Weekly Mailbag

Weekly Mailbag: 10/16/17 – 10/22/17

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.

Will the Pistons blow up their roster? — Sundeep Kothari, via Twitter

It all depends on the results. Detroit has just one playoff appearance during the current decade and needs to give fans a reason to keep coming to the team’s new home at Little Caesars Arena. The postseason is certainly within reach in a weakened Eastern Conference, and the Pistons will probably still be in the race when the trade deadline arrives in early February. If something goes terribly wrong, the first player on the trading block will be Andre Drummond, who is owed more than $52.5MM over the next two seasons and has a player option of more than $28.75MM for 2020/21. Next would be Reggie Jackson, who had a disappointing season while battling injuries last year and is owed more than $35.1MM over the next two seasons. Detroit isn’t projected to have any significant cap room until 2019/20, so there’s no way to blow up the team without moving those two.

Are the Suns the worst team in the NBA? — Dalai Llama, via Twitter

Anyone who watched their season opener against the Trail Blazers or Saturday’s rout by the Clippers could certainly reach that conclusion. Phoenix has chosen to rebuild with youth and the results aren’t going to be pretty, especially with so many good Western Conference teams on the schedule. The Suns might have as much talent as the Bulls, Hawks or Nets, but playing in the West will put them in the running for the league’s worst record. With Phoenix so far from contention, it makes sense to find the best possible deals for Eric Bledsoe, who has one year left on his contract at $15MM, Tyson Chandler, who is signed for one more season at $13.585MM, and Jared Dudley, who has another year left at $9.53MM. It’s time to fully embrace the rebuilding process and use those assets to create a brighter future.

What do the Wizards have to do to get a good seed and advance to Eastern Conference finals? — Swaggtastic Jackson, via Twitter

The season-ending injury to Celtics forward Gordon Hayward improved Washington’s chances. Boston and Cleveland both had massive roster overhauls this summer, while the Wizards kept their key pieces together. Markieff Morris is expected to return next month from abdominal surgery, which will put all of last year’s starting unit back in place. The bench remains unremarkable, however, and won’t be easy to improve with Washington already projected to be in tax territory for this season and the next two. The front office will have to be aggressive with trades between now and February for the Wizards to reach the top of the Eastern Conference.

Weekly Mailbag: 10/2/17 – 10/8/17

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.

How do you expect Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday to fit in with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins this year? — Leonard Carollo 

On paper, it seems like an odd pairing as neither Rondo or Holiday is a prolific outside shooter who can provide spacing for the All-Star big men. Also, Rondo is 6’1″ and Holiday is 6’3″, so that gives the Pelicans a small backcourt that invites post-ups by opposing guards. On the other hand, Rondo and Cousins developed a chemistry during their season together in Sacramento in 2015/16, with Rondo leading the league in assists and Cousins averaging 26.9 points per game. New Orleans certainly elevated its talent level over the summer, but may need to find another shooter or two to contend for a playoff spot.

Cedi Osman seems like a star for Turkey. Do you think he’ll be a major contributor for the Cavaliers this season or just warm the bench? — Greg Dizon

Osman may have a bright future in the NBA, but the Cavs are built to contend for a title and there won’t be many minutes for any rookie, even a 22-year-old with extensive international experience. Cleveland sees Osman as part of its future. Former GM David Griffin acquired his rights in the 2015 deal that sent Tyus Jones to Minnesota, and the Cavs decided to dedicate a roster spot to Osman by giving him a three-year deal in July. But LeBron James in place at small forward and Jeff Green was signed over the summer, so Osman may have to go to the G League to get playing time.

James Young got waived by the Bucks this week. Can his NBA career really be over at age 22? — Jerry, via Twitter

Young came into Milwaukee’s camp as a long shot to earn a roster spot, so it’s not surprising that he was released. He cleared waivers Saturday and will be eligible to join the Bucks’ G League affiliate, which is going to have to be his path back to the NBA. It’s a shocking fall for someone who was highly regarded when the Celtics made him the 17th pick in the 2014 draft. He never found a comfortable role in Boston, and there were questions about his attitude and work ethic during his two seasons there. Young has a lot to prove in the G League before the Bucks or anyone else will give him another chance.

Weekly Mailbag: 9/25/17 – 10/1/17

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.

