Weekly Mailbag

Weekly Mailbag: 2/13/16 – 2/19/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

What’s your opinion of the Serge Ibaka trade from the Raptors’ perspective? They have Jonas Valanciunas, drafted Jakob Poeltl, as well as Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger. So why trade from the backcourt depth for something that doesn’t appear on paper as a need? — Matt Elliott

The Raptors believe they are in position to contend for a title this season, and the organization didn’t see Poeltl, Patterson or Sullinger as a difference maker at power forward. After losing to the Cavaliers in last year’s Eastern finals, Toronto didn’t want to enter the playoffs with basically the same roster. Ibaka is a better shooter and rim protector than anyone they had at the position and he got a ton of playoff experience in Oklahoma City. No matter how much the Raptors may miss Ross, it was worth rolling the dice on a deal that makes their starting lineup significantly better.

Who would Detroit give the hardest matchup to, Boston or Washington? Is there a player out there that would fit their biggest need before the deadline? — Mark Holmes

Despite their 27-30 record, the Pistons wouldn’t be an easy playoff matchup for either team. The Celtics, with their rebounding and interior defensive issues, would probably have a tougher time containing Andre Drummond in a seven-game series. Detroit has discussed a deal that would send Reggie Jackson to Orlando in exchange for D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green. While that may help with chemistry issues, it’s not a talent upgrade and it wouldn’t guarantee the Pistons a playoff spot. They could also revisit a deal with Minnesota for Ricky Rubio, who continues to be available. More likely, Detroit will save its most significant moves for the offseason.

Isn’t Kyle O’Quinn a legitimate candidate for Most Improved? Who would be his competition? — Ed Fields

The 26-year-old center has stepped up his game this season and has helped the Knicks deal with a disappointing performance from Joakim Noah. However, the modest increase in his numbers (going from 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game a year ago to 6.4 and 5.6 this season) won’t be enough to take home the award. Bucks point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is almost a shoo-in for the honor, even though he was recognized as a star before the season began. His averages are up significantly in points (16.9 to 23.4), rebounds (7.7 to 8.6) and assists (4.3 to 5.4) and he has become an on-court leader for the Bucks. His most serious competition was probably Zach LaVine before the season-ending ACL injury. O’Quinn is having a nice season, but this year’s award belongs to the Greek Freak.

Weekly Mailbag: 2/6/16 – 2/12/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

How can James Dolan be so naive? He plans on keeping Phil Jackson after all he has done. He keeps adding fuel to the fire he started about Charles Oakley. Do the Knicks ever have any chance of being any good with Dolan as an owner or is he the biggest issue? — Yaakov Schreier

An old sports adage says, “You can’t fire the owner,” and that’s the Knicks’ biggest problem right now. Fans across the country cheered on Oakley in his confrontation with Dolan, and the former Knicks tough guy has become more popular than ever now that he is banned from Madison Square Garden. MSG crowds have targeted Joakim Noah, Carmelo Anthony and Jackson as losses have piled up, but the real source of frustration is Dolan, who seems badly out of touch and incapable of building a winner no matter how much money he throws around. There have been suggestions that the Oakley incident will discourage free agents from coming to New York, but it may also make a young talent like Kristaps Porzingis think twice about a long-term future with the Knicks.

What trades are the Pistons most likely to make and what kind of package could they get for Andre Drummond? — Mark Holmes

Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said this week that “everyone is available,” but Drummond is probably less available than anybody else. Detroit should ask for a star and a first-round pick in any deal, but it seems unlikely that Drummond is going anywhere. He’s only 23 and did the organization a favor last year by waiting until the offseason to sign his extension, giving the Pistons more cap room to work with. Reggie Jackson is the first name that comes to mind when discussing potential Detroit trades. A rumor made the rounds this week that the Pelicans were interested in Jackson, possibly as part of a three-team deal involving Jahlil Okafor. Jackson seems like the player to watch as the deadline grows nearer.

There are reports that the Cavs are interested in Jose Calderon and Andrew Bogut. Both are aging veterans. What is the possibility that they go a little younger and call Utah about Shelvin Mack and are they interested in Denver’s seven-footer Jusuf Nurkic, seeing how they really want to move him. — Dayre Dancy

Mack is a real possibility, although one of what seems like dozens for Cleveland as a backup point guard. He helped the Jazz after being acquired in a draft-day deal last season, but he’s on an expiring contract and probably isn’t in the team’s long-term plans. Nurkic would be attractive for the Cavs because he’s still on a rookie contract, but the Nuggets probably want more than Cleveland is willing to part with. The Cavaliers have an obvious need for Calderon, Bogut or almost any big man or point guard, but they may prefer to wait until after the trade deadline and try their luck on the buyout market.

