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. This week, in an effort to change things up a bit, I’ve invited some of the other staff members to join in on the fun. Now for this week’s inquiries:
“The Suns already tried the multiple point guard lineup and didn’t get good results. Why should I believe that Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe can work together when Goran Dragic and Bledsoe couldn’t? Who is more likely to be dealt if the front office decides to start over–Knight or Bledsoe? Why?” — Larry
Charlie Adams: The Suns played well above expectations with the dual point guard look in 2013/14 so it’s not like they never had success with that kind of lineup. I think the biggest reason they took a step back last year was their less-than-stellar three-point shooting. As a team, they finished just 20th in the league in 2014/15 after finishing eighth in the season prior. Channing Frye‘s departure proved to be a huge blow, but clearly Phoenix has made an effort to bolster its shooting by adding guys like Devin Booker and Mirza Teletovic. Knight can score from downtown, and an improved frontcourt should help with spacing, so I’ll be surprised if the Suns don’t turn out better shooting numbers this year.
Bledsoe and Knight only appeared in 11 games together last season, so it’s a little early to be able to tell how effective the duo will be together. Still, the odds of either one being moved at the deadline don’t strike me as being very high. The Suns moved two prospects and a first-rounder to acquire Knight, and shortly afterward signed him to a five-year, $70MM deal. Bledsoe’s name has come up in trade rumors, but Phoenix’s decision to bring in Tyson Chandler and near-successful pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge say to me that the team is focused on trying to win now and not interested in entering another rebuild process. Of course, it’ll be easier said than done to compete in the West, but Phoenix might be just a piece or two away from boasting a really dangerous squad. Look for them to be active in free agency next summer when the cap rises and they’ve got money to spend.
“Which NBA team surprises you the most in struggling to land big name free agents?” — Brian
Eddie Scarito: I’ve continually been surprised at the difficulty that Dallas has had in landing upper-tier players via free agency. From all outward appearances the organization is first-rate; the team is located in a major metropolitan area, Dallas has a desirable climate, as well as an active and involved owner in Mark Cuban who isn’t afraid to spend money, and who believes in rewarding players’ loyalty. But the Mavs have missed out on quite a few big name targets that they have set their sights on over the past few years (LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron, Melo, etc.), which has certainly disappointed the team and its fans, as well as likely cost Dirk Nowitzki a shot at possibly landing another NBA title. Yes, Dallas did sign Wesley Matthews this offseason … but it was a MAJOR overpay for a player coming off such an extremely serious injury. Sure, Matthews is a solid player who can certainly help the team win, but I’d hardly classify his career numbers as being max contract worthy.
Will Sammon: This isn’t a bad idea, but it wouldn’t quite work in the way you suggest because of the salary cap, which is a big reason why trades in the league seemingly are never quite this simple. The Lakers would have to throw in at least one other player to make this deal work under the cap. But having said that …
It does make sense for the Sixers to deal Noel, though. Sixers coach Brett Brown recently discussed how challenging it will be for Noel and Jahlil Okafor to share the court because they both basically do the same thing. That said, I don’t expect to see the Sixers make the sort of trade that will help the current product in a way that a team seeking to make the playoffs would. There’s been no indication otherwise. If you recall, though, your idea isn’t far-fetched at all because there were rumors early on in the summer about the Sixers moving Noel to Boston in exchange for Marcus Smart. I think there is a better chance that Noel gets traded when he is closer to the end of his rookie scale contract.
“With the latest word about Joel Embiid giving the Sixers problems with his rehab, the issues with Dario Saric‘s father, and it looking like it will be difficult to get him signed, as well as the failure to acquire/draft an actual NBA-caliber point guard….how long can [GM] Sam Hinkie realistically expect to hold onto his job? Give me one move that he could/should make that would restore my faith in his plan….” — Leo
Chuck Myron: Hinkie has the support of Josh Harris, the primary owner, who’s been on board with the aggressive rebuild from the start. I don’t think Hinkie is in any jeopardy, because they both went into this knowing it would be a long slog. Saric said that he, like the Sixers, wished he could have signed this past summer, when his contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes wouldn’t permit him to, and he insists his father doesn’t hold sway. If you believe him, that seems to suggest he’ll sign next summer, which has been the plan all along. I’d also argue that Kendall Marshall, once healthy, will give them more than competent point guard play. Now, Embiid is a different story, and it’s tough to have much optimism about the career of anyone who misses back-to-back years with injury. The concerns about his attitude and conditioning just add to the skepticism about whether he’ll ever pan out, but with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor already in place, the Sixers don’t really need him to. Chances are strong that Philly ends up with four first-round picks for next year’s draft, and if so, the Sixers could package some of them in a trade for a significant talent. I think that could be the move that restores your faith.
“How do outside executives view Andre Drummond? Do they feel he is a max player? Or is this a case of in Detroit you have to overpay?” — Chip
Chris Crouse: Outside of the Pistons organization, there hasn’t been much chatter about Drummond that’s been put out to the public. Detroit seems adamant about re-signing the big man and its unlikely another team even gets a chance to have negotiations with him, similar to the Khris Middleton‘s situation with the Bucks. If he did get a chance to hit the open market and meet with teams, I believe a rival suitor would offer him the max. Drummond has the potential to be a franchise player and there are few centers in the league that possess that ceiling.
That’s going to put a bow on this week’s column. Thanks to all who sent in their inquiries. Please keep them coming, and we’ll return next Saturday with more responses.