In case you missed it this morning, ESPN’s Tim McMahon and Bobby Marks collaborated on an excellent piece detailing how the irresponsible spending by NBA teams last summer could impact a star-studded free agent class in 2018.Which is music to the ears of Bulls’ front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman, who are hoping to be a major player on the free agent market next year. The ESPN report projected only nine teams having cap space to bid on a free agent class that could include Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Avery Bradley, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wilson Chandler, Danny Green, Enes Kanter and Greg Monroe, along with restricted free agents like Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Marcus Smart, Rodney Hood, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon and Clint Capela. Bad summer not to have any spending money. But that’s exactly what Paxson and Forman were anticipating when they chose not to get involved in the reckless spending triggered by the league’s new TV deal last summer. We all know about some of the terrible contracts handed out including a four-year, $72 million deal to Joakim Noah, four years, $64 million for Timofey cheap jerseys authentic Mozgov and Portland spending almost $150 million to lock up reserves Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner for four years. The Bulls signed Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Canaan last summer, but avoided any salary commitment beyond two years. Both Rondo and Canaan were bought out of the team options the Bulls held for next season. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers are now in such a deep luxury tax hole that they basically gave Crabbe away in a trade with Brooklyn earlier this week, immediately waiving the player they got back, power forward Andrew Nicholson, under the league’s stretch provision. Portland figures to be one of at least 10 teams paying the luxury tax for the 2018-19 season. I know what many of you are thinking, “Why will 2018 free agency be any different than in years past?” Yes, the Bulls missed out on primary targets James, Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, and they failed to land Anthony in 2014. But with so many teams capped out, the Bulls will face less competition in pursuing the players they want most next summer. We’ve all heard the rumors about James wanting to finish his career in L.A., and it’s unlikely Durant, Westbrook, George or Paul would have any interest in coming to Chicago. But the Bulls could get significantly better right away in a weakened Eastern Conference by adding one or two players from a list of unrestricted free agents that could be looking for a new situation, including Cousins, Jordan, Bradley, Thomas, Caldwell-Pope, Kanter, Chandler and Green. They also could use their cap space to make a massive cap offer to a restricted free agent whose team is already in the luxury tax. Of course, the Bulls have decisions to make with their own roster as well. They still haven’t re-signed Niko Mirotic, and any contract beyond one season will reduce their cap space next summer. Plus, the key player coming back in the Jimmy Butler deal, shooting guard Zach LaVine, will be a restricted free agent next summer, and if he comes back 100 percent from ACL surgery, could command a multi-year contract starting at $20 million or more. The Bulls have contract options on the rookie deals of Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn, Cam Payne, Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine and Lauri Markkanen, while Paul Zipser’s $1.5 million salary is not guaranteed for 2018-19. Paxson said the Bulls are committed to re-building through the draft, and the hope is they’ll wind up with a top 3 pick after next year’s lottery to grab a franchise changing talent like Missouri’s Michael Porter, Jr., International star Luka Doncic and 7-footers DeAndre Ayton of Arizona and Mohamed Bamba of Texas. Looking at the big picture, if LaVine comes back 100 percent, Dunn emerges as a legit starting point guard and Markkanen shows potential as a stretch 4, the Bulls rebuild could move quickly. Adding one of the top players in next year’s draft would be the first step, then Paxson and Forman would be armed with somewhere between $40-50 million dollars in cap space to pursue an impact free agent or two. Bulls fans remember how long it took to re-build the team after the end of the Jordan era in 1998. Jerry Krause couldn’t land a major free agent, and the Tyson Chandler-Eddy Curry experiment failed badly. Let’s hope Paxson and Forman have more luck this time around. At least they’ll have a built-in advantage when the 2018 free agent market opens for business next July with the Bulls projected to have more cap space available than any other team in the league.
Archive for August, 2016
Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker will not play in an NBA Africa exhibition next month as a precaution following surgery in May on his left knee.An informed source told the Observer Tuesday that Walker won’t play, but he will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa for the exhibition Aug. 5. Walker was invited to be one of four captains in a matchup between NBA players with African ties and a world team. Walker had an arthroscopic procedure May 17 that was described as minor. Recovery time was projected at about six weeks. Walker has been working out at Spectrum Center this summer, and made an appearance this month at the Hornets’ youth basketball camp at Charlotte Latin School . Walker and Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki were asked to be captains for the world team. Thabo Sefalosha of the wholesale jerseys Utah Jazz and Luol Deng of the Los Angeles Lakers will captain the Africa team at the Ticketpro Dome. The exhibition concludes the 15th edition of the NBA’s Basketball without Borders effort to spread the sport’s popularity worldwide. This is Walker’s first trip to Africa, where he will make several appearances representing the league.
