Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Dennis Schröder’s Next Team

Veteran point guard Dennis Schröder, currently playing for the German national team in EuroBasket action, is the only unrestricted free agent left on our list of the top 50 NBA free agents of 2022.

It’s hard to believe we’re only a year-and-a-half removed from Schröder reportedly turning down an extension from the Lakers worth $80MM+. Last summer he had to settle for a one-year, $5.9MM deal with the Celtics, who eventually traded him to the Rockets in February.

In 64 games (28.7 MPG) split between Boston and Houston during the 2021/22 season, Schröder averaged 13.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG and 4.6 APG on .431/.344/.853 shooting — solid production. Still, when a team trades you away in the middle of an extended hot streak and goes on to make the NBA Finals, that raises some red flags.

Schröder, who turns 29 next week, remains a talented scorer and is a plus ball-handler who can set up both himself and teammates. His ability to create shots is a valuable skill. And it’s not as though he’s past his peak physically — he’s still one of the quickest players in the league.

He’s not without flaws, however, as he’s an inconsistent outside shooter whose defensive effort often fluctuates. He also skews a little on the selfish side, preferring to look for his own shot, even though he’s a good passer when he’s so inclined.

More than two months into free agency, there aren’t many teams with roster openings, so the odds of Schröder landing a deal for more than the veteran’s minimum seem remote. Having said that, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t find a team before training camps start later this month.

Things have been pretty quiet on the rumors front. Marc Stein reported that the Lakers were giving “legit consideration” to signing Schröder a couple of weeks ago, but then they traded for Patrick Beverley, making a reunion more uncertain. A couple of high-ranking Mavericks executives recently watched Schröder compete, and Stein subsequently wrote the Mavs have considered adding a veteran ball-handler, but Dallas might not want to carry a 15th roster spot right away due to the luxury tax. All the other rumors about Schröder are months old.

Even though they haven’t been linked in any way that I’m aware of, the Hornets might make the most sense as a potential match. They only have 13 players on guaranteed deals and don’t have a backup point guard behind LaMelo Ball at the moment.

The Suns and Hawks could also be a fit. Both teams only have 13 players on guaranteed deals. Phoenix has Chris Paul and Cameron Payne at the point, but Paul is one of the oldest players in the league and Payne is coming off a down season. Schröder spent his first five seasons with the Hawks, but they already have Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and Aaron Holiday, so minutes might be harder to come by there.

With training camps less than three weeks away, we should learn pretty soon where Schröder will be headed — assuming he finds a team. In the meantime, we want to know what you think. Which team will sign Schröder in the coming weeks?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your two cents!

Poll: Russell Westbrook’s Future

After the first wave of free agency ended and teams went on vacation following Summer League play in July, four major trade candidates lingered on the market: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, and Russell Westbrook.

Following another month of rumors, Durant ultimately rescinded his trade request, which seemingly resolved Irving’s situation as well — neither Net is going anywhere, at least for the time being. Mitchell was subsequently sent from Utah to Cleveland, leaving Westbrook as the lone big-name trade candidate who seems like a decent bet to be on the move before training camps open.

The Lakers‘ motivation for seeking a new home for Westbrook has been well documented. The former MVP’s first year in Los Angeles wasn’t a success, as his ball-dominant style and inability to stretch the floor proved incompatible with LeBron James and Anthony Davis during the rare instances when all three stars were healthy and shared the court.

Westbrook also appeared unwilling to take responsibility for his part in the Lakers’ struggles. Despite Frank Vogel‘s insistence on sticking with the point guard, who started all 78 games he played and was part of nearly every closing lineup, Westbrook told reporters at season’s end that he wasn’t given a “fair chance” to be himself and suggested that Vogel had “an issue” with him.

While the Lakers’ disaster of a 2021/22 season made it clear that Westbrook would be on the trade block this summer, his $47MM+ cap hit hasn’t made it easy to find a taker. Los Angeles would love to be able to send Westbrook’s expiring contract to a team in exchange for two or three useful rotation players, but any trade partner open to taking on Westbrook is believed to be seeking multiple first-round picks — at least one for absorbing Westbrook’s salary and another for sending out a couple useful players.

The Lakers only have two tradable first-round picks (2027 and 2029) and have thus far been unwilling to include both of them in any deal that doesn’t involve Irving. The rebuilding Pacers (Myles Turner, Buddy Hield) and Jazz (Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley) remain logical matches for the Lakers, since both teams have the ability to trade productive veterans and absorb Westbrook’s money.

But for a deal to be made, the Lakers will either need to relent and give up both their future first-rounders or convince a trade partner to take just one of them (along with perhaps a couple second-rounders and/or first-round swap rights in another year).

