Weekly Mailbag

Weekly Mailbag: 4/17/17 – 4/23/17

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Do the Pacers have any interest in adding Carmelo Anthony to help Paul George stay in Indiana? I will trade Thaddeus Young, Monta Ellis and a future first-round pick for Carmelo. — Jason Tom

The Knicks haven’t gotten any better offers that we’ve heard about, so let’s examine your proposal. Ellis’ trade value is down after a subpar year. Plus, he’s signed for $11.23MM for next season and has a player option worth $11.7MM for 2018/19. Young will make nearly $14.8MM next year and has an option worth nearly $13.8MM for the following season. But he’s only 28 and wouldn’t be a bad fit next to Kristaps Porzingis. The future first-rounder could carry some value if George leaves in free agency after next season. Substitute C.J. Miles (if he opts in) or Lavoy Allen for Ellis, and the Knicks might have some interest. Of course, the bigger question is whether Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to go to Indiana, and the answer is probably not, unless he becomes desperate to get out of New York.

If the Sixers get the Lakers’ pick at No. 4, which player would you go for? — Babyboy, via Twitter
This would be the worst-case scenario for the Lakers, and the best for the Sixers, who own L.A.’s pick if it falls out of the top three. It will also be an indication of how much Philadelphia believes in Ben Simmons running the point. Both Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com have Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson as their top three picks. That leaves De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith, both highly regarded point guards, along with international prospect Frank Ntilikina. The Sixers will also have their own pick later in the lottery, so it’s likely they would take the best player available at No. 4. Jayson Tatum is a possibility, but Malik Monk would fill a long-time need in the backcourt.

Is NBA expansion happening? Are the SuperSonics set to return? — Scott, via Twitter

The latest news on the Sonics is that the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group has a $564MM plan for renovations to KeyArena, the team’s former home. The project could be completed by October of 2020, in time to host an NBA or NHL team for the 2020/21 season. The 55-year-old arena is expected to be named a historic landmark this year, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, which means its unique roof and other elements would have to be retained in any renovation. A committee will make a recommendation in June whether to renovate the arena or throw its support behind a new facility. The city is willing to invest to bring the SuperSoncis back, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver recognizes the value of the Seattle market. The only obstacle is that the league has no immediate or long-term plans for expansion. But when it happens, Seattle is almost guaranteed to get its team back.

Weekly Mailbag: 4/10/17 – 4/16/17

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

What are the chances Klay Thompson could be pried away from Golden State when he hits free agency? — FTD, via Twitter

Thompson signed a rookie scale extension three years ago that has him under contract through 2018/19. It’s hard to predict how the NBA will look two seasons down the road, but we do know a few things. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will both sign max deals this offseason, while Draymond Green has a near-max contract that he agreed to last summer. That leaves Golden State with a very top-heavy salary structure with four players putting the team close to the cap. In two years, Curry will be 31, Durant will turn 30 and Thompson and Green will be 29. All four will still be in their primes and Golden State figures to remain among the NBA’s elite teams. There’s no reason to think the Warriors will be ready to break up their core by then, even with looming luxury tax concerns. Look for Thompson to get another max deal in 2019 and finish his career with Golden State.

Will the Lakers be better next season? — Broad Feet, via Twitter

With a nucleus of young, talented players, L.A. should improve at least a little bit every season. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. could eventually develop into a team that makes regular playoff appearances. But what the Lakers need is a star to build around, and there are only a few ways to get one. L.A. has imperiled its draft pick with a few late-season victories, falling behind Phoenix into third place in our Reverse Standings. If that pick drops out of the top three on lottery night, it will be transferred to Philadelphia, leaving the Lakers with no shot at Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz or any other franchise-changing talent. The team won’t appear more attractive to free agents than it was last year, and the huge contracts it gave to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov will be a drain on the salary cap for the next three years. The dream of signing Paul George is at least a year away. So the Lakers might be a little bit better next season, but real improvement will require patience.

Whenever anyone makes the MVP case for James Harden over Russell Westbrook, they point to Houston’s record vs. OKC’s. Couldn’t the same argument be used to make the case for Kawhi Leonard over Harden? The Spurs’ supporting cast isn’t much better than the Rockets’, and the gap between San Antonio and Houston is as big as the gap between Houston and OKC. — Jonathan C., via email

That’s a very good argument. Leonard averages nearly 26 points per game on the second best team in the league, and the defensive gap between him and Harden is huge. It should be a very interesting three-man race for MVP, with LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas and maybe some others also getting votes. Westbrook’s triple-doubles will impress voters, as will Harden’s gaudy numbers in points and assists, but you could make the case that no one has done more to help his team win on a nightly basis than Leonard.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/27/17 – 4/2/17

