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:
“If Khris Middleton signs a max salary offer sheet this summer, do you see the Bucks matching it?” — Marcus
First off, I don’t see Middleton getting the max this summer unless a team is steadfast in its determination to make Milwaukee pass on matching its offer sheet. That said, I think the Bucks will likely match any reasonable contract that Middleton inks. Milwaukee isn’t a free agent destination for big ticket players, so the franchise needs to hold onto its assets, or at the very least recoup something in return via a sign-and-trade arrangement if it doesn’t want to pay the forward top dollar. The Bucks have gathered a nice young core, and it would be a shame for the team to take a step backward this offseason. So I say that the team will do its best financially to keep Middleton in Wisconsin for a few more seasons.
“What’s your impression of K.J. McDaniels? Where do you see him playing next season, and what sort of contract will he warrant?” — Benjamin
I’m a big fan of McDaniels, and have been for awhile now. He displayed quite a bit of potential while toiling away for the Sixers early in the season, but did little to distinguish himself in Houston, even before his wrist injury knocked him out of the playoffs. I think his salary ceiling will likely be the mid-level exception, though I would suspect he’ll end up signing for less than that amount, but certainly more than the minimum salary. As for where he might fit in, the Clippers could absolutely use him, as could either the Blazers (if they lose Wesley Matthews), or the Hawks (if DeMarre Carroll departs). The Raptors could also be an option, considering the team’s need to improve on the defensive end of the court.
“Which free agents do the Knicks have a legitimate shot to land this offseason?“ — Riley
The Knicks should be quite active once the July moratorium is lifted and free agents can ink new deals. But with the key word in your question being “legitimate,” that’s where things get a bit muddled. The Knicks have a major market to offer free agents, as well as ample enough cap space to be competitive for any of the available stars. But the team is a mess, to put it bluntly, and it can’t be looked at as a realistic contender in 2015/16…unless LeBron James and another superstar decide to change course and join the Knicks. And that’s not a realistic scenario, though, imagine if in the span of two seasons LeBron were to end the championship droughts in both Cleveland and New York. Now that would truly be a feat!
Since team president Phil Jackson is still a relatively unknown quantity when it comes to roster building, it’s extremely difficult to predict who he might seriously target. If I had to choose who would be the most likely to take team owner James Dolan’s money this summer, I would go with Greg Monroe and Matthews being the two biggest names. Tobias Harris and Carroll are also possibilities, though I question the logic of paying out big dollars to another small forward, considering the huge chunk of cap space already dedicated to Carmelo Anthony.
“Which potential second-rounder in this year’s draft is the likeliest to turn out to be a steal?” — Pedro
This is a tough one to predict because a number of projected second-rounders could creep their way into the bottom of the first-round based on their showing during pre-draft workouts. If he slips to the second round I’ll go with former Washington University big man Robert Upshaw. A player who would likely be a mid first-rounder if not for his documented substance abuse issues. I personally believe that Upshaw will still go in the first round, despite the rumblings that teams won’t risk the guaranteed contract automatically associated with first round draftees.
If not Upshaw, a few other potential second-rounders to keep an eye on are LSU forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, if either of them slip out of the first round. Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson, Bowling Green’s Richaun Holmes, and Arkansas defensive whiz Michael Qualls are also players who are likely to last until round two, and all of whom have the potential to be valuable rotation players in the pros.
That’s going to do it for this week’s batch of questions. Once again let me say thanks for all of the submissions, and please keep them coming! I’ll be back next week with more responses to your inquiries.