During the years treading water in Newark, the Nets talked about Barclays Center as their Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”“They” were the top free agents, including Kevin Durant. “You” was/is a billionaire Russian owner who recently taught Stephen Colbert how to throw axes against a dungeon wall. “We’re not just part of the conversation, we are the conversation,” CEO Brett Yormark told me just before the arena opened in 2013. Only that’s not what happened. Today, the Nets aren’t part of many conversations. The arena is still very cool. The practice facility boasts a spectacular view of the NYC skyline. But the franchise is still treading water, hoping for much better days. No top free agents are seriously considering the Nets, the worst team in the NBA last season. As the landscape of the league changed — with access for fans reaching all over the world — the change in market from Newark to Brooklyn meant diddly without a built-in base. Which leads us to their very unique current plan, spearheaded by GM Sean Marks. Armed with a glut of cap space in his first two summers, Marks went about building a roster using two strategies: overbidding for restricted free agents hoping the other team doesn’t match (that hasn’t worked in three tries), and trading for players on undesirable contracts cheap jerseys (done three times just this offseason). The latest example of the latter is Allen Crabbe, who was introduced to the media Thursday by the Nets. To Portland, he was a salary dump making too much money (still guaranteed $56 million over the next three years) for very little production (10.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last season). To Brooklyn, he’s a starting forward who fits their mold (young with shooting range). “He’ll fit in with guys we currently have on the roster. It’ll open the floor up. Hopefully, it’ll be a fun brand of basketball to watch,” Marks said Thursday. Just don’t get too excited, apparently. “I’m not really, to be honest, focused on the playoffs,” Marks said. “We’re obviously making steps in a direction that hopefully everybody can see. We are going younger. We’ve got a youth movement here.” At this stage, it’s hard to judge Marks and his ambitious plan. In one season at the helm, he put together a team that won 20 games without control of its own draft pick. Anybody could do that as long as the owner is on board. People who’ve worked with Mikhail Prokhorov wonder if he’ll lose patience with the losing, and then revert to what he’s always done when the going gets tough: fire the coach. But as of right now, the Russian ownership hasn’t set any mandates and Prokhorov has stepped away from the spotlight, except for a TV appearance with Colbert and continued rumors that he’ll sell controlling interest of the Nets. Marks, unlike Billy King before him, is enjoying an interference-free rebuild. His misses on the job include letting go of Yogi Ferrell in the middle of last season, just before the guard blossomed into an intriguing prospect with the Mavericks. He also balked last summer at signing Dion Waiters, who then emerged as a top scorer with the Heat. Marks has three players on the roster — Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll — who own contracts that have far exceeded their basketball production. Much of the GM’s success will be determined by D’Angelo Russell, the young and talented guard he acquired for Brook Lopez. Russell has a reputation of being an entitled diva, but there are good reasons the 21-year-old was drafted second overall two years ago. Regardless, Marks deserves credit for this: he hired an excellent coach in Kenny Atkinson and has tried to surround him with players who fit a system predicated on pace, spacing and 3-point shooting. The Nets are like the D-League Warriors. And to get to this point on the roster, Marks has taken an unconventional route that he wants us to understand is far from his Field of Dreams. “Are we happy? Sure,” he said. “But I think we know we have a long, long way to go.”
Kyrie Irving is not going to end up in Boston, but it is fun to think of what that might look likeFirst things first, there is absolutely no reason to believe that there is any real chance the Boston Celtics will trade for Kyrie Irving. Danny ainge made his obligatory call because of his unlimited assets, but that should be the end of it. That being said, inserting Irving into the Celtics lineup would create an offensive juggernaut like no other. Of course, this would require the Celtics to give up no starters in a trade (which is impossible), but lets just play the theoretical game that Ainge once again robbed someone blind in a trade. PLAY FANDUEL: New users win first contest or get credited up to $120! At first glance, it may seem weird having Isaiah Thomas and Irving next to each other. They both want to be primary ball handlers, and they are both scorers above anything else. If you take a bit of cheap jerseys nba a longer look, you can also see that both these players have experience playing on and off the ball, which is essential to Stevens’ offense. Irving and Thomas would essentially both be playing a hybrid guard position, they would both handle the ball and they would both play off the ball. Irving said one of the reasons he wants to leave is to become the go to player. That does not necessarily mean he needs to play a Chris Paul like role of stopping the ball and instigating every half court set. What the Celtics can do for Irving is run their system to accommodate his skill. Stevens did this with Thomas, then he did it with Al Horford and now he is going to do it with Gordon Hayward. He adapts how the team will play in order to bring out the talent he has. Stevens will have all the sets Irving needs to get the open looks he did not find in Cleveland, and he will have the offensive sets that will allow Irving to handle the ball in more situations other than