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Why can’t the Knicks just outright release Carmelo Anthony? Does his contract have anything where he can’t get released?  And what team would take a chance on him? — Bobby Cerasuolo

Like all NBA stars, Anthony has a fully guaranteed contract. So if Phil Jackson decided to escalate their war by putting Carmelo on waivers, the Knicks would still have to pay him $26,243,760 for next season, along with $27,928,140 for 2018/19 that he will probably opt out of. Another team might absorb that contract in a waiver claim, but the Knicks would still lose a prime asset with no return. So releasing Anthony isn’t an option, but a trade certainly is, although it’s an expensive one with a 15% trade kicker for the team that acquires him. Even so, most insiders expect Anthony to be somewhere else by the end of summer.

Who do you anticipate the Sacramento Kings drafting with their first selection in the June draft? Slot 6 or 7. — Dirk Watkins

The Kings have been loading up on young big men, Buddy Hield and Arron Afflalo seem set at shooting guard and Rudy Gay might change his mind about opting out in the wake of his Achilles injury. Point guard is the major area of need with Darren Collison and Ty Lawson both 29 and entering free agency. Luckily, this year’s draft is rich in point guards. The latest mock draft from Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has Kentucky’s Malik Monk going fifth, followed by teammate De’Aaron Fox and North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith. At least one of them should be available when the Kings pick, and any of them would be a nice building block for Sacramento.

Who is the best prospect in all of high school basketball right now in your opinion regardless of class? — Jake Teegardin

We’ve heard scouts say that Michael Porter Jr., a 6’8″ forward out of Seattle, is a future NBA star. Porter recently pulled out of a commitment to Washington after Lorenzo Romar was fired and will play next season at Missouri, which recently hired Cuonzo Martin as head coach and Porter’s father as an assistant. Porter was named Player of the Year by USA Today and was a standout at this week’s McDonald’s All-American Game. Also, keep an eye on DeAndre Ayton, a 7-foot center out of Phoenix who will play for Arizona next season.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/13/17 – 3/19/17

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Who do you think will be awarded the NBA Coach of the Year? Mike D’Antoni of the Rockets, Scott Brooks of the Wizards, Gregg Popovich of the Spurs or who else? — Greg Dizon

For several months, D’Antoni seemed to have the award locked up after taking a dysfunctional team that barely made the playoffs last year and turning it into one of the powers in the West. Putting James Harden into the Steve Nash role and surrounding him with shooters has been a brilliant move as Harden has become the league leader in assists. However, the recent surge by the Wizards, who are now in contention for the top spot in the East, at least creates an interesting race. Some other deserving candidates who will probably get overshadowed by D’Antoni and Brooks are Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City, Erik Spoelstra in Miami, Brad Stevens in Boston and Rick Carlisle in Dallas.

Can you see teams who don’t have any picks in this year’s draft buying in? I’m thinking the Cavs, Warriors, Grizzlies and Pelicans will try find their way in due to the depth of this year’s class. — Chris Hawkins
The first-rounder that New Orleans sent to Sacramento in the DeMarcus Cousins trade is top-three protected, so there’s a small chance that the Pelicans will keep it. They obviously could use draft help, but they don’t have many assets left to trade for a pick. Of the teams you mentioned, the Grizzlies are most likely to try to trade into the first round. The core of their roster is getting very old by NBA standards, and their first-rounder is headed to Portland by way of Cleveland and Denver. For elite teams like Cleveland or Golden State, a first-round pick can sometimes be a burden by filling up a roster spot with a young player who needs time to develop. Either team may decide to trade into the first round if they find an opportunity and a player they like, but both will probably be content trying to uncover second-round gems.
Will the Clippers sign someone? — Richard Garcia
We can’t guarantee it, but the organization is exploring its options. The latest report has them among the teams keeping an eye on Carlos Boozer while he wraps up his playoff commitments in China. A story last week linked L.A. to Omri Casspi, who has been medically cleared after breaking his thumb last month, but that was later denied. With the Clippers locked in a tight race for playoff positioning and a tough first-round series ahead, we expect them to add at least one more player before the season ends.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/6/17 – 3/12/17

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

So the Warriors are trending down in the win/loss column with Kevin Durant injured for the rest of the regular season, and Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs are the hottest team in the NBA right now. If the Spurs win the first seed, does that increase his chance to win MVP, or does Harden/Westbrook still win with their unbelievable individual seasons but lesser record? — Michael Thompson

Leonard is undoubtedly the best two-way player in what could be a fascinating MVP race. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who averages 26.2 points per game, and the Spurs have a legitimate shot at the league’s best record. A lot of MVP voters get locked into specific players early in the season, and James Harden and Russell Westbrook have been the favorites for several months. A lot of East Coast support will probably also go to the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas. If the vote is split enough ways, Leonard could have a chance. He’s a worthy candidate regardless of the outcome.

