Weekly Mailbag

Weekly Mailbag: 6/11/18 – 6/17/18

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 see the Kings selecting with the second overall pick now that Iman Shumpert has opted in? — Pat Aukes

Shumpert’s decision really doesn’t factor into Sacramento’s draft strategy. His contract only runs for another year, and the Kings have to be thinking about the long-term future with this draft. Luka Doncic was considered a co-No. 1 prospect with Deandre Ayton for most of the winter, and the Kings are said to have their eyes on Michael Porter Jr., assuming team doctors approved him at Friday’s medical exam. If they really want Porter, their best move is find a team that likes Doncic and trade down a few spots. The Kings need a lot of help up front, so if they stay at No. 2, look for them to take Marvin Bagley III or Jaren Jackson Jr.

Considering the deep draft, who are the teams most willing to trade on draft night? — Fernando Bravo

The Grizzlies have let it be known that their selection at No. 4 is available to anyone willing to take on Chandler Parsons‘ contract, and as we relayed earlier today, the Sixers have more draft picks than open roster spots. We could see a lot of movement on draft night as this year’s crop of players offers intriguing prospects through the middle of the first round. Porter presents a wild card that makes this year’s draft especially unpredictable. He may have been in contention for the No. 1 spot without the back injury, and it’s hard to say who might try to engineer a trade to get their hands on him. The farther he falls on draft night, the more likely it is that someone will be willing to take the risk.

Which player will be the first shock with how early he went? — Jimmy Robinson, via Twitter

There are several contenders, especially after the way Donovan Mitchell shocked the league after falling to 13th last year. No one wants to miss the next Mitchell, so teams are taking a long look at prospects pegged to go in the middle of the first round. One potential surprise is Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who turned into a star for the Wildcats over the second half of the season. He stands 6’6″ with a 7-foot wingspan and can handle either backcourt position. Don’t be surprised if he moves into the top 10.

Weekly Mailbag: 6/4/18 – 6/10/18

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.

If the Cavaliers draft Trae Young or Michael Porter Jr., do you think it will be enough to convince LeBron James to stay put in Cleveland, seeing that the Cavs will still be a strong team? — Greg Dizon

Don’t forget that when LeBron returned to Cleveland, he wasn’t excited about the chance to play alongside Andrew Wiggins, encouraging the team to move that year’s top overall pick in a deal for Kevin Love. There’s no one the Cavs could take with at No. 8 who is going to affect James’ decision. He doesn’t just want to be competitive; he wants to find a way to beat the Warriors and add more rings to his legacy. For Cleveland to improve its chances of keeping LeBron, the best strategy is to offer up the draft pick in trade talks to see what kind of veteran help is available.

Lakers/ Heat trade for Hassan Whiteside? How solid is that? — Nicholas Small

There’s no chance at all before free agency, and probably not much afterward. Ever since the current management team took over, the Lakers have been committed to opening up as much cap room as possible to land a big prize or two on the free agent market. There’s no way they’re going to jeopardize that before seeing if they can lure James, Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins. Even if they strike out on all three, the Lakers are more likely to fill their roster with affordable one-year contracts than take a chance on an expensive deal like Whiteside’s. The Heat will be fortunate to get equal value for their enigmatic center, who will make more than $25.4MM next season and has a $27MM option for 2019/20.

Any moves the Wolves are considering … maybe moving Gorgui Dieng, Andrew Wiggins or Jeff Teague? — JMA, via Twitter

Minnesota is hovering near the luxury tax for next season and would love to find a taker for Dieng, who is owed nearly $48.7MM over the next three years. However, there are only a handful of teams able to take on that much salary and it would probably cost the Wolves at least one first-round pick to move him. There would be a larger market for Wiggins because of his age and potential, but he becomes much more expensive when his four-year, $146.5MM extension kicks in next season. Unless there’s some substance to the Karl-Anthony Towns rumors, this will probably be a quiet summer in Minnesota on the trade front.

Weekly Mailbag: 5/21/18 – 5/27/18

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.

