Weekly Mailbag

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.

Weekly Mailbag: 7/16/18 – 7/22/18

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.

Who do you think got the steal of the draft at the center position? The Celtics with Robert Williams or the Knicks with Mitchell Robinson, who averaged five blocks per game in the summer league? — Greg Dizon

Robinson was the clear winner in summer league and looks like the primary backup to Enes Kanter after his outstanding performance in Las Vegas. Williams, meanwhile, was sidelined by a sore left knee and didn’t see any action. Summer league can be deceiving, of course, and none of this means Robinson will be a better player than Williams, either this season or throughout his NBA career. He still needs to develop an offensive game, and he is behind schedule overall after not playing in college. However, Knicks fans need something to be excited about and the summer performance of Robinson and Kevin Knox certainly provides that.

Who should the Mavericks look at in free agency to account for the loss on the wing with the departures of Seth Curry, Doug McDermott and Yogi Ferrell, or would a trade make more sense at this point? — M.D. Jordan Sports, via Twitter

Dallas is using the last of its cap space to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki and will have just the $4.45MM room exception available, so the options are limited. Rodney Hood is probably the top wing player left on the market, but he’s a restricted free agent and the Cavaliers would happily match an offer that started at $4.45MM. David Nwaba, who is now unrestricted after the Bulls pulled their qualifying offer, could be an interesting option if he doesn’t get a better offer somewhere else. Beyond that, the free agent pool is filled with veterans such as Jamal Crawford, Corey Brewer, Nick Young, Devin Harris and Arron Afflalo, none of whom would have a long-term future with the Mavericks.

I know Chandler Parsons‘ contract is bigger, but with the right adjustments, would a Luol Deng for Parsons trade work? The Grizzlies seem like a team that could at least try using Luol on the court, and an on-point Chandler alongside LeBron James would be awesome. Then again, I’m on the fence with Parsons, I understand why Houston, Dallas and Memphis were willing to pay him, but I also understand why they regret it. — Nicolas Galipeau

The Lakers are still in the business of trying to preserve as much cap space as possible for next year’s free agent frenzy. It’s unlikely they would gamble on Parsons even without the scary injury history. Deng and Parsons benefited from the irrational contracts that were handed out in 2016 and both have become salary cap albatrosses. Deng will make $36.8MM over the next two seasons, while Parsons is due more than $49.2MM. Their salaries make them virtually untradable, even for each other. It’s much more likely that the Lakers will use the stretch provision to make Deng’s deal less of an impediment to their free agent plans.

Weekly Mailbag: 7/9/18 – 7/15/18

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.

Do you think Trae Young will become another Stephen Curry based on their skills? -Greg Dizon

Curry has three championship rings and two MVP awards, so that’s a lot to ask from anyone. The important thing for Young is that the Hawks be patient and not expect him to become a dominant scorer right away. Young obviously patterns his game after Curry, but he’ll need time to adjust to the NBA. College teams were able to figure out how to neutralize him over the second half of the season, and NBA opponents will borrow from those tactics. Curry averaged 17.5 PPG during his rookie season and didn’t become a 20-point scorer until his fourth season in the league. That’s probably a realistic expectation for Young.

What’s the likelihood Jahlil Okafor gets another shot in the league? — Dennis McDaniels, via Twitter

At age 22, Okafor is too young and too skilled to be washed up. He fell completely out of favor in Philadelphia and didn’t produce much in 26 games with Brooklyn, but he’ll definitely get another chance. Okafor’s low-post scoring skills have been devalued as the league puts a greater emphasis on floor spacing and outside shooting, and the concerns about his defense and lateral quickness have been justified. Still, he remains a legitimate weapon on offense if he’s willing to accept a reduced role and goes to a team that knows how to maximize his strengths. It may not happen until much later this summer, but Okafor will get a camp invitation from somebody.

Do you think the Clippers will re-sign Montrezl Harrell? I hope they re-sign Tyrone Wallace as well. — Richard Garcia

Harrell has fallen into the same trap as most restricted free agents. Teams don’t want to tie up their resources early in free agency while waiting for the incumbent franchise to match, then eventually the money dries up and there aren’t many clubs that can afford to make a significant offer to someone like Harrell. His first year with the Clippers was very productive, averaging 11.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG, and his role should expand with DeAndre Jordan now in Dallas. Expect L.A. to re-sign him, probably at a bargain price. Wallace is also restricted and will be much cheaper after playing on a two-way contract last season. If he receives an offer sheet, it shouldn’t cost much for the Clippers to match.

Weekly Mailbag: 7/2/18 – 7/8/18

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 will Oklahoma City do with Carmelo Anthony? Stretch, buyout or maybe even trade? — Ryan Stamps

The Thunder will explore all their options before making a final decision, but it’s clear that Anthony will become a free agent at some point this summer. He didn’t fit in well during his lone season in OKC, and the Thunder need to reduce a historically high payroll that stands at $310MM between salaries and luxury taxes. They could trim that figure for 2018/19 by $107MM and get rid of $90MM in tax payments by using the stretch provision — slicing Anthony’s $27.9MM salary into $9.3MM increments over the next three years. The Thunder would prefer to find a trading partner willing to take on the entire amount right away in exchange for some draft picks and possibly other assets. Chicago was floated as a possibility before matching Zach LaVine, but today’s decision makes a trade a long shot for the Thunder.

Have all the teams (especially those who, in your opinion, clearly need to make major offseason personnel changes after their performance last season) made them already? — Mark Imbong, via Twitter

It’s hard to say for sure. Most of the cap money in this year’s market dried up quickly, but there are still a few teams with the cash to make a move and a couple of attractive targets are left in Rockets center Clint Capela and Bucks forward Jabari Parker. It will be interesting to see how the Kings react now that the the Bulls have matched their four-year, $78MM offer sheet for LaVine. They could make that same offer to Capela or Parker, or maybe a smaller deal for the Celtics’ Marcus Smart, forcing their current teams into difficult decisions. The Lakers may not be done, either. They can get up to about $15.5MM in cap room by stretching Luol Deng‘s contract, but they won’t get a significant free agent if they stand firm on their current policy of one-year deals.

Will Jabari Parker stay in Milwaukee? — Macho Man Van E Savage, via Twitter

Like most restricted free agents, Parker is finding offers hard to come by. Teams are typically unwilling to tie up their resources while waiting for a matching decision early in free agency. With most of the major signings out of the way, teams can now turn their attention to players like Parker. The Kings could get involved, but a report this week indicates he is no longer in their plans. The Hawks have enough cap space, but may not want to use it on a player coming off a major injury. The Nets have about $11.5MM available after the Dwight Howard buyout and have shown a willingness to gamble on restricted free agents. Right now, the most likely scenario is that Parker takes his qualifying offer and uses next season to show he is fully healthy before becoming an unrestricted free agent.