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Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 10/4/15-10/10/15

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’s with Markieff Morris‘ sudden change of heart regarding Phoenix? Is he for real, or just putting on a show for the media?” — Stu

I’d think it’s a combination of both at this point. Morris most likely realized that rocking the boat publicly is not a great way to boost your perceived value around the league, and it also makes the front office’s job that much more difficult to swing a deal and get anything of value in return for him. I’d also think that getting around his teammates in Phoenix calmed him down a bit, and changed his perspective.

Is everything fine between Morris and the team now? Probably not. But with the Suns better served to hold off trading Morris until at least December 15th, which is the date when most players around the league can be dealt, it’s certainly in both sides’ best interests to remain somewhat cordial with each other. It should be noted that Morris is eligible to be traded immediately, but the franchise will have a much wider pool of players to discuss after December 15th passes. In the end, I do think Morris gets traded at some point this season, but I’d expect Phoenix will perform its proper diligence and not just give Morris away. At least he’s currently saying the right things to the press…for now. That will only serve to help his cause, though I’m not so sure he’ll end up in Detroit with his twin brother when all is said and done.

Let’s get your preseason predictions for who will be Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. Who do you have?” — Juan

I have to throw out the obligatory caveat that it’s still early, so these will be major guesses, but here goes:

  • Coach of the Year: This is a tough one. I’ll go with Jason Kidd of the Bucks. Milwaukee, with the addition of Greg Monroe, looks poised to take a major step forward in the East, and if so, Kidd could take home the award.
  • Rookie of the Year: Jahlil Okafor. He’ll likely end up being the focal point of Philly’s offense, which should translate into some decent stats this season.
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert. The “Stifle Tower” appears tailor-made to win this award, and if he can avoid a backslide this season, he’ll have a great shot at snagging this honor.
  • Most Valuable Player: James Harden. It’s tough to go against LeBron James on this one, but there were arguments made that Harden should have won the award last season, and this year’s Rockets team is superior (on paper) to last year’s squad, which bodes well for Harden’s hardware chances.

“Should the Knicks start Kristaps Porzingis this season?” Kyle

If he earns it, then absolutely. If not, then the Knicks have themselves a bit of a conundrum. Porzingis certainly has talent, and the more I see of him, the more I like what he can bring to the franchise. The problem for New York is that it has an aging star in Carmelo Anthony, who’s not getting any younger, which adds quite a bit of pressure to win immediately. The young Latvian rookie is still extremely raw, and he needs to take his lumps on an NBA court, not in the D-League or practice, if he is to reach his potential. But throwing him into the fire too soon as a starter could hurt his confidence and development, which is something the team cannot afford.

I’d think the best course of action is for Porzingis to begin the season in the rotation, but have him coming off of the bench. If the season starts going downhill, then throw him into the starting lineup and see what he can do. If the Knicks are winning, then they should stick with what’s working, and if Porzingis shows he can handle the job, then possibly have him start toward the end of the season. It really doesn’t matter if Porzingis is the starter as much as how many minutes he logs this season. I’d say that playing 20+ minutes per night, regardless of whether he’s on the court for the opening tip or seeing duty as a reserve, would be a solid target for him during his rookie campaign.

“Who will be the better NBA player…Emmanuel Mudiay or D’Angelo Russell? Please say Russell!!” Lyle

I’m guessing that you’re a Lakers fan. … Both players have had mixed preseason results thus far, and Russell has been slowed by a minor injury, so the jury is still most assuredly out for deliberation on this one … and will be for some time. But I won’t shy away from taking a crack at calling this one. Both rookies are extremely talented, and I believe each of them will have successful NBA careers, but now I have to disappoint you and opine that Mudiay will ultimately be the better player in the long run. Sorry about that, but here is my reasoning. …

Mudiay is the superior athlete and physical specimen, and he has barely scratched the surface of his potential. Remember, he barely played last season while over in China due to injury, so he’s way behind the curve as far his development goes. So I think that Russell’s career will have a brighter start, but I put quite a bit of stock in physical tools when trying to predict a player’s career arc, and that edge clearly goes to Mudiay. Don’t get me wrong though, I love Russell as a player, and Lakers fans should be stoked that the team nabbed him in this year’s draft. But I see Mudiay becoming a future All-Star and franchise centerpiece, whereas I think Russell will top out as an above-average point guard who will certainly justify his draft position, but he will be more of a second-star type of player, and not a superstar.

That’s all the space I have for this week. I’d like to thank all those who sent in their inquiries. Please keep them coming, and I’ll be back here next Saturday with more responses.

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