The madness that is the NBA offseason doesn’t start until draft night. This year, it came early.
It’s like Christmas in June. Tuesday saw a bunch of news broken involving multiple big-name players. Now, we’re officially in Woj Bomb season, and the NBA Draft is still a day away. As expected, rumors were running rampant, but the deals that got made had no inklings of happening until it happened, and it goes to show that this time is truly the wildest part of the NBA season.
With Kevin Durant‘s move last July, teams are looking to strike agreements that’ll put them in the position to build a squad that can challenge the Warriors (and the Cavaliers, to an extent). The value of assets will rise in the hunt for a star player. Additionally, undesirable contracts will be shed to make sure an organization will have the cap room to enlist the services of two or three stars.
Magic Gets The Party Started
Lakers are trading Tim Mozgov and D'Angelo Russell to Nets for Brook Lopez and 27th pick Thursday, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
The Los Angeles Lakers were one of those teams. Magic Johnson initiated the first deal and opened the floodgates. With that, it was time to turn on the notifications from Woj and Marc Stein, just to aid in keeping up with the influx of transactions. Their deal sent D’Angelo Russell and the monstrosity that is Timofey Mozgov‘s contract to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick.
Lakers’ Twitter hated this move. And it’s (kind of) understandable. Russell is potentially a future All-Star, but he does have some maturity issues. Keep in mind that he’s 21-years-old. Find me someone of that age who’s mature on a consistent basis. Whatever issues he had didn’t hamper his production, and Russell improved across the board in his sophomore season. In just 28.7 minutes a night, he averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds. The numbers are even more eye-catching when adjusted to per 36 minutes: 19.6 points, 6.0 dimes and 4.4 boards. In NBA history, LeBron James is the only other player to record those stats at age 20. This isn’t me comparing Russell to one of the three greatest players ever. Instead, it’s just to highlight how productive he can be when given adequate time. (Being a Nets fan, there’s nothing more I’d love to see than Russell blossom into a superstar.)
The most important part of this deal was Mozgov’s contract. Johnson shed that as quickly as possible. A four-year, $64 million deal for someone who didn’t do anything last year is terrible to work with, and the ultimate goal of bringing on Paul George and LeBron James can’t happen if that money is on the books. Johnson is looking long-term. He’s looking at bringing the Lakers back to what they once were.
I may be biased, but I wholeheartedly believe that Brook Lopez is one of the league’s most underrated players. Not only is he a great locker room guy and a consummate professional, but he’s not a bad player by any means. Lopez reinvented himself and averaged 20.5 points with a true shooting percentage of 57.8 percent. That’s attributed to his new-found three-point stroke, and the former All-Star rattled home 134 triples after making just three in all his previous campaigns combined. He’s also a decent rim protector and swatted 134 shots this year.
Those latter two stats made Lopez one of four guys to have 100 made threes and 100 blocks, according to Basketball Reference.
Now, the Lakers have three picks in the first round. This is important because the late first-rounders can be packaged together for Paul George. If that happened, I think Laker fans would change their minds about this trade.
Regardless, this was a deal that worked out for both teams.
Dwight Is No Longer An ATLien
The Atlanta Hawks have agreed to trade center Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Bobcats, source tell ESPN's The Undefeated.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 21, 2017
The second (and last) transaction executed was between the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte
Bobcats Hornets. (Marc Spears’ initial report had a typo, that’s how wild yesterday got.) Howard’s hometown team moved him and the 31st pick in this year’s draft to Charlotte for Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee and this Thursday’s 41st selection. And this came not long after the two Twitter accounts put together a fake trade on the ESPN Trade Machine.
Maybe Atlanta is finally ready to rebuild. Howard’s going to turn 32 in December and still has more than $47 million owed to him over the next two seasons. Charlotte now inherits that money, but it’s not like Dwight’s a bum. Sure, he’s not the player he used to be, but his apex was so great that, at one point, LeBron James was the only player in the NBA better than him. For the Hawks last year, he averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting 63.3 percent from the field. It was Howard’s best season on the glass since 2012 when he led the league with 14.5 a night. (He also finished eighth in the NBA this year with a defensive box plus/minus of plus-2.8 and 10th with a defensive rating of 100.5.)
The moral of the story here is that the Hornets get a solid player. Atlanta, on the other hand… yeesh. Belinelli and Plumlee aren’t the worst players, but good luck convincing others that they’re valuable assets. Belinelli has some promise as a scorer and put up 10.5 points nightly while shooting 36 percent from three. Plumlee, however, hasn’t done much. And I don’t want Hawks fans to get mad at me, so I’m just going to end it here.
Rumors Of Phil Jackson Trying To Destroy The Knicks
Growing skepticism among some execs in contact w/New York that the Knicks are serious about a KP deal. Price described as extremely high.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) June 20, 2017
When the Internet got wind of the Knicks shopping Kristaps Porzingis, we took it and ran with it. Would Jackson trade Porzingis just to draft Lauri Markkanen, a Porzingis clone? Or would he settle and accept a bag of peanuts and three yellow starbursts? The speculation of the Knicks “shopping” Kristaps sort of came to a close. Although the team isn’t looking to trade him, they’re taking phone calls but demanding the farm.
This rumor is believable because, from the outside, both parties appear to have a relationship where neither wants to deal with each other. Since he skipped his exit meeting, no one in Knicks’ management has talked to Porzingis. KP hasn’t reached out to Knicks brass either.
No matter what you take away, just remember that New York doesn’t think Porzingis is untouchable. If he were, they’d say it. Or maybe they wouldn’t because Jackson, the voice of the franchise, doesn’t like to say anything.
Clippers Shot For The Stars In Rejected DeAndre Jordan Deal
According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to move their All-Star center. The front office, which now has Jerry West inside it, has “spoken to a few teams” and wants to get a feel for what their center is worth. Apparently, they believe Tyson Chandler and the fourth overall pick would be an acceptable exchange. Phoenix didn’t.
Yes, the Clippers thought they could get the fourth overall pick while taking Chandler’s contract off the books for a one-dimensional center. You have to admire the confidence, but being a realist never hurt anybody. If Jordan were more versatile, then this would be a discussion. He’s coming off his first All-Star appearance and is exceptional at what he does. The only issue is that all he’s only effective on one side of the court. This doesn’t make him a bad player, but the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft has the potential to be franchise-altering, and Los Angeles’ proposed deal is too one-sided for that.
Given the Suns’ current position, it would take a foolish GM to accept that offer. However, I suppose that they deserve whatever came to them if they agreed to it.
The good thing about this attempt is that the Clippers can now lower their asking price incrementally because they started so high. Jordan averaged 13.8 points and 1.7 blocks this past season, so he’s worth something and can almost instantly turn around a bad defense. It now falls on the Clippers to find the appropriate deal if they want to part ways.
Maybe now they start looking in the middle of the first.
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