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The Early NBA Offseason Rumor Roundup

A premature look at the potential movements of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and other NBA stars

Paul George, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Kawhi Leonard Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The rumor mill doesn’t stop for anyone, especially not competitive conference finals series tied at two games a piece that feature some of the best players in the league (and the Celtics). As we inch closer to the offseason, here’s a look at potential story lines to keep an eye on:

What’s Up With Karl-Anthony Towns and the Wolves?

Nothing, but also everything? First, Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst said on the former’s podcast that things were “not good internally” in Minnesota after the season, and Windhorst also said on ESPN that teams had been “sniffing around” about Towns “as if maybe there’s something here,” but that the Wolves were not looking to trade him. Duh. That didn’t stop things from getting spicy on Twitter:

NBA players, they troll just like us.

Then, on The Russillo Show this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski diffused rumors by saying that he believed the Wolves would trade head coach Tom Thibodeau before they ever traded Towns. Woj also said that the Timberwolf that could be on the trading block is Andrew Wiggins. But the forward has a five-year, $146 million extension that kicks in next season. Try trading that.

The Wolves are not in a good place for more reasons than just whatever is going on (or isn’t going on) with Towns: Jimmy Butler has two more years on his contract and will be 30 next time he reaches free agency, but he’s already worn out thanks to two stints under the relentless Thibodeau. Towns is their whole future. There’s no way they can give that up.

Can the Spurs and Kawhi Mend Their Relationship?

It is still mind-boggling that this is a question we’ll have to ponder this offseason, but here we are. After a tumultuous season mired by conspicuous rumors and the fraying of a previously working partnership, the Spurs are reportedly aiming to fix their relationship with Kawhi with a five-year, $219 million supermax extension. Any time you can offer a max extension to one of your own players who is also one of the five best two-way players in the league, you gotta do it. No, seriously, if you’re the Spurs, you have to do this.

This is not a surprise. San Antonio isn’t exactly a destination for free agents, and unless the Spurs going to get a king’s ransom in return for Kawhi, it makes no sense to give up on him (see: Cavs, Kyrie). Even if they do want to trade Kawhi, he’d be more valuable on a five-year deal than with just one year remaining on his contract. Passing up an extra year of security and about $30 million in guaranteed money is a risky move after an injury year, but if this situation is as unfixable as it has seemed throughout this season, then Kawhi could be on the trade block. Buckle up.

Clairvoyant C.J.?

On Tuesday’s live Woj Pod, C.J. McCollum was asked about courting Paul George.

“I already tried to get Paul George once,” he said. “He already turned us down once. You can only shoot your shot so many times in the DMs before you just have to give up. He left me on read receipt, you know [laughs].”

We’ve all been there, C.J. He continued: “I wish him nothing but the best, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy that California sunshine next season.” The crowd made a noise, and McCollum quipped back: “What? It’s the truth.”

In a little over a month, we’ll be able to tell if McCollum had inside info or whether he was just blowing smoke. Here’s where I remind you that George had offseason surgery to scope out his knee in California and will miss six to eight weeks before returning to basketball activities. That seems like a big deal. George clearly wants to play in L.A., and it doesn’t seem like one season in the cast of The Russ Show will change that. Then again, George is also not built to be a no. 1 option, so will he go to L.A. only if another certain star decides to join him?