Griffin.
At this point, it seems like Altman will remain in that role, which says a lot about the state of the Cavaliers. Perception is reality, so goes the famous saying, and the perception here is that nobody who has anything to lose wants to be the general manager for a team dealing with James’ uncertain future, other headaches and the expectation that failing to win a title next June would be seen as failure.
4 Klay Thompson Trade?
The Golden State Warriors clearly have the best team in the NBA and the makings of the league’s next dynasty, but those running the club have some difficult decisions to make over the next couple of years. Stephen Curry isn’t going anywhere, Draymond Green should be a Golden State mainstay for the foreseeable future and Kevin Durant is an MVP candidate worth whatever amount of money he wants.
Logic, thus, suggests the Warriors may consider trading Thompson before or during the summer of 2018. The harsh truth of the matter is that Thompson, who is still signed for another two years, is surplus to requirements, and getting something for him would be better than losing him to free agency. Rumors about Thompson’s future will only heat up between July 2017 and next winter’s trade deadline.
3 76ers Will Get Nothing for Jahlil Okafor
The Philadelphia 76ers have, to borrow the phrase, been “processing” for several years, but there’s hope the club is finally going in the right direction. Promising rookie Markelle Fultz and free-agent acquisition J.J. Redick are set to join up with Joel Embiid, who showed to have Rookie-of-the-Year talent when healthy and able to contribute. Add Ben Simmons to the list, and Jahlil Okafor seemingly becomes the odd-man out.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, franchises around the NBA likely also see the writing on the wall regarding the team’s current situation, meaning Philadelphia probably won’t get much, if anything, for Okafor at any point in the near future. Hoping to cash in on a trade for Okafor is part of “The Process” that didn’t work out for the 76ers.
2 Giannis Antetokounmpo Leaving Milwaukee?
Milwaukee Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently on a deal set to keep him with the franchise through 2021, and he’s too valuable and too talented for the club to even consider trading him for anything between now and next February. With that said, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on July 6th the clock for Antetokounmpo’s eventual exit from the Bucks is “already ticking” in the eyes of some around the NBA, so much so that executives are dreaming up scenarios for how to acquire his services.
If things go terribly wrong for the Bucks and the club is a disaster next July, Antetokounmpo’s future could become very interesting. Such a scenario would also affect moves made by any team looking to build a winner for the now and the long-term future.
1 LeBron to LA?
It’s only fitting we end with one final rumor about the future of LeBron James. James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2018 makes all kinds of sense, and not only because there are rumors his wife would like to live on the West Coast, where the family already has a home.
By making the move next summer, James could build his next, and possibly final, “superteam” with a club filled with a combination of promising young talents and also the necessary cap space needed to allow the three-time NBA champion to court his friends and create this decade's version of “Showtime.” Unless James publicly comes out and silences this rumor once and for all — something he probably won’t do — expect such whispers to only grow over the next 11.5 months.