Would beating the Celtics in Game 7 make LeBron James more likely or less likely to leave the Cavaliers this summer? — Daniel, via Twitter

There’s a school of thought that LeBron returned to Cleveland four years ago because he felt he owed a debt to the city. That was paid off with the championship in 2016, and another Finals appearance would only add to his legacy. It also removes any obligation he might feel about staying. When LeBron ponders his future this summer, his main focus will be whether any situation gives him a better shot at winning than staying with the Cavaliers does. If the team had fallen in the first round against Indiana or the second round against Toronto, that might have helped push him out of town, but now it’s clear that the Cavs are still among the top teams in the East and can remain there with a roster upgrade. Win or lose, tonight’s game probably won’t factor into his free agency decision.

Which players should be on the Bucks’ radar and who are the top three most likely players to land in Milwaukee? — Dan Vachalek, via Twitter

The Bucks are over the salary cap, even without making a decision on restricted free agent Jabari Parker, so they won’t be able to chase any elite free agents. Milwaukee could use another 3-point shooter, more scoring off the bench and rebounding help, but they’ll have to address those needs in affordable ways. They might get some help in the draft, where they have the No. 17 pick, but if you’re looking for free agent targets, Tyreke Evans could be a possibility with the mid-level exception, as could veteran guards Avery Bradley and Danny Green.

With the Warriors now having a legitimate challenger in the Western Conference, how many more seasons will they be favored to win the NBA title? — JR, via Twitter

Age isn’t a concern — Golden State’s four All-Stars are 28 to 30 — so the Warriors could still have another three- to four-year run of championships if the roster stays together. The more immediate obstacles are financial. Kevin Durant has a player option for next season, but he isn’t going anywhere. However, if he winds up with a max contract similar to Stephen Curry‘s, Golden State will be spending about two thirds of its cap room on two players. Klay Thompson‘s contract expires after next season, and Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala both follow in 2019/20. The Warriors have Bird rights on all those players, so they can hold onto them as long as they’re willing to pay an escalating luxury tax, but the point will eventually come where the roster is too expensive to keep together.

Weekly Mailbag: 5/14/18 – 5/20/18

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 is more likely to be traded this summer: Karl-Anthony Towns or Kawhi Leonard? –VJ Cruz, via Twitter

Let’s start by saying that neither should be considered likely to get traded. The Spurs will try to work through Leonard’s reported unhappiness and sign him to a long-term extension, while the Timberwolves would be taking a huge gamble by unloading a young talent like Towns. Rumors emerged this weekend that there is tension in Minnesota involving the 22-year-old center, but some of that could be the change in direction the franchise went through last summer by adding a veteran core in Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. The focus changed from building around Towns and Andrew Wiggins to winning right away. It doesn’t sound like a problem that can’t be solved. Leonard is in position to force the Spurs’ hands because he can opt out next summer, while Towns is under Minnesota’s control for at least two more seasons. If Leonard is willing to give up the benefits of a super max extension for a fresh start with a new team, San Antonio will be tempted to move him now to ensure something in return.

Was Brad Stevens outcoached Saturday night? — Tobin22, via Twitter

When your team loses by 30, everybody was out-everythinged. The result could be explained by the desperation that comes with a 2-0 deficit, but Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers’ coaching staff deserve credit for some adjustments that are making this a more competitive series. Inserting Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup has reduced the effectiveness of Celtics big man Al Horford, and a more aggressive defense against Jaylen Brown cut into his production Saturday night. Stevens has gotten a lot of accolades during the playoffs, and rightfully so, but there are many smart coaches in the NBA. The postseason is all about adjustments, and we’ll see how Stevens responds in Game 4.

Luka Doncic is great in the EuroLeague, but how will he adjust to the NBA? — JJ, via Twitter

At age 19, Doncic has established himself as the EuroLeague’s top player, collecting both MVP honors and the Rising Star award. But it’s not clear what position he’ll fit into once he comes into the NBA. Doncic is a versatile offensive player at 6’8″ who can easily shoot over smaller defenders and is celebrated for his passing skills. However, there are concerns about his overall athleticism and fears that he doesn’t have the speed or explosiveness to keep up with NBA backcourts. It’s hard to imagine him slowing down opposing point guards if he lands next to Devin Booker in Phoenix. He would be most comfortable creating the offense as an off guard or small forward, but he’ll have to be surrounded with the right combination of talent for that approach to succeed.

Weekly Mailbag: 5/7/18 – 5/13/18

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.

