In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have 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:
“What compensation do you think the Bulls will get in return for coach Tom Thibodeau?” — Robin
This is going to be a very interesting situation to watch. It’s been reported that Thibs wouldn’t walk away from the team, so the Bulls will need to fire or trade him it seems. The problem is that just about everyone in the league knows how tenuous the situation is between the coach and the front office in Chicago. That’s not a position of strength for the franchise to negotiate from. The Bulls will likely begin by asking for a first-rounder, but will almost assuredly have to settle for one or two second round draft picks if they do indeed decide to part ways with Thibodeau.
Another potential roadblock is that the Pelicans are seemingly moving away from pursuing Thibodeau, and are reportedly looking for a lower profile coach who won’t get into a power struggle with GM Dell Demps. That probably eliminates one of the three open slots, and the Nuggets have reportedly been looking to become more of a fast-paced offensive team, which in no way plays to Thibs’ strengths as a coach. This leaves the Magic as the only potential suitor, and if that is indeed the case, then the Bulls will have a more difficult time securing a return for their coach. This vacancy may also soon dry up seeing as Scott Skiles is now reportedly the front-runner for the job. It’s very possible that Thibodeau could return for one more awkward season in Chicago as a result. I find it difficult to believe that the Bulls would fire him outright, and if the desired return isn’t there, then the team could try and make the marriage work for one more campaign. But the best case scenario I see for Chicago is snagging a second round pick or possibly two.
“Now that the Draft lottery is set, who do the Timberwolves take with the No. 1 pick?” — Juan
I’m not sure the team has this answer figured out just yet. The current reports have the team leaning toward Jahlil Okafor, but in my gut I believe that Karl-Anthony Towns is the guy for Minnesota, and even have the mock draft to prove it! Okafor is a heck of a talent, but Towns has way more of an upside, is a better defender, and a superior athlete. The idea of pairing Towns alongside Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Ricky Rubio is an intriguing one. The Kentucky big man would also fit better alongside Nikola Pekovic, provided he can recover from his Achilles injury. Selecting Towns would instantly make the Wolves one of the most entertaining teams in the league to watch, though they will still likely end up in the draft lottery next season as well, regardless of who the franchise nabs at No. 1 overall.
“Which potential second-rounder do you see being the best value in this year’s NBA Draft?” — Kyle
I’ll go with former University of Washington center Robert Upshaw, provided he slips into the second round. If not for his substance abuse issues, I’d peg Upshaw as a mid first-rounder. But teams are reportedly reluctant to give him a fully guaranteed deal because of the risk involved, and since first round picks’ contracts are automatically guaranteed, it could mean a potential steal in the second round for a team willing to take a flier on Upshaw.
I will float one other possibility regarding Upshaw. Since the big man is going to need significant D-League time his rookie season anyway, a team could work out an arrangement similar to the one the Thunder did with 2014 first-rounder Josh Huestis. A franchise could make a deal to select Upshaw in the first round, but not sign him for next season. Upshaw could agree to play in the D-League for the 2015/16 campaign, and if he remains trouble-free, then he can ink his NBA deal the following summer. It could be a win-win for both parties.
“So of course the Knicks failed in the lottery. What do they do with the pick? How likely is Phil [Jackson] to trade the pick?” — Bryan
I feel your pain. I’m sure my neighbors weren’t thrilled with my screaming when the Knicks logo was pulled for pick No. 4 on lottery night. I honestly don’t see Jackson trading this pick, or at least he shouldn’t be looking to deal it away. New York needs some young talent in the worst way, and Jackson can still land an impact player at No. 4. Teams won’t likely be willing to trade a star player for the fourth pick in this draft, which is the only reason to even consider a trade here. Of course, Jackson is still an unknown quantity when it comes to the draft, so all bets are off. But in the end I think he’ll have no choice but to keep the pick and try to work his magic via the free agent market.
As for who the team is likely to select, my current mock draft has Emmanuel Mudiay heading to New York. There is virtually no way that Towns or Okafor will be there at No. 4, and I have D’Angelo Russell coming off the board to the Sixers at No. 3. So unless a team reaches and nabs Kristaps Porzingis much earlier than I believe he should be drafted, Mudiay will be the best player available when the Knicks are on the clock. Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley-Stein are also possibilities here, but I still think Mudiay will be the name called by Adam Silver on draft night for the franchise.
Thanks for all of the submissions and please keep them coming! That’s going to do it for this week, but I’ll be back next Saturday with some more responses to your inquiries.