DA's Morning Tip
Morning Tip: Your questions on New Orleans, Carmelo Anthony, and more
The Big Uneasy. From John Jeansonne:
Can you touch on the Rondo singing by the Pelicans? Last gasp signing by Dell Demps? Between Boogie and Rondo, the Pels locker room should be “interesting” this season. Don’t see how they can play Rondo any meaningful minutes with Boogie and AD on the floor together – teams will just lag off Rondo daring him to shoot, clogging an already crowded lane with Boogie and AD already looking for space. I assume we will just mirror Denver of last year since we signed their offensive assistant coach? Can we actually get an 6-8 seed in playoffs?
The Pelicans got Rondo because Jrue Holiday wants to play off the ball a lot next season — which makes some sense; he was by far their best returning backcourt scorer (though, interestingly, DeMarcus Cousins actually shot better on threes upon arrival in the 504 than Holiday). Your concerns about teams going under on Rondo seem well-founded, but all I can tell you is the Pels think a Rondo-Holiday backcourt will work. We’ll see. At the least, Rondo goes into New Orleans knowing he’s the starter; a changing role in Chicago last season didn’t end so well, as we all saw. A playoff chase? Probably a long shot unless Rondo becomes a lot more efficient at both ends; he hasn’t been an elite defender in a long while, though his smarts and length are still good for a steal or two a game.
If you can’t be with the one you love/Love the one you’re with. From Daniel Gorecki:
Usually the discussion around the roster status of NBA teams revolves around the big (and smaller) caliber moves from this summer. The frenzy around the teams that made improvements to their squads this year is not infrequently reflected in the offseason rankings, where the teams that made noticeable signings suddenly jump up in the preseason predictions. At the same time, others that seemingly stayed put this summer and made the most of their cap space last year (e.g. Portland) or have a decent team even after missing on their primary target (e.g. Utah) are in a way forgotten and rarely taken into account in the offseason analyses and top-team lists.
However, personally I still view teams like that as intriguing because of their player development and/or draft selections, i.e. what they have continued to build and develop for the past few years without hasty decisions and short period ‘star player rentals. What is more, their “wild contracts” given to “mediocre players” (as it was often perceived last year) do not look so outrageous after this year’s summer spending spree.
That brings me to the question: what is your take on the teams of this sort and their place in the standings next season? Do you think that the lack of significant movement via trade/free agency may hurt them in the coming season (to the extent that they fail to reach the playoffs) or maybe in the long run? Is ‘down’ the only direction for such teams in the crowded West or can they retain their position or even move up just by sticking to what they already have?
Great question, Daniel. Certainly after this spasm of spending the last two years, I think you’ll see a much more quiet free agent period in 2018 and 2019 (the cap likely flattening out will be a big part of that, obviously).
These Kids Today. From Adam Richman:
Hi David, have a question regarding the top-tier first year talent that missed summer league and the practical impact. I am thinking of Malik Monk (as a Hornets fan) first but assume it could apply to Markelle Fultz as well. In the case of the former, with literally zero practice time in Orlando as well as no game time, does that impact the rate at which he can be injected into the regular season in earnest?
I have assumed that part of SL is discovering what the player needs to work on in preparation for Training Camp, e.g., camp is where they’d refine vs. coming up with a new game plan of where a player should be. Can you demystify this for me a bit?
Another good question. Basically, teams want their young players to play in Summer Leagues to begin to learn their terminologies, to see if they can handle specific duties (can scorers pass? Can passers score?) outside of their comfort zones and to see them as potential leaders or how they handle stress, etc. And: teams do practice during Summer Leagues on their off days; it’s a great opportunities to view their practice habits as well. So even though guys like Monk or Fultz didn’t play a ton in Orlando or Vegas, it’s still worth it for them to be there.
This is an extended launch hold. From Ryan Dickson:
Do you still see ‘Melo eventually ending up with Rockets? I know his camp said he only wants Houston now as priority!
I’ve learned never to say never, Ryan. It’s hard to see how that deal comes together, though — unless, somehow, the Rockets are willing to do something they currently haven’t been inclined to do, like including a young player like a Clint Capela in any potential deal with the Knicks, or taking Joakim Noah’s contract as well. Could they do so in a (pardon the pun) New York minute? Sure. But as of this writing, they haven’t been, and the Knicks aren’t at all interested in Ryan Anderson, or Maurice Harkless from Portland.
JaMychal, Row The Boat Ashore. From Jason Combs:
Why hasn’t JaMychal Green been signed yet? He’s an athletic 4 with the style of a 3 but can be everywhere defensively…
Green, like a lot of good players (see above), has gotten caught between what agents and teams thought the salary cap would be this summer and what it actually is. I’d figure a team like the Nuggets has interest in the 27-year-old, but I’d also guess that the Grizzlies aren’t all that interested in engaging the Nuggets or anyone else in sign-and-trade deals, and are trying to wait Green out. Since Green’s still restricted, Memphis holds the cards. I suspect a resolution will come soon.