Is there a market for the traditional big man? What can Greg Monroe/Enes Kanter expect to get paid on the open market? — Ryan O’Neal, via Twitter

There’s a two-part problem for Monroe, Kanter, DeAndre Jordan and any other traditional center who might be thinking of testing the free agent market. Not only are their contributions being de-emphasized as teams try to stretch the floor, but the few franchises that have money to spend this summer won’t be looking for veteran big men. There’s a very good chance that Kanter [$18,622,514 next season] and Jordan [$24,119,025] look at the market and decide to opt in with their current teams. Monroe’s contract is expiring, so he won’t have a choice, but remember that he wasn’t used much in Phoenix and the demand for him was fairly soft once he agreed to a buyout with the Suns.

How does the top of the draft look for the Dallas Mavericks? — Mark Eiserman

The Mavericks are looking for help in the middle and are very fortunate with this year’s draft class. Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton would be the dream pick, but Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. and Texas’ Mo Bamba could all be future stars. Much depends on the Mavs’ fate in Tuesday’s lottery, where they have a 13.8% chance to get the top pick and a 42.6% shot at landing in the top three. The odds are pretty good that Dallas will emerge from the draft with its center of the future.

Did the Raptors need to make a coaching change after a 59-win season? — J.L., via Twitter

Dwane Casey is one of the most respected coaches in the league and did a phenomenal job during his seven seasons in Toronto, amassing 320 wins and four Atlantic Division titles. However, once coaches reach a certain level of success, they stop being judged on the regular season. The Raptors reached the conference finals just once under Casey and were eliminated in the second round the past two years. It’s a stigma that has been hanging over the organization, and a coaching change is the easiest way to shake things up, whether Casey deserved it or not. If the Raptors had kept Casey and the same roster for next season, is there any reason to think they wouldn’t suffer the same fate again?

Weekly Mailbag: 4/30/18 – 5/6/18

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.

Will my Wizards target DeAndre Jordan to bolster our frontcourt to give us the athletic big we need to compete in the East? — Jermaine, via Twitter

If Jordan opts out of his $24.1MM salary for next season and becomes a free agent, the Wizards won’t have a chance. They are already over the cap for next year and have no realistic way of opening up enough space to make a near-max offer. However, if Jordan opts in and the Clippers want to shake up their roster, the Wizards might be in the running. Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky both have bright futures, but they will be due for extensions soon and Washington has to be careful about adding any expensive long-term contracts to John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Wizards could match salaries by offering both players and Ian Mahinmi, who is owed nearly $31.5MM over the next two seasons. When Marcin Gortat‘s deal expires next summer, they would be in position to re-sign Jordan.

Would there be any chance the Pacers make a big grab in the offseason? — Adam Harris, via Twitter

Not only has Indiana assembled one of the NBA’s best young rosters, there aren’t any bad contracts to restrict the team from being aggressive in free agency. The Pacers won’t know how much cap room they have until Thaddeus Young [$13,764,045] and Cory Joseph [$7,945,000] decide on their player options for next season, and choices have to be made on non-guaranteed contracts for Bojan Bogdanovic [$10.5MM], Darren Collison and Al Jefferson [$10MM each]. Indiana could be in position to upgrade its front court with a nice offer to a restricted free agent like Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle.

With the hiring of David Fizdale, do you agree this is the Knicks’ best coaching hire in quite some time? Because I do! — Deven Parikh

It’s not an especially high bar to clear, considering that the franchise has been through 11 coaches in 14 seasons, but Fizdale feels like the next step in a new era in New York. There’s a reason he was on the interview list for nearly every head coaching slot that opened. Fizdale was a highly respected assistant for years, he has a rapport with many star players and there was a feeling that he got a raw deal in Memphis. He was due to get another chance soon and he seems like the right man to lead the Knicks back to the playoffs, if team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry can stick to their pledge to remain patient.

Weekly Mailbag: 4/23/18 – 4/29/18

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.

When will Carmelo Anthony learn he’s not a superstar? — Sam, via Twitter

Often the player is the last to know, and from the tone of Anthony’s exit interview yesterday, it’s clear the message hasn’t gotten through. His first clue should have been the Knicks’ strong desire to ship him out of town, followed by a summer with little trade interest until the Thunder swooped in at the last minute. Anthony’s scoring average dipped below 20 points per game for the first time in his career, and he was held out for long stretches in the playoff loss to Utah. The Thunder would love for the 33-year-old to use his early termination option on next season’s $28MM salary, but there’s little chance he would get an offer anywhere close to that in free agency. He and Oklahoma City management seem to have very different ideas of his role for next year, so don’t be surprised if buyout talks take place at some point.