Did the Warriors’ level of concern in defending their title go up significantly with the Dwyane Wade signing? — Philip Malan, via Twitter

It’s hard to say if the Warriors are concerned about anything with so much talent on their roster, but Cleveland has been able to put together a very good offseason after a disastrous start. Wade adds more championship experience and figures to be energized after a wasted year in Chicago. It hasn’t been that long since he and LeBron James dominated the league in Miami, and their chemistry should redevelop quickly. The Cavaliers now have ridiculous depth on the wing that will be needed if they get into another Finals battle with Golden State. If Derrick Rose is playing as well as reports out of Cleveland indicate, the Cavs’ chances are as good as anyone’s to dethrone the champs.

Do you think LeBron will stay put next season now that his best buddy Dwayne Wade has joined the Cavs? — Greg Dizon 

LeBron’s intentions will likely remain a mystery until he announces them next July. Having Wade on board can only help Cleveland’s chances, but he will be a free agent in nine months as well, so he and James could leave in a package deal. Or they could stay in Cleveland and try to recruit Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony to form the “Banana Boat” squad that James talked about two years ago. The future remains unpredictable in Cleveland, and Wade’s presence doesn’t change that equation.

Do my Spurs have a chance to compete with the power teams that are now in the Western Conference? Do we need another superstar looking into free agency next year? — greecosuave1

San Antonio seemed to stand still this summer as the rest of the West got better — Rudy Gay was their only significant addition — so it’s easy to forget how good this team is. The Spurs won 61 games last season and extended their playoff streak to 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will still be an elite two-way player when he returns from a quadriceps injury, and there’s a very good supporting cast around him. By spring, San Antonio will be in its usual spot as a top contender and a threat to the NBA title. Looking ahead, Tony Parker‘s $15.45MM contract will come off the books after this season, and LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny GreenJoffrey Lauvergne and Gay all have player options, which could free up close to $43MM. So expect the Spurs to be aggressive on the free agent market in a year where there will be plenty of big names to chase.

Weekly Mailbag: 9/18/17 – 9/24/17

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 Carmelo Anthony joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George at OKC, forming their version of a super team, what do you think are their chances of beating the Warriors or even winning the NBA championship this season? — Greg Dizon

Having three [or more] stars has become the path to an NBA title in recent years, so obviously that’s what the Thunder have in mind. The Warriors are obviously the toughest obstacle, but there are many others in an increasingly loaded Western Conference. The Rockets won 55 games last season and added Chris Paul. The Spurs won 61 games and added Rudy Gay. The Nuggets, Timberwolves and Pelicans all made moves to get better. Getting through the West won’t be easy, even with three great scoring options in Anthony, Westbrook and George. Then there’s the question of whether Anthony is still an elite player. Don’t forget that ESPN ranked him 64th in this year’s top 100 list, and he’s coming off four straight non-playoff seasons in a weak Eastern Conference. In a seven-game series with the Warriors, maybe the Thunder have the firepower to make it interesting, but they’ll have to make some moves to improve defensively to give themselves a fighting chance.

Who gets the ball when the game is on the line? — Boozybua, via Twitter

That’s one of the first questions to work out in Oklahoma City, just as it was for the Warriors when Kevin Durant arrived and for the Heat when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade. Westbrook, George and Anthony are all used to being their team’s primary scorer and taking the important shots. Sometimes it takes a few months for everyone to get comfortable with their roles, but the best guess here is that the ball still belongs to the MVP. Westbrook will dictate play, not just in crunch time but whenever he’s on the floor, with George and Anthony settling into complementary roles.

How can the Knicks get rid of Joakim Noah’s contract? That’s the only bad situation they have now. Any realistic options? — Scottie2hottie, via Twitter

The Knicks will be paying nearly $38MM this season for the center combination of Noah and Enes Kanter, while Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn might be better options. Noah is part of the Phil Jackson legacy, with $55MM still due over the next three seasons and the perception that he is done as a productive player at age 32. As we outlined earlier today, the Knicks could use the stretch provision, although they missed the deadline for this season, so it would only help with the final two years of the deal. Noah’s contract probably makes him untradable unless the Knicks are willing to take on an equally bad arrangement in return.

Weekly Mailbag: 9/11/17 – 9/17/17

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.

