Weekly Mailbag

Weekly Mailbag: 7/21/19 – 7/28/19

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 NBA isn’t doing enough to prevent teams from tampering during free agency? — Greg Dizon

The rules against tampering have been flaunted for years, but everyone in the process has gotten more brazen after seeing how little enforcement there is. ESPN’s story this week cited several executives and agents who admit that discussions sometimes begin in May at the draft combine. This year may have been a tipping point, as a string of high-profile signings were announced shortly after the official start of free agency on June 30. The league heard complaints from its owners and issued a stern warning about following the rules prohibiting early contact. We’ll find out next summer if anything has changed.

What do you expect to happen with Chris Paul? Possible suitors? Timing? Will the Thunder need to package Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams or another player to get a deal done? — Dan Gridley

Oklahoma City seems to have accepted that Paul will be on the roster when the season starts. The Heat were reported as the only interested suitor, and it appears they aren’t that interested without significant draft compensation. Paul has three years and $124MM remaining on his contract, which is scary for a 34-year-old with a history of injuries. The trade market may open up if he gets off to a strong start, and injuries to contending teams can create opportunities. The danger is that if he gets hurt or appears to have lost a step, OKC could be stuck with that contract through 2022.

Joe Johnson has been the dominant player in the BIG3. Should we expect him to get another NBA opportunity? — KGL, via Twitter

Johnson had another outstanding performance last night with 21 points and four steals in front of a supportive Utah crowd and has clearly been the best player in the summer three-on-three league. But there’s a big difference between that and NBA basketball, and Johnson wasn’t all that effective with the Rockets at the end of the 2017/18 season. Johnson is 38 and has been out of the league for a full year. He might get a chance to play limited minutes for a contender sometime during the season, but expectations should be kept in check.

Weekly Mailbag: 6/16/19 – 6/23/19

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 super max-rule is turning out to be a bad rule? Players are getting so overpaid, but not deserving it like what’s happening now to John Wall and Chris Paul? — Greg Dizon

Formally known as the Designated Veteran Extension, the super-max is a good rule for the players, who will likely fight to keep it in the next collective bargaining agreement. It rewards loyalty and achievement, enabling players who have 7-9 years of experience with their original team to qualify for a contract at 35% of the cap, a privilege normally reserved for players with 10 or more years of service. Certain criteria such as MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or all-NBA appearances must also be met.

However, having a player eligible for a super-max can put a team in a bind, which is happening to the Hornets this summer with Kemba Walker, who is now eligible to earn about $221.3MM over five years instead of the standard max-level deal of $189.7MM. That’s a huge investment in one player, and as Wall showed in Washington, it can devastate a team if something goes wrong. Paul wasn’t eligible for a super-max because the Clippers traded him, but he still got a nice deal in Houston.

Can Golden State and Boston afford max-level players if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and Al Horford leave? How do you think Ricky Rubio fits on the Lakers? — Bloody knuckle show, via Twitter

The Warriors won’t have cap room unless they lose both Durant and Klay Thompson, and it wouldn’t be nearly enough to offer a max deal. With Aron Baynes off the books now that he has been traded to Phoenix, the Celtics can create up to $34MM in space. That’s enough to compete for the top free agents, but they would need to renounce Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris to get there. Point guard seems to be the primary focus for the Lakers heading into free agency. Rubio might be cheaper than some other options, but he’s not a shooter, which is the mistake L.A. made last summer. They need to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis with players who can space the floor.

Which contender is the best fit for Carmelo Anthony and why? — Leonard Carollo

It may be time to accept that there is no best fit for Anthony anymore. The Rockets seemed like a good spot for him last year because of the chance to play with two excellent passers in Paul, one of his best friends, and James Harden. However, he lasted just 10 games. Anthony was also disappointing in his season with the Thunder and put up good numbers on bad teams for much of his time with the Knicks. The Lakers may sign him because of his relationship with LeBron, but Anthony is probably past the point where he can help anyone.

