Community Shootaround

Community Shootaround: Clippers Moves

With the possible exception of the Bucks, no team left the Orlando campus more disappointed that the Clippers.

Expectations of a championship for the long-downtrodden franchise went through the roof after they signed superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard and made a blockbuster trade for Paul George last summer.

They appeared headed for a Western Conference Finals showdown with the Lakers until they squandered some big leads and a 3-1 series lead to the upstart Nuggets.

The flameout ultimately cost head coach Doc Rivers his job. The front office settled on Rivers’ top assistant and former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue to replace him.

As long as Leonard and George stay healthy, the Clippers will undoubtedly make the postseason again but the memories of their collapse will linger unless they make amends and reach the Finals.

Beyond their perennial All-Stars, the Clippers have some tough decisions to make regarding their roster. Young center Ivica Zubac and guards Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Landry Shamet are the only other rotation players locked into contracts for next seasons. Their prospects for making a significant trade are dim, considering they gave up a bucketful of first rounders to acquire George.

JaMychal Green has a $5MM option on his contract and should he decline it, the Clippers will have to rebuild their frontcourt. Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell are headed to unrestricted free agency and the Clippers already have $109MM in salary commitments to nine players.

Harrell won the Sixth Man of the Year award but he had a rather forgettable experience in Orlando. Morris will attract plenty of interest in the free agent market, though he didn’t have as great an impact as the Clippers hoped when they traded for him in February.

The front office will have to prioritize which of those forwards they wish to retain and likely dip into the free agent market to fortify the guard rotation and frontcourt. Depending on whether they have a full mid-level exception or the taxpayers’ MLE, they could be looking at players such as Goran Dragic, D.J. Augustin, Jeff Teague, Serge Ibaka, Derrick Favors, Marc Gasol and Aron Baynes.

That brings us to our topic of the day: What should the Clippers do in free agency? Should they concentrate on re-signing their prominent free agents or pursue other options?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Community Shootaround: Start Of Next Season

It took a few extra months to get to the finish line of the 2019/20 season. The starting point of next season is now shrouded in mystery.

As we noted earlier today, there’s great uncertainty regarding next season’s schedule.

In June, the league projected a December 1 start to next season. In September, the league office told the league’s Board of Governors the season wouldn’t start until after Christmas. There were projections that the season might start as late as March.

That all changed during a Board of Governors meeting last week, as the league’s finance committee recommended a pre-Christmas start date. Naturally, Christmas Day is normally a showcase for the league with a handful of games spread throughout the holiday but the revenue concerns come more at the back end than the front end.

The restart playoffs were a TV ratings dud, as fans were not accustomed to watching regular season and postseason games during the summertime and early fall. There’s also a strong desire among the league’s power brokers to have some sense of normalcy by the 2021/22 season, with that season beginning with a usual starting point in late October.

However, selling the players on this plan won’t be a slam dunk, particularly among the playoff participants. During a TV interview on Monday, Lakers guard Danny Green predicted numerous players would sit out the early portion of the season, adding that “I wouldn’t expect [LeBron James] to be there for the first month of the season.”

A quick turnaround would also make it much less likely to have fans in the stands as well as shortening the free agency period following the November draft. On the flip side. an earlier start date could preserve as much as $500MM in revenue, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

That leads us to our question of the day: Should the NBA start next season around Christmas in order to finish earlier in the summer? Or should the league wait until later in the winter in order to give the players more rest and increase the chances of having fans in the stands?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Community Shootaround: Best, Worst Head Coaching Hires

More coaching vacancies were filled this week, with Nate Bjorkgren and Stan Van Gundy becoming the sixth and seventh head coaches hired since July. The Pacers believe Bjorkgren can deliver the modern offense they were looking for when they decided to replace Nate McMillan, while the Pelicans were impressed by Van Gundy’s leadership skills and his track record at his previous stops in Miami, Orlando and Detroit.

Earlier in the week, the Clippers officially promoted Tyronn Lue to head coach to take over for Doc Rivers. Lue inherits one of the most talented rosters in the league and already has a familiarity with his players after serving as lead assistant under Rivers for the past year.

