Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Kevin Durant’s Future

When Kevin Durant reaches free agency in 2019, there’s a chance he could be coming off a third straight championship — and maybe even a third consecutive NBA Finals MVP award. Durant already has two of each under his belt, and remains one of the league’s very best players, on a team considered the overwhelming favorite to win the title.

Throw in the fact that Durant will have full Bird rights in 2019, giving him the opportunity to sign a five-year contract worth up to a projected $221MM, and it’s hard to imagine why he’d leave the Warriors, who would have the ability to cement their legacy as one of the NBA’s best teams of all-time as long as they keep racking up titles.

Still, Durant hasn’t committed to the Warriors at all beyond 2018/19, leading to ongoing speculation that he could jump ship at season’s end. The uncertainty surrounding the former MVP played a part in Monday’s altercation between Durant and Draymond Green, who reportedly let out his frustrations during the back-and-forth over the way his teammate has handled his upcoming free agency.

Durant’s free agency will be fascinating for a number of reasons, particularly if the Warriors win the championship again this season. It’s hard to imagine a star player who has won three consecutive titles with a team leaving his organization for a lesser contender. On the other hand, several big-market NBA franchises will have cap room for a max-salary player in 2019, creating some tantalizing possibilities for Durant, who may be ready for a new challenge.

If he’s interested in teaming up with LeBron James and trying to win titles for the league’s most iconic franchise, the Lakers could be appealing. Their Los Angeles rivals, the Clippers, are being run by a effective management team that includes owner Steve Ballmer and veteran executive Jerry West, and would provide Durant an opportunity to be the unquestioned star of an L.A. franchise. The Knicks will have Kristaps Porzingis back, and the idea of playing in Madison Square Garden and turning around a moribund franchise may intrigue Durant and Rich Kleiman, his agent and business partner, who grew up as a Knicks fan.

Several other teams around the NBA will also have cap space in 2019, creating a plethora of viable options for Durant, depending on what his priorities are. Of course, he initially chose the Warriors because he wanted to win and because he wanted to live in the Bay Area, and those factors still arguably make Golden State his best option — especially with the team set to move into its new San Francisco arena next season.

What do you think? Is this Durant’s last season with the Warriors or will he still be playing for the Dubs next season at this time? Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your two cents.

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Poll: Celtics’ 2019 First Round Picks

Before the 2018/19 season started, the Celtics looked like they were primed to receive two first-round draft picks in next summer’s 2019 NBA draft – their own selection and the first-round pick of the Kings or Sixers (Boston gets the most favorable of the two, or the least favorable if one is the No. 1 pick).

However, a strong start to the season for both the Clippers and the Grizzlies has put the C’s in position to realistically pick up both those clubs’ 2019 first-round picks as well for a total of four 2019 first-round picks.

As it stands currently, the Celtics will receive the Grizzlies’ selection if it falls between picks 9-30, and Memphis is currently tied with San Antonio for the NBA’s ninth-best record. Meanwhile, the Celtics will also receive the Clippers’ 2019 first-round selection if it falls between selections 15-30, with Los Angeles currently tied with the Thunder for the league’s sixth-best record.

It’s still early in the season, of course, and both the Grizzlies and Clippers may eventually move back into position to retain their picks, but both Memphis’ and L.A.’s fast starts have made the issue an interesting discussion.

So, with that being said, how many picks with the Celtics end up with in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Poll: Timberwolves’ 2018/19 Outlook

2018 has been a bizarre year for the Timberwolves, who were, before Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury last season, the third seed in the Western Conference. Following Butler’s injury, Minnesota nearly fell out of the playoff picture completely, clinching a postseason berth on the last day of the 2017/18 season to snap a streak of 13 straight years in the lottery. However, that victory was short-lived, as the Wolves were quickly dispatched from the playoffs by the top-seeded Rockets, then went through the very public saga of a Butler trade request this fall.

With Butler officially headed to Philadelphia, some sense of normalcy may now return to the Timberwolves, who can go back to building around former No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, along with fellow top pick Andrew Wiggins.