Why is Spencer Hawes still a Buck? They traded for a guy who put up productive numbers in Charlotte, but he didn’t play a single minute in the first month after the trade. Coach Jason Kidd emptied his bench with the loss to the Nuggets the other night, yet there was a DNP-CD beside one name… you know who. What’s going on here? If he wasn’t going to be traded, why wouldn’t both sides have come to an agreement on a buyout? Does his player option somehow complicate the situation, or is there something else to this beyond what meets the eye? — Greg Thompson

The main focus of the Hawes deal was to offload Miles Plumlee‘s $50MM contract. Milwaukee made the deal for financial reasons, not because it sees Hawes as part of the future. Hawes has a player option for next season worth more than $6MM, which is probably more than he could get on the open market, so he had little interest in taking a buyout. He is stuck behind Thon Maker and Greg Monroe in the rotation, so unless the Bucks can find another team to deal him to this summer, they’re probably stuck with each other for another season, with plenty of DNP-CDs left to come.

Why do teams buy out players before the March 1st deadline? They cannot save that much money. Would they be better off in the long run buying out after March 1st so if a team that is interested in a player for the playoffs have to give up a pick to get that player before the trade deadline? — Michael Potopa

Players who agree to buyouts almost always do so in hopes of joining a playoff team. There would be almost no incentive for a player to give up part of his salary in a buyout after March 1st if he can’t participate in the postseason. Teams agree to buyouts to save some cash, and sometimes to do a favor for a veteran player — to give him a chance to get a ring. Another behind-the-scenes reason that teams agree to buyouts is to improve their reputation with agents. A team that does a favor for one client may be better position when another client hits free agency.

Weekly Mailbag: 2/20/17 – 2/26/17

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. Here are this week’s inquiries:

If Detroit traded Andre Drummond, who would be most likely to trade for him and what would they trade? — Mark Holmes

The Celtics and Trail Blazers were among the teams that contacted the Pistons about Drummond last week. Detroit coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said there wasn’t a “serious discussion” about trading Drummond, but interested teams were definitely calling. Boston has other priorities, with trade talks for Jimmy Butler and Paul George expected to heat up again this summer. Portland could use a dominant center, but the Blazers reportedly ended talks when the Pistons asked for C.J. McCollum, who the Blazers view as untouchable. The Nets may be a team to watch this summer if Detroit wants to get out of the huge financial commitment it made to Drummond with last year’s extension. Brook Lopez has just one year left on his deal at a little more than $22.6MM, and Drummond could be a nice centerpiece for Brooklyn to build around.

What is the likelihood that Phil Jackson joins L.A. now that Magic Johnson is in charge? — Alek Miletic

It wasn’t long ago that Knicks fans were welcoming Jackson as the man to fix the organization. Now they want to push him out the door. Owner James Dolan said earlier this month that he won’t opt out of Jackson’s deal, meaning the Zen Master will remain team president for at least two more years if he wants the job. The Knicks are barely on the edge of the playoff race, Jackson is locked in a power struggle with the team’s star player and the organization recently had an embarrassing incident with one of its legends. Leaving would be the easy way out, but Jackson doesn’t want to be perceived as running away from a sinking ship. Also, Magic Johnson is fully in charge of the Lakers now, so Jackson would have considerably less power in L.A. than he does in New York. We also don’t know how frosty Jackson’s relationship is with Jeanie Buss, who may not want to hire her former fiance’. That might be enough to keep Jackson where he is for two more seasons.

It’s clear that LeBron James is no longer able to claim this title of No. 1 player in the world. He may not even be the best player on his own team [see Kyrie Irving]. So who is? Kevin Durant? Kawhi Leonard? Russell Westbrook? — Michael Brajczewski

It really isn’t that clear. James is scoring slightly more [25.7 points per game] this season than he has since his return to Cleveland and he’s averaging a career-best 8.9 assists per night. He doesn’t have to put up triple doubles every game to prove that he’s still an elite player, and we all know he will ultimately be judged by what the Cavaliers do in the playoffs. Durant, Leonard and Westbrook are all great. You could add Stephen Curry, James Harden and possibly a few others as contenders for LeBron’s crown. But look at it this way. If the Cavaliers had been offered any of those players this week in exchange for LeBron, do you think they would have made the deal?

Weekly Mailbag: 2/13/17 – 2/19/17

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. 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.

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