Weekly Mailbag: 6/2/19 – 6/9/19

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 there’s a chance Kevin Durant will stay put next season with the Warriors if they lose the NBA crown? KD’s reason might be to prove the Warriors can’t win the crown without him. — Greg Dizon

A consensus has built over the past few months that Durant is headed to the Knicks. He hasn’t done anything to confirm the rumor and has scolded the media several times for focusing on free agency rather than the season at hand. Still, the scenario has been in place since New York traded Kristaps Porzingis and cleared enough cap room for two max offers.

Nobody knows for sure what Durant will do, and it’s possible he won’t decide until after he meets with a few suitors. This year’s Finals have killed any speculation that the Warriors are better without him, so there’s nothing left to prove on that front. With Durant’s Bird Rights, Golden State can offer a longer contract and more money than anyone else, which might appeal to Durant now that he has turned 30. It will come down to what Durant decides is most important. It could be money, security and the chance to be part of a dynasty. Or it could be a fresh challenge with a different franchise.

I’m hearing that Kemba Walker is going to the Pacers? — Mark Kinder, via Twitter

Walker won’t go anywhere if Charlotte makes a super-max offer. He loves the team and the city, and no one else can offer him anything close to $221.3MM over five years. If Hornets management decides that would result in too much luxury tax for a team that missed the playoffs, then Indiana will be a strong competitor on the open market. With six free agents, the Pacers can clear a lot of cap room and they will be looking for an upgrade to Darren Collison. Once Victor Oladipo returns from a ruptured quad tendon, he and Walker could take their place among the league’s best backcourts.

Any hope for the Wizards this year? — TypicalDMVFan, via Twitter

“Hope” can mean many things. Washington probably won’t see the postseason again until John Wall comes back, which appears to be the 2020/21 season. But there are still ways the Wizards can improve. Owning the No. 9 pick in the draft will help, and they will have enough cap flexibility to compete for mid-level free agents.

This will be a pivotal summer in Washington with a decision on whether to keep Bradley Beal and try to compete for a low-level playoff spot or work out a trade and go into full rebuilding mode. Unfortunately, there’s no one running the organization right now to make that choice. The best hope for the Wizards may be their expected pursuit of Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who has built successful teams in Toronto and Denver.

Weekly Mailbag: 5/20/19 – 5/26/19

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 should focus on their young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, etc., plus three first-round picks rather luring Anthony Davis? Remember they almost made it to NBA Finals last season even without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward? — Greg Dizon

A lot has changed at the top of the East in the past year. The Bucks added more shooting around Giannis Antetokounmpo and steamrolled the Celtics in the conference semifinals, the Raptors brought in Kawhi Leonard, who led them to their first NBA Finals appearance, and the Sixers traded for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to form one of the best starting fives in the league. Although more change is likely coming this summer, Boston can no longer count on building a contender around its young players, especially when all are coming off less-than-stellar seasons. Whether Irving leaves or not, the Celtics will need more elite talent to compete for the Eastern Conference crown, and Davis looks like the easiest piece to add.

What are the chances of a sign and trade of Irving? — MERCalomaniac, via Twitter

It’s always a possibility, but the teams rumored to be pursuing Irving — the Knicks, Nets, Clippers and Lakers — all have enough cap space to sign him outright. And most of those teams can either offer two max deals or are a roster tweak or two away from getting there. They may not see the need to send players to Boston when they can already fit Irving on the roster. The Celtics also need to be careful about taking back future salary. Their cap room will be limited if Al Horford opts into a $30.1MM salary for next season. In addition, Marcus Morris and Rozier will both be free agents and Brown will be eligible for an extension this summer. A sign-and-trade is probably the least likely outcome for Irving.

Will Carsen Edwards fall to the Sixers? — Kevin, via Twitter

Edwards is ranked 34th in the latest ESPN Top 100, so unless he has an outstanding performance in pre-draft workouts, he may be on the board not only for their first-round pick at No. 24, but also for their two early second-round selections. Edwards was great in the NBA tournament, but questions about his defense and size have kept him from rising up draft boards.