just isolation scoring. Of course, the Celtics will also use his isolation scoring. Irving would give the Celtics another option for a player that can manufacture points when the offense slows down, and staggering him with Thomas in those situations will make things easier for everyone. Stevens could give Irving a lot more control and run the team around him, without needing him to do everything. Irving will be able to showcase what he is capable more, without having to do every bit of work to get there. Simply put, a back court of Thomas and Irving would be as good of an offensive back court as we have in the NBA right now. Putting Irving next to Thomas means that all the ball handling will come front the back court, which works perfectly for the wings. The Celtics have wings that can handle the ball, but that is not their strength. The Celtics need their wings to be aggressive on offense, hitting the open shots that are created for them. Thomas’ driving to the rim alone opened up so much, and is a big reason why Jae Crowder is a 40 percent three point shooter. You put one of the greatest lay up artists in the history of the game next to Thomas, and those wings will have more open looks than they know what to do with. The front court is then the most exciting thing about this offense with Irving. If you start Horford and Marcus Morris, you have two bigs that will spread the floor and defenses will have to respect. The problem is that you cannot respect shooting bigs when you are trying to stop Thomas or Irving in the paint. Putting Irving next to Thomas leaves defenses with an impossible dilemma. Either you blitz the paint and leave the three point shooters wide open, which is the fastest way to get blown out. Or, you respect the shooters and trust your rim protection against arguably the two best drivers and finishers in the game. It is impossible to stop. Irving would have to change his game to make it work, but it sounds like he is ready for a change. Irving would have to fully buy into everything that Stevens is doing. But if he did that, this offense could start closing the gap with the Warriors. While it is fun to think about what this team could do with Irving, it will not happen. Even if the Celtics pulled off that blockbuster trade, a 25 year old elite point guard with two years left on a good deal is going to command an outrageous haul, and the the only way this offense would really work properly would be if the Celtics could keep this core entirely in tact while adding Irving.
The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly been looking to sign a third point guard to the roster. This would most likely be the final move to complete the roster heading into next season. As Malcolm Delaney struggled at times during his 1st season we may see him receive some competition for the backup PG spot. We take a look at some potential signees and how they could eventually thrive in Atlanta.Quinn Cook: Quinn Cook was recently waived by the New Orleans Pelicans and he has struggled to find a place in the league. He played for both the Dallas Mavericks and Pelicans last season, averaging 6 PPG for the entire season. With more minutes Cook has the ability to fill it up, not to mention he plays very under control and is a decent facilitator. Cook has problems with bigger guards but he has the quickness to eventually be a solid perimeter defender. This would be a low-risk and high-reward signing as Cook will be cheap and he is only 24. The Hawks can attempt to mold him into the backup PG of the future. Brandon Jennings: After stints with the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks last season it has become evident that Jennings will most likely never return to the production he had early in his career. An inefficient shooter and a mediocre defender, Jennings would be a reclamation project if the Hawks signed him. He has battled injuries over the last couple of years as well. Perhaps the Hawks can help him recognize his previous potential. Jennings is only 27, and if any team is known to help players turn around their career its the Hawks. Ty Lawson: Ty Lawson managed to have a decent year for the Kings as he averaged 10 PPG and 5 AST in a backup role. Signing him would potentially be a risk though as Lawson has struggled to stay out of legal trouble for most of his career. When he is fully focused Lawson is a quick guard who is capable of running an offense. He could prove to become a good passer in transition for the Hawks, which is something they seemed to lack last year. Lawson is probably the most talented PG still available but the Hawks must be able to look past the possible negatives if they decide to sign him. Isaiah Canaan: Is Isaiah Canaan a NBA player? Its hard to say. He played quite well in Philadelphia in the 2015-16 season averaging 11 PPG and shooting 36% from three. Last season Canaan could not get on the floor over the woeful Michael Carter-Williams. In 39 games Canaan shot a paltry 27% from cheap nba jerseys three and was essentially a non-factor for the Bulls the entire season. This is likely a product of the enviroment, given the proper minutes Canaan can be a legit shooter for any team off the bench. He would most likely be really cheap, and the Atlanta Hawks can use some shooting at the position as Malcolm Delaney and Dennis Schroder are not exactly marksmen. Ramon Sessions: Roman Sessions is a veteran who could provide some leadership at the position. His production has tailed off significantly over the last couple of seasons but he has been injured often. The Atlanta Hawks could sign him to a minimum deal similar to what they did with Jarrett Jack last offseason. See if he has anything left in the tank during training camp and if not just waive him. If Sessions can return to his previous form he is a solid defender and a poised PG who would not struggle with running Coach Budenholzer’s offensive scheme.