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:
“Which player’s deal this year is looking the best value for his team? Why?” — Silas
Chuck Myron: Bargains always emerge. You could say Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell, making the rookie minimum and among the league leaders in assists, is the best value, and you could say much the same about Ish Smith, who’s only costing the Pelicans the two-year veteran’s minimum. Plenty of others make a lot more but are still well worth the money. If you’re just talking about guys who signed this summer, I’d nominate Brandon Knight, who took more than $24MM less than the max on his five-year, $70MM deal with the Suns and is playing lights-out ball so far this season. If you’re talking about guys on existing deals, Hassan Whiteside is the clear choice in the minimum-salary category. Stephen Curry‘s $11.37MM salary is nowhere close to the minimum, but it’s also nowhere close to his market value.
Eddie Scarito: I think there is definitely some legitimacy to the chatter, though Waiters did take to his Twitter account to deny the rumors. But I think that’s just a case of him being diplomatic and not rankling the folks signing his paychecks. Waiters didn’t get a contract extension prior to this season’s deadline, so there is the possibility that he feels a bit slighted by OKC, and the team may also not be sure about Waiters’ long-term future with the franchise as well. That leaves the door open for many different scenarios.
I’d be shocked if Philly offered Waiters a boatload of cash and he declined it. There are quite a few players in the league who grew up dreaming of playing for their hometown squads, and Waiters is likely no different. Plus, with the Sixers bereft of talent, the numbers he would have the opportunity to put up in Philly would certainly be a draw for him. He’d also be one of the team’s focal points, a role he hasn’t had the opportunity to have with either Cleveland or Oklahoma City. So to answer your question…yes, I do think that there is an excellent chance Waiters could be a Sixer at some point…voluntarily. An important distinction to make given the team’s penchant for taking on bad contracts in exchange for draft picks.
“What is the current trade market for Ricky Rubio? Is Minnesota better with him or without him in the long run?” — Zeve
Charlie Adams: I have a hard time believing there’s a team interested in giving up any valuable assets in exchange for a point guard who has yet to prove he can stay healthy for an extended period of time. I think the Wolves would be foolish to sell low on someone with the potential that Ricky has, and their decision to sign him to $55MM extension speaks to their commitment of keeping him long term. The numbers speak for themselves; Minnesota is a much better team on both sides of the ball when Rubio is on the floor, so I think it’s fair to say the greatest value he provides the team is as their starting point guard and not as a trade chip. He has the ability to facilitate for the young pieces Minnesota has, and he can contribute without taking 20 shots from the floor each night. If he can stay healthy, he’s the ideal fit for a young team with the sort of potential that the Wolves have.
“With the way Mario Chalmers is lighting it up in New Orleans, how big of a contract is he setting himself up for this summer? Where do you think he may end up playing next season?” — Kyle
Chris Crouse: Chalmers looks like he found himself a good fit and he could very well return to the Grizzlies next season. If he continues playing this way, he’ll certainly see a raise on his current $4.3MM salary. Memphis will probably want him back, as starter Mike Conley will be a free agent and Chalmers would serve as a decent plan B. As far as his next contract, I can envision him getting a deal in the four-year, $40MM territory, but that’s on the high end of the scale.
“What has gone wrong with the Rockets this season? Were they simply overrated? Or is it something deeper? The curse of Ty Lawson perhaps?” — Chris
Will Sammon: We hear this a lot — so much so that it sounds annoying — but it’s fitting at this time of the year: It’s a long season. There’s a lot of talent in Houston so there’s reason to think the Rockets can turn it around despite defensive woes. That said, acquiring Ty Lawson was a questionable move. It was an interesting gamble that looks like it has backfired. It’s unlikely that it will cost them, though.
That’s going to do it for this week’s edition. Thanks to all those who sent in their inquiries. We’ll see you back here next Saturday with more responses.