This year’s coaching moves started in late July when the Knicks reached an agreement to bring Tom Thibodeau to New York. Thibodeau was rumored to be in contention for jobs with several teams that were part of the NBA’s restart, so the Knicks took advantage of their opportunity as one of the league’s eight inactive clubs.

Steve Nash was the most surprising move of the offseason as the Nets hired the two-time MVP as their head coach without any previous experience. Nash beat out interim coach Jacque Vaughn, along with an impressive field of rumored candidates that included Lue, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, ABC/ESPN broadcasters Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and Sixers assistant Ime Udoka.

Two other head coaches were hired shortly after being dismissed by other teams. The Sixers jumped at the chance to add Rivers, reaching an agreement three days after he was fired by the Clippers. Likewise, the Bulls pounced on Billy Donovan after the Thunder let him go.

Houston and Oklahoma City still have vacancies to fill, but we want to get your feedback on the coaching changes so far. Which teams made the best and worst decisions in choosing their head coaches? Please leave your answers in the comment section.

Community Shootaround: How Many More Rings For LeBron?

Last summer, it appeared LeBron James might have to be content with three championship rings. He was 34, well past the prime for most NBA players, and was coming off the most serious injury of his career. He was also sitting out the playoffs for the first time since the 2004/05 season.

Everything looks different now, of course. LeBron and the Lakers tore through the competition in Orlando, being pushed past five games only by the Heat. James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists during the Finals and became the second-oldest player ever to win Finals MVP honors.

A fourth championship ring enhances his place in history and gives him a chance to join even more elite company. Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan are among the players with five. Michael Jordan, whom James is frequently compared to, has six, as do Scottie Pippen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Cousy.

The Lakers look capable of winning multiple titles. Anthony Davis turned out to be a perfect complement for James and may be at the peak of his career at age 27. The rest of the roster is a mix of youth and veterans who all fit well into their prescribed roles. Avery Bradley, who opted out of the restart, seems likely to return next season, adding another strong defensive presence to the backcourt.

The biggest wild card is how long James can remain at an elite level. He averaged 34.6 minutes per game this season, which is the lowest of his career, but not by much. James led the league in assists for the first time at 10.2 per game, while adding 25.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. Remarkably, his production per 36 minutes has barely changed from a decade ago.

James is under contract for one more season and holds a $41MM player option for 2021/22. There’s no certainty beyond that, but he hasn’t even hinted at retirement. The Lakers will try to maximize his title opportunities for as long as he’s on the roster and have shown a willingness to spend whatever is necessary.

We want to get your opinion. How many more titles do you believe James will win before retirement? Please leave your answers in the comment section.

Community Shootaround: Western Conference Odds For 2020/21

After winning the NBA Finals in 2020, the Lakers are currently listed by sportsbooks as the odds-on frontrunners to do so again in 2021.

Over at, oddsmakers have listed the Lakers as +275 favorites to come out of the Western Conference in 2020/21. That means if you place a $100 bet on the Lakers and they win the West next season, you’ll win $275.

While the Lakers are the current favorites, places two other Western Conference teams in roughly the same tier. The Clippers (+375) have the second-best odds to win the conference, while the Warriors (+400) have the third-best odds.

Golden State’s placement is an interesting one. We can safely assume that the Warriors will be much improved in 2020/21 with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in their lineup, and they have the resources necessary to make further roster upgrades. Still, the club is coming off a dismal 15-50 season that saw them finish in last place in the NBA. Winning the West in 2021 would represent a historic turnaround.

The rest of the odds to win the West next year are as follows, per

  • Nuggets: +1200
  • Rockets: +1200
  • Mavericks: +1400
  • Trail Blazers: +1800
  • Jazz: +2500
  • Pelicans: +2500
  • Suns: +3300
  • Thunder: +4000
  • Grizzlies: +5000
  • Kings: +12500
  • Spurs: +12500
  • Timberwolves: +12500

As we acknowledged on Tuesday when we asked you for your thoughts on the Eastern Conference odds for 2020/21, it’s way too early to confidently predict next year’s conference champions. Rosters will undergo significant changes in the coming months in the draft and free agency, and on the trade market.