With no indication there has been much traction on the Westbrook trade front, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham and owner Jeanie Buss have been talking enthusiastically about the ways they believe Westbrook can fit and succeed with a new-look 2022/23 Lakers team.

I have no doubt that Ham, a first-time head coach who will bring a fresh perspective to the franchise, genuinely believes he can make it work, but it’s hard not to interpret the Lakers’ optimistic comments to the press as spin — if potential trade partners believe L.A. is OK with hanging onto Westbrook and hoping for the best, perhaps those trade partners will reduce their asking prices to get something done.

With training camps less than three weeks away, we should learn pretty soon how serious the Lakers are about retaining Westbrook. In the meantime, we want to know what you think. Will Westbrook open the season as a Laker or be traded in the coming weeks?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your two cents!

Poll: Donovan Mitchell’s Future

When word first broke on July 1 that the Jazz had agreed to a blockbuster trade sending Rudy Gobert to Minnesota, reports from ESPN and The Athletic quickly clarified that Utah had no plans to trade Donovan Mitchell and intended to build its roster around the All-Star guard.

The reports made some sense. After all, there had been rumored tension between Gobert and Mitchell for years. Mitchell, who will turn 26 in September, is four years younger than Gobert and is on a slightly less pricey contract. If the organization was going to choose to move forward with one or the other, Mitchell seemed likely to be the pick.

On top of that, the return in the Gobert trade set up the Jazz for a quick pivot — they could incorporate reliable rotational role players like Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt and could conceivably flip some of the first-round picks they got from Minnesota for more pieces to complement Mitchell. Combining those assets with returning veterans like Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, and Rudy Gay would provide the Jazz with a solid base.

However, that plan was called into question almost immediately as trade rumors began to swirl around Mitchell. Eleven days after the Gobert trade was first reported, Adrian Wojnarowski stated that the Jazz were open to inquiries on Mitchell. It didn’t take long for the team to engage in discussions with the Knicks, and subsequent reports identified the Heat, Wizards, Raptors, Hornets, Hawks, and Kings as teams with varying levels of interest in the All-Star guard.

Just as a plan to retool around Mitchell could be justified, so too could a plan to pivot to a full-fledged rebuild. Having already traded away Gobert and Royce O’Neale for draft-heavy returns, the Jazz could go all-in on the fire sale by moving Mitchell, Bogdanovic, Beverley, and other veterans for more assets, loading up on draft picks, and charting a new course under CEO Danny Ainge and head coach Will Hardy, both of whom joined the franchise within the last year.

Taking that path would make sense for the Jazz if they have reservations about Mitchell’s ability to be a franchise player. And if that’s the case, it might be the right to move him, while he still has multiple years left on his contract and hasn’t hurt Utah’s leverage by asking for a trade and forcing the club’s hand.

Since that initial flurry of Mitchell trade rumors in July, the rumor mill has slowed down a little. By all accounts, the Jazz are asking for a massive return for Mitchell, seeking the same sort of haul of unprotected picks and solid players and contracts they were able to extract for Gobert.

If no team meets Utah’s asking price, this situation could play out in one of two ways — the Jazz, having already ventured part of the way down this road, could commit to that direction and lower their asking price for Mitchell, accepting the best offer on the table. Or they could shut down trade talks and enter the season with Mitchell on the roster, putting off the possibility of a deal until at least 2023.

Both approaches are risky. The Jazz won’t want to sell off an All-Star in his mid-20s for less than what he’s worth. But by hanging onto Mitchell, they’d run the risk of eventually being forced into trade talks on his terms down the road, should he ask out of Utah. And the closer we get to 2025 (when he can opt out of his contract), the more reluctant some teams may be to give up significant assets for Mitchell without assurances he’d re-sign.

We want to know what you think. How much longer do you expect Mitchell do remain in Utah? Will these trade talks culminate in a deal later this year, or will the Jazz end up retooling their roster around the guard like those initial reports suggested?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in!

Poll: Best NBA Head Coaching Hire Of 2022

As we outlined in detail earlier today, four NBA teams made head coaching changes this offseason. Those changes were as follows:

  • Charlotte Hornets: Hired Steve Clifford to replace James Borrego.
  • Los Angeles Lakers: Hired Darvin Ham to replace Frank Vogel.
  • Sacramento Kings: Hired Mike Brown to replace Alvin Gentry.
  • Utah Jazz: Hired Will Hardy to replace Quin Snyder.

The Hornets and Kings, two young teams looking to get back to the playoffs, took somewhat similar approaches in their hiring processes, landing on candidates who have plenty of previous head coaching experience and who have led lottery teams to the postseason in the past.