Weekly Mailbag: 1/9/16 – 1/15/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Jahlil Okafor looks like the first that will be traded from the Sixers. What’s a reasonable return? I think if they get a rotation guard, they’re lucky. Greetings from Italy. — Massimo Conci

The Sixers’ big man situation is constantly changing. Okafor appeared to be the odd man out after sitting out four straight games, but he got a chance to start Saturday night and put up 26 points. He’s a rare offensive talent who can be a monster low-post scorer for the next decade and a half. Also, he’s on an inexpensive rookie contract and under team control through 2018/19, while Nerlens Noel will be a restricted free agent when the season ends. In other words, Okafor is too valuable to just give away, especially considering Joel Embiid‘s injury history. If Philadelphia does move Okafor, it should expect to get back at least a long-term starter in the backcourt.

Can the Nuggets acquire a top 25 talent with pieces they have? Such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul Millsap, etc.? — Brandon Roker

You can cross those three names off the list. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently wrote that Pacers executive Larry Bird isn’t returning calls on George. The Kings are hoping to reach an extension with Cousins, and the Hawks have taken Millsap off the market. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry recently offered a good explanation of Denver’s problem when he was asked about trading Anthony Davis. “You don’t trade great for good,” Gentry said, “no matter how many you get.” The Nuggets have a lot of good young players, but no one close to the top 25 and no easy way of acquiring someone at that level unless they get lucky in free agency. Think about it this way. If Denver had a top 25 player, would you be willing to trade him for anyone on the roster now?

The Bulls have played awful this season. I guess they are playing exactly how everyone said they would, but as a huge fan, I obviously expected more. When I watch them beat teams like the Cavs and Spurs, they get my hopes up that this season won’t be for nothing. But then they go ahead and lose games to the Knicks and Lakers and it drives me crazy. I know they have glaring problems, but they have some real nice pieces to build something here [Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez, Doug McDermott]. They desperately need a point guard [Ricky Rubio?] and another scorer [Rudy Gay?] for down the stretch. Any chance the Bulls make something happen? Or can they even make something happen? — Andrew Rydberg

The Bulls could use more outside shooters, but they don’t have many assets to offer in return. They killed any trade value that Rajon Rondo might have by pulling him from their rotation, and their best hope is to flip him to a team looking to unload salary, as we examined here. With Chicago committed to keeping Butler, who has entered the MVP conversation over the past month, it’s hard to see how they do anything beyond a minor deal before the deadline.

Weekly Mailbag: 12/5/16 – 12/11/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

With the Indiana Pacers really struggling despite having a talented team, what are the chances of Monta Ellis being traded? He is having an awful season, but he is also not getting the ball. — Matthew Cho

The Pacers are off to a disappointing 12-12 start and Ellis has been a major reason why. He is averaging just 9.7 points per game, the lowest since his rookie season, and is taking about half the number of shots he did in Dallas two years ago. With Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles and Glenn Robinson III as wing options, Indiana would be fine if Ellis were no longer on the roster. The key is finding a team that still believes in the 31-year-old, who still has two more seasons and nearly $23MM left on the free agent contract he signed with the Pacers in 2015. The Magic, with former Indiana coach Frank Vogel, have been mentioned as a possibility, but no trade talks have been reported between the teams.

Where do you think is the next destination is for Bobby Brown, who was recently released by the Rockets? — Eugene Ahn

Brown was the roster casualty when Houston matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Donatas Motiejunas. If the 32-year-old guard wants to keep playing, he will probably have to do it overseas. He has been in the Euroleague, China and Japan in recent years and could probably find another opportunity in any of those places. Brown overcame long odds when he earned a roster spot with the Rockets after six seasons out of the NBA. However, he appeared in just six games and created a minor international incident when he signed his name on the Great Wall of China.

Of the European and Chinese players whose draft rights are held, who is most likely to come over? Alessandro Gentile seemed to be close to signing with Houston until they hired Mike D’Antoni, and Bogdan Bogdanovic seems to be on the rise in Turkey. Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin were drafted last year, but only Qi has seemed to have met with the team that drafted him. Also, would it be worth the Spurs trading for the rights to Bogdanovic to replace Manu Ginobili when he calls time? — Chris Hawkins

It would probably be hard to pry Bogdanovic away from the Kings, who are extremely high on him after acquiring his rights in a draft day trade. At 24, the 6’6″ shooting guard is one of the top players in the Euroleague and was a star on the Serbian national team. He is expected to come to the NBA next season, and will almost certainly be in a Kings uniform. It’s always a guessing game to try and figure out which overseas players are ready for the NBA, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on first-round picks and monitor their progress.

