We have an 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 us a line at [email protected] Here are this week’s inquiries:
What do the Bucks need to do to make the playoffs? And will Greg Monroe be traded before the trade deadline? — Dan Vachalek
At 6-8, the Bucks are only a half game out of eighth in the East, so it’s possible they could be a playoff team with the roster they have now. It’s no secret that they would like to trade Monroe and would probably consider any reasonable offer. Like many teams, Milwaukee is relying more on small-ball lineups, which creates less of a need to have Monroe on the team. ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirmed this week that the Pelicans have had “semi-serious talks” about Monroe over the past year, but those appear to be on hold. The biggest problem with trading Monroe is that he has an $17.9MM player option for next season. Most teams don’t like to deal for players in that situation because of the uncertainty involved.
I have two questions:
1. Do you think that the Nuggets could trade one of their shooting guards in Gary Harris or Will Barton?
2. Will the Thunder make some cap space by trading Enes Kanter to go after big names in free agency? — Casey Becker
The Nuggets have made it clear that they like Harris a lot. He grabbed a starting position last year and he’s still on a rookie contract, making a little more than $1.65MM this year and $2.55MM next season. Unless Jamal Murray somehow makes Harris expendable, plan on him to stay in Denver. Barton is an extremely productive bench player who also has a very team-friendly contract. The Nuggets just re-signed him in 2015, and he is making about $3.5MM this season and next. There’s not much reason to think either one will be leaving Denver.
The Thunder, on the other hand, may be regretting their decision to match Kanter’s four-year, $70MM offer sheet last summer. He’s losing minutes to Joffrey Lauvergne and could wind up as a third-string center making more than $17MM per season. If a team came to the Thunder with an offer, I think they would gladly listen.
With the T-Wolves’ slow start, there are rumors that Tom Thibodeau will likely move one of his young assets for a proven veteran. However, which player gets traded and for whom? One would think the trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are untouchable. Kris Dunn is viewed as the point guard of the future. Gorgui Dieng was just signed to a big contract extension. Also, they could’ve signed a veteran, such as Luol Deng, this off season or even kept Kevin Garnett on the team for leadership. Could Thibs’ frustration over losing cause him to part ways one of his young guns? –Matt Trapp
Thibodeau may not be a “trust the process” type of coach, but it would be incredibly short-sighted to break up this team full of young stars just to win a few games now. Ricky Rubio remains the player most likely to be traded, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on Minnesota between now and the deadline to see how much losing Thibodeau can tolerate without pulling the trigger on a major deal.