NBA rumors: LeBron's free agency plans revealed, Trae Young buzz, Nets finalize next coach

  • Nets to hire Kings associate Jordi Fernandez as next head coach
  • NBA sources 'believe' Hawks will trade Trae Young in offseason
  • LeBron James expected to opt out of Lakers contract for one key reason
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers / Tyler Kaufman/GettyImages

The NBA Playoffs are here and we have plenty of great basketball on the docket in the days to come. That said, it never hurts to look ahead and think, "what's next?" The NBA offseason has already arrived for one third of the league. Several more teams will meet their demise over the next couple weeks, and more after that until one team is left standing in the Finals.

We can already feel the winds of change blowing in league circles. The NBA rumors mill is churning at record pace, even with a relatively weak draft and free agency class this summer. Here are the happenings you need to be aware of today.

NBA rumors: Nets finalizing Jordi Fernandez as next head coach

The Brooklyn Nets reportedly narrowed their head coaching search down to three names before reaching a final decision. While 2021 NBA champion Mike Budenholzer was heavily speculated as the potential solution to Brooklyn's woes, it will be Sacramento Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez taking over the Nets' lead job. The news arrives from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Nets conducted a "month-long" search before landing on Fernandez, who has spent the last two seasons as Mike Brown's right-hand man in Sacramento. Before that, Fernandez was an assistant to Mike Malone with the Denver Nuggets from 2016-22. He's also head coach of the Canadian National Team, replacing Nick Nurse last year and winning Bronze at the FIBA World Cup.

Fernandez has been a hot name on the coaching carousel for a few years now. With a background in sports science and psychology, Fernandez has earned glowing reviews from his NBA peers. He gets the chance to rebuild the culture in Brooklyn, where stagnation has set in. The Nets' front office can feel aimless, but all it takes is one star to show interest in the "lesser" New York team for the Nets to quickly reshape their image.

Brooklyn is taking an inherent risk with an unproven, rookie head coach. Budenholzer has a career 60.4 win percentage and he's a recent NBA champ. But, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Fernandez will be successful based on the teams and coaches he came up with.

NBA rumors: Trae Young trade is expected if Hawks can find suitor

The Atlanta Hawks are the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, set to battle the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. Barring an unexpected run — and we mean unexpected — the Hawks' season will be over within the week. A long and introspective offseason awaits that front office, with GM Landry Fields presumably on the hot seat.

Atlanta considered blowing it up with a Dejounte Murray trade at the deadline, but it fell through. That would have been a half-measure anyways. If the Hawks want a hard reset, it's time to trade Trae Young. According to Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, league sources expect that to happen this offseason.

"Many sources around the NBA believe Young will be on the move this summer—assuming Atlanta can find a buyer."

The "assuming Atlanta can find a buyer" bit is important, as Young's reputation is undeniably complex. He's a tremendous talent, but it's hard to build a winner around 6-foot, ball-dominant point guards in today's NBA. Young has been the primary constant through years of Hawks mediocrity at this point. He continues to put up prodigious offensive numbers (25.7 points, 10.8 rebounds on .430/.373/.855 splits) and his defensive effort has never been better, but the Hawks simply lack the personnel to win.

Young would look better with the right star apparatus around him. Pincus lists San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn as feasible landing spots. Anthony Davis and Victor Wembanyama are the type of superstars Young could thrive next to. Big, rangy rim protectors who can also space the floor and finish out of a variety of actions on offense. The Nets aren't the worst spot either, assuming Nic Claxton, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Mikal Bridges all stick around. Young needs a solid defensive foundation around him.

We collectively underrate Young at this point — he's still a top-30 NBA player — but the Hawks need a fresh start. It's probably time to bite the bullet.

NBA rumors: LeBron James expected to seek no-trade clause in free agency

For really the first time in his career, LeBron James was the subject of trade rumors this season. The Golden State Warriors called the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline and were flatly rejected. LeBron didn't want to leave. While the odds of L.A. trading James are slim, we know there are members of the front office who want to hit the reset button.

That will impact James' free agency plans, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. In a recent episode of 'The Hoop Collective' podcast, Windhorst spoke about James' expected offseason approach as he looks to secure stability in the home stretch of a historic NBA career.

"I think LeBron's gonna opt out no matter what. And the reason I think he's gonna opt out no matter what is even if he just signs back for one year, the only functional way for LeBron to get a no-trade clause is to sign a new contract. If he extends the contract he's in or picks up that option, extends onto it, he can't get a no-trade clause. And I think for a number of different reasons, LeBron would like, ask for and probably be granted a no-trade clause." (h/t Bleacher Report)

James wants a no-trade clause from the Lakers. We have to assume Los Angeles would oblige, lest James get a wandering eye. We know the Philadelphia 76ers are tied to Bronny James in the upcoming NBA Draft, but even if the Lakers don't draft LeBron's son, it's difficult to fathom the circumstances that would lead to James leaving the City of Angels. His roots in Hollywood are too deep.

Still, LeBron is not taking risks and neither should the Lakers. The last few years have been disappointing across the board, but Los Angeles should hang tight to James — still a bonafide top-10 player — for as long as he wants to be there.

The takeaway here is simple: we shouldn't conflate James opting out with James planning to leave. He's simply going to make business decisions based on maximizing profits and stability in LA.

4 Lakers playing their final postseason in Los Angeles. 4 Lakers playing their final postseason in Los Angeles. dark. Next