Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 2/1/15-2/7/15

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have added 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 HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:

“With Hassan Whiteside tearing it up in Miami, do the Heat still look to try and acquire Brook Lopez?” Robert R.

Well Robert, first off, there has been conflicting information regarding the Heat’s interest in trading for Lopez. Pat Riley had come out last week and denied reports of a proposed deal that would have sent Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Josh McRoberts to the Nets for Lopez. Granted, Riley publicly denying a trade proposal doesn’t mean it didn’t occur, and both Cole and McRoberts have been mentioned as trade candidates, so there is probably some level of truth to Miami taking a shot at Lopez.

As for Whiteside, he is certainly making a name for himself lately, and he’s become the main reason to watch the Heat play this season. I’m still not 100% sold on Whiteside being a long-term dominant big man in the league. His sample size this season is far too small to accurately predict his future performance, and it seems unlikely that he would be able to maintain the same energy and momentum that he is currently providing. But Whiteside is certainly stating his case to factor into the Heat’s future plans with performances like his  24 point, 20 rebound explosion versus Minnesota on Wednesday night.

But if the price was reasonable, then sure, I could see the Heat pulling the trigger on a deal to nab Lopez. But with Whiteside performing as well as he is, and his non-guaranteed salary for 2015/16 only $981,348, it would be unlikely that Miami would still actively pursue Lopez. I like what Lopez can bring to a team, but his limited defense, ball-stopping ways on offense, and his injury history make Lopez too big a risk at this point. Plus, there’s no guarantee that he would remain with the Heat past this season if they acquired him. Lopez hasn’t publicly stated his intentions regarding his $16,744,218 player option for 2015/16. If I’m the Heat, I avoid Lopez and stick with Whiteside. But keep in mind that Whiteside could be rather expensive to keep after next season when he hits free agency. As thankful as he may be to the Heat for giving him the opportunity to show his stuff, I would be very surprised if he gave Miami a discount on his next deal. Whiteside’s path to the NBA is a true journeyman’s tale, and he’ll likely look to cash in big when he has the opportunity.

“The Suns seem to have taken a step back since last season. Do they hold onto their three point guards (Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic)? If not, who is the most likely to be traded?” Bradley

Technically, the Suns have four point guards on their roster. Don’t forget about Tyler Ennis, whose potential I’m still rather high on. But on to your question. I don’t see Phoenix moving Thomas, Dragic, or Bledsoe before the deadline. Phoenix seems to be rather fond of its three point guard set, and there isn’t a major demand for big money point men currently. There are a number of teams in need of help at the one spot right now thanks to injuries, but I don’t see any of them making a serious play for Phoenix’s guys. Most of the teams needing a floor general are seeking backup-type players on team-friendly contracts, which doesn’t quite describe the Suns’ trio.

However, the one major caveat here is if GM Ryan McDonough gets the sense that Dragic isn’t going to re-sign with the team, then it’s entirely possible that he gets moved for the right return. There will be quite a few teams that will take a run at signing Dragic this summer, and since he can also play shooting guard full-time, that increases the potential market for the player. My gut feeling is that Phoenix will hold onto him, as well as Thomas and Bledsoe, for the remainder of the season. I do believe that the Suns will try and make some significant changes this offseason, and I can’t shake the feeling that Dragic will head elsewhere this summer. But for now, unless McDonough is blown away by an offer, which would likely require a star-caliber player to be included, I don’t see Phoenix making a major deal in the next two weeks.

“Where does Greg Monroe end up next season? Any chance he could return to Detroit?”  — Kyle M.

There’s always a chance that Monroe could return to Detroit, but it’s unlikely. If he wanted to remain in Motown he would have simply signed an extension with the team instead of playing for Detroit’s $5.48MM qualifying offer and risking an injury that could harm his future earnings. With the team’s improved play since jettisoning Josh Smith, things may have changed, but I still don’t see Monroe wearing a Pistons jersey next season.

As for where Monroe is likely to end up, my money is on him going to the Knicks. New York will have plenty of cap space to throw around, and Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge are unlikely to leave their current teams, which will leave Phil Jackson desperate to make an impact move with his wealth of available cap space. Monroe would immediately upgrade the Knicks’ roster, as well as be a nice complement to Carmelo Anthony. Plus, the Knicks are one of the teams likely to overpay for Monroe, which never hurts a franchise’s chances of landing a player. If New York doesn’t nab Monroe, my second choice for his destination would be the Rockets.

“The East seems to be wide open right now as far as the playoffs are concerned. Which Eastern Conference team do you think will make the biggest splash on the trade market before the deadline?” Zeke

This has been an odd season in relation to roster moves thus far, which makes the next two weeks extremely difficult to predict. With the East as open as it is regarding the playoffs, there should be quite a few teams that will be looking to add an impact player or two before the deadline with the hopes of snagging a playoff spot. The two Eastern Conference teams that are poised to have the biggest potential impact on the trade front are Brooklyn and Charlotte.

The Hornets will still likely look to trade Lance Stephenson, and I believe they will do everything within their power to cut ties with the mercurial swingman. The problem for Charlotte is that teams around the league are leery about adding Stephenson to their respective locker rooms, which is something that the Hornets should have considered prior to signing him. Sometimes you get exactly what you expect, and Stephenson has lived up to the reputation he made for himself in Indiana thus far. On the right team, Stephenson could be the missing piece for a playoff run. But only a team with a strong locker room could maximize what Stephenson has to offer, while avoiding the pitfalls his attitude and personality bring with him.

But it’s the Nets who could make the biggest splash prior to the deadline. With the team reportedly looking to deal Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Lopez, that is a significant amount of talent and salary in play. While it’s doubtful that Brooklyn would nab a true star player in return, dealing any one of those players would not only change the identity of the Nets. Each of those players, if healthy, could be game-changing acquisitions for teams willing to take on cap hits of that magnitude.

That’s all the space that I have for this week. Thanks to all those who sent in their questions. I’ll be back next Saturday to answer a whole new batch. So fire away and keep filling up my inbox with your inquiries.

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