Between them, Clifford and Brown have coached 1,200 NBA regular season games. And despite having underwhelming rosters in Charlotte and Orlando, Clifford has led his teams to the playoffs in four of eight seasons. Brown’s clubs made the postseason in six of his seven full seasons as a head coach.

The Lakers and Jazz, meanwhile, took a different path, hiring veteran assistants who are becoming head coaches for the first time.

It’s an interesting choice for the Lakers, given that they have a veteran roster and title aspirations, but they believe Ham – a former player himself – can command the respect of stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis and won’t back down from making tough, necessary rotation decisions.

As for the Jazz, their new head coach – who is known for his player development skills – will be the league’s youngest. Hardy’s hiring was perhaps the first obvious signal that the team would be charting a new course this summer. After trading away standout center Rudy Gobert, Utah is either headed for a full-fledged rebuild or intends to reshape its roster around young star Donovan Mitchell. Taking the former route would make some sense based on Hardy’s skill set and the fact that he received a five-year contract.

Based on what you know about these four teams and their new coaches, we want to know which of this offseason’s head coaching hires you liked the best. Obviously, the expectations won’t be the same for all four coaches, so we’re taking potential long-term success and tenure into account, rather than just projecting which team will have the best record in 2022/23.

Which of these four coaches will be the most successful in his new job? Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Western Conference Vs. Eastern Conference

Entering 2021/22, Eastern Conference teams had posted a winning record against Western Conference teams just once in 22 seasons since the turn of the century. That happened during the 2008/09 campaign, when the East put up a 231-219 record vs. the West.

However, the East regained the upper hand last season, ever so slightly, finishing with a 226-224 record against Western opponents. Even though no team in the East won more than 53 games, the conference was deeper than the West, with 10 teams registering at least 43 victories. By contrast, only eight teams in the Western Conference won more than 36 games.

The emergence of Eastern teams like the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Hornets played a part in the conference’s relative success in 2021/22, while disappointing regular seasons by the Clippers, Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans were factors in the West’s slide.

Of course, many of those Western underachievers dealt with major injury issues — with better health from Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Damian Lillard, and Zion Williamson, those teams are poised to improve in 2022/23.

This summer’s trades and free agent moves don’t appear likely to swing the pendulum drastically from one conference to the other. Most of the offseason’s top free agents re-signed with their own teams, while the most impactful players who changed teams via trade generally remained in the same conference, including Rudy Gobert (Utah to Minnesota), Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana to Boston), and Christian Wood (Houston to Dallas). Jalen Brunson‘s move from Dallas to New York was one of the few instances of a noteworthy player changing conferences.

There are still big-name trade candidates whose eventual destinations could have a major impact on the East/West balance. Those deals could ultimately favor the East more than the West — the Knicks are considered Donovan Mitchell‘s top suitor, for instance, while Kevin Durant has been linked most frequently to the Heat, Celtics, and Raptors since the Suns brought back Deandre Ayton.

We want to know how you view the East and West ahead of the 2022/23 season. Will returning stars help the West reclaim its place as the dominant conference next year, or will the continued growth of improving Eastern squads result in back-to-back winning seasons vs. the West?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Poll: Early 2023 Rookie Of The Year Predictions

When Scottie Barnes was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year for the 2021/22 season, it was the 17th time in the last 19 years that a top-six pick won the award.

The only outliers during that time were Michael Carter-Williams, who was the 11th pick in 2013 and beat out an uninspiring crop of rookies that included No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett; and Malcolm Brogdon, a 2016 second-rounder who won the award in a year in which the No. 1 pick (Ben Simmons) sat out with an injury.

Going back even further, only three other players drafted outside the top six since 1975 have earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors: Amar’e Stoudemire (No. 9) in 2003, Damon Stoudamire (No. 7) in 1996, and Mark Jackson (No. 18) in 1988.

In other words, it should come as no real surprise that the major betting favorites to win the award in 2023 are all top-six picks.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Results]

According to BetOnline.ag, Magic forward Paolo Banchero, this year’s No. 1 pick, is the current frontrunner (+250), which makes sense — Orlando is expected to finish in the lottery again this season and there aren’t many veterans on the depth chart standing in the way of Banchero earning a significant role from day one.

Thunder big man Chet Holmgren (+400) and Kings forward Keegan Murray (+400) are the next-best bets, per BetOnline. Holmgren and Murray were among the top two-way players in the 2022 draft class, which could help their respective Rookie of the Year cases. As Barnes’ win earlier this year showed, voters have become more inclined to weigh a player’s defensive contributions than they once were — it’s not just about which rookie averages the most points per game.

