Massarotti: NBA Rumor Mill Kicks Into Overdrive

By Tony Massarotti

The rumors just keep pouring in, to the point where you can’t help but wonder if you’ve somehow navigated your way onto some fantasy league message board.

Did you hear?

LeBron wants out of Cleveland.

But the Cavs might trade Kevin Love for Paul George first.

But if that doesn’t happen, George is going to the Lakers.

Dwight Howard just got moved to Charlotte.

The Lakers just dumped D’Angelo Russell and are taking Lonzo Ball.

The Celtics are the leaders for Gordon Hayward.

D-Wade is staying in Chicago.

The Knicks are listening on Porzingis.

CP3 wants the Spurs.

The Clips are dangling DeAndre Jordan

And on and on it goes, the NBA Draft still more than 24 hours away.

Holy smokes, sports fans. Is there anything else now like draft week and free agency in the NBA? In the modern, gossip-driven world of the Internet, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, the earnest start of the NBA offseason is a rumor-mongering orgy. There are bodies everywhere, in varied stages of undress, and it’s impossible to know who’s messing around with whom, who’s just flirting and who is not.

So let’s swing, baby.

And for the fences.

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Seriously. The start of free agency in the NFL always provides a whirlwind of activity, but it’s a relative one-night stand compared with the NBA. Football coaches and executives are so focused on practice time and preparation that they waste little time pulling the trigger on actual player acquisitions. They bring `em in, they sign `em, they move on. The whole thing gives you a serious rush, to be sure, but it’s over as fast as it began. And there’s so much going on — and so fast — that it leaves you with a blurry-eyed hangover so bad that you can’t remember much of what just took place.

Wait. Where did Alshon Jeffery end up again? Or DeSean Jackson? And those are the skill guys. Try remembering where the linemen and defensive players ended up.

But then, that’s what training camp is for.

There was a time, of course, when the baseball offseason provided what the NBA does now. But not anymore. If football free agency is too fast, the baseball offseason is too slow. (It also has the only draft that takes place midseason, complete with restrictions on the trading of draft picks that takes out much of the fun and intrigue.) The player market in baseball moves far too slowly — perfect, eh? — and so there is no need to stay fixed to your phone as if you’re waiting for a reply on Tinder.

But basketball? Basketball has it down perfectly. In recent days alone, we‘ve seen trades involving the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, the No. 2 pick in 2015 (D’Angelo Russell) and the No. 1 pick in 2004 (Dwight Howard). Meanwhile, there are rumblings out there about the general dissatisfaction the greatest player in the world (LeBron James), who might either be pushing for a major trade acquisition (Jimmy Butler, Paul George) or leveraging his way out of his hometown (again) to go play for Magic Johnson in Los Angeles.

Of course, we always thought LeBron was the closest thing we’ve ever seen to Magic.

And we’ll say it again: the draft, when many moves are often completed, isn’t even until tomorrow night.

Will all of these moves take place? Of course not. But that is hardly the point. Some already have, and others are likely to, particularly with free agency set to boil. Gordon Hayward is out there. So is Blake Griffin. And Chris Paul. And Kyle Lowry. The list goes on and on. The NBA is about glitz, glamour and stars as much as it is about basketball, and Adrian Wojnarowski’s Twitter feed these days is the sports world equivalent of Page Six.

Which reminds me.

That’s three teams in three years and five teams in seven years for Dwight Howard now.

Doesn’t that make him the NBA’s answer to Jennifer Lopez?

Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.

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