It’s been a busy week in the NBA with numerous deals being completed or discussed, with teams either loading up for a playoff run, or clearing cap space and stockpiling future assets. In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we now have a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our brand new weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop me a line at [email protected] or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:
“I haven’t looked up the salaries or anything before asking this question, but this is the main framework of the possible deal that I’m asking about. The Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to the Suns for Eric Bledsoe and Brandan Wright. Who says no?” — Z…
Well, as you said, you didn’t do the math on the salaries before asking the question — and for the record it wouldn’t work. The Cavs would be taking back approximately $9MM too much in the deal. But to stick to the purely theoretical aspects, and assuming that more inconsequential players were added to the deal, or a third team was involved for salary matching purposes, it’s the Cavs who say no to this one.
Irving is three years younger than Bledsoe, and he has produced superior numbers to Bledsoe every year that they have been in the league together. Irving is still improving as a player, and has a much higher ceiling than Bledsoe does. With the acquisition of Timofey Mozgov, Cleveland should be relatively set in the middle. Neither player is worth parting with Irving over, though adding Wright for depth would certainly be appealing to the Cavs.
One trade that I would consider if I were these teams would be dealing Tristan Thompson for Wright and a second-rounder. The money works, and Thompson would do very well in Phoenix’s system. But he’s going to be rather difficult for the Cavs to re-sign given Cleveland’s cap situation. The Suns could certainly afford to part with the pick, and Cleveland is hurting for draft picks in the wake of its dealings this season. If I could add Wright and a draft pick (or two) for Thompson, that’s a yes both ways in my book.
“If the Sixers finally land the No.1 overall pick in the draft lottery, who will they take?” — Doug R.
That’s a difficult call, Doug. Jahlil Okafor is the consensus No. 1 pick, but Philly already has Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel on its roster. If GM Sam Hinkie wants to build a cohesive team, rather than just stockpile assets, he’d likely select Emmanuel Mudiay, who is the top backcourt prospect in the draft. Although, with Hinkie, you never can tell what will happen. He could select Okafor, and then try and deal Noel or Embiid for another draft pick or two. With Michael Carter-Williams reportedly on the trading block, selecting Mudiay would make the most long term sense given the current Sixers roster.
“I am wondering what the Sacramento Kings are doing to improve their team. Ever since Michael Malone was fired, it seems like they’ve been “active” in the market to create a smokescreen over the poor decision to fire Malone. Are the Kings actually being “active”? Are they actually going to make a push to make the playoffs?? It’s very aggravating having a lot of back and forth actions occur and I don’t know what to expect from the Front Office or the team on a daily basis.” — David
Hey David. I feel your pain, and yes, the Kings seem like a bit of a mess right now as an organization. Sacramento is indeed being active, though making deals with the playoffs in mind would be ill-advised. The team is six games back (as of this writing) from the final playoff spot, and the West is truly a brutal conference. Sacramento is reportedly seeking to add a stretch four or an athletic rim protector to pair alongside DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings just made rookie Nik Stauskas available, and they would likely be willing to part with the expiring deals of Derrick Williams and Reggie Evans as well. Stauskas hasn’t worked out so far, but he’s still young and has upside, though I don’t think he’ll ever be more than an off-the-bench role player in the league. If I were GM Pete D’Alessandro, my first call would be to the Bulls to see if Taj Gibson could be had. It’s doubtful that Chicago would bite, and Sacramento would almost assuredly need to include some draft picks to make any deal, but Gibson would be a perfect fit for what the Kings need.
“If my team misses out on Emmanuel Mudiay in the draft, but needs a point guard, who should it take?” — Rob G.
It’s not a particularly strong draft for guards this year, and Mudiay is likely the only potential superstar of the lot. But there are a couple of very intriguing second-tier prospects available. The next two playmakers in my Draft Rankings are D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) and R.J. Hunter (Georgia State). Russell is rocketing up draft boards, and though he plays shooting guard in college, scouts are projecting him as an NBA point guard. I really like Russell, though he’ll take a season or two to flourish. Hunter is another fast-riser, though in the long term I peg him as more of a sixth man than a starting-caliber player. If your team is selecting in the 20s, I’d take a flyer on Tyus Jones (Duke). Jones is a project, but this kid has all the intangibles you want from a floor general.
That’s all the space I have for this week, so thanks to everyone who submitted their inquiries. Keep on sending in your questions, and I’ll see you back here next Saturday.