Are the Spurs keeping LaMarcus Aldridge? Any trade rumors? — ROBZ, via Twitter 

The rumors of an Aldridge deal heated up around the draft, when San Antonio reportedly had discussions with at least three teams about taking on the veteran big man. The Spurs were hoping to acquire a top five pick and trim salary to make a run at Chris Paul or another elite free agent, so obviously those motivations no longer exist. There have been persistent rumors that Aldridge is unhappy in San Antonio and would prefer a larger role in the offense like he had in Portland, so don’t count on him finishing his career with the Spurs. However, he will make nearly $21.5MM this year and has a player option worth more than $22.3MM for 2018/19, so any deal would require a major financial commitment. San Antonio may see how the season plays out, then revisit trade scenarios closer to the February deadline.

Do you think Carmelo Anthony will stay put for the whole season as he has reached out to his Knicks teamates in preparation for start of the season? Besides, he controls his situation as he has a no-trade clause in his contract and Houston hasn’t budged for his trade request. — Greg Dizon

It has been a game of chicken all summer with the Rockets, Knicks and Anthony, and we’re coming up on an important date as training camps open next week. The parties are as entrenched as ever, with Anthony determined to go to Houston, the Knicks wanting more than Ryan Anderson in return and the Rockets sticking by their offer with no luck in finding another team to make the deal work. Knicks management seems willing to bring Anthony into camp and hold onto him until a favorable offer emerges. We’ll see how that plays out, but New York is rebuilding and doesn’t want to be stuck with Anthony’s nearly $28MM salary for 2018/19. Every day he spends with the Knicks carries a risk of injury that would make that unavoidable.

Will Nikola Mirotic be back in Chicago? — Ernesto, via Twitter

Mirotic is among the latest victims to be stuck in restricted free agent limbo, and it looks like it might carry into the season, just as it did for Donatas Motiejunas last year. Mirotic skipped EuroBasket this year to concentrate on working out, and recently tweeted a photo of himself with 22 pounds of extra muscle. Mirotic was inconsistent during his three years in Chicago and was briefly relegated to the bench last season, so it’s not clear if the rebuilding Bulls even want him back. This will probably drag out until somebody makes him an offer; then the Bulls will have to decide if it’s worth matching.

Weekly Mailbag: 9/4/17 – 9/10/17

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 did Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander lure Chris Paul to create a super team with James Harden only to sell the team two months later? — Greg Dizon

When Alexander announced that the team was for sale in July, the decision seemed to come out of nowhere. Team president Tad Brown said the 73-year-old didn’t have any health problems, but the day-to-day responsibilities of owning a franchise “can wear on you after so many decades.” Alexander owned the team for 24 years and said he has other passions he wants to pursue. Profit was undoubtedly another motivating factor as Alexander bought the team for $85MM in 1993 and sold it for a record $2.2B. The presence of an All-Star backcourt in Harden and Paul no doubt boosted that price a little bit.

What will the Bucks do with Jabari Parker? — Dan Vachalek, via Twitter

There was a report this week that Milwaukee has started extension talks with the 22-year-old forward, but circumstances make it seem doubtful anything will get done before the October 16 deadline. Parker is believed to be asking for a five-year maximum-salary extension, but the situation is complicated by his injury status. He is recovering from the second ACL tear of his career and won’t play again until sometime in 2018. Parker has been productive when healthy, averaging 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 51 games last season, but the injuries are a concern. The Bucks will probably let him become a restricted free agent and try to work out a long-term deal next summer.

How many games this year will Celtics get a combined 50 points from Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward? — bmitch, via Twitter

Any number would just be a guess and it could be affected by injuries or other factors, but it’s clear that Irving and Hayward will be the top two options in Boston’s offense. The Celtics traded away their three leading scorers from last season in Isaiah Thomas (28.9 points per game), Avery Bradley (16.3) and Jae Crowder (13.9) and lost Kelly Olynyk (9.0) and Amir Johnson (6.5) to free agency. That’s a lot of points to replace. It’s hard to say how many times they’ll reach 50 together, but Irving and Hayward will be the leaders of the offense for as long as they’re both in Boston.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/28/17 – 9/3/17

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.

Do you think the Celtics are strong enough to reach the NBA Finals this season after acquiring Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving? — Greg Dizon

It’s easy to get excited about the Celtics. They obviously had a tremendous offseason, and the defending Eastern champs in Cleveland did not. However, there are two areas of need that stick out in Boston. One is the lack of a rebounding and rim-protecting inside presence, which could be helped by a healthy Andrew Bogut, whom the team has contacted. The other is the loss of two aggressive perimeter defenders in Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. There are a lot of roster moves to be made between now and the playoffs and a lot of unknown variables, such as how long the Cavs’ Isaiah Thomas will be sidelined by his hip injury. The Celtics have the talent to dethrone Cleveland, but don’t forget that LeBron James hasn’t lost an Eastern Conference playoff series over the past seven years. The Cavaliers will be a very tough matchup as long as he’s there.