Still, the anticipated offseason directions for certain teams is baked into BetOnline’s odds. The Thunder would certainly be higher on the above list if the possibility of a rebuild wasn’t hanging over the franchise.

So, with the caveat that plenty could change in the coming months to alter the outlook of the West for the 2020/21 season, we want to get your thoughts on the early projections from oddsmakers.

Should the Lakers be considered the favorites to come out of the West again in 2021? Are the Warriors or another team being overvalued? Are there other clubs being undervalued? Which team do you like to come out of the West next season? And which club do you view as the best value pick based on the odds listed above?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your early forecast for the Western Conference in 2020/21!

Community Shootaround: Eastern Conference Odds For 2020/21

The Heat lost just three games during the first three rounds against their playoff opponents in the East en route to an NBA Finals appearance this year, eliminating three of the top four seeds in the conference in the process. However, Miami’s impressive postseason run hasn’t made the team the favorite to come out of the East in 2021, according to oddsmakers.

At, the Heat are listed at +450 to win the Eastern Conference in ’21, meaning you’d win $450 on a $100 wager should Miami repeat as conference champs. The Bucks (+375), Celtics (+425), and Nets (+425) are currently considered more likely to represent the East in next year’s NBA Finals.

The rest of the odds to win the East next year are as follows, per

  • Raptors: +750
  • Sixers: +1200
  • Bulls: +3300
  • Hawks: +3300
  • Pacers: +3300
  • Wizards: +3300
  • Magic: +10000
  • Cavaliers: +12500
  • Knicks: +12500
  • Pistons: +12500
  • Hornets: +17500

It’s obviously way too early to forecast the outcome of the 2020/21 season with any confidence. The draft and free agency are still to come, and we don’t know yet which teams will make major splashes on the trade market. If Victor Oladipo is dealt from Indiana to another Eastern team, for example, it could significantly change the conference’s outlook for next season.

Still, anticipated roster moves are at least somewhat baked into BetOnline’s current odds — if the Pacers had a ton of cap room to use this offseason and Oladipo and Myles Turner weren’t viewed as potential trade candidates, it’s a safe bet that they wouldn’t be listed alongside lottery teams Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington on the list above.

So, with the caveat that plenty could change in the coming months to alter the outlook of the East for the 2020/21 season, we want to get your thoughts on the early projections from oddsmakers.

Should the Bucks be considered the favorites to win the East? Should the Heat be listed higher than fourth among Eastern teams? Are the Nets or other teams being overvalued? Are the Pacers or other teams being undervalued? Which team do you like to come out of the East next season? And which club do you view as the best value pick based on the odds listed above?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your early forecast for the Eastern Conference in 2020/21!

Community Shootaround: Heat Free Agents

The Heat surprised virtually everyone but themselves by reaching the Finals. And with two more victories, they’ll complete their Cinderella run.

Miami is positioned to become a powerhouse for years to come if it makes the right moves. Jimmy Butler has not only cemented his status as a star player during the restart but has now established himself as a franchise player. Tyler Herro‘s performances have many NBA executives kicking themselves for passing him up in last season’s draft. He’s, of course, in the early stages of his rookie deal.

However, a big chunk of their roster is filled with players can become free agents this offseason or in 2021. Team president Pat Riley has spent the last couple of years making moves to open up plenty of salary cap room for top-level free agents next season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the top of the wish list.

The play of a couple of veterans during the playoff run could complicate the process, particularly Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents this fall. Dragic has only played 15 minutes during the Finals due to a foot injury but the Heat would have been eliminated in the earlier rounds if not for his steady playmaking.

Dragic has averaged 19.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 4.6 APG during the postseason. He set the tone for the series against Milwaukee and Boston, scoring 50 points against the Bucks in the first two games of that series and 54 against the Celtics when Miami jumped to a 2-0 lead.

