Weekly Mailbag

Weekly Mailbag: 11/26/18 – 12/2/18

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.

Which star is most likely to get traded before the deadline? And what team is most likely to acquire said star? The Lakers? — Thatisspelledwrong, via Twitter

That will become much clearer once the playoff races are a little better formed. The Wizards, for example, may have been more willing to move John Wall or Bradley Beal before this week’s surge put them back into contention. The Spurs have a lot of veterans — LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli — who might become available if they fall out of the Western race. The Heat are another team that might start dealing if they can’t turn things around. If none of those teams decides to blow things up, speculation will turn toward Kevin Love in Cleveland, who becomes eligible to be dealt on January 24. The Cavaliers seem to have accepted the need to rebuild and could get a nice package of assets for the five-time All-Star. There will be plenty of suitors for any big name on the market, but the Lakers are focused on free agency and will only add salary beyond this season if they can land the second star they want.

Should the Spurs make a trade? — Mr. T, via Twitter

San Antonio is a patient organization that won’t rush into panic deals. But after losing back-to-back games this week by a combined 70 points, it might be time to accept that the long run of playoff appearances is about to end. Gasol only has a $6.7MM guarantee on his $16MM salary for next season, so there could be a strong market for him once he returns from a stress fracture in his left foot. Gay has an expiring $10MM contract, while Belinelli has an affordable $5.85MM deal for next season, so there should be interest in both. Aldridge is signed for another year at $26MM, then has a partial guarantee on his $24MM salary for 2020/21, so he won’t be as easy to move. If this week’s disaster is an indication of things to come, the Spurs will definitely be active on the trade market with an eye for the future.

I saw that DeMarcus Cousins is expected back around Christmas. How much is he going to help the Warriors? — RB4, via Twitter

Center is by far the weakest position for the two-time defending champs and it’s starting to grate on coach Steve Kerr, who snapped at a reporter last night for asking about it. Golden State let all its veteran big men leave over the summer, and the combination of Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell hasn’t been able to replace them. Cousins gives them a potential star in the middle, although his effectiveness will depend on how his body recovers from the Achilles injury. Reports suggest that he has fit in well with the Warriors’ culture, and he will be focused on winning a ring and rebuilding his value for next summer’s free agency. If he play like his old self for just a few minutes a night, he will be exactly what Golden State needs.

Weekly Mailbag: 11/12/18 – 11/18/18

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.

Is there an actual trade market for Wesley Matthews? I’ve seen him on plenty of “trade candidate” type articles lately but can’t imagine who would take him, and I’m a Mavs fan. — Mike O’Neill, via Twitter

Matthews has a couple of advantages that could create a strong demand before the trade deadline arrives in February. He’s only 32 and seems fully recovered from the Achilles injury that derailed his career in Portland, plus he’s got an $18.6MM expiring contract. Matthews is off to his best start in years, averaging 16.2 PPG through 13 games while shooting 38% from 3-point range. If he keeps up that level of play, Dallas should get a nice return for him. Of course, that’s assuming the Mavericks are sellers rather than buyers at the deadline. Last night’s win over the Warriors has them at 7-8 and back in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.

I was wondering where Jawun Evans ended up. The Clippers were trying to trade him to make the best out of an overflow situation, but the rumor was no one was biting was despite four or five teams wanting him. They knew the Clips had to make the cut. What happened to the four or five teams waiting for Evans? — Nicolas Galipeau

Evans recently signed with the Suns’ G League affiliate in Northern Arizona and is waiting for his next NBA opportunity. Players who get cut right before the season starts usually have a hard time getting picked up right away because everyone’s roster is set. Evans certainly looked like he has an NBA future during the 48 games he played for the Clippers last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back in the league before the end of the season.

If the Wizards can’t get back into contention after their slow start, which players are most likely to be moved when the sell-off begins? — D.P., via Twitter

John Wall may seem like the most obvious answer, but the Designated Veteran Player Extension he signed in the summer of 2017 will kick in next season, making him a huge financial risk. Wall will get $170MM over the next four years, including a cap-draining $47.3MM in 2022-23. Teams may ask for Bradley Beal, but he is much more affordable for the Wizards to keep with a deal that pays $27MM and $28.75MM over the next two years. The answer may be Otto Porter Jr., who was mentioned as a possibility for the Rockets in a recent story by Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. That’s a situation to keep an eye on if Washington can’t climb up the standings before the trade deadline.

