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.
With Carmelo Anthony joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George at OKC, forming their version of a super team, what do you think are their chances of beating the Warriors or even winning the NBA championship this season? — Greg Dizon
Having three [or more] stars has become the path to an NBA title in recent years, so obviously that’s what the Thunder have in mind. The Warriors are obviously the toughest obstacle, but there are many others in an increasingly loaded Western Conference. The Rockets won 55 games last season and added Chris Paul. The Spurs won 61 games and added Rudy Gay. The Nuggets, Timberwolves and Pelicans all made moves to get better. Getting through the West won’t be easy, even with three great scoring options in Anthony, Westbrook and George. Then there’s the question of whether Anthony is still an elite player. Don’t forget that ESPN ranked him 64th in this year’s top 100 list, and he’s coming off four straight non-playoff seasons in a weak Eastern Conference. In a seven-game series with the Warriors, maybe the Thunder have the firepower to make it interesting, but they’ll have to make some moves to improve defensively to give themselves a fighting chance.
Who gets the ball when the game is on the line? — Boozybua, via Twitter
That’s one of the first questions to work out in Oklahoma City, just as it was for the Warriors when Kevin Durant arrived and for the Heat when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade. Westbrook, George and Anthony are all used to being their team’s primary scorer and taking the important shots. Sometimes it takes a few months for everyone to get comfortable with their roles, but the best guess here is that the ball still belongs to the MVP. Westbrook will dictate play, not just in crunch time but whenever he’s on the floor, with George and Anthony settling into complementary roles.
How can the Knicks get rid of Joakim Noah’s contract? That’s the only bad situation they have now. Any realistic options? — Scottie2hottie, via Twitter
The Knicks will be paying nearly $38MM this season for the center combination of Noah and Enes Kanter, while Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn might be better options. Noah is part of the Phil Jackson legacy, with $55MM still due over the next three seasons and the perception that he is done as a productive player at age 32. As we outlined earlier today, the Knicks could use the stretch provision, although they missed the deadline for this season, so it would only help with the final two years of the deal. Noah’s contract probably makes him untradable unless the Knicks are willing to take on an equally bad arrangement in return.