In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have added a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our 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:
“Do you see the Knicks signing Greg Monroe this summer? If so, what kind of a fit do you think he’ll be with New York?” — Vinny
I would definitely say that the Knicks are the favorites to sign the big man when he hits free agency this offseason. The team has more than enough cap space to offer Monroe a max deal, something he’ll likely be seeking this summer. I don’t happen to believe that Monroe is a max contract player, a sentiment many NBA teams are likely to share. But New York will be in full desperation mode after enduring all of the losses this campaign, so the franchise will be more apt to overpay for someone like Monroe.
As for how he would fit with the Knicks, the jury is still out. Team president Phil Jackson has indicated that the team is seeking players who can defend, which is in no way Monroe’s forte. I’m also not sold that Monroe and Carmelo Anthony would be a good pairing. Both players like to occupy similar spots on offense, and ‘Melo has been his best when playing the four. New York could use Monroe as a center, but then the team may as well lay out some red carpet in the lane at Madison Square Garden to make opposing players’ trips to the hoop even more accommodating. If Monroe does end up in New York he’ll be an upgrade to what they have had in the post in recent seasons, but I don’t see him and Anthony as a championship-caliber pairing.
“Which coaches do you see getting the axe this offseason?” — Sam R.
Now that the regular season is over we should start seeing some proverbial heads start to roll shortly. I don’t see too many vacancies opening up though, since Orlando, Denver, and Sacramento already changed coaches during the season. The Kings already filled their spot with George Karl, who was a great hire in my view. I don’t think James Borrego is retained by the Magic, nor do I think the Nuggets keep Melvin Hunt. Hunt has a better chance to stay on than Borrego does, but if he’s still running the show next season in Denver it will be because “plan A” failed.
As for the rest of the league, I think Scott Brooks is in real danger of being let go by the Thunder. That franchise probably needs to make a change at this point, and it will likely begin with a new coach. The only other coach who I think could be jettisoned is the Hornets’ Steve Clifford. The franchise had an extremely disappointing campaign, and Clifford could pay the price. I do think he’ll get one more season to turn things around, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if Clifford was let go. Flip Saunders could also end up firing himself so that he can concentrate more on his executive duties. Mike Malone to the Wolves would be a nice fit in that scenario. But my most likely non-interim coach to be let go is Brooks, though he probably wouldn’t be out of work for long.
“Which projected lottery pick this year is the most likely to be a bust?” — Carter
This is always a tough call, and it’s one that has cost numerous executives their jobs. But this one for me is an easy choice. I think this year’s candidate for biggest draft disappointment will be Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, who is currently projected as a top seven pick. Now, I will fully admit to being automatically skeptical of Euro players making the jump to the NBA. While there have been a number of notable exceptions, the washout rate is far too high for my tastes, and I wouldn’t risk an early lottery pick on such an unknown quantity.
Porzingis is uber-athletic, especially for his size. But it takes more than athleticism to make it in the NBA. All the scouting reports that I have read on Porzingis laud his physical tools, which are quite stellar. But he isn’t dominating competition overseas, which is a big red flag for me. While the overseas game has made incredible strides over the years, the competition and talent levels involved pale in comparison to what is awaiting Porzingis in the NBA. Draft history is on my side in predicting Porzingis won’t live up to the billing, though I hope I’m wrong. He’d be pretty fun to watch if he did live up to the hype.
“With the playoffs beginning this weekend let’s get this on record — who do you have making it to the NBA Finals? Who takes home the trophy this season?” — Arthur
I guess it’s prediction time. It really feels wide open this season, as each playoff team has a number of questions heading in. For the NBA Finals I’ll go with the Cavs against the Warriors (if they can stay healthy for once in the postseason). The Cavs are a flawed team, but I’m not betting against LeBron James and company when the spotlight is on. The Warriors have been the best team all season, but the playoffs are a whole different story. Many talented teams have fallen in the playoffs because of lack of experience. Golden State may be a season away, but I’m still going with them as my choice. As for who will be hoisting a championship banner to the rafters…I’ll go with the Cavaliers.
That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks for all of the submissions! I’ll be back next week with more answers to your inquiries.