Weekly Mailbag: 1/15/18 – 1/21/18

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.

Do you think Damian Lillard gets traded from Portland? If so, do you think a team like the Knicks would be a great fit? — Anthony Lodestro, via Twitter

Breaking up their high-priced backcourt would be the easiest solution to fixing the Trail Blazers’ financial problems, but there’s not an obvious deal that helps them improve. Lillard and C.J. McCollum are the team’s best players, but they eat up a lot of cap room over the next three seasons. Both are under contract through 2020/21, with Lillard owed more than $89.4MM and McCollum due more than $82.67MM. The Knicks love stars and certainly have a need for a player like Lillard. First-round pick Frank Ntilikina is only 19 and isn’t ready to take over as the starting point guard in New York. The Knicks have been linked to Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, but if Lillard becomes available, they will definitely make a phone call to Portland.

Can the Miami Heat offload some of the contracts they signed guys to this past offseason? — Jim Meehan, via Twitter

All the contracts are long-term, so they won’t be easy to move, and that probably isn’t the Heat’s strategy. Dion Waiters won’t be traded, of course, because he’s expected to have surgery on his left ankle and miss the rest of the season. Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson have been important cogs in helping Miami compile the fourth-best record in the East, and Josh Richardson is viewed as the team’s small forward of the future. None of them really affects the salary cap all that much, with Johnson holding the richest deal for this season at a little less than $14MM. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently suggested that if the Heat decide to gamble, their best trade offer would involve Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow, who could be part of a package for DeAndre Jordan or DeMarcus Cousins. But don’t expect the offseason signees to leave Miami any time soon.

What are some trade deadline possibilities for the Mavericks? What about trading Wesley Matthews, who has had a nice rebound season, to Denver for Kenneth Faried and Will Barton [expiring contract] to make salaries line up? Matthews and Faried are both controlled for another year. — Beauen Bogner

Faried could definitely use a change of scenery, as he’s barely being used in Denver right now. He’s only 28 and has a reasonable contract at a little more than $12.9MM this season and $13.7MM next year. Adding another wing player may not be the priority for the Nuggets, though, when then need an experienced point guard and a power forward to fill in for Paul Millsap until he returns from wrist surgery. And the Mavericks are probably looking for someone younger than Faried as they continue the rebuilding process. It’s a good trade suggestion, but both franchises figure to have other options.

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