Weekly Mailbag: 4/28/19 – 5/5/19

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 Lakers hire Tyronn Lue as head coach, is it the right hire or just not putting in the effort and going with the easy hire? Or maybe both? — NoSpoilersPlease, via Twitter

It’s not easy for a coach to build a rapport with LeBron James, and Lue will have that from the minute he takes over the team. They had a very successful partnership in Cleveland that resulted in a championship and three trips to the NBA Finals. Lue also has a history in L.A., spending his first three years as a player with the Lakers. He may not be the right long-term coach for the franchise, but as long as LeBron is there — at least for the next two or three years — it’s best to have someone running the team that he trusts.

If the Knicks don’t get the first pick, what could they get for pick 2, 3, 4 or 5? – Howie2104

Whether the Knicks want to trade their pick — and what they’ll ask in return — will depend on their luck in free agency, and that won’t be known until early July. If they can’t hit the jackpot with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving or some other combination of stars, it make more sense to hold onto the pick and continue building for the future. While Zion Williamson is obviously the biggest prize in the draft, Ja Morant could solve New York’s long-running point guard problem, and R.J. Barrett would provide another scoring wing player to pair with Kevin Knox. If the Knicks do get lucky in free agency, their need for youth goes away and they’ll start looking for a combination of veterans who fit well with their new stars.

What are the chances that the Sixers replace Brett Brown if they don’t reach the conference finals? –R.B., via Twitter

Brown received an extension after last season ended and is under contract through 2021/22, so he shouldn’t be in any immediate danger. He suffered through a lot of lean years in Philadelphia as the Sixers tanked tanked away seasons to accumulate assets and he has done a much better job than his 178-314 record indicates. Management wanted to give Brown a chance to show what he could do with a real team, and that chance is just starting. Brown has built up a lot of trust in his six years behind the Sixers’ bench. He should be safe no matter how long their playoff run lasts.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/4/19 – 3/10/19

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 Kyrie Irving will move to the Knicks with Kevin Durant next season or try to entice Durant to join the Celtics, as they’re both good buddies? — Greg Dizon

The interplay between Irving and Durant was one of the most interesting subplots of All-Star Weekend. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst compared them to a “middle school couple” on his “Hoop Collective Podcast” because they spent so much time together. Their conversations that weekend surely included the topic of becoming teammates next year, but we’ll have to see how the postseason plays out before setting any odds on that possibility. If it does happen, it will probably be in New York. Boston won’t have the cap space to sign Durant unless Al Horford opts out of a $30.1MM salary or the Celtics can find a taker for Gordon Hayward.

If the Knicks get the second or third pick, is there a possibility of selecting Ja Morant, and do you think he is better than Dennis Smith Jr.? — Howie

The Knicks keep investing in point guards and changing their minds, so who knows for sure? Considering their personnel, a wing like R.J. Barrett or Cam Reddish makes more sense. However, anything less than the No. 1 pick will instantly become trade bait. Morant put on a sensational performance in this week’s Ohio Valley Conference tournament, getting rave reviews from many observers, including Tony Jones of The Athletic, who considers Morant far more skilled than Smith (Twitter link).

Who do you think the Lakers will sign in the free agency? Is there any chance Brook Lopez returns? Where will Kawhi Leonard land? — Raphael Brandao
The Lakers will target stars in hopes of landing another elite player to team with LeBron James. If an Anthony Davis deal takes away their ability to offer a max contract, they’ll gladly pay that price. If that doesn’t happen, L.A. will turn to Leonard, Durant, Irving, Klay Thompson and anyone else they consider to be at that level. The rumor for months has been that Leonard’s first choice is the Clippers if he decides to leave Toronto. Durant and Irving seem to be looking elsewhere, while Thompson will stay with the Warriors if he gets a max offer, so the Lakers may have to be aggressive in their pursuit of a player such as Kemba Walker or Jimmy Butler. They may target Lopez if they have money left over, but he’s such a good fit in Milwaukee that the Bucks will fight to keep him.