Weekly Mailbag: 11/28/16 – 12/4/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

If the Clippers lose in the semifinals of the playoffs, could you see Blake Griffin leaving them? And if he did, what three teams would have the best chance at getting him? — Casey Becker

Griffin and Chris Paul will almost certainly opt out after the season, regardless of how far L.A. gets in the playoffs, but an early exit could have them questioning whether they can ever win a title with the Clippers. The Thunder would love to bring Griffin back to Oklahoma, where he played college ball, and the pairing of Griffin and Russell Westbrook could work even better than Westbrook and Kevin Durant did. The problem is that OKC already has more than $110MM in salary committed for next season, so someone like Enes Kanter and some other contracts would have to be moved to make it possible. The Celtics have plenty of cap space and should be considered a possible destination for every top free agent. The Bulls will also have room and need help at power forward. And don’t overlook the Lakers, who wouldn’t mind stealing a star from their crosstown rivals.

Who are the Blazers looking at picking up before the trade deadline? As you have recently posted, cap considerations will play in. With that in mind, who will the Blazers trade for who can improve their weaknesses? Obviously, defense and rebounding are the top two needs. After hearing about Andrew Bogut being on the table, I’m intrigued on who and how Portland can improve. — Tony Juaire

The Blazers may spend the next month or two hoping that Dallas loses as many games as possible. Portland needs a physical presence in the middle to solidify its defense, and Bogut would be an excellent fit if the Mavericks fall completely out of contention. The veteran center is making a little more than $11MM this season and is headed toward free agency, so it shouldn’t take much to get him. Another possibility is Sixers center Nerlens Noel, if Portland trusts that he can stay healthy. Noel is an impending free agent with a salary under $4.4MM, so he could be a long-term building block if the Blazers front office is willing to take the risk.

Obviously there are trade rumors for underachieving teams like the Celtics and Trail Blazers, but do you think one of the power four teams, (Cavaliers, Warriors, Spurs, Clippers) will make a big move when the time comes? —Michael Thompson

Not big moves, but each of those teams will try to improve between now and the deadline. Cleveland needs a backup to Kyrie Irving and may not be able to fill the need with a free agent such as Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole. The Warriors need help on defense.  The Clippers may want to upgrade from Luc Mbah a Moute at small forward. Good teams always try to poach players from poor teams as the deadline approaches, and that should be true this year as the league powers fight for every advantage heading into the playoffs.

Weekly Mailbag: 11/21/16 – 11/27/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

What do the Bucks need to do to make the playoffs? And will Greg Monroe be traded before the trade deadline? — Dan Vachalek

At 6-8, the Bucks are only a half game out of eighth in the East, so it’s possible they could be a playoff team with the roster they have now. It’s no secret that they would like to trade Monroe and would probably consider any reasonable offer. Like many teams, Milwaukee is relying more on small-ball lineups, which creates less of a need to have Monroe on the team. ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirmed this week that the Pelicans have had “semi-serious talks” about Monroe over the past year, but those appear to be on hold. The biggest problem with trading Monroe is that he has an $17.9MM player option for next season. Most teams don’t like to deal for players in that situation because of the uncertainty involved.

I have two questions:
1. Do you think that the Nuggets could trade one of their shooting guards in Gary Harris or Will Barton?
2. Will the Thunder make some cap space by trading Enes Kanter to go after big names in free agency? — Casey Becker

The Nuggets have made it clear that they like Harris a lot. He grabbed a starting position last year and he’s still on a rookie contract, making a little more than $1.65MM this year and $2.55MM next season. Unless Jamal Murray somehow makes Harris expendable, plan on him to stay in Denver. Barton is an extremely productive bench player who also has a very team-friendly contract. The Nuggets just re-signed him in 2015, and he is making about $3.5MM this season and next. There’s not much reason to think either one will be leaving Denver.

The Thunder, on the other hand, may be regretting their decision to match Kanter’s four-year, $70MM offer sheet last summer. He’s losing minutes to Joffrey Lauvergne and could wind up as a third-string center making more than $17MM per season. If a team came to the Thunder with an offer, I think they would gladly listen.