Crowder was kind of an afterthought in the February trade with Memphis that brought Andre Iguodala to the Heat. Instead, he’s proven more valuable than Iguodala, averaging 12.0 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 31.6 MPG while making 34.6% of his 3s. He’s an even bigger force on the defensive end, often assigned to the opponent’s top scorer. He can switch onto much bigger frontcourt players and still hold his own.

Dragic is 34 and Crowder is 30 and this could be their last shot at landing lucrative, multi-year deals. While the Heat’s balance sheet could allow Riley to reward them in free agency, there are other considerations. Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn can become restricted free agents next summer and either one could receive a lucrative offer sheet, given their youth and production.

There’s also the overall concerns about how much the cap and luxury tax threshold could drop due to the loss of revenue during the pandemic.

That leads us to our question of the day: If Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder seek multi-year deals in free agency, should the Heat still try to re-sign them or should they continue to preserve cap space for next offseason? If they decide to sign one but not the other, which player should they pursue?

Please weigh in on this topic in the comments section. We look forward to your input.

Community Shootaround: Knicks’ Offseason Trade Options

With only about $56MM in guaranteed salary on their books for next season, the Knicks have the flexibility necessary to create cap room and make a run at one or more top free agents. However, the team also feels as if it’s well-positioned to trade for an impact player, as an April report indicated.

This year’s free agent class isn’t particularly star-heavy, so it’s possible that greasing the wheels for a blockbuster trade may be a better use of the Knicks’ cap space. Plus, New York has accumulated seven first-round picks in the next four drafts and has a roster loaded with former lottery selections, so the team could put together an appealing package for the right player.

In a report this week, Marc Berman of The New York Post indicated that Pacers guard Victor Oladipo could be that player. Knicks general manager Scott Perry, who drafted Oladipo when he was a member of the Magic front office in 2013, “still is enamored” with him, according to Berman, and there have been rumblings that the All-Star may not be fully committed to Indiana for the long term.

Thunder guard Chris Paul, a former CAA client of new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, is another potential trade target for the franchise.

Writing today about that possibility in a separate story for The New York Post, Berman suggests that Oklahoma City would likely seek a first-round pick and a young prospect on his rookie contract in return for Paul. According to Berman, the Thunder would probably target Kevin Knox in a deal with New York, while the Knicks would rather give up Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr.

Oladipo and Paul aren’t the only potential trade candidates who could catch the Knicks’ eye this offseason, but they’re probably two of the only All-Stars who will realistically be available. Within his initial article on Oladipo, Berman names three more trade targets who would intrigue the Knicks, but it’s hard to imagine any of them (Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Paul George) actually changing teams this fall.

Of course, even if Embiid, Towns, George, or another superstar becomes available, the cost to acquire them in a trade would be extremely high. On the other hand, there are certain factors that should keep the price tags of Oladipo (health; expiring contract) and Paul (age; exorbitant salary) in check, which may appeal to the Knicks — making a trade for one of those two players could help New York move back toward playoff contention without emptying the team’s treasure chest of assets.

In today’s Community Shootaround, we want to get your input on the Knicks’ offseason options.

Does Oladipo look like an appealing trade target for New York? How about Paul? Should the team wait for a star with fewer question marks to become available before looking to trade future first-round picks? Or should the Knicks altogether avoid trading multiple assets for one impact player, focusing instead – for now at least – on using their cap room to sign free agents or to keep adding draft picks by taking on unwanted contracts?

Head to the comment section to share your thoughts on the Knicks’ offseason plan!

Community Shootaround: All-NBA Format, Snubs

The league announced its three All-NBA squads for the 2019/20 season earlier today, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James leading the way as the only two unanimous First Team selections.

While the First Team looked exactly as expected, there were some mild surprises on the next two teams. For instance, I didn’t expect to see Pascal Siakam on the Second Team over Third Team forward Jayson Tatum, who was having a stronger season even before March 11, in my opinion.

While I thought Siakam’s contributions to the Raptors were weighed a bit too heavily, I would’ve liked to find room on the Third Team for his teammate Kyle Lowry. Lowry’s box-score numbers weren’t nearly as splashy as Russell Westbrook‘s, but the Raptors guard was a more well-rounded, two-way contributor who was arguably more important than Siakam to the success of the No. 2 seed in the East.