Weekly Mailbag: 2/11/19 – 2/17/19

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 Pelicans fall into the lottery and get a chance to draft Zion Williamson, do you think Anthony Davis might change his mind and stick with the Pelicans? — Greg Dizon

Davis has lost confidence in New Orleans’ ability to build a contender around him, and it’s too late for any personnel moves to change his mind. At 26-33, the Pelicans seem like a lock for the lottery, but their odds of landing the No. 1 pick are remote. And even if that were to happen, Williamson may not be a difference maker in his first year in the league. Davis wants to win right away and won’t go back on his desire to be traded.

Who are some realistic options for the Warriors on the buyout market? — Patrick Cavanaugh

Golden State doesn’t have many weaknesses, but the defending champs could use another veteran big man, if only to provide insurance in the event of another injury to DeMarcus Cousins. Chicago’s Robin Lopez has been rumored for a while as a possible target, but the Bulls may prefer to keep him for the rest of the season. Marcin Gortat and Greg Monroe recently agreed to buyouts, but neither seems like an ideal fit for the Warriors. Zach Randolph may be a possibility if Golden State isn’t afraid to gamble on a player who hasn’t suited up yet this season. For an even bigger wild card, how about J.R. Smith, who has been waiting months to resolve his situation in Cleveland and would provide another another outside shooter with playoff experience.

The Hall of Fame announced its 13 finalists over the weekend. Who’s the biggest omission from that list? – M.N.N., via twitter

Rudy Tomjanovich, a finalist in 2017 and 2018, was inexplicably left off of this year’s list. He not only led the Rockets to two NBA titles in the 1990s, he paved the way for the modern game by expanding the use of the 3-point shot and introducing the concept of a stretch four. His coaching resume includes 527 NBA wins and an Olympic gold medal. He should have been a Hall of Famer years ago.

Weekly Mailbag: 1/28/19 – 2/3/19

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.

Other than maybe Anthony Davis, do you see any big trades going down in the next couple of days? — Jimmy Robinson, via Twitter

There may not be any All-Stars on the move this week, but the trade deadline is shaping up to be more active than it originally appeared. Because so many teams remain in playoff contention, there will be far more buyers than sellers, but the sellers should have their pick of attractive offers. The Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks, Suns and Grizzlies all have players they would like to move, and most of those teams are willing to take on long-term salary to make it happen. The big names most likely to be traded before the deadline are Memphis’ Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, but as the Kristaps Porzingis trade reminded us this week, huge deals sometimes happen without warning.

How available is Julius Randle, how much does he fit with Philly and what would he cost? Would a combo of Nikola Mirotic and Randle work out if Markelle Fultz is involved (I don’t want Fultz to go)? — Sean Hamilton

There was a report last week that the Pelicans were looking for takers for Randle, Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore, so availability shouldn’t be an issue. Mirotic has a $12.5MM expiring contract, while Randle makes $8.64MM, so the Sixers can’t realistically match salaries to get both of them without giving up players they prefer to keep. Either one would be a welcome addition in Philadelphia, particularly Mirotic, who would provide a badly needed outside shooter. However, it’s hard to see how a deal gets done unless Fultz is included, and at least from public statements, the Sixers don’t appear ready to give him up.

The Bucks were 16-8 (9-8 after starting season 7-0) when they traded Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson for George Hill and some other guy (Jason Smith). They are 22-5 since. Underrated, rated or overrated trade of the year? — Roger Skifstad

It was certainly an under-the-radar deal that has benefited the Bucks. Hill’s numbers aren’t flashy since arriving in Milwaukee (6.0/2.6/2.2 in about 21 minutes per game), but he has provided a stabilizing veteran presence off the bench. It didn’t get a lot of headlines when it happened, but small trades like this can sometimes have a huge impact at playoff time.

