Kevin Durant Should Go to the Wizards, But Not Because It’s Home

What I’m going to say will not be popular. And I will probably be derided as a deluded homer, just rationalizing fake reasons as to why Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in two years. But I’ll say it anyway: Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in a couple of years, and not because he is from Washington D.C. Of course, that it is home adds to the allure, but plenty of basketball reasons are more responsible for why Durant should come to D.C.

The Wizards will make a strong push to sign the hometown hero Durant.

The Wizards will make a strong push to sign the hometown hero Durant.

Mind you this could all change relatively quickly if the Thunder win a championship this upcoming season. Before explaining why Durant should sign with the Wiz in a few years, let’s first remember how unlikely that is, and how many things would have to go right (or wrong, for Thunder fans) for KD to end up in Washington. With LeBron out of South Beach, the pecking in the NBA looks like this: 1) Spurs, 2) Thunder, 3) Everyone else: Clippers, Warriors, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Blazers, etc. The Thunder may even be 1B, ever so slightly trailing the Spurs. During the regular season, the Thunder were 4-0 against the Spurs, and if not for Serge Ibaka’s injury, the Thunder may have ended up hoisting the Finals trophy instead. Which is all to say, there is a very good chance that the Thunder win the title this season. And if that happens, there is just about a zero percent chance Durant leaves. Just for the sake of argument though, what if Russell Westbrook gets hurt again. Then what? Supremely talented as he is–easily one of the ten best players in the NBA–Westbrook has undergone three knee surgeries already at the tender age of 25. Each time, Westbrook has returned from injury just as effective as before, but how many more blows can he take?  Even if Westbrook does stay healthy, that’s no guarantee that the Thunder are going to win a title. It’s not like Westbrook and Durant are natural fits next to each other. There’s the constant subplot of whether they can coexist, always present just below the surface, adding tension after failed fourth quarters. Continue reading

The Best Player Left in Free Agency Is Delusional

Everyone expected the post-Steve Nash Suns to struggle. Last year, most people safely assumed the Suns would tank to get a top pick and land Wiggins or Parker. Little did anyone know Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe would form one of the league’s best backcourts, and that Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee would be real contributors. The Suns raked in 48 wins though, finishing just a game out of the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns have become one of the more attractive teams in the league, with a good, young nucleus and tons of cap space. But for some reason, they haven’t been able to lure top-tier free agents Phoenix. Aside from the Isaiah Thomas signing, the Suns have remained relatively quiet this offseason.

Their top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Eric Bledsoe, the 24-year old point guard, who in his first year as a starter, displayed borderline All-Star ability. Playing behind Chris Paul for the past few years in LA, Bledsoe was unable to show the wide range of his ability. But last year in Phoenix, Bledsoe had a very successful year. The only minor concern regarding Bledsoe was that he needed knee surgery last season. When healthy though, he was very productive, averaging a line of 18-6-5 on a nightly basis. Those are good, but not great numbers, even for a 24 year old.

The Suns offered Bledsoe a 4 year/$48 million deal, a very fair deal, identical to what Kyle Lowry got a few weeks ago. Lowry is definitely a better player at this stage, but Bledsoe is a few years younger. The Suns’ offer for Bledsoe is a bigger deal than what Steph Curry got a few years ago. Of course, it must be noted that Curry had some ankle problems at the time, and that is why the offer wasn’t a max. But still. Bledsoe is not the player Curry is. Continue reading

Why the Timberwolves Should Trade Kevin Love For Andrew Wiggins

It’s understandable that the Timberwolves are reluctant to trade All-Star power forward Kevin Love. He’s only 25 years old and averaged 26 points and nearly 13 rebounds per game, making him the NBA’s third leading scorer and fourth leading rebounder. Love gets killed by the media for having never made the playoffs, but he’s never had a teammate who made the All-Star game. Not even once. Right now, with one year left on Love’s deal–thanks to David Kahn, who decided three years ago to save Minnesota’s max deal for Ricky Rubio–the Timberwolves don’t have much leverage. If the Wolves hold onto Love, he will surely leave the team in free agency in the summer. The only thing Minnesota can really do is try to drive up Love’s price, pitting the Cavaliers and Warriors, who are firm in their refusal to part ways with Klay Thompson, against each other and creating a bidding war.

Even though David Kahn isn’t the Wolves’ GM anymore, it’s still hard to see them making the right decision here. Rumor is that they’re more interested in Thompson than Wiggins because they view Thompson as more ready to help them now. It might just be a rumor, but if it’s true, the Warriors are thinking about this all wrong. They aren’t winning now, period. And they sure aren’t winning with Klay Thompson as their best player. The T’Wolves need to realize that they are not going to win now, but they can still set themselves up very nicely for the future.andrew-wiggins-vertical Continue reading

Wizards All In Next Year With Recent Moves

With the Eastern Conference opening up more and more by the day, the Wizards are one of the few contending teams in the conference actually getting better. The Bulls are the only other team near the top of the conference that has added significant pieces to their team. Think about it. The Heat lost LeBron. The Pacers lost Stephenson. The Nets lost Paul Pierce. The Raptors mostly stayed the same. And while the Cavs added LeBron, they still have a young, unproven roster around him that will take time to gel.

The conference really is up for grabs, perhaps more so than at any other time in the past decade. Of course that could shift if the Cavs get Kevin Love, but at the moment, the Cavs seem unlikely to trade Andrew Wiggins. No matter who wins the Eastern conference next year, the NBA champion will almost positively come from the Western Conference. But that’s not a reason to throw the towel in if you’re in the East. Especially for a team like the Wizards who have been so starved of any playoff success in the past 30 years.