What are the realistic landing spots for Kahwi Leonard should the Spurs actually lose their minds and decide to trade him? — Clinfton Lewis, via Twitter

The Spurs’ first choice is to hold onto Leonard, but if they do move him, it’s unlikely it will be to a Western Conference rival, as Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register noted recently. Looking eastward, the Celtics are always among the favorites for a big deal because of their collection of young talent and draft picks. The Sixers could offer a package centered around Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz. The Heat may be willing to part with Goran Dragic and have enough other assets to get a deal done. If Leonard goes on the market, San Antonio will have plenty of offers to choose from, even if they’re limited to just one conference.

With the passing of his wife, it really hit not only Gregg Popovich and his family, but the rest of the NBA family as well. Do you think Popovich will be coaching next season? That’s a tough situation to overcome. — Deven Parikh, via Twitter

This will be one of the underrated subplots of the summer. Popovich, who will serve as the Olympics coach in 2020, could decide to take a break from the NBA and focus his energies on USA Basketball. He appeared exasperated by the long-running drama with Leonard, and the tragic death of his wife surely took a supreme emotional toll. The Spurs could look much different next season with much of the veteran core gone, and it would be understandable if Popovich decides to step away as well.

Weekly Mailbag: 4/16/18 – 4/22/18

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 says no: Lakers trade Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and 2019 1st round pick to Spurs for Kawhi Leonard? — VJ Cruz, via Twitter

If the Spurs make the decision to trade Leonard, that would be an exceptional return, even though L.A. would likely become a playoff team and next year’s pick won’t be very high. Several things have to happen to get to that point. First, Leonard has to turn down a supermax offer and the Spurs need to be convinced he will opt out and become a free agent next summer. Next, the Lakers have to strike on Plan A, which is to get LeBron James with either Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins in free agency. The Lakers like Ingram an awful lot, and Kuzma has shown he has a bright future. If L.A. is willing to make this offer for Leonard, it may be the best one the Spurs get.

Does anyone want to talk about the East vs West disparity in talent? Does anyone think the Sixers would sweep the Pels? The East seems overmatched in talent. — CH O, via Twitter

The West has enjoyed better talent for a few years, but young teams in the East are cutting into that disparity. The Rockets and Warriors would probably be favored against any Eastern team in the Finals, but the rest of the seeds are much more even: Trail Blazers vs. Sixers, Thunder vs. Cavaliers, Jazz vs. Pacers, Pelicans vs. Heat, Spurs vs. Bucks and Timberwolves vs. Wizards. These things go in cycles, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Celtics, Sixers or Bucks become the NBA’s next dominant team.

The Clippers signed C.J. Williams, but why LAC didn’t sign Tyrone Wallace? Wallace was 10 times better than Williams. — Richard Garcia

Both were two-way players who saw significant playing time during their 45-day NBA limits, and statistically Wallace was quite a bit better. Williams played 38 games, started 17, and averaged 5.5 points and 1.1 assists per night. Wallace saw action in 30 games, starting 19, and averaged 9.7 points and 2.4 assists. Williams also turned 28 in February, while Wallace is still 23, so he seems like the better long-term investment. Ultimately, it came down to money. Williams was willing to accept a contract with no guarantees for the next two seasons, while Wallace’s representatives were seeking a better deal. They may both be back with the Clippers next season, but Wallace can take a shot at free agency first.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/26/18 – 4/1/18

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 kind of return could the Knicks get for Trey Burke?  With a glut of younger point guards who need developing (Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay), the ability to draft another one (Trae Young? Collin Sexton?), the likelihood that they’ll go after Kyrie Irving in 2019, and Burke’s age (25 turning 26), Burke seems like he won’t be in their future plans despite his success with the team this year. — Alek Miletic

Sorting out the point guard situation will be among the Knicks’ many priorities this offseason. Burke has a nonguaranteed minimum deal for next season that could make him an attractive piece in any trade. However, counting on signing Irving a year from now is a risky strategy, so New York needs to determine which of its current guards has the brightest future or if they need to address the position in the draft. With Burke having a small contract, Ntilikina on a rookie deal and Mudiay (nearly $4.3MM next season) unlikely to be in demand, expect all three of them to be back for another season of sorting things out.