BY THE NUMBERS
$276,000,000 — New money committed to through the 2022-23 season by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis last week, after Washington formally matched the four-year, $106 million offer sheet Brooklyn gave restricted free agent Otto Porter, and John Wall accepted the four-year designated veteran player extension for $170 million, which kicks in with the 2019-20 season. With two years left on his current deal before the extension kicks in, Wall could get a total of $207 million if he plays through the end of the deal (he has a player option for the final season of the exception).
30 — Years for which season ticket buyers at the Warriors’ new Chase Center will be able to buy tickets if they pay a one-time fee up front. However, the Warriors are guaranteeing that they’ll return the fee to the ticket buyer at the end of the 30-year stretch.
423 — Career coaching victories for Hall of Famer John Kundla, the only man in league history to win NBA titles his first two years as head coach. Kundla, the oldest surviving member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, died Sunday at the age of 101. He won five NBA titles as head coach of the Minneapolis Lakers, who had the league’s first great dominant big man in George Mikan, and was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1995 — 36 years after his last game coaching the Lakers.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) The NBA soap opera never fails to disappoint, does it? Just when you think it’s over for the season, it comes back with another cliffhanger.
2) Leslie Alexander has been one of the league’s best owners for two decades, always at the forefront of innovation. His Rockets were one of the first modern NBA squads to try the SuperTeam route, bringing Charles Barkley in to town to pair with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler (leading to a reasonably successful two-year run), then getting Scottie Pippen to play with Barkley and Olajuwon (not so much). Houston was the first team to reach out to China with its drafting and signing of Yao Ming. And, of course, Alexander embraced advanced basketball stats before almost everyone else, hiring and empowering Daryl Morey to build a team that hunted 3-pointers and eschewed long twos. Alexander’s announcement last week that he’s selling the team was a shock, and he’ll be missed.
3) Good for you, Sue Bird. I have and will continue to hold you in the highest esteem, on and off the court. (And, I may or may not have a crush on you, like about 3,471,008 other people.)
4) I often despair at what I think is sports journalism’s failing at explaining just how hard it is to be a professional athlete. This read on a week’s offseason training by Washington’s offensive line does a great job of just that.
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) Shouldn’t be surprised, I know. But it was just a year ago about this time that I was getting ready with a lot of other people from around the world to go to Rio for the first Olympics ever held in South America. It was a memorable fortnight for me, but, as ever, it was a financial albatross for the host nation. And less than 12 months later, many of the buildings that housed the Games lay vacant, with no promise to ever be filled again.
2) I guess I don’t really have a problem with the NBA doing away with traditional home and road uniforms in favor of allowing teams to pick what they’ll wear from among four new Nike-designed unis. But I’m just used to teams wearing the “home white” in their buildings.
3) If, in 2027, the inevitable 60 Minutes or Dateline NBC piece on the 10th anniversary of O.J. Simpson’s parole doesn’t begin, “Now 80, Simpson has lived quietly in Florida since his parole, spending most of his time with family and a few close friends. Rarely seen in public, he has not granted any interviews since his release from jail in October, 2017, and declined to be interviewed by us for this story,” I’m going to be very, very disappointed.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
— Mike Conley (@MCONLEY10) July 20, 2017
— Mike Conley (@mconley11), Thursday, 1:06 p.m., responding to Twitter trolls who “joked” that Conley’s young son may not be his because the boy has blue eyes, and who “speculated” that Conley’s wife cheated on him — which she didn’t. Such is the level of our discourse this morning.
THEY SAID IT
“I think with Steve Ballmer and Doc and Lawrence, all the way down, in the end I realized this is a no-brainer for me. This is the best place for me. This is a place where I want to start and finish my career.”
— Blake Griffin, to reporters in Los Angeles last week, on why he decided to quickly sign a new deal with the Clippers and return to play for Doc Rivers and President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank rather than test the free agent waters, as many had expected.
“We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says to me.”
— Nets guard Jeremy Lin, during a Facebook Live session with Brooklyn fans last week.
“I think the weighing of the marketplace and the way free agency is today, opportunities come very quickly and disappear very quickly and we felt that this was an opportunity that could be beneficial to us on the court from our roster’s standpoint and from an overall flexibility moving forward financially.”
— Pistons General Manager Jeff Bower, to the Detroit Free Press, on the team’s decision to trade for Boston guard Avery Bradley, who’ll be a free agent next summer, rather than give its incumbent two guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a max deal now. Trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold, the Pistons reportedly offered KCP a five-year, $80 million contract; after he balked, Detroit acquired Bradley and rescinded its qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Caldwell-Pope then signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers.
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