Butler is probably a top-20 player in the NBA, so the club’s ceiling isn’t as high without him as it was with him. Nonetheless, with veterans like Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Anthony Tolliver also on the roster, and newly-added rotation players like Robert Covington and Dario Saric entering the mix too, not to mention promising rookie Josh Okogie, there’s still plenty of talent in Minnesota.

The dysfunction that Butler’s trade request created during the first month of the season appeared to be impacting the team on the court, as the Timberwolves got off to a 4-9 start, good for 14th in the Western Conference. Now that he’s gone, perhaps the new-look Wolves, who don’t have to constantly worry about whether or not Butler will play, or what he’ll tell reporters after the game, can settle in and find their groove.

Still, it’s not clear what sort of upside this team has in the short term. The Western Conference will be extremely competitive this season — the Jazz, Pelicans, and Rockets are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, and figure to make a run at some point. The Grizzlies, Clippers, and Kings are among the pleasant surprises out West so far, and look capable of staying competitive. The Mavericks (4-8) and Suns (2-10) don’t appears to be major playoff threats, but even those two clubs have multiple talented young players and are capable of pushing any team on any given night.

With all that in mind, we want to know what you expect from the Timberwolves the rest of the way. Is this still a team capable of earning a playoff spot? Will they at least make a run at the top eight, perhaps finishing in the 9-to-11 range? Or is this a bottom-four team in the West for 2018/19?

Vote below in our poll, then head down to the comment section to share your thoughts on the new-look Wolves.

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Poll: Disappointing Starts For Wizards, Rockets

Given the expectations surrounding both the Rockets and Wizards heading into the season, it’s safe to say that the two teams have been the most disappointing so far. With the Wizards currently sitting at 3-9 and the Rockets at 5-7, both teams have dealt with cold shooting, injuries, and inconsistent effort on defense as they look up to their conference counterparts in the standings.

The Wizards had a fairly eventful offseason, adding Dwight Howard, Jeff Green and Austin Rivers. The team banked on a healthy John Wall leading a talented and deep roster to a bounce-back season, which hasn’t happened as a result of the team’s poor defense and rebounding. The Wizards currently rank 28th defensively and 29th in both offensive and defensive rebounding, highlighting their inability to get stops.

Meanwhile, the Rockets brought in James Ennis and Carmelo Anthony in the offseason and have struggled with cold shooting and injuries to start the season. James Harden, Ennis, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul have missed several games each due to injuries and suspension. The Rockets currently sit at 28th offensively as a result of their inability to hit shots (they are 26th in effective field goal percentage as a team).

There is certainly still time for both teams to bounce back and recover, but to what extent? Many expected the Rockets to be a top-two team in the Western Conference, while many had the Wizards pegged as a top-six seed out East. While both of these teams may be able to recover enough to make the playoffs, both will likely fall very short of preseason expectations.

With that being said, which team has been more disappointing to start the season? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Poll: Terry Rozier’s Future In Boston

Terry Rozier‘s name has popped up in several headlines this week, starting on Wednesday when a pair of separate reports suggested that the Celtics‘ backup point guard was unhappy with his playing time and that he was being monitored by at least seven teams from around the NBA.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge dismissed those reports on Thursday, as did Rozier. However, while Ainge and Rozier denied that the 24-year-old has complained about his playing time, they also both acknowledged that he’d like more minutes.

Rozier’s desire for a larger role is not unique among NBA players, according to Ainge, who suggested that it’s probably a desire shared by many players on the Celtics, not to mention across the league: “I know for sure that Terry would love to be playing more more minutes but there’s a lot of guys on the team that would love to be playing more minutes.”

Still, while it may be normal for a player to want more playing time than he’s getting, there are reasons to believe it could become an issue in this case. Rozier is eligible for restricted free agency in 2019, and the Celtics appear committed to paying lucrative salaries to Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart for the next several years. The opportunity for more playing time may never materialize for Rozier in Boston, and it might not make sense for the C’s to invest even more heavily into the point guard position if they lock up Irving to a new long-term deal.

The Celtics have denied that they’re looking to move Rozier, and multiple reports have indicated that an in-season deal is highly unlikely. After all, the team still intends to contend for a championship in 2018/19, and it may be hard to find a trade package that would make the C’s a better team right away. Plus, Boston will control Rozier’s free agency process in 2019, since he won’t be unrestricted, and re-signing him would be in the team’s best interests if things drastically change on the Irving front within the next seven or eight months.

On the other hand, if the Celtics don’t plan on matching a lucrative offer sheet for Rozier next summer, it might make sense to get what they can for him at the deadline. They don’t want to lose a talented young player for nothing, and it’s possible they could land a player who doesn’t make the team worse in the short term while providing a better fit in the long term. Alternately, moving Rozier for a first-round pick could give the C’s the flexibility to trade one of their other future picks in a separate deal to acquire a rotation player who could provide immediate help.

What do you think? Will Rozier play out the season with the Celtics? Will he remain in Boston a year from now? What do you think the future holds for the former first-round pick? Vote below, then head to the comment section to share your two cents.

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Poll: Wizards’ Most Logical Trade Candidate

The Wizards are off to a 2-7 start, and while their schedule – which includes upcoming games against the Magic, Cavaliers, Mavericks, and Nets – offers them a path back to .500, it’s hard to get too excited about the long-term outlook for the franchise. Washington was the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and doesn’t appear to be a legit contender this year.

With lucrative long-term contracts committed to John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter, the Wizards could become more and more inclined to break up that “Big Three” if their struggles continue. And in the view of ESPN’s Zach Lowe, trading Wall may be the team’s “only get-out-of-jail card.” Lowe argues that trading Beal would hurt the team, while dealing Porter wouldn’t net a significant enough return to make a difference.

Of course, as Lowe concedes within the same piece, there are plenty of obstacles in the way of a possible Wall deal. His super-max contract will kick in next season and projects to be worth nearly $171MM over four years, running all the way through 2022/23. Wall’s 15% trade kicker would also complicate matters if he were dealt before or after the ’19/20 season.

On top of that, there just don’t seem to be that many potential suitors for the star point guard. Lowe points to the Suns as one plausible trade partner, noting that Phoenix badly needs a point guard and doesn’t have a seasoned GM in place to help keep owner Robert Sarver in check.

Porter has been the Wizards player more frequently cited as a trade candidate, and there are certainly teams that could use a three-and-D wing like him. The Nets, who signed him to an offer sheet in 2017, are one of many, as NetsDaily observes. However, Porter is off to a poor start this season, has a pricey contract (three years and $81.75MM remaining), and may not be more than a very good role player even at his best. It seems unlikely that any club would be willing to give up significant assets for him unless Washington was willing to take on another bad contract or two.

Beal, who also has three years left on his max deal, is easily the most valuable trade chip of the trio. He has missed just five games since the start of the 2016/17 season and has posted 22.9 PPG and 4.0 APG with a .471/.388/.805 shooting line over that same period. The Wizards could theoretically land a star player in a trade if they were willing to make Beal available. However, as Lowe suggests, he’s also the player whose departure would hurt Washington the most, since he’s a star in his own right.

Given how expensive Wall, Beal, and Porter will be for the next three seasons, it’s hard to imagine the Wizards finding a way to add another impact player to that trio to elevate the squad into a viable title contender. At some point then, the team will have to think long and hard about trading one of them — it just won’t be easy to determine which player makes the most sense on the trade block, since there are clear pros and cons to moving each one.

What do you think? Do you view Wall, Beal, or Porter as the Wizards’ most logical trade candidate, given what the team could realistically expect in return for each player? Or do you think it makes more sense for the Wizards to simply hang onto all three and look for another way to fortify their core?

