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 HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com. Here are this week’s inquiries:
If the Clippers lose in the semifinals of the playoffs, could you see Blake Griffin leaving them? And if he did, what three teams would have the best chance at getting him? — Casey Becker
Griffin and Chris Paul will almost certainly opt out after the season, regardless of how far L.A. gets in the playoffs, but an early exit could have them questioning whether they can ever win a title with the Clippers. The Thunder would love to bring Griffin back to Oklahoma, where he played college ball, and the pairing of Griffin and Russell Westbrook could work even better than Westbrook and Kevin Durant did. The problem is that OKC already has more than $110MM in salary committed for next season, so someone like Enes Kanter and some other contracts would have to be moved to make it possible. The Celtics have plenty of cap space and should be considered a possible destination for every top free agent. The Bulls will also have room and need help at power forward. And don’t overlook the Lakers, who wouldn’t mind stealing a star from their crosstown rivals.
Who are the Blazers looking at picking up before the trade deadline? As you have recently posted, cap considerations will play in. With that in mind, who will the Blazers trade for who can improve their weaknesses? Obviously, defense and rebounding are the top two needs. After hearing about Andrew Bogut being on the table, I’m intrigued on who and how Portland can improve. — Tony Juaire
The Blazers may spend the next month or two hoping that Dallas loses as many games as possible. Portland needs a physical presence in the middle to solidify its defense, and Bogut would be an excellent fit if the Mavericks fall completely out of contention. The veteran center is making a little more than $11MM this season and is headed toward free agency, so it shouldn’t take much to get him. Another possibility is Sixers center Nerlens Noel, if Portland trusts that he can stay healthy. Noel is an impending free agent with a salary under $4.4MM, so he could be a long-term building block if the Blazers front office is willing to take the risk.
Obviously there are trade rumors for underachieving teams like the Celtics and Trail Blazers, but do you think one of the power four teams, (Cavaliers, Warriors, Spurs, Clippers) will make a big move when the time comes? —Michael Thompson
Not big moves, but each of those teams will try to improve between now and the deadline. Cleveland needs a backup to Kyrie Irving and may not be able to fill the need with a free agent such as Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole. The Warriors need help on defense. The Clippers may want to upgrade from Luc Mbah a Moute at small forward. Good teams always try to poach players from poor teams as the deadline approaches, and that should be true this year as the league powers fight for every advantage heading into the playoffs.