Even before the Golden State Warriors completed a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the 2018 NBA Finals, a result just about everybody saw coming following what occurred in the final minutes of regulation of the first game of the series, a plethora of rumors regarding the league were already being discussed among fans on social media platforms and Internet forums, and by sports talk radio hosts around the country. In recent years, the NBA has become like the NFL in that pro basketball has no real offseason. Free agency and trade rumors generate headlines and drive interest to the NBA when no games are scheduled, and this says nothing about stories players create with their offseason and off-the-court activities and comments. The NBA is must-see TV 12 months out of the year.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of interesting rumors heading into the summer months are about where Cleveland superstar LeBron James will play his basketball beginning next October. Some believe his best course of action is to remain with the Cavs and attempt to bring a second championship to the city that went 52 years without a professional sports title. Others envision James playing at the supposed “Mecca of Basketball” or on the west coast. What seems certain is that every other NBA rumor, those that make sense and those that leave fans scratching their heads, will take a backseat to yet another “Summer of LeBron.” James can say whatever he wants about the matter. It sure looks like he enjoys being the center of attention each July.
20 LeBron James doesn’t like Houston
Fans of the Houston Rockets hoping LeBron James will create a new super team down south apparently should pump the brakes.
Recently, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal stated during an interview on ESPNLA that James “does not like Houston as a city.”
That, on its own, does not necessarily mean that the three-time champion could not be persuaded to join the Rockets.
However, James will be 34 years old by the end of 2018, and it’s unlikely he has more than a couple of big moves left before he retires. Why, then, would somebody who can write his own ticket go out of the way to live somewhere he doesn’t like when other options are available? Maybe we can scratch the Rockets off James’ list of teams.
19 Kyrie Irving could leave The Celtics
As John Tomase of WEEI pointed out, Kyrie Irving was noncommittal when speaking about remaining with the Boston Celtics long-term during a recent interview. That’s par for the course for Irving, who hasn’t been one to display his cards to those not in his inner circle in the past. Irving’s departure from the Cavaliers not only showed that he wanted to escape playing underneath LeBron James, it also offered proof that Irving is going to do whatever he wants even if such a decision could cost him winning a championship the following season.
It is believed Irving has always wanted to play for the New York Knicks, and the Knicks could pursue him in the summer of 2019.
Boston fans shouldn’t throw their globes in the trash yet.
18 Kemba Walker to Cleveland
Koby Altman, general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has to prepare for both life with and without LeBron James heading into the summer of 2018 and into next season. If multiple rumors and reports are true, Altman may not be interested in the Cavs tanking if James does leave the team via free agency or a opt-in-and-trade.
According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers have looked into trading for Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker.
Perhaps most interesting about this rumor is that the Cavs may attempt to trade for Walker regardless of what James wants to do or is thinking ahead of the draft. Maybe Altman does know more about James’ future than we have been made to believe.
17 Lonzo Ball to leave Lakers
If at least one of several rumors are true, Big Baller Brand may soon have a new home either down south or somewhere out east. The Los Angeles Lakers are apparently high on landing big names this summer, players such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and, of course, LeBron James.
Speculation about the team’s roster as of the middle of June is that Lonzo Ball could be a piece in a trade for either Leonard or James.
This could, and will, lead to other rumors about Ball, who experienced and up-and-down rookie season. Are the Lakers over dealing with Ball’s outspoken father? Is it possible James does not want to have anything to do with the BBB circus? How would Lonzo feel about living in downtown Cleveland? This saga could have many twists and turns.
16 Golden State Warriors had locker room problems?
Here is one NBA rumor we didn’t expect to see following the Warriors winning a third championship in four years. Mark J. Spears of The Undefeated recently wrote about how Golden State forward David West admitted all was not well within the team’s locker room throughout the 2017-18 campaign.
“There were some things internally,” West said.
Those of us who don’t work for the franchise may never know what West meant. As Karl Buscheck of 95.7 The Game wrote, Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams apparently cannot offer any answers regarding the matter. Big personalities can, at times, get into big arguments and annoy each other over time. Winning fixes everything, so goes the saying, and Golden State can’t stop winning championships as the NBA’s current dynasty.
15 Kawhi Leonard to the Cavaliers
Those of us who do not have a personal relationship with LeBron James can only speculate on where he wants to play basketball beyond the summer of 2018. It’s possible James has not made his final decision about the matter, even following the NBA Draft. If James is serious about wanting to end his career with the team that drafted him and with his hometown franchise, the Cleveland Cavaliers trading for Kawhi Leonard could be one move that keeps the King in Northeast Ohio.
As Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote, the Cavs have numerous options available for this transaction. It seems unlikely Cleveland would be able to acquire Leonard without trading Kevin Love to San Antonio, but stranger things have happened in this league.
14 Paul George sending hints via Instagram
Perhaps people assuming that Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Paul George would leave his current club to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers jumped the gun. As Cody Taylor of Thunder Wire/USA Today explained, the New York Times’ Marc Stein wrote in his newsletter that the belief around the NBA is that the Thunder have a good chance of keeping George.
One reason this opinion has grown is because George was willing to share an Instagram picture of himself after he went arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Why this may or may not be a hint of what George was thinking at that time is anybody’s guess, but LA fans thinking that both George and LeBron James could help spark a new Lake Show may have cause for concern.
13 Kevin Durant already eyeing retirement
Per ESPN staff writer Chris Haynes, two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant has told a business partner that he could retire when he is 35 years old. For what it’s worth, Durant will turn 30 years old in September of this year. Durant appeared to pour cold water over that story during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live following the NBA Finals, but what’s done is done.
Throughout the sports world, the NBA included, history tells us that athletes who may already be planning for when they could walk away for good could check-out sooner than others. Durant’s legacy is already secure, and he is still going to make a fortune over the next five years. Still, it is interesting that he is already thinking that far ahead.
12 Lakers don’t like player diss tracks
Los Angeles Lakers teammates Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma had some fun taking shots at each other via social media throughout the 2017-18 season. It appears, however, that not everybody is laughing about the matter. As explained by Hoops Hype, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne recently reported that this supposed non-feud has “crossed a line” and that the Lakers aren’t amused with the idea of Ball and Kuzma releasing diss tracks about each other, especially right as the franchise is trying to sign big-name free agents such as LeBron James and Paul George.
If nothing else, the idea that James would be ready to put pen to paper on a deal with the Lakers only to then change his mind because of Ball’s latest diss track is pretty funny.
11 Warriors could sign Anthony Davis
Whenever somebody came up with the notion of the rich getting richer, they may have had this exact rumor in mind. As Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus wrote, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic recently offered his scenario for how the Golden State Warriors could land All-Star Anthony Davis.
Davis would probably jump at the opportunity to leave the New Orleans Pelicans to join the Warriors, while the trade would likely cost Golden State assets such as Klay Thompson and maybe also Draymond Green.
If, however, the Warriors were able to retain one of those stars and also acquire Davis, basketball fans all around the world may want to get used to the idea of the Warriors ruling the West for the foreseeable future.
10 Kenyon Martin says LeBron James and Paul George are signing with the Knicks
Whenever we think “NBA Insider” and somebody who knows where LeBron James will play later this year, former player Kenyon Martin probably doesn't immediately come to mind. Earlier this month, Martin appeared on WFAN in New York to offer his opinion about NBA free agency rumors. "I think LeBron is coming to the Knicks. LeBron and Paul George," Martin said during the radio hit.
In Martin’s defense, it is not the wildest notion to believe James could call Madison Square Garden home.
James could, as Martin described, build a different type of super team in New York, and it isn’t a secret that James is fond of new New York head coach David Fizdale. Making this move would unquestionably make James the biggest star in the biggest sports market on the planet.
9 Andre Iguodala trolled Warriors about signing with Kings
Here is an NBA rumor that is far more funny than serious, and a reminder that, sometimes, star athletes like to have fun just like us. As Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports wrote not long after the NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said on Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post that Andre Iguodala pranked the franchise about signing with the Sacramento Kings in the summer of 2017.
In fact, Kerr and general manager Bob Myers apparently wished Iguodala the best in his future endeavors before he came clean and told them he was coming back to the Warriors for another run. Say what you will about the Warriors dominating the NBA. They aren’t boring behind the scenes and during the summer months. Maybe Iguodala had something to do with those "things internally."
8 Draymond Green vs. Tristan Thompson
Those who watched the 2018 NBA Finals saw things get a little chippy between Draymond Green and Tristan Thompson. It appears that was not merely a matter of two warriors fighting it out on the figurative field of battle. While celebrating the team’s championship at the parade, Green said that he and Thompson “ain’t cut the same” and also that he refused to shake Thompson’s hand after Game 4.
You may recall that Thompson challenged Green to “meet him after” the two got into a shoving match late in Game 1 of the series.