It also would have been good to see Bucks wing Khris Middleton recognized for his career year with a spot on the Third Team, though I’d have a hard time removing Jimmy Butler – the Heat’s only All-NBA representative – or Ben Simmons, who was one of the league’s best defensive players this season.

Middleton’s candidacy raises an interesting question. His 10 Second Team votes and 52 Third Team votes earned him 82 overall points, which exceeded Simmons’ total (61) and Westbrook’s (56). Because Middleton received his votes primarily as a forward rather than a guard, he missed out on an All-NBA spot.

The positional aspect of the All-NBA vote has increasingly become something of a fly in the ointment as the league transitions into a more positionless style of game. Ball-dominant players like James, Luka Doncic, and Simmons could theoretically be considered either guards or forwards, as could wings like Butler and Middleton. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, could easily have been listed as a forward since he typically started alongside JaVale McGee in Los Angeles, but he was voted in as the First Team’s center.

Could it be time for the NBA to revamp All-NBA voting to allow media members to simply select the 15 best players in the league? After all, there’s already a precedent in the All-Rookie teams, which don’t require voters to list players by position. Even a half-measure like All-Star voting, which now breaks down players into two groups – guards and frontcourt players – could be an improvement.

We want to hear what you think. Did voters get it right with their 15 picks, or did you feel there were one or two glaring snubs? Going forward, would you like to see the league tweak the All-NBA format to loosen restrictions on positions or eliminate them entirely?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Community Shootaround: Pacers’ Coaching Search

Shortly after the Pacers parted ways last month with Nate McMillan, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard spoke about wanting the team’s head coaching search to “start with a big pool, then get down smaller and smaller.” Based on reports this week, it sounds like Pritchard is delivering on that promise.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski identified 14 initial candidates for the Pacers’ head coaching job. He later added a 15th, reporting that former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups is also receiving consideration.

Pritchard and the Pacers will be seeking a coach who has a “modern approach” to the game and an ability to connect with younger players. Even with that criteria in mind, it’s hard to know which of the team’s initial candidates may make the strongest impression.

A number of the candidates being interviewed by the Pacers – including David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbetts, Will Hardy, Becky Hammon, Stephen Silas, Jamahl Mosley, Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, and Pat Delany – are experienced assistants who have interviewed for other head coaching jobs. It’s possible one of them will stand out during the process and make the Pacers comfortable with hiring a first-time head coach.

Other assistants on Indiana’s list, including Charles Lee, Chris Quinn, and Dan Craig, may be a bit more under the radar, having not been linked to many – or any – head coaching jobs in the past, so they should probably be considered dark-horse candidates.

Dave Joerger and Jacque Vaughn are the two candidates who have previously held head coaching jobs. Joerger’s on-court results in Memphis and Sacramento were actually pretty solid, but he clashed at times with players and executives during those stops. Vaughn, meanwhile, overachieved with a depleted Brooklyn team this summer in Orlando, but was passed over by the Nets for their permanent job.

Billups is a wild card in the Pacers’ process. According to Wojnarowski, people around the league have long believed that the former Pistons guard would land a significant role with an NBA organization due to his leadership style and “basketball savvy.” But he has never even served as an assistant, so it remains to be seen if the Pacers would be comfortable rolling the dice on him.

Another wild card is current Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who was the first name connected to Indiana on the day the team fired McMillan. D’Antoni still has a job, and GM Daryl Morey recently spoke about wanting to retain the veteran coach.

However, D’Antoni’s contract is up, and if his Rockets are dispatched by the Lakers in Game 5 on Saturday with a fourth straight loss, it would end the season on a sour note. It’s possible he and the Rockets wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about a new deal at that point, freeing him up to join a team like the Pacers, who would surely welcome his free-wheeling offense.

What do you think? Is there a candidate on the Pacers’ current list who stands out to you as an obvious choice? Are there any candidates not on their list that you think they should be considering? Who do you expect to become Indiana’s next head coach?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!