With the T-Wolves’ slow start, there are rumors that Tom Thibodeau will likely move one of his young assets for a proven veteran. However, which player gets traded and for whom? One would think the trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are untouchable. Kris Dunn is viewed as the point guard of the future. Gorgui Dieng was just signed to a big contract extension. Also, they could’ve signed a veteran, such as Luol Deng, this off season or even kept Kevin Garnett on the team for leadership. Could Thibs’ frustration over losing cause him to part ways one of his young guns? –Matt Trapp

Thibodeau may not be a “trust the process” type of coach, but it would be incredibly short-sighted to break up this team full of young stars just to win a few games now. Ricky Rubio remains the player most likely to be traded, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on Minnesota between now and the deadline to see how much losing Thibodeau can tolerate without pulling the trigger on a major deal.

Weekly Mailbag: 11/14/16-11/20/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

What’s wrong with the Knicks? How do you improve defense? Are these players good together? — Ron Cromartie

The answer to all these questions is that it’s too soon to tell. The Knicks went through a lot of changes over the offseason, with a new coach and three new starters added in Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah. It’s going to take more than 13 games to determine if all the pieces fit and the defense can get better. It looks like the talent is there to be a playoff contender, but the fans and the front office are going to have to show patience.

The Raptors definitely have a need at power forward in order to stand a chance against LeBron’s Cavaliers. The rumors are all about trading for Nerlens Noel. With Aaron Gordon playing bench minutes behind Serge Ibaka, would it be possible for the Raptors to package a few players and picks, like Terrence Ross and Pascal Siakam and a pair of future draft picks, to obtain Gordon and Mario Hezonja? — Todd Clarke

It’s nice to see fans thinking big, but it’s unlikely that Orlando will part with Gordon. He’s only 21, he’s still on his rookie contract and the Magic still view him as a future star. They traded for Ibaka in an effort to win right away, but Gordon hasn’t slipped out of their long-term plans. The package you propose should be more than enough to land Noel or Greg Monroe or some other power forward who becomes available as teams slip out of playoff contention.

How far do you think Bruno Caboclo is from being a contributor on the Raptors squad? I feel like he’s progressing well, but is blocked by DeMarre Carroll‘s contract. — Jared Scherling

Caboclo was sent back to the D-League again this week as the Raptors embarked on a nine-day road trip. The Brazilian small forward came to Toronto with a lot of hype, but he hasn’t produced anything to justify it. He has appeared in just 14 NBA games between last season and this one and has just 13 points, so he has concerns much bigger than Carroll’s contract. Caboclo will have to prove himself in the D-League before he get a real shot with the Raptors.

Weekly Mailbag: 11/7/16-11/13/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Could it even be possible for the Warriors to fill their big man need with DeMarcus Cousins? — Isaac Gylfe

It would certainly add to the team’s supervillain image if Boogie came to town. It sure seems like Cousins will be traded somewhere before his contract expires at the end of next season, but Golden State? Let’s look at the salary numbers. Cousins is making a shade under $17MM this season and will get a little more than $18MM in 2017/18. Theoretically, the Warriors could trade Klay Thompson [$16,663,575] for him straight up if they’re willing to break up the Splash Brothers. Draymond Green [$15,330,435] and one of the younger players like Kevon Looney [$1,182,840] or Ian Clark [$1,015,696] just about gets it done, but losing Green would destroy the team chemistry. Among players Golden State might be willing to part with, the most realistic offer is Andre Iguodala [$11,131,368] and Zaza Pachulia [$2.898MM] with some others thrown in to match salary. But both will be free agents next summer, and the Kings will definitely get better offers than that. If you want to see Cousins with this current Warriors roster, the only way to make it happen is NBA 2K17.

The Bucks are seeing Giannis Antetokounmpo make the leap to near All-Star level and Jabari Parker showing the NBA just how high his offensive ceiling is as he gains confidence in his 3-ball, 42% though eight games. My question is, how ominous are the John Henson [four years, $44MM] and Miles Plumlee [four years, $52MM] deals? A lot of Bucks fans are already terrified they’re both unmovable and will seriously impair the Bucks from adding pieces the next two summers as their prospects turn into stars. It’s like having two Omer Asiks on the roster. — Daren Hill

It is hard to understand why Milwaukee thought it needed to pay eight-figure salaries to both Henson and Plumlee, as well as Greg Monroe. Once the extension for Antetokounmpo kicks in next season, the Bucks are going to have very little room to maneuver under the cap. Throw in big salaries for Khris Middleton, Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova, and the Bucks are just about capped out. Monroe can opt out next summer — if he isn’t traded first — which would take away $17.9MM for next season, but otherwise Milwaukee had better hope it can contend with its current core.