Weekly Mailbag: 10/15/18 – 10/21/18

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.

Any leads on where Joakim Noah will end up? — Nicolaus Galipeau

It’s not a good sign for the former Knicks center that he has been on the market for a week now and no serious suitors have stepped up. There was a time when it was assumed he would be the next ex-Bull to follow Tom Thibodeau to Minnesota, but Thibs has indicated that the Wolves aren’t interested, plus he has bigger concerns to deal with. The Lakers don’t really have a center to back up JaVale McGee, so that might be a situation to watch. Noah is only 33 and was a First Team All-NBA center in 2014. On the other hand, he hasn’t turned in a really effective season since then and his reputation took a major hit in New York. Even if he does get another chance, his time as a productive player may be finished.

Do you think the one-and-done rule for NBA rookies should be abolished as Commisioner Adam Silver wants? For me, it should be continued as very few high school players are ready to jump from high school to NBA. — Greg Dizon

There are too many options for young players now for the one-and-done rule to remain effective. The NBA announced this week that high school graduates will be able to join the G League, making $125K while they wait to become draft eligible. Others have chosen to play overseas for a year, and LaVar Ball has talked about starting a Junior Basketball Association for high school grads. With so many opportunities to play professionally, there’s no reason to keep denying elite 18-year-olds access to the NBA.

The Nuggets signed Michael Malone to an extension this week. Why would they make that kind of commitment to a coach who has never been to the playoffs? — Nuggets Fan, via Twitter

While it’s true that Malone has never reached the postseason as a head coach, he missed by the slimmest possible margin last year, losing to the Timberwolves in overtime on the last night of the regular season. Malone has the organization moving in the right direction, posting win totals of 33, 40 and 46 in his three seasons at the helm. He was entering the final year of his contract, and management didn’t want didn’t want that to become a distraction. The Nuggets believe they have the right mix of players in place to be successful and they like the stability of having Malone signed through the end of 2020/21.

Weekly Mailbag: 9/24/18 – 9/30/18

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.

With Anthony Davis linking up with same agent as LeBron James, do you think there’s a good chance he’ll join LeBron with Lakers in the near future? — Greg Dizon

It’s a good theory because we know that LeBron likes to play alongside Klutch Sports clients, but Lakers fans shouldn’t be counting on a James-Davis tandem in their future. Davis will be eligible for a supermax extension next summer that could become the richest deal in NBA history. Only the Pelicans can give him that, so he won’t be pushing for a trade before then. Davis could be expected to spend at least two years in New Orleans once that deal is in hand before exploring trade options. LeBron will be 36 by then, and who knows how successful he and the Lakers will be? Davis has said repeatedly that he’s happy with the Pelicans, and as long as they remain a playoff team that’s where he’s likely to stay.

Andrew Bynum is trying to make a comeback. This reminds me of Larry Sanders. They both kind of had the same potential at one point, though Bynum did accomplish more. They both had poor attitudes that led to their NBA exit. Are both these comebacks money grabs? — Nicolas Galipeau

Sanders continued to have off-the-court problems during his brief comeback with the Cavaliers at the end of the 2016/17 season. He spent most of his time with Cleveland’s G League affiliate, but reportedly showed up late and missed a team bus when he was with the Cavs. For all his talent, it never seemed like basketball was his top priority. Bynum’s NBA downfall was related to injuries, especially his knees. He’s not in position to demand more than a veteran’s minimum contract, so he’s probably not motivated by the money. More likely, Bynum misses the NBA lifestyle and would like to prove he can still be productive at age 30.

Luka Doncic looks like a runaway candidate for Rookie of the Year. Is it too early to put his name on the trophy? — Big D, via Twitter

Doncic was impressive in the Mavericks’ preseason opener Saturday night, making five of seven shots and scoring 16 points in 30 minutes, but don’t get carried away. Dallas was playing the Beijing Ducks, so Doncic still hasn’t displayed his skills against NBA competition. He is among the Rookie of the Year favorites, and his role as the primary distributor in the Mavericks’ backcourt will get him a lot of votes. However, there’s a very talented field this year, a lot of whom appear in line for plenty of playing time. Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Trae Young, Wendell Carter, Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox will all be formidable contenders.

