Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
The NBA regular season wrapped up on Wednesday night, which was horribly disappointing because I still have so many questions that were left unanswered.
I'm sure the offseason will answer most of them but why wait? If you're looking to get inside my brain, here's your ticket. No refunds.
Here are nine fantasy story lines I'll be watching for in the coming months.
1) What do the Wolves do with Kevin Love?
There's two options and if you're a Timberwolves fan, neither of them are great. That's because both of them involve K-Love leaving.
The first option would be to trade Love. That way at least the Wolves would get something back for him before he inevitably leaves in free agency (he has one year left on his current deal). And the other option is just that, to let Love walk for nothing.
Obviously, the first option is the one Minnesota's front office should be pursuing. Love has always been fascinated with the idea of being a Laker but that was before L.A. became a D-League team led by the likes of Bob Sacre and Swaggy P. So cross that one off the list.
I'm not saying it's going to happen but don't be surprised if Love ends up in Boston. Doesn't this seem all too similar to 2007 when the C's bottomed out before trading for Kevin Garnett who, wait for it, had previously played his entire career with Minnesota? There's already a precedent here and at some point the Wolves are going to get desperate.
The center piece of that trade in '07, aside from Garnett, was rising star Al Jefferson. Want to know who Jared Sullinger reminds me a lot of? Al Jefferson.
Rondo, Love, Jabari Parker (hopefully) ... does any team rebuild faster than the Celtics? Trust me, Danny Ainge is up to something.
2) Does it even matter where Carmelo ends up?
The simple answer is no, at least for fantasy purposes. Anthony will always be good for 25 ppg, wherever he plays. He did it in Denver, New York and I'm sure he'd be able to do the same in Chicago or L.A.
But the real reason it doesn't matter is because Carmelo isn't going anywhere. And why would he? The Knicks can offer him more money than anyone else.
Maybe Kobe Bryant will make his case for Carmelo coming to the Lakers. Maybe Joakim Noah will reach out with a phone call or a few texts. But I don't see Anthony taking a pay cut to be part of a big three. He wants to be his own brand and what better place to do that than in New York City? Having Phil Jackson as president only helps the Knicks' chances of keeping him.
3) Is it Timmy's time?
Eventually Tim Duncan is going to call it quits. And if you believe some of the rumors floating around, 2014 could very well be the final chapter of No. 21's illustrious career.
San Antonio's bench isn't chock full of options at power forward (Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes), so the loss of Duncan won't be easy to overcome. The draft isn't much of an option either because the Spurs won't have any top-ten picks. The Spurs could always try their hand at free agency, but the only big man worth signing in this year's class is Pau Gasol (17.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg).
I honestly think Duncan will stay for another year. But at some point, the Spurs are going to have to plan for the future and it starts with finding a replacement for Duncan.
4) Where will the ping pong balls land?
The 2014 NBA Draft is an embarrassment of riches. Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle are all ready-made fantasy superstars. I'm not as high on Joel Embiid, but maybe if he ends up in the right environment, he could be a double-double threat. The Bucks, Celtics, Sixers, Jazz and Magic could all use a lift and luckily help is right around the corner.
But who ends up where? That's up to the ping pong balls.
5) What's next for Kyrie?
Irving is not a happy camper in Cleveland and it sounds like it's been that way for a long time. The power struggle between Irving and teammate Dion Waiters is real and I have a feeling Waiters might win out. Their scoring averages were identical in the second half (19.3 ppg) and Waiters actually shot for a higher field goal percentage (46.0 percent to 43.8).
Point guard is a fairly deep position in the league right now so the trade market for Irving may not be as robust as it would have been in years past. Either way, somebody will have to answer for Cleveland's disappointing tenth place finish (33-49). It could be head coach Mike Brown, who has already been fired by Cleveland once before.
6) Can Larry Sanders pick up the pieces?
Speaking of disappointments, did anyone see Larry Sanders this season? A year after finishing third in Most Improved Player voting, Sanders fumbled his way to 7.7 ppg on 46.9 percent shooting. His rejection rate fell by a block per game (2.8 to 1.7 in 2014) while his free throw percentage plummeted from 61.8 percent in 2013 to 47.3 percent this season.
Sanders, who has already been suspended for the first five games of next season after testing positive for marijuana, can't afford another year like the one he had in 2014 and neither can the Bucks. John Henson (11.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) will be nipping at his heels for playing time and with three years and over $30 million remaining on his current contract, Milwaukee is going to have a hard time trading him. At least the Bucks are probably going to get the No. 1 pick in the draft (hint: take Jabari Parker).
7) Will D-Rose ever be the same?
Well that's the question, isn't it? Rose only scored 20 points twice in his ten-game return from ACL surgery and who knows how long he'll be out after his latest knee surgery.
At age 25, it's not like the clock is ticking on Rose's career but you wonder how much explosiveness he's lost by hobbling around on crutches for the last two years. A full comeback is possible but not likely. The 2011 MVP, once a Hall of Famer in the making, may have to settle for being pretty good for the rest of his career. And that's only if he can make it back to the court.
8) What will the Lakers look like?
The Lakers' starting lineup for most of this year featured Pau Gasol, Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson. That's unacceptable.
The good news is the Lakers basically get to start from scratch. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are still under contract but that's about it. Obviously they'll try to woo Melo but signing him is a long shot.
Nick Young (team-leading 17.9 ppg) is a nice role player but not someone you build your team around. It will be interesting to see what kind of attention he'll attract as a free agent this summer.
But what we're really interested in is the Lakers' foundation, a core of players that includes, Kobe, Nash and Pau Gasol. Nash barely played this year and has already acknowledged the Lakers could amnesty him. Pau's been with the Lakers since 2008 and could want a change of scenery. Which leaves Kobe, a fading superstar with more injuries than even he can keep track of.
Good luck with all that, Mike D'Antoni, or more accurately, whoever replaces Mike D'Antoni when he's fired in two weeks. Yikes.
9) How much does Wade have left?
The Big Three has been a Big Two this year. Chris Bosh's averages (16.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) were mostly on par with what he put up last season (16.6, 6.8) and so were LeBron's. Dwyane Wade, however, took a major step back (19.1 ppg in 54 games, his lowest scoring average since his rookie season) and never seems healthy no matter how much rest the team gives him.
If Wade can't deliver in the playoffs this season, LeBron and Bosh could look elsewhere (both players can opt out of their contract after this season). But more likely, it will mean a reduced role for Wade in the future with guards like Mario Chalmers (9.8 ppg, 4.9 apg) and Norris Cole (6.4 ppg) occupying more minutes.