Weekly Mailbag: 12/31/18 – 1/6/19

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 likely is it the Knicks can rid themselves of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee without taking back non-expiring contracts? Who could you see as potential trade partners. For Hardaway, I could see Memphis, Utah and Detroit. For Lee (and Hardaway) I could see Sacramento trying to bolster their lineup for a playoff push. — Eli Samuels

Virtually every team in the league places a high value on cap space, so it’s not going to be easy for the Knicks to move either player without taking on some long-term salary. Hardaway is owed $18.15MM next season and has an $18.975MM player option for 2020/21. That’s a lot of money for someone with a low field goal percentage (39.4%) and limited value beyond the scoring he provides. Lee is owed $12.76MM for next season, which is a gamble for a 33-year-old who has only played 10 games this season because of injuries. The Grizzlies have luxury tax concerns next year if Marc Gasol opts in, as do the Pistons, so neither team can really afford to add Hardaway. The Jazz are already set at shooting guard with Donovan Mitchell. The Knicks might have to attach a draft pick or two to entice someone to take Hardaway or Lee. Their willingness to do so may say a lot about how confident they are in their free agency pursuit of Kevin Durant.

Do you think Lauri Markkanen stays with Chicago through this next contract? I really hope he goes to a real team. — Bryan 

It’s unusual for a player to turn down a rookie contract extension, which the Bulls will almost certainly offer when Markkanen becomes eligible in the summer of 2020. As Chicago sorts through its young talent, it’s pretty clear Markkanen has star potential and will be part of the organization’s foundation for the future. After returning from an elbow injury he suffered in training camp, Markkanen is putting up better numbers than he did in his rookie season, raising his scoring averaging from 15.2 to 17.6 PPG and improving his 3-point percentage from 36.2% to 40.6%. He’ll be in Chicago for a long time. The only question is whether Bulls management can build a “real team” around him.

Where is the best fit for Tobias Harris in free agency? — Bryan 

Harris is putting up career-best numbers of 20.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game and is poised for a huge raise from the $14.8MM he’s making this season. The Clippers own his Bird rights and can offer more years and higher annual raises than anyone else. It’s hard to envision a better situation than what Harris already has in Los Angeles. Even if the Clippers are successful in landing a star in free agency — the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard is expected to be their main target — Harris would remain valuable in a complementary role.

Weekly Mailbag: 12/24/18 – 12/30/18

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.

Where do you think Anthony Davis gets traded to after reports floated of Danny Ainge trying to trade for him, offering Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and LeBron James spotted having dinner with AD, Celtics or Lakers? — Greg Dizon

Trading Davis remains a last resort for the Pelicans and it will only happen if he turns down an extension this summer. But if he does become available, the Celtics and Lakers will both be ready to lavish New Orleans in riches to obtain his rights. Boston may have four first-rounders in this year’s draft, and L.A. has been building up young talent for several seasons. The Pelicans will want to make the best deal possible, but Davis’ decision to sign with Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent, offers a major clue to how things will play out. James and Paul wield a lot of power, and they won’t hesitate to throw it around to make Davis a Laker.

Do the Grizzlies make a move before the trade deadline? Who goes or who comes in? — David Day II, via Twitter

Memphis tried to get involved in the deal that sent Trevor Ariza from Phoenix to Washington and attempted to sign Austin Rivers after his buyout with the Suns, so there’s reason to believe the front office will continue to be active. There was a report last month that the Grizzlies contacted the Knicks about Frank Ntilikina, so the organization seems to believe it needs at least one more productive guard. Like a lot of teams, Memphis could be buyers or sellers by the February 7 deadline. Who goes and who stays will depend on what shape the playoff race takes over the next month.

Patrick McCaw‘s decision to hold out with such little leverage always seemed odd. Will it pay off with the offer from Cleveland? — J.B., via Twitter

Whether the Warriors elect to match or not, there is no guaranteed money in McCaw’s deal, at least for another week. The Cavaliers are giving him two non-guaranteed years at $6MM, but all NBA contracts guarantee for the rest of the year on January 10 and teams have to waive players to avoid that by January 7. So it looks like McCaw will receive $3MM this year, with a chance to earn another $3MM in 2019/20. That’s much better than the $1.7MM qualifying offer he turned down, and assuming he isn’t released, it beats the Warriors’ best offer of $5.2MM over two seasons with one year guaranteed. If McCaw winds up in Cleveland, he will get a chance to prove himself with a young team and set up a larger payday later on.