Belden: Sorting through NBA's summer madness

Ben Belden

In the summer of 2014, the NBA saw LeBron James return home to Cleveland. In 2015, LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland for San Antonio. Still, in 2016, Kevin Durant bolted Oklahoma City to join the Golden State Warriors.

This year, NBA fans didn't even have to wait until free agency officially begins in July for the craziness to start, as the rumor mill has already been ablaze with the speculation of stars once again shifting the path of the NBA universe. On Monday, NBA fans were treated to rumors of stars Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Kevin Love all possibly finding new homes via the trade circuit. On top of that, amid rumors that the Cavaliers have been in talks to make major chances, the announcement was made that the organization would part ways with General Manager David Griffin.

It was just another "manic Monday" in terms of an NBA offseason. On Tuesday, the mania continued:

According to a report by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, it is now the Lakers who are interested in trading for George, despite rumors that the team was unwilling to part with perhaps its two most valuable assets: this year's 2nd overall selection and last year's second overall selection, Brandon Ingram. Still, however, it seems as if the Lakers have been at least mildly spooked by the idea that George may go somewhere as a one-year rental, like the fit in his temporary home, and opt to stay there long-term, despite reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical that Paul George's camp continues insisting that no matter where he goes, he merely is a one-year rental.

One team that was said to be in on the Paul George talks was the Cleveland Cavaliers, who reportedly were looking to move Kevin Love in a deal that would move George to Cleveland. However, it seems as though the Pacers' motivation in moving George was to assemble a team of young, promising players and add a few draft picks in the process.

In that case, the Cavaliers would have to find a third team to take Love off their hands and send assets to Indiana in exchange for the Cavaliers adding George. Assuming that George would only want to stay in Cleveland for a year, this might not be a risk the Cavaliers are willing to take. It seems as if the Cavaliers agree, and although George may find a new home in the coming days, it doesn't appear it will be in Cleveland.

Enter: Jimmy Butler.

Around the time the Cavaliers were making the announcement of parting ways with David Griffin, reports began to surface of their interest in the Chicago Bulls' swingman.

It seems as if those trade rumors have been validated Tuesday, as a report from the Chicago Sun Times indicated that Butler would push the Bulls for a trade to Cleveland. The same report, however, mentions that Kyrie Irving had reached out to former Team USA teammates that he would be interested in forcing the Cavaliers to trade him, should LeBron opt to leave Cleveland when he reaches free agency in the summer of 2018. What started out as a positive report for Cavs fans turned into a real worrisome one in the span of a few sentences.

In regard to Butler to Cleveland, similar reports have indicated that Butler has been in contact behind the scenes with LeBron James and Irving about a trade to the Cavs. Still, fans wonder how such a trade would get done, given the front office vacancy left by Griffin's departure. Despite his absence, though, if the Cavaliers do make a deal in the coming days, Griffin will have had more than a little influence on the final decision. According to a report by Cleveland.com, in his departure, Griffin left behind the plans for a multiple trades including George and Butler.

To add to the drama, it seems as though Chauncey Billups is the front-runner to become the next member of the Cavaliers' front office, according to a report from The Vertical. Billups already has a relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Head Coach Tyronn Lue.

The NBA offseason has only just begun, but it seems as if NBA fans are in for a wild ride between now and the middle of July.

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