Rockets forward Jabari Smith (+800), Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (+800), and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin (+1000) round out the top six. After that group, Rockets forward Tari Eason, the No. 17 pick in the draft, has the next-best odds at +2000.

All three of Smith, Ivey, and Mathurin are in position to play major roles on rebuilding clubs, though guards like Ivey and Mathurin sometimes require some time to get their feet under them and learn how to score efficiently at the NBA level — slow starts from Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green last season cost them a chance at Rookie of the Year honors, despite strong finishes.

We want to know what you think. Which player is your early pick for Rookie of the Year in 2022/23? Are you taking a top-six selection, or is there a dark horse you believe can defy the historical odds and take home the award?

Vote in our poll below, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your two cents!

Poll: Where Will Kyrie Irving Start 2022/23 Season?

It appeared early in free agency as if some momentum was building toward a trade that sent Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, but there has been no indication recently that an agreement between the Lakers and Nets is close.

One report last week said that the vibe coming out of Brooklyn was that the Nets are comfortable entering training camp this fall with Irving and Kevin Durant still on their roster. Another report, citing a source close to Irving, suggested that Kyrie hadn’t asked to be traded since opting in for 2022/23 and has “every intention” of playing in Brooklyn next season.

Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski didn’t rule out the possibility of Irving being traded to Los Angeles, but the language he used – referring to the talks as “not completely dead” – didn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

Additionally, as NetsDaily relays, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said on the most recent episode of his podcast that Irving seems to be increasingly accepting of the fact that he’s “overwhelmingly likely to be back in Brooklyn.”

The Lakers aren’t the only team that can make a trade for Irving, but they’re the only one that has been seriously and repeatedly linked to him this offseason. Teams like the Mavericks, Sixers, and Heat have been floated as potential suitors, but those scenarios have been shot down pretty quickly by local beat reporters. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype described Irving’s trade market last week as “Lakers or bust.”

If Irving doesn’t want to be in Brooklyn – and multiple reports this month have suggested he’s interested in joining the Lakers – his best strategy may be to report to camp without making any waves, rebuild his value after a lost 2021/22 season, and either hope for a trade at the 2023 deadline or simply sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent next summer.

However, it’s unclear how patient Irving is willing to be. Reporting from several outlets in June indicated that he was seriously exploring other destinations and only opted into his contract with the Nets after it became clear that none of the teams on his wish list were prepared to make him a lucrative, long-term offer in free agency. If the team is able to find a suitable trade for his good friend Durant, Kyrie seems even less likely to happily stick around Brooklyn for another season.

It’s also worth noting that recent reports about the Nets’ willingness to open the season with Durant and Irving on their roster could simply be posturing, with Brooklyn trying to regain leverage in trade discussions. Even if a Kyrie trade isn’t imminent today, we still have over two months until training camps begin — that gives the Nets plenty of time to try to find an offer they like.

With all that in mind, we want to know what you think. Which team will Irving open the 2022/23 season with? Will he remain in Brooklyn or end up elsewhere? And if he’s still a Net this fall, how much longer will that last?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Which Team Will Win NBA Finals?

Four games into the NBA Finals, neither the Warriors nor the Celtics have put their stamp on the series and established themselves as the clear-cut frontrunner to win the 2022 title.

Both teams have won once at home and once on the road. Both have continued to avoid losing streaks of any kind — the Celtics are 7-0 in the postseason following a loss, while the Warriors are 6-0. As Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) observes, the aggregate score of the Finals is 422-421 in favor of Golden State, and the two teams have made an identical number of three-pointers (64).

Oddsmakers like Bovada.lv and BetOnline.ag currently have the Warriors listed as slight favorites, but that’s mostly due to their home court advantage — the Dubs will host Game 5 at the Chase Center on Monday and would do the same in a potential Game 7 on Sunday.

As Lowe writes, given how tight the series has been so far, it’ll likely come down to “execution, toughness, poise, and a little luck.” Robert Williams‘ health will be an X-factor, as his knee continues to be a nagging issue. The Warriors’ ability to find second and third scorers to complement Stephen Curry will also be crucial. Through four games, Curry has 137 points and Klay Thompson – Golden State’s next-best scorer – has 69, Lowe notes.

Several more subplots will play a part in determining this year’s champion. As solid as Jayson Tatum has been in the series, he doesn’t have a signature performance yet, having shot just 34.1% from the field through four games. Does he have a huge game in him? How much can the Warriors expect from Draymond Green, who has been stout defensively but has done next to nothing on offense (4.3 PPG on 23.1% shooting)? Can the Celtics’ role players continue to knock down open catch-and-shoot threes? Will Boston need to adjust its pick-and-roll defense on Curry?