What’s going with the Carmelo Anthony situation in New York? Is he gonna be traded before the season starts? — Big Red Lucas, via Twitter

There hasn’t been much movement in the past month, as the parties are entrenched in the same positions. The Knicks are willing to move Anthony, but only if they feel it’s a good deal. He wants to go to Houston and won’t waive his no-trade clause for anyone else. The Rockets need to unload Ryan Anderson‘s salary to fit Anthony on their roster and haven’t been able to find another team or two willing to facilitate a deal. The only way a trade is going to happen is if somebody changes their stance, which might happen as training camp gets closer. If no one relents, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Anthony starts the season with the Knicks. But expect a deal sometime before the February 8 deadline because New York doesn’t want him to opt in for nearly $28MM for 2018/19 and drain their cap room for next summer.

In a recent workout with LeBron James, the Wizards’ John Wall proclaimed himself to be “the best two-way point guard player in the league.” How strong is his argument? — D.C. Dacey, via Twitter

Fans who don’t watch Wall on a regular basis might be surprised at how good he is defensively. He averaged 2.0 steals and 0.6 blocks per game last season and just missed a spot on the All-Defensive team. There’s no questioning Wall’s abilities on offense, where he is coming off a career best 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game, and he seems worth every penny of the $170MM extension he just signed. Chris Paul may still be the league’s best two-way point guard, but Wall is certainly in the conversation and is on his way to being number one.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/14/17 – 8/20/17

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 it really true that LeBron James will leave the Cavaliers next season for the Lakers? — Greg Dizon

Nobody knows the answer for sure, except for maybe LeBron and a few members of his inner circle. What we do know is that these rumors started shortly after the NBA Finals, and James hasn’t made a public statement to quash them. We also know that James was a strong supporter of former GM David Griffin and was upset that he wasn’t retained. And we’ve seen reports that James was disappointed by the team’s offseason moves, which amounted to re-signing Kyle Korver and adding Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon and Cedi Osman. Add in any lingering bitterness toward owner Dan Gilbert from their parting in 2011 and the feeling that James accomplished his mission when he brought the 2016 championship to Cleveland, and it’s easy to see why he might be on the move again. It may depend on what the Cavs do this season, or it may be a decision that has already been made.

Aside from the Lakers, where else could you potentially see LeBron in 2018-2019 if he leaves the Cavs? — Vijay Cruz

It’s hard to find another scenario that seems plausible, unless LeBron and his banana boat friends are all plotting to end up in the same place. Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade will both be free agents next summer (and maybe earlier for Wade if a rumored buyout happens in Chicago), while Carmelo Anthony has an early termination option. If Anthony winds up in Houston with Paul, the Rockets could emerge as a possible contender. An online betting site has already posted odds about LeBron’s next decision, listing the Cavs as favorites to keep him, followed closely by the Lakers. The Rockets and Spurs are tied at fourth, with the Celtics a surprising choice at third.

What’s happening with Giannis Antetokounmpo and EuroBasket? Why do NBA teams let their players risk injury in these international tournaments? — Ellis K., via Twitter

Antetokounmpo announced Saturday on social media that a knee injury will keep him out of this year’s competition and cited a failed physical administered by team doctors from Milwaukee. The Greek basketball federation is disputing the results of the physical and accusing the Bucks of using deception to prevent Antetokounmpo from playing. Greece’s fortunes rely on Antetokounmpo, who would probably be the best player in the tournament, but because he’s under contract to the Bucks, there’s little the national team can do. As to why teams let players participate, there’s a lot of nationalistic pride at stake in these competitions, so it would create rifts with international players to try to block them. Plus, players tend to play all summer anyway, so it’s safer to have them do it in an organized format with trainers and team doctors than on pick-up courts.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/7/17 – 8/13/17

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.