Weekly Mailbag: 10/31/16-11/6/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

There have been rumors of either Jimmy Butler, Jabari Parker or Jae Crowder/Amir Johnson coming to Golden State for Klay Thompson. Would the Warriors be willing to part with one of the league’s best two-way players and an integral part of their team’s success? What has caused these rumors, and which trade seems the most likely? — Matt Trapp

Overactive imaginations? The Warriors aren’t going to break up their superteam so soon after signing Kevin Durant, and with their defensive issues they’re not going to trade their best player on that end of the court. Thompson is only 26 and he is signed for the next three seasons at roughly $16.6MM, $17.8MM and $18.9MM, figures that are very reasonable in the current market. Golden State won’t risk chemistry issues by shipping out Thompson for any of those players, who collectively haven’t been in nearly as many important playoff games as he has.

It was expected that the Warriors’ defense would struggle this year, but now their rebounding has suffered, too. Zaza Pachulia has been serviceable, as has David West, but they have struggled rebounding the ball, and aren’t getting help from everyone else on the floor.  I know it’s still early in the season, but this happened in the Spurs game and tonight against the Lakers. Is there any way Warriors can upgrade at center with the little money they can spend? — Nick Elliston

In an ideal world, they would uncover the next Hassan Whiteside, a shot-blocking force who is looking for an NBA contract that will launch him to stardom. Unfortunately for Golden State, there are very few NBA quality centers who aren’t already in the league. Getting rid of Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli was necessary to create enough cap room to sign Durant, and the Warriors would surely do it again. If you’re looking for a realistic long shot, how about Nerlens Noel? He didn’t get a rookie scale extension, so the Sixers wouldn’t mind dealing him before he becomes a restricted free agent. And his salary is only $4,384,490, so in theory he could be had for a combination of Pachulia and Kevon Looney.

For months we had heard about the Celtics trying to make a major trade before the draft.  Then we heard about them trying to make a trade post draft.  Realistically do you think they will make an in-season trade of any significance?  If so what kind of deal? — Dan Mallahan

Nobody has more assets than the Celtics when it comes to young players and draft picks, so it seems like something will get done eventually. They tried to trade for a pick to land Kris Dunn in June, and they’ve been linked to Jahlil Okafor rumors for months, so Danny Ainge has been working the phones. The important thing is that when a star becomes available — the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, for instance — Boston will be in position to outbid anyone.

Weekly Mailbag: 10/24/16-10/30/16

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Two games into the season and Anthony Davis has 95 combined points. If the Pelicans start winning games and make the playoffs, do you think he would be Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year or Most Improved Player? — Will Johnson

Davis might win an armful of awards this season, but Most Improved won’t be one of them. He has always been an exceptional talent. He is just fully healed from the knee and shoulder issues that plagued him last season. Davis has the ability to win multiple MVPs in his career, but he may need a lot of improvement from the Pelicans before that happens. He’s definitely in line for another First Team All-NBA honor this season.

What do you think the odds are of Masai Ujiri finally making a big splash with the Raptors?  I’m not sure he has the intestinal fortitude to swing a big deal [Carmelo Anthony forcing his way out of Denver aside].  He hasn’t been able to put a team over the top in his career.  Sixty wins is impressive, but it’s not a championship.  Do you see any scenarios in which he can finally swing a deal to put a team over the top?  And if so, is there a person or people that you think would be smart targets to put them over the top? — Mike Robins

Ujiri never really had a chance to put the Nuggets over the top, so it’s too early to judge him by that standard. The Raptors have an obvious need at power forward, so if a major deal is coming, that’s where it will be. Greg Monroe in Milwaukee is an obvious target. Another is the Sixers’ Nerlens Noel. A longer shot might be Zach Randolph, who has already been demoted to a reserve role in Memphis and is headed toward free agency. Any of them would make the Raptors a bigger threat to Cleveland in the East.

Does Marcus Smart ever have a shot at being an above average starting point guard in Boston or anywhere else? — Kyle Duzinckas

As long as Isaiah Thomas is with the Celtics, he’s going to be running the offense. Smart is very talented, but I’m not sure he has the point guard skills to ever be a full-time starter, let alone an above average one in a league full of stars. But we probably won’t find out until he goes to another organization.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: