It took all the way till August, but it looks like the NBA offseason is finally here.
The draft, most of free agency and plenty of trades are all in the rearview mirror. But even though the rumor mill has slowed considerably, there are still a few names churning in there.
First off, the Carmelo Anthony saga almost certainly still needs to come to a conclusion before the start of the season.
Then, there's the Brooklyn Nets. Despite being one of this summer's most active teams, it looks like they're not quite done.
And finally, whispers of expansion continue to persist. Does that mean the eventual return of the Seattle SuperSonics? There are hints to be found on all of the above.
Where Will Carmelo Anthony Wind Up?
A move to the Houston Rockets, one of Anthony's preferred destinations, seemed imminent a few weeks ago. But negotiations appear to have stalled, and the logical scapegoat is the player's no-trade clause.
Teams who can't get an assurance Anthony will re-sign after he's traded are understandably hesitant to give up any real assets. And the places Melo wouldn't mind going (Houston and the Cleveland Cavaliers) don't really have the pieces the New York Knicks need to ramp up their rebuild.
As ESPN's Ian Begley points out, that really isn't Anthony's fault:
And even though things are quiet on the trade front from the moment, Begley also reported that talks are still happening:
This may simply be a case of all sides and their fans needing to be patient. The only real deadline will be in February 2018.
Still, carrying this into training camp or the regular season is probably a distraction any team would prefer to avoid.
Brooklyn Nets Still Dealing?
Nets general manager Sean Marks has creatively turned his team's fortunes around since being hired in February 2016.
This summer alone, his willingness to take on other teams' unwanted salaries (Timofey Mozgov, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe) yielded D'Angelo Russell and a first-round pick in 2018.
He took an organization that sold its future for an aging core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams and restocked as quickly and effectively as possible.
And it looks like Marks may not be done. NetsDaily tweeted that Brooklyn's still looking at more potential trades:
Even after all this summer's moves, the Nets still have just over $5 million in cap space. More wiggle room to take on another suspect contract? Given his growing track record, such a move shouldn't be a surprise.
Is the NBA Ready for Expansion?
Free agency is pretty much wrapped up. Few teams have cap space of any significance left, but plenty of recognizable names remain on the market.
FanRag Sports' Dan Clayton tweeted out a list of players who contributed as recently as last season who still aren't on a roster:
With so much talent floating around in an increasingly global sport, is the league ready to add two more teams?
"I believe Seattle should have the first shot," an owner told NBA.com's David Aldridge, on condition of anonymity. "I think a move is more likely than expansion, but right now, neither looks likely."
Perhaps it's not likely now, but the fact owners are talking about expansion means it's at least on their minds.
And logistically, 32 teams just makes sense. Each conference could have four divisions, each with four teams. And realignment could rectify things like Memphis being in the "West."