Fact or fiction: Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving will be on new teams before training camp begins. — Deven Parikh

These will be the top two stories to watch in the next six weeks or so until training camps open. To recap, Anthony has agreed to waive his no-trade clause, but so far only to join the Rockets, while Irving has asked Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a trade so he can escape the long shadow of LeBron James. Whether the deals happen before camp starts — or at all –depends on how the front offices in New York and Cleveland view their situations. The Knicks have launched a youth movement that Anthony doesn’t fit. However, they don’t want to take on an expensive long-term contract in return, and the Rockets have to find a taker for Ryan Anderson to accommodate Anthony’s salary, so at least one more team is needed to make the deal work. The danger for the Knicks in holding onto Anthony is that he may not opt out of a nearly $28MM salary for 2018/19, limiting the team’s free agent options for another year. In Cleveland, it’s a matter of chemistry as the once-private feud between Irving and James is now very public and it’s almost impossible to imagine them co-existing for another season. The Knicks and Cavaliers will keep searching for the best deal, so this might take a while, but I expect Anthony and Irving to be both traded prior to camp and certainly before the season opens.

Who could the Thunder target in a trade that would make them contenders? I feel Thunder are one star away from being able to challenge Golden State. — Sawbone Sanchez

One more star to team with Russell Westbrook and Paul George would certainly make Oklahoma City a serious challenger. However, there aren’t any stars on the market right now except for Anthony and Irving and neither is a realistic option for OKC. The Thunder are also low on tradable assets after sending Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers in exchange for George. Their best chance to add a star may come at the trade deadline in February, but to fit another hefty salary, they would have to find a taker for Steven Adams, who is owed $100MM over the next four years, or Enes Kanter, who will make nearly $17.9MM this season with an $18.6MM player option for 2018/19. Oklahoma City is also well over the cap for this season and the next one, so they will likely have to get by with the two stars they have.

Do you think the Lakers can make the playoffs this year with their current roster? – Armond Godfrey, via Twitter

L.A. has done a lot to improve over the offseason, trading for Brook Lopez, signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and drafting Lonzo Ball to add to an already-impressive collection of young talent. The Lakers will be better, but they still look overmatched in a loaded Western Conference. The team is coming off a 26-56 season, so just getting near .500 will be a significant improvement, but a .500 record won’t get them into the playoffs. Even so, the future is very bright in L.A., and if the rumors about George and LeBron joining the team next summer are true, the Lakers will be among the league’s elite teams again very quickly.

Weekly Mailbag: 7/31/17 – 8/6/17

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.

I am a Warriors fan. Is there really a chance the W’s go after Paul George next summer? Good lord! — Phillip Malan, via Twitter

That became a rumor this week, and although Golden State’s cap situation makes it very unlikely, it’s not impossible. Kevin Durant will have a player option worth $26.5MM for 2018/19, which means the Warriors will be just a little over the salary cap when free agency begins next July. If they decide to offload a significant contract — possibly Klay Thompson, who will be entering the final year of his deal at nearly $19MM — they could theoretically sign George, although the offer would be well below the maximum. Nothing would shake up the NBA like the Warriors landing another All-Star, but the chances of it happening are extremely small.

What is one thing the Knicks could do to change the direction of the franchise? –SKPlayBall, via Twitter

They probably did it already when they fired Phil Jackson as team president. Jackson’s devotion to the triangle offense and his public feud with Carmelo Anthony were dragging down the franchise faster than anything else. There was a sense throughout the league that the Knicks were being poorly run, with few free agents willing to give them serious consideration. Going forward, the best thing the franchise can do to turn itself around is stick with its stated plan of building around young players. Even tanking for a season or two wouldn’t be a bad idea. Drafting a young star like Michael Porter next year would get New York fans excited about the team again.

I’m confused when I see someone like Nicolas Brussino claimed off waivers and not see other players who I think of as better who don’t. Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson both were blocked from any kind of advancement in Boston due to its depth, yet they were highly touted prospects just two years ago. Why did no one claim them? — Holger P. Stolzenberg

There’s a lot that factors into waiver claims, including contract terms and team needs. The Hawks were looking for help on the wing and decided to take a chance on Brussino, who is only 24 and has extensive international experience. Brussino will make about $1.3MM this year and a nonguaranteed $1.544MM in 2018/19, which offers a small risk and makes him a bargain if he can contribute. No one was willing to take the same chance on Mickey, who remains unsigned, or Jackson, who later signed a two-way contract with the Rockets. Most players who wind up on waivers don’t get claimed, as teams would rather negotiate with them as free agents instead of taking on their current contracts.

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