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

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Poll: Early Eastern Conference Favorites

Entering the 2018/19 season, the Celtics were widely viewed as the Eastern Conference’s best team. Oddsmakers placed their over/under for the year at 59.5 wins, and our readers predicted that they’d eclipse that number.

Seven games into their season, the Celtics have had a couple minor missteps, including a home loss to Orlando, but there’s no reason to believe that they aren’t still among the favorites in the East.

Still, a pair of Boston’s rivals have stepped up as potentially legit challengers to come out of the conference. The Raptors are 7-1, having defeated the Celtics and Sixers so far, with their only loss coming in Milwaukee in a game Kawhi Leonard missed. The Bucks, meanwhile, are the NBA’s last undefeated team at 7-0. They haven’t scored fewer than 113 points in a game this season, and comfortably dispatched Toronto on Monday without Giannis Antetokounmpo in their lineup.

It’s very early in the season, but the Raptors and Bucks have looked like the best possible versions of themselves so far. Leonard is healthy and is playing like one of the NBA’s best two-way stars, with Kyle Lowry also off to a great start and the Raptors’ deep rotation of complementary players thriving. In Milwaukee, Mike Budenholzer‘s arrival has helped unlock the club’s offensive potential, with Antetokounmpo making an early case for MVP consideration and Khris Middleton serving as a strong second option.

There are other potential contenders in the East. The Sixers remain dangerous, especially if they can add another shooter or two. The Heat will be very intriguing if they can acquire Jimmy Butler from Minnesota. The Pacers are playing well again, and Dwane Casey is turning the Pistons into a potential threat. In the early going though, the Celtics, Raptors, and Bucks appear to be the three strongest threats to come out of the East.

With the Bucks having beaten Toronto and the Raptors having defeated the Celtics so far this season, the C’s will get a chance to complete the circle by handing the Bucks their first loss tonight in Boston. It’ll be a good early-season test for a Milwaukee team that will have Antetokounmpo back in its lineup.

Again, it’s too early in the season to draw any definitive conclusions, but have your views on the East changed at all over the last two or three weeks? Which team is your current pick to represent the Eastern conference in the NBA Finals?

Place your vote below and then head to the comment section to share your two cents.

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Poll: Wizards’ Playoff Chances

To say that the Wizards have gotten off to a rough start would be an understatement. At 1-4 heading into their Sunday night clash with the Clippers, the Wizards continue to struggle with consistency and playing to their competition. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have yet to have the services of Dwight Howard, putting the team at a major disadvantage on the glass on a nightly basis.

Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith have struggled to fill that void, while inconsistent effort has plagued the team on the defensive end. While John Wall and Bradley Beal are putting up solid numbers, the team continues to struggle closing out games and getting a full team effort on a nightly basis.

With Otto Porter struggling with his shot (and confidence) and the team going on an early West coast road trip, it’s easy to see why the Wizards have stumbled out of the gates.

Despite their early bumps, it’s very possible that Howard returns, Porter shakes off the slump and the team picks things up to regain its footing in the Eastern Conference. After all, it can’t get much worse than it has so far for the Wizards. The hope will be that Howard provides much-needed rim protection and rebounding while Wall, Beal and Porter work together more to attack defenses from all areas of the court.

Luckily for the Wizards, they aren’t the only team to get off to a slow start. The 76ers are just 3-3, the Celtics have had a modest 4-2 start, and both the Rockets and Thunder sit at 1-4.

With that being said, how good you think the Wizards can be this season? Are they a contender in the East, a team that barely makes the playoffs, or a team that misses the playoffs altogether? Vote below in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Poll: Are Rockets Still West’s Second-Best Team?

The Rockets won an NBA-high 65 games in 2017/18, but despite placing ahead of the Warriors in the regular season, they were never able to supplant the defending champions for the title of the Western Conference’s best team, eventually losing to Golden State in the Western Finals.