Weekly Mailbag: 9/17/18 – 9/23/18

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.

Besides Jimmy Butler, who is and who should be on the radar of the Brooklyn Nets? — D-Rock, via Twitter

The Nets haven’t been successful for a long time, so it was a bit of a surprise to see them included on the list of preferred destinations Butler submitted to the Timberwolves when he made his trade request. Brooklyn has less than $17MM committed right now for 2019/20, although that number could rise depending on what Allen Crabbe does with his $18.5MM player option and how the team handles D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Regardless, the Nets will be in position to offer at least one max deal to an extremely talented free agent class available. It’s hard to say specifically who they will be looking at between now and next summer, but when the next Butler-style situation crops up with an unhappy star — and it’s been a frequent occurrence of late — Brooklyn will be in position to pounce.

Do you think the Spurs will be championship contenders this season with the addition of DeMar DeRozan? Kawhi Leonard hardly played last season and yet the Spurs played well.– Greg Dizon

Championship contender is a hard level to define in an era where the Warriors have dominated, but the Spurs should be better than casual fans probably expect. Leonard was a non-factor last season, playing in just nine games, but San Antonio still posted a 47-win season and finished just two games behind the third seed. DeRozan is a four-time All-Star who will help replace some of Leonard’s scoring punch. Jakob Poeltl, who was acquired in the same deal, with bring some youthful energy to a veteran front line, and the return of Marco Belinelli bolsters the outside shooting. The Spurs may not be in the mix for the NBA title, but they should remain a factor in the playoff race and could have home court advantage in a first-round series.

Why hasn’t anybody signed Jamal Crawford yet? Can’t someone use an explosive scorer off the bench? — Bobby M, via Twitter

There was a report at the start of the week that Crawford and the Celtics have “mutual interest,” but nothing has happened yet on that front. Boston may have a roster spot open after Jabari Bird‘s legal troubles, and Crawford could fill the team’s need for more 3-point shooting. The Sixers, Warriors and Lakers have also shown interest, Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated reported this week. Crawford is still getting paid by the Hawks as part of last year’s buyout, so he doesn’t have to be in a hurry to find a new team. Expect him to land a job with a contender before the season starts.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/27/18 – 9/2/18

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.

With the Lakers buying out Luol Deng‘s contract, is it still possible we could see a move made for Kawhi Leonard before the season begins? What would it take to make that transaction? — Omar A. Gonzalez, via Twitter

The Raptors aren’t going to pull up off a blockbuster trade that involves giving up DeMar DeRozan, one of the most popular players in franchise history, without seeing what they have in Leonard. If he’s fully healed from the quad issue that limited him to nine games last season, Leonard has a chance to be the best player in the East and the Raptors are legitimate contenders for the NBA Finals. But Lakers fans should be patient. Leonard is still coming up on his option year, and nothing stands in his way of leaving for Los Angeles in 10 months if he’s not happy in Toronto. If the Raptors aren’t confident by the February deadline that they can re-sign Leonard, a trade with the Lakers becomes much more likely.

With Deng out, who’s in? Kawhi Leonard or Damian Lillard? — Boy Roy, via Twitter

A free agent signing next summer is more likely than a trade this year. With nearly $37MM in projected cap space after the Deng buyout, the Lakers will be on the radar for just about every marquee free agent. Leonard should be considered the favorite if he’s fully healthy, but the list of free agents for next summer is impressive. It starts with Kevin Durant and includes Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Kemba Walker, Al Horford and Khris Middleton. Who wants a max contract to play alongside LeBron James, live in Los Angeles and be part of one of the league’s glamour teams? Just about everybody.

Do you think Carmelo Anthony will be a big boost and fit in with the Rockets as a championship contender?– Greg Dizon

The good news is that Anthony doesn’t have to do a whole lot to make the situation in Houston work. He doesn’t have to be part of a Big Three or challenge for the scoring title. James Harden and Chris Paul do the heavy lifting for the Rockets’ offense. Anthony just has to hit the open shots that are created for him and be willing to move the ball so the offense doesn’t stagnate. The main doubts involve whether he can help replace the contributions on defense from Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, who both left in free agency. The Rockets have other options if Anthony doesn’t work hard on both ends of the court, and his effort on defense may determine how large his role is.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/13/18 – 8/19/18

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.

ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz said this week that Kyrie Irving and the Celtics have a “mutual understanding” about a long-term contract. If Irving and Jimmy Butler want to play together, does that mean Butler might be coming to Boston? — Stephen W., via Twitter

In an appearance on “The Jump,” Arnovitz said, “My best intel is that the Celtics and Kyrie have a pretty good mutual understanding that he wasn’t going to get traded in the offseason and that there are long-term aspirations for both parties.” While things can change over the course of the season, that’s a pretty strong indication that Irving doesn’t plan to leave Boston. The Celtics potentially have enough cap room to sign a max-level free agent next summer, but only if Al Horford opts out and they renounce his rights, which isn’t likely. A better path toward Butler is a trade around the deadline, but salary matching will be tricky because Boston’s roster is filled with high-end contracts and rookie deals. Assuming Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are off the table, it’s hard to see what the Celtics might offer that the Timberwolves would accept.

If the Lakers are struggling at midseason, do you think LeBron James and the front office will be OK staying the course or will they push for an aggressive trade deadline deal? Wondering how important winning this next season really is. — VJ Cruz, via Twitter

The Lakers’ priority is finding a second star to play alongside LeBron. With all the one-year contracts the organization handed out this summer, it will be in position to offer another maximum deal in 2019. The Lakers won’t make any trades that interfere with that, even if a deal might seem like the difference in making the playoffs. However, if they can get their second star during the season — if things don’t work out for Kawhi Leonard in Toronto, for example — then the Lakers will be very willing to engage in trade talks.

Say an undrafted rookie gets signed to a two-way contract, plays only in the G League all year, then gets an upgrade the next year to the main team. His day limit is used up strictly by attending practices just in case someone on the main team gets hurt, but doesn’t actually play a game, not even suiting up and sitting on the bench. The next year though, after making the main team roster, he blows up. Is he eligible for Rookie of the Year? — Nicolas Galipeau

Under NBA rules, all players are considered rookies until they appear in their first game. That’s why Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin, who sat out their first seasons with injuries, were able to win Rookie of the Year honors. The two-way status in your hypothetical example doesn’t change that. As long as a player doesn’t appear in an actual game, his rookie status isn’t affected.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/6/18 – 8/12/18

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.

With Coach of the Year Dwane Casey now coaching Detroit, do you think the Pistons perform better and will go deep in the playoffs with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond ? — Greg Dizon

There’s no question it was time for a change in Detroit. The Pistons had stagnated under Stan Van Gundy, reaching the playoffs just once during his four seasons there. The addition of Casey, plus having Griffin for a full season, provides the feeling of a new era. LeBron James‘ departure from Cleveland could open up a playoff spot, and the Pistons will be among the best candidates to fill it. However, a deep postseason run doesn’t seem likely. With the Celtics, Sixers and Raptors looming as the best teams in the East, winning even one playoff series will be a challenge for Detroit.

How possible and how convenient would it be for the Knicks and the Lakers to swap Joakim Noah and Luol Deng? — Ray Reyes Fontana

It’s certainly possible. Noah will make $18.5MM this season and Deng is due $18MM, so salary matching wouldn’t be an issue. But would there be much of a point to a deal? The Lakers could use a veteran center, but it’s hard to see Noah filling that role after two disastrous seasons in New York. The Knicks would like another productive wing player, but Deng’s numbers weren’t good in 2016/17 before sitting out all but one game last season. Both teams will be focused on creating as much cap space as possible for next summer, so Noah and Deng will be stretch provision candidates regardless of which team they’re on.

Who are the top 10 HoopsRumors rookies from this year’s draft class? — Ferdinand Rivera, via Twitter

Rookies are unpredictable until the actual games start and we get a look at how they fare against NBA competition. Donovan Mitchell might have been a marginal top 10 pick if you had asked this question a year ago, and he wound up being the best player in his draft class. Luka Doncic will be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year based on his performance in Europe and the Mavericks’ decision to give him control of their offense. The other top five picks — Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson and Trae Young — should get plenty of playing time, while Wendell Carter, Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox all appear to be headed into good situations. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lonnie Walker may join the list as well, but a lot depends on how many minutes their coaches give them.

Weekly Mailbag: 7/30/18 – 8/5/18

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.