These two clearly are not close to mending fences or sending each other Christmas cards in the future. We cannot wait to watch the next chapter in this feud unfold or learn more about it in the summer.
7 Celtics tried to trade for Kawhi Leonard
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a “Woj Bomb” on June 13 when he reported that the Boston Celtics attempted to trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard. While it’s understandable any team, let alone the Celtics, would want to get better by landing Leonard, it’s interesting, as NESN’s Darren Hartwell pointed out, that Kyrie Irving was still healthy and in the Boston lineup at the time the initial trade offer was made.
Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, his current club, are apparently not the best of friends these days, and he is probably going to want to get paid via a “supermax” contract to remain with the franchise. Boston fans would obviously welcome Leonard to the C’s, but the team may have a difficult time holding onto a different star past the spring of 2019.
6 LeBron to give Cavs early scoop on where he is going
We may not have to wait as long as originally thought to learn if LeBron James has any real intentions of staying with the Cavs following the 2017-18 season. Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Basketball Society Online has claimed that a source familiar with the three-time champion told him James will tell the Cavs if he is staying or going on Wednesday, June 13, meaning you may know what James told his current employer by the time this piece is published.
Why would James give Cleveland this information so early?
Is it a sign that he wants the team’s front office to get busy building around him, or would it be him doing the Cavs a solid and letting them know it’s time to blow things up and start anew?
5 Kyrie Irving traded for Kristaps Porzingis
This time of the year isn’t known as the NBA “silly season” for nothing. ESPN’s Austin Tedesco recently floated out an interesting idea that involved the New York Knicks sending Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah to the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving and a draft pick.
The Celtics can deal with the anchor that is Noah’s absurd contract, Boston would land a superstar player coming off a torn ACL in Porzingis and the Knicks would have a full year to convince Irving that New York should be his full-time NBA home. Getting rid of Noah would also help the Knicks in free agency past the 2018-19 season. As crazy as the notion may sound, Boston should at least consider this without knowing that Irving wants to remain with the club after next June.
4 Kawhi Leonard wants to go to the Lakers
Not too long after it was reported that San Antonio Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard wanted to force a move from his current club, rumors surfaced that he prefers to go to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that could, potentially, unite him with LeBron James in California assuming James is eyeing a relocation to the west coast.
Leonard may, in fact, have that destination in mind, but remember that the Spurs are not in a position where the team has to trade him to a Western Conference rival. Because of this, there are also several rumors linking Leonard with Eastern Conference sides. One of those happens to be the team that currently has James on its roster as of the typing of this piece.
3 Josh Cribbs reports Russell Westbrook is going to Cleveland
If former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and kick returner Josh Cribbs is right, Cleveland fans have nothing to worry about regarding the future of LeBron James. On June 10, Cribbs tweeted that James was recruiting none other than Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook to join him in Cleveland.
Cribbs returned to Cleveland after retiring from the NFL, and it is possible he could have some inside information from the relationships he made over the years.
Yes, the Cavs would have to make the money work, which wouldn’t be an easy task. Owner Dan Gilbert has been willing to spend and spend big since James returned to the Cavs in the summer of 2014, and he may realize a blockbuster move could be his only chance of keeping the King in The Land.
2 LaVar Ball says LeBron is signing with the Lakers
LaVar Ball would probably call Josh Cribbs’ report on LeBron James “fake news.” While appearing on the FS1 program Undisputed on June 12, the outspoken father of Lonzo Ball said that he “knows” that James is signing with the Lakers. You may not always love the Big Baller’s antics or his self-promotion, but he did call his shot ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft when he repeatedly said that the Lakers were going to draft his son.
We’re not suggesting that James and LaVar are texting each other about where they are going to grab dinner during the season. Ball may merely be connecting the dots and believing James’ best opportunity to win a title sooner rather than later is by building a squad with the Lakers. Maybe we’ll see James rock BBB in 2019; nah, probably not.
1 Luka Doncic could drop on NBA Draft night
It was not all that long ago when Euroleague MVP and Euroleague Final Four MVP Luka Doncic was certain to be selected with one of the top-two picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. That is no longer the case.
As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported in late May, the teams currently in possession of the rights for the first three draft picks “are likely to pass on European prodigy in favor of American frontcourt players.” Does this mean one of those clubs is trying to shop its pick so that a different franchise can acquire Doncic? If that isn’t the case, why is Doncic’s draft stock falling as the draft draws near? How far may he drop on the actual night of the draft?
Editor's Note: Doncic dropped to the third spot, getting drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and immediately being traded to the Dallas Mavericks.