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.