What do you think are the chances that Kyrie Irving and his good buddy Jimmy Butler will bolt their teams and play together in New York or another team next season? — Greg Dizon

Elite players finding ways to team up has been the trend in the NBA for several years, and there are reasons to suspect Irving and Butler are plotting a way to form the next version of a superteam. Both are entering option years, so they can become free agents in what is shaping up to be a loaded class in 2019. It’s easy to picture them with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis as the leaders of a rebuilt Knicks team that would become an instant contender. If the Timberwolves falter this season, it’s also possible that the Celtics could try to make a deal for Butler before the deadline as an incentive for Irving to stay in Boston. The odds seem good that Butler and Irving will become teammates, almost certainly in the East as teams try to fill the power vacuum left by the departure of LeBron James.

What do you think is going on with the Sixers’ general manager search? It has been oddly quiet. There haven’t been any leaks of interviews, potential front runners or interested parties. Some think the lack of a general manager hurt them in pursuit of this summer’s big three (LeBron James, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard). — Anthony Coleman
It’s hard to defend the decision to go into such a pivotal summer without a GM when several franchise-changing talents were available, especially when the Sixers had cap space and trade assets. They couldn’t have gotten George, and James made up his mind early about the Lakers, but they definitely could have rivaled the Raptors’ bid for Leonard. A quick hire of ex-Cavaliers GM David Griffin might have put them in a much stronger position. There hasn’t been much news about the GM search in recent weeks, other than an odd attempt to lure Daryl Morey away from the Rockets. The Sixers say they are being diligent about finding the right person to run their front office, but they may regret not having Bryan Colangelo’s replacement in place by the start of July.
Dwight Howard seems to change teams every year. What are the chances that his current arrangement with the Wizards is a long-term one? — Wizfan, via Twitter
Obviously it depends on how much success Washington has with him in the middle, but Howard’s future salary demands will also factor in. The Wizards already have tax concerns with huge contracts for John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, while Kelly Oubre is eligible for an extension this summer. Howard has gotten used to being among the highest-paid players on his team and hasn’t made less than $20MM in a season since leaving the Lakers in 2013. Would he accept the Wizards’ mid-level exception when he become a free agent again next summer? If not, his journey around the league will continue.

Weekly Mailbag: 7/23/18 – 7/29/18

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.

Why does Vince Carter keep signing with non-playoff teams like the Kings and Hawks when he should be chasing rings at his age? — DW, via Twitter

The priority for Carter seems to be playing time, which wouldn’t be guaranteed on a contending team for someone who will turn 42 during the season. A lot of people questioned his decision to sign with Sacramento last season, but he wound up in 58 games and averaged 17.7 minutes per night. Plus he collected $8MM, which no contender would have been willing to pay. Carter will only get a veteran’s minimum deal from the Hawks, but it gives him another year in the NBA and it allows him to serve as a mentor to a young roster, which is something else he seems to enjoy.

Just wondering about Kenrich Williams, saw him perform well for the Nuggets during summer league. He should have been drafted, shocked that he wasn’t and I think that someone is going to get him for a steal. — Sergeant Preston

This email was received before Williams signed with the Pelicans this week, but he does have the look of someone who can eventually contribute at the NBA level. Williams was a versatile player at TCU, posting a 13.2/9.3/3.9 line in his senior season, and he projects as either a small forward or stretch four in the NBA. At 23, he’s a little bit old for a prospect and it doesn’t help that he landed on a team without a direct G League affiliate. However, his ability to guard several positions is highly valued in the modern NBA and he will have opportunities to find the right situation, whether that’s with the Pelicans or someone else.

How likely is it the Knicks make the playoffs? — Eli Samuels

If you mean in 2018/19, the chances are really bad. Nobody knows for sure if Kristaps Porzingis will return from his torn ACL this season, and even the most optimistic projections have him out until January. The Knicks didn’t add anything significant in free agency beyond Mario Hezonja, nor did they take on any long-term salary because they’re saving their money for next summer. Their most exciting newcomers are rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, who will both need time to adjust to the NBA. Beyond the upcoming season, New York’s prospects are much brighter. The franchise could be in position to offer two max deals in 2019, with Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Kevin Durant among those rumored to have interest. Also, a competent management team finally seems to be in place that won’t throw big money at average players in contracts the team comes to regret.