Lowe believes the Celtics are the “better, deeper team on paper,” but the Warriors have home court advantage and have had the best player in the series.

When we polled our readers prior to the start of the series, over 61% of respondents predicted a Warriors victory. If you voted for Golden State in that poll, are you still confident in your pick, or are you now leaning toward the Celtics? If you voted for Boston before the series, are you changing your pick now or sticking with it?

Ahead of Monday’s Game 5, vote in our latest poll below, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Poll: Golden State Warriors Vs. Boston Celtics

The last two teams standing have plenty of history in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics will be seeking to break their tie with the Lakers for the most NBA championships. They’ve both won it 17 times, though Boston hasn’t captured the Larry O’Brien trophy since 2008 and hasn’t reached the Finals since 2010.

The Warriors will be seeking their fourth title in eight years — they won it in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Defense has been the calling card of both teams. They finished first and second in the regular season in defensive field goal percentage — Boston held opponents to 43.4% shooting, while Golden State limited opponents to 43.8% shooting. They are second and third in that category in the postseason behind Milwaukee.

Both teams have versatile players who can guard multiple positions. Boston has the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, Golden State has former DPOY Draymond Green.

Offensively, the Celtics rely on their wings while the Warriors lean on their guards. Boston’s Jayson Tatum (27.0 PPG in this postseason) and Jaylen Brown (22.9 PPG) are capable of taking over games at any time. Of course, Golden State has the Splash Brothers. Stephen Curry (25.9 PPG) and Klay Thompson (19.8 PPG) are just as dangerous as ever and they’ve got plenty of support from 22-year-old Jordan Poole (18.4 PPG).

The Smart-Curry matchup could set the tone for the series. Andrew Wiggins will draw either Tatum or Brown.

The Celtics’ frontcourt of veteran Al Horford and Robert Williams, with a big assist from Grant Williams, will go toe-to-toe with Green and one of the postseason’s biggest surprises, Kevon Looney.

With the home court advantage and championship experience, Golden State enters the Finals as the favorite. However, Boston’s defense and dynamic scoring duo can’t be underestimated.

So now it’s your turn to decide how the Finals will play out. Vote in our poll, then head to the comments section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Which Team Will Win The East?

The Celtics and Heat are tied at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the games haven’t been as close as the series score suggests. The Celtics’ two wins have come by an average margin of 22.5 points per game, while the Heat used a big third quarter in Game 1 and a big first quarter in Game 3 to build leads they never surrendered.

In addition to being comprised mostly of blowouts, the Eastern Finals have been marred by injuries. Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams have all missed at least one game in the series, while others – including Jimmy Butler – have either left a game early due to an injury or have been affected by various ailments throughout the series.

Still, for all its shortcomings, the series has been a compelling one, and it remains very much up for grabs heading into Wednesday’s Game 5. Miami holds home-court advantage and would host a potential Game 7 if it gets that far, but Boston has looked like the slightly better team through four games, posting a +7.7 net rating.

While the Celtics may have played a little better so far, the Heat’s defense gives them a chance almost every night, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), who looks at some of the biggest questions that could decide the series.

As Lowe writes, Miami is still trying to solve Boston’s half-court defense, but has had success when forcing turnovers — the Celtics turned the ball over 39 times in their two losses, compared to just 18 times in their two victories.

The Heat have also done well when targeting Payton Pritchard and Derrick White and should rely more on that approach as they try to get Butler and Bam Adebayo going, says Lowe. Butler was just 3-of-14 from the floor in Game 4, while Adebayo scored 31 points in Game 3 but has scored just 25 in the series’ other three games.

Williams’ health will be a key factor going forward for the Celtics, Lowe notes, suggesting that if Boston’s starting center is unavailable, the team should lean on a frontcourt duo of Al Horford/Grant Williams before turning to Daniel Theis.

In the other frontcourt, the Heat are minus-19 in 38 minutes with Dewayne Dedmon on the court, but don’t have many other great options to spell Adebayo. Markieff Morris and Omer Yurtseven have been out of the rotation and P.J. Tucker – who is capable of playing small-ball center – has been dealing with injuries and isn’t at 100%.

With Game 5 less than 12 hours from tipping off, we want to know how you think the rest of the series will play out.

When we conducted our first poll on the Eastern Finals, the overwhelming majority of respondents predicted it would go at least six games, and most were betting on a Celtics victory. If you voted in that poll, has your pick changed, or are you sticking with your initial prediction? Do you see this series going the distance, or do you expect either the Celtics or Heat to win the next two games?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!