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 a continued effort to change things up a bit, I’ve once again invited some of the other staff members to join in on the fun. Now for this week’s inquiries:
“Who will be starting point guard for the Sixers by the end of this season? Is the team more likely to fill the spot long-term via the draft, trade, or free agency?” — Billy
Will Sammon: T.J. McConnell — a point guard who went undrafted, by the way — is making it really hard to remove him from the starting role once Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten are healthy. Would I bet he’s the long-term answer for the Sixers? Probably not. Then again, though, I wouldn’t bet on anything when it comes to the Sixers. GM Sam Hinkie hasn’t done anything to make a free agent want to come to the Sixers. The team will likely have another lottery pick next year and it would make sense to draft a viable point guard.
“Do you see Indiana trading Solomon Hill before the trade deadline? If so, what team might you see that can use him?” — Tyler
Chuck Myron: It’s certainly not uncommon for players in his position to end up in trades, with Austin Rivers a recent example. Any team that turns down a rookie scale option has usually lost faith that the player will become productive on the NBA level, and that’s particularly true when you’re talking about someone who was taken near the end of the draft like Hill was. His option was only worth $2,306,019, a pittance compared to most NBA salaries and only about $1MM more than his minimum salary. The Pacers can’t re-sign him for more than that, and that also applies to any team that trades for him. Ostensibly, that would dampen his trade value, since any team that trades for him runs the risk of getting outbid. But realistically, the chances of that aren’t so great. Unless he goes some place and lights it up in the back half of this season, it shouldn’t take more than $2.3MM to re-sign him. So, with the Pacers more or less having moved on, I can certainly envision Indiana dealing him away, perhaps to the Grizzlies, since Hill’s a decent outside shooter and relatively young, two qualities Memphis lacks. That’s just my speculation, though.
“What are the chances the Timberwolves trade Nikola Pekovic this season? Any teams come to mind that would be interested in him?” — Zeke
Chris Crouse: Pekovic is still recovering from an Achilles injury, but when he does return, it’s unlikely he sees heavy minutes for the Wolves due to the presence of Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns. The best move for Minnesota might be to deal him, however, the team is not going to give him away. He’s owed $35.8MM over the next three seasons. Minnesota has no problem committing that much salary to him because most of its core is going to be on rookie contracts. Pekovic’s contract doesn’t match his production right now, yet, it’s not an unmovable deal, especially with the rising salary cap.
“What gives with Markieff Morris? First he wants out of Phoenix, then he’s happy to be in training camp, and now he wants out again. Where and when will this end?” — Scott
Eddie Scarito: Honestly, I don’t think all that much has changed from the offseason regarding Morris’ feelings toward still being in Phoenix. Markieff and the Suns’ prospects for a healthy long-term relationship don’t appear to be very good, and the franchise dealing away his brother, Marcus, is something I don’t think he’ll get over anytime soon. I don’t believe Markieff has been flip-flopping on his stance on Phoenix at all. Instead, I think he realized that rocking the boat wasn’t going to work for him, especially if the franchise hoped to find a suitor that would offer an acceptable return for his services. The latest chatter from Marcus is merely a case of him speaking out of turn, as well as trying to support his brother. I don’t fault him for that … but it’s not going to help matters to stir up trouble right now.
The whole situation is getting tiresome, and not just from those of us observing from outside the organization. I’ll bet the Suns’ front office would love to part ways with Markieff, but I’d wager nothing will happen until after December 15th, which is when the majority of the league becomes eligible to be dealt. I would be shocked if Morris was still a member of the Suns by the time the February trade deadline rolls around. But … I will also add that I don’t see Phoenix recouping equal value in any deal, since Morris’ antics over the summer most likely didn’t garner too many fans around the rest of the NBA’s front offices. While Morris is certainly a talented player, he’s not quite at the level that is worth the all the headaches that come with him, especially if he remains unhappy at being separated from Marcus.
“What happens if Hassan Whiteside‘s play regresses this season? Could the Heat look to sell him off while he still has high value? If so, what teams could be a fit for Whiteside?” — Larry
Charlie Adams: To be fair, his play hasn’t shown any signs of regressing, and even if he went cold for the next several weeks, almost every team in the league would be interested in acquiring a guy like Whiteside. He’s making less than a million dollars and has All-Star potential, which isn’t typical in the NBA, even for players much younger than him. I’m sure Pat Riley and company have valid concerns about his character and durability, but there’s virtually no chance Whiteside plays for any team other than the Heat this season. There’s a chance he won’t be back in Miami next year, since the Heat don’t have his full Bird Rights, but I think the team will do everything in its power to retain him, even if it means sacrificing a chance at going after a big name free agent from another team. There’s a short list of big men in the league who can fill up a stat sheet the same way Whiteside does.
That’s going to do it for this week’s mailbag. Thanks to all those who sent in their questions. We’ll be back next Saturday with more responses.