Whom do you think will the Cavaliers will take in the draft using Brooklyn’s pick? — Greg Dizon

The Nets have moved into a tie for seventh in our latest Reverse Standings, which might cost Cleveland a shot at one of the sure-fire big men at the top of the draft. There are too many variables to pick out one player for the Cavs because the direction of the franchise is going to depend on what LeBron James decides to do in July. Point guard could be a position of need with George Hill only one season away from his option year, but Cleveland will probably disregard position concerns and take the highest player on their board, just in case he’s the first step in rebuilding.

It seems draft pick forfeiture is extreme to prevent tanking. What if a team’s record in the final standings directly affected its national television exposure for the following season? Best records in the league get the most games. Worst records get the least. And somehow alter revenue sharing to where the Grizzlies would not benefit from the TV games the Warriors are on, for example. Seems that the less exposure one gets … the less merchandise you will sell, the less tickets you will sell, and the less appealing it would be for a free agent to choose the team as a destination. — Beauen Bogner
Won-loss records already play a big part in determining who gets the network games, which is why you don’t see the Suns, Hawks or Magic play very often. Revenue sharing won’t change unless it’s negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement, and the small-market owners would never agree to such a system. The league’s problem with tanking comes from years of refusing to call out teams that are obviously losing on purpose. Is it tanking for a non-contender to give extra rest to a star player with a minor injury? Or to allocate more minutes to younger players when the postseason is already out of reach? There are probably eight teams this season with no incentive to win, but despite talking tough and handing out fines, the NBA has never provided a clear definition of what constitutes tanking.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/19/18 – 3/25/18

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 Isaiah Thomas hitting free agency, do you think Celtics will get stronger if they bring him back? A Kyrie Irving and IT backcourt duo can rival the James Harden and Chris Paul tandem. — Gregory Dizon

Thomas addressed the possibility this week, tweeting “Anything can happen” when a fan asked him about returning to Boston. And although anything can happen, Thomas still has to feel betrayed by the Celtics’ decision to trade him after all he did for the franchise last season. Also, don’t forget that Irving wanted to leave Cleveland so he could be a clear franchise player. He may not be open to the idea of sharing the ball with Thomas. Boston is already over the cap for next season, so without a deal to open some space, it can’t offer Thomas more than the mid-level exception. That’s less than he wants, but it may be the best offer he can get until he proves his hip has healed enough to allow him to play a full season. It’s hard to predict where Thomas will end up, but it feels like his time with the Celtics is over.

Do you think Atlanta will blow it up this summer? I know they tanked this season, but I think they have some quality talent. Add a high draft pick and impact free agent with their cap space and they could be right back in the playoff mix next year. Thoughts on their direction? — VJ Cruz, via Twitter

There’s not much left to blow up in Atlanta, where they fully committed to rebuilding when they opted not to re-sign Paul Millsap last summer. The Hawks have three first-round draft picks, plus their own near the top of the second round, so they will continue to load up on young, affordable talent. They could have as much as $45MM in cap space, but they aren’t in a position to attract elite free agents and won’t spend it recklessly. Kent Bazemore ($18MM next season with a $19.27MM option for 2019/20) or Dennis Schroder ($15MM in each of the next three seasons) could be available for the right offer, but otherwise the Hawks are content to take things slow and build for the future.

How many teams will make coaching changes once the season is over? — Robert, via Twitter

The Suns are an obvious one as they’ve already launched their coaching search. Although interim coach Jay Triano will get consideration, it seems like the organization wants a fresh start. Jeff Hornacek appears out in New York. It’s hard to see how Stan Van Gundy can survive a late-season collapse in Detroit. And with a new front office team in place, the Magic will likely want to move on from Frank Vogel. Charlotte will be an interesting situation to watch as Steve Clifford has one more year left on his contract and has been to the playoffs just twice in five seasons. So will Los Angeles, where Doc Rivers and Luke Walton may be replaced even though their teams have both overachieved.