Still, as the only club to seriously push the Warriors to the brink of elimination last season, Houston was the league’s clear-cut second-best team. And even though they lost key contributors like Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute over the summer, the Rockets entered 2018/19 widely viewed as the second-best team in the West again. When our writers made our predictions for the coming season, we all had Houston in the top two in the conference standings.

We’re only 10 days into the season and it’s too early to start panicking about the Rockets’ slow start, but nearly all the red flags raised during the club’s offseason have been on display so far. Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams were considered unusual signings, and neither player has looked like an ideal fit in Houston through four games. The three-and-D abilities of Ariza and Mbah a Moute have been missed, with newcomers like James Ennis unable to replicate their production in the early going. As a result, the Rockets own a 1-3 record.

Now, again, there are plenty of reasons not to overreact to Houston’s start. The losses all came against tough Western teams – the Pelicans, Clippers, and Jazz – and Chris Paul missed two of those games due to a suspension. Plus, we expected it to take a little time for the Rockets’ newcomers to adjust. Nonetheless, as we debate the value of Houston’s reported trade offer for Jimmy Butler, it’s worth noting one reason why the team may be willing to surrender four first-round picks for Butler in the first place — they could really use him.

The Rockets’ perimeter defense has looked a little shaky with Ariza and Mbah a Moute no longer in the mix. And with Harden injured and Eric Gordon off to a slow start, another play-maker and 3-point shooter like Butler would really help open up the offense.

The Warriors are still the West’s No. 1 team until someone can beat them in the playoffs, but it looks like the No. 2 spot might be more wide open than we anticipated. The Timberwolves (2-3) and Thunder (0-4) have each also been a bit of a mess so far, and the Lakers (2-3) are still figuring things out, but the Pelicans (3-0) and Nuggets (4-1) have looked great, and the Trail Blazers (3-1) and Jazz (2-2) remain dangerous.

What do you think? Should we still consider the Rockets the second-best team in the West and be patient while they hit their stride, or is another club poised to knock them off that perch? Vote below and then head to the comment section to share your two cents!

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Poll: Kyrie Irving’s Future

Kyrie Irving is one of several big-name players projected to reach unrestricted free agency during the summer of 2019, but it appears his free agency will be a mere formality. During the preseason, Irving announced to an arena of Celtics fans that he intends to re-sign with Boston next July. According to reports, the star point guard has privately conveyed a similar sentiment to C’s management.

Despite Irving’s proclamation, executives around the NBA still have Irving’s name on their free agent big boards for 2019, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported earlier this week. Windhorst notes that verbal commitments are just that, and that they don’t come with any guarantees — there’s nothing stopping Irving from changing his mind between now and July 1.

While that’s true, it undersells the explicit and public nature of the commitment Irving made this fall. Typically, when free-agents-to-be are asked about their futures, their answers are evasive. Some refuse to address the subject at all, telling reporters that they’re focused on the season or that they’ll let their agents handle the business side. Others express interest in re-signing with their current teams, but add a caveat or two — they “know it’s a business” or they “hope the team feels the same way” or they’ll “see what happens.”

In Irving’s case, his declaration didn’t leave any ambiguity: He intends to re-sign with the Celtics, and is only waiting to do so because signing an extension now wouldn’t make sense from a financial perspective. It’s the sort of vow that we rarely hear from top free agents, many of whom prefer to keep their options open and don’t want to risk angering a fan base by making a promise they might not keep.

Still, we’re more than eight months away from July. If the Celtics struggle to meet expectations this season, will Irving be as enthusiastic about signing a long-term deal next offseason? If he suffers another knee injury, will the C’s be eager to put a massive multiyear off on the table? While Boston certainly wants to keep Irving, the team hasn’t made any promises of its own. It’s possible that the situation could change significantly in the coming months.

In my opinion, it would be very surprising if Irving and the Celtics don’t eventually finalize a new deal. However, it can’t be considered a total lock until he puts pen to paper next July.

What do you think? Does it make sense to essentially cross off Irving’s name from 2019’s list of free agents, or will he and/or the team have second thoughts within the next eight months?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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