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 HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com 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:
“Hassan Whiteside seems to me like an annual injury risk, and I’m concerned about his ability to remain on the court for the long-term. What should the Heat do regarding Whiteside after the season? What level of financial commitment should Pat Riley feel comfortable making with Whiteside? What amount should be a deal-breaker as far as Miami is concerned?” — Malcolm
Charlie Adams: Whiteside wouldn’t be the first player in NBA history to get a sizable deal in spite of injury concerns, and big men who can fill up a stat sheet always find a way get paid. If he can put together a similar effort to last year’s breakout campaign over the course of an entire season, you can bet Whiteside will see annual salaries in the $15-20MM range when his current deal expires. In fact, former Suns executive Amin Elhassan wrote for ESPN (Insider link) that Whiteside is in line to earn a contract worth $18.5MM per year. It’s a hefty figure, especially given potential concerns about his durability and character, but I think another season exhibiting the sort of efficiency he put on display in 2014/15 would make it a no-brainer for Pat Riley and company. The Heat will have a hefty chunk of cap space next summer, so they’ll potentially be able to keep their core intact if they like what they see from them this season, and if Whiteside can prove his first go-around with the Heat wasn’t just a flash in the pan, he’ll definitely get paid like an All-Star center.
“What current player’s contract is the best team value in your opinion? Why?” — Shelly
Will Sammon: While a handful of rising stars are locked into very team-friendly deals, I’ll go a bit outside the box on this one. Dirk Nowitzki is set to earn roughly $8.3MM in 2015/16 and $8.7MM in the following year. It’s a similar financial path that Tim Duncan took with the Spurs. Nowitzki didn’t demand fair market value and because of his sacrifice, the Mavs have been able to offer large contracts that they otherwise would not be able to. For his career, Nowitzki has averaged 22.2 PPG and 5.9 RPG while shooting 38.3% from three-point range.
“How viable is the Amerileague? Do you see it having any sort of staying power, or is it doomed to fail? What potential benefit could it have for the NBA if it were to stay around?” — Bobby
Chuck Myron: Given the news this week, I’d be surprised if the Amerileague even tips off, much less lasts. The draft that was supposed to take place Thursday is on hold, and much appears to be in flux. Few organizations, never mind a startup like this, could withstand the revelation that its CEO was using a fake name and is actually an ex-con. Marcus Bass, who’s apparently the Amerileague commissioner now, expressed optimism about the viability of the enterprise to Adi Joseph and Kami Mattioli of The Sporting News, but it doesn’t sound like many people are buying that. Even if the Amerileague didn’t have all of its issues, it would still face an uphill battle to survive. So many minor league ventures come and go. I know a guy who bought a minor league basketball team with a ton of enthusiasm and sold it a year later, after he realized the challenge involved. It’s a tough business.
“Give me one player who can realistically be obtained, who the Knicks should try to acquire this season to help the team going forward.” — Jace
Eddie Scarito: The Knicks’ biggest weakness is at point guard, so that’s definitely the position I’d attempt to upgrade this season if I were team president Phil Jackson. But the first thing to keep in mind is that the franchise is extremely light on tradeable assets, which makes the upper-tier players likely out of the team’s reach. One possible target who could certainly help the Knicks, as well as potentially be available, is Hawks backup point man Dennis Schröder.
Schröder has been compared favorably to a younger Rajon Rondo, who has been mentioned as a potential Knicks target in the past. He’s only 21 years old, and could be under team control through the 2016/17 campaign, provided his team option is exercised for next season. Schröder is still developing, and his outside shot still needs quite a bit of work, but his upside makes him well worth the gamble for New York.
Of course, Atlanta would need to cooperate and be willing to deal the young German, something the franchise has given no indication it would be willing to do at this time. But … Schröder, like any young, talented player, wants to start, something that isn’t currently possible with the hawks thanks to the presence of Jeff Teague. So the possibility does exist that Schröder could push for a deal at some point, especially if Atlanta has a slow start to the regular season, though I’m not sure the Knicks would have enough to offer in return for him without getting a third team involved.
“Which GM or GMs should be the most concerned for their job security this season? Why?” — Steve
Chris Crouse: Based on the recent history of the Kings, one has to be worried about the job status of vice president of basketball operations/GM Vlade Divac. Vivek Ranadive hasn’t been the most patient owner and while the team should be better this year, the playoffs may not be in the cards. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another shakeup in the front office before next summer. Another candidate would be Rich Cho. The Hornets may have high expectations for this season, but I expect them to be among the bottom-dwellers in the Eastern Conference. If that happens, Michael Jordan will most likely go in a different direction.
That’s all the space that we have for this week. Thanks to all who submitted questions. Please keep them coming and we’ll be back next Saturday with more responses.