The Wizards haven’t made any earth-shattering moves this offseason, but they’ve quietly made smart moves that will keep them flexible in the long-run and competitive right now. Letting Ariza walk in free agency was the right move. Not because $8 million per season is too much for him, but because it allows the Wizards to pursue hometown superstar Kevin Durant in the 2016 summer. Replacing his value with the aging, but still effective Paul Pierce was one of the more deft moves we’ve seen Ernie Grunfeld make in his tenure with the Wizards. Even more recently though, the Wizards have signed three big men who will be key contributors for the Wizards off the bench. Continue reading

Shabazz Napier’s Social Media Breakup With LeBron

Remember a couple weeks ago when the Heat selected Shabazz Napier with the 24th pick in the draft to appease LeBron? Shabazz wasn’t going to be the reason that LeBron would stay in Miami, but making the effort to trade up and get Napier would be a small gesture to LeBron. Not a big shiny anniversary ring or anything, but a small little gift as a token of their appreciation for what LeBron had done–just an example of the commitment they had to LeBron and his vision of the team. Pat Riley claimed he was a fan of Napier’s game anyway, and that the move was not purely to appease LeBron:

“I know LeBron tweeted something out in the NCAA [tournament] about him. Why not. If LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it. But he didn’t call me on the phone, or he didn’t make a point to me about it.”

But everyone knew that was BS. Ever since the NCAA tournament, LeBron had been complimenting Napier’s game and ability to run a team. Napier seemed to be profoundly lucky. Not that he wouldn’t have already been selected in the first round of the draft, but to having the best player on the planet so fond of you is definitely good for pro prospects. Continue reading

NBA GMs are Wrong: The Cavs Should Trade Andrew Wiggins For Kevin Love

LeBron made what most people thought was an unforgivable mistake four years ago with how he handled his departure from Cleveland in the hour-long ESPN special, The Decision. It seemed unlikely that’d he ever return to play for his hometown. But he did.

And now that LeBron has returned to Cleveland, the biggest storyline of the NBA offseason will be whether Cleveland adds Kevin Love to the mix before the season starts. The Cavs would love to acquire Love, as long as they don’t have to part with last month’s top overall pick Andrew Wiggins. That’s where things get complicated. Minnesota is reluctant to deal the 25 year old Love, who averaged 26 points and over 12 rebounds per game last season. Even though Love only has one year left on his deal and is unlikely to re-sign with Minnesota in the offseason, the T’Wolves are still hesitant to ship off Love, unless they get a major haul in return. The hardest thing to do in the NBA, especially for a small-market team like Minnesota, is to land a superstar. And the easiest thing to do in the NBA, especially for small-market teams, is to trade away a disgruntled superstar for 75 cents on the dollar. That is precisely what Minnesota wants to avoid.

In a way, the T’Wolves have all the leverage. They know how badly the Cavs want Love. Yet, the Wolves also have zero leverage: everyone in the league knows that Love will be a free agent next summer, and has no interest in staying in Minnesota. Continue reading

Daryl Morey Keeps It Real, Offends Chandler Parsons

Most hardcore NBA fans know about Daryl Morey. The Rockets GM who is obsessed with advanced stats, who makes front office decisions like a fantasy football owner. He’s always looking to make another trade that will set the team up better in the long haul, or sign an unknown player that can contribute right away. Many fans and analysts call Morey a genius, but also think he’s too smart for his own good sometimes.

Houston will miss Parsons, but they had maxed out with him as their third banana.

Houston will miss Parsons, but they had maxed out with him as their third banana.

Recently, he had the plan of signing Chris Bosh once LeBron left Miami, and then quickly matching Dallas’ offer sheet for Chandler Parsons. Thus giving the Rockets a core of Beverly-Harden-Parsons-Bosh-Howard. Good luck finding a nucleus more talented than that. Once LeBron signed with Cleveland, it seemed like a sure bet that Houston would almost instantly transform itself into a top three team in the league. But the plan quickly blew up in Morey’s face. Bosh signed a max deal with the Heat. And then surprisingly, Morey decided to let Parsons go.

Morey didn’t think Parsons is a star, and according to Morey, once the Rockets missed out on Bosh, it was just not worth paying Parsons over $15 million per season. A trio of Howard-Harden-Parsons could not win a title, in Morey’s estimation. As Morey told SportsRadio610: Continue reading

Wizards Choose Unlikely Replacement For Trevor Ariza, Eye On Durant In Future

Coming off of a surprisingly successful second round exit in the playoffs, the Wizards had two players to re-sign: Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. Having both guys be right in the middle of their prime and coming off of career years, it was predictable that they would get huge contracts in free agency. Most Wizards fans were a little queasy at the idea of re-signing, and likely having to overpay Gortat and Ariza, just to remain a good, but not great team.

They completed the first part, giving Gortat a huge payday, what he called “the best day of my life.” The deal for Gortat, worth $60 million over the next five seasons, seems like an overpay, especially on the back end, but was probably necessary to keep Gortat. Good centers are scarce in the NBA, and Gortat averaged a double-double last season. But, the real question mark was Ariza. Would he really get paid? And by paid I mean PAID. Don’t get me wrong: Ariza had a very good season last year. He was Washington’s best perimeter defender and shot 41% from 3, the best clip of his career from deep. But really, he’s just a catch-and-shoot corner 3 shooter. He benefitted from John Wall’s career year more than just about anyone else on the Wizards’ roster. He was the guy who got the open looks in the corner, off of Wall’s drive-n-kick dishes. That’s no fault of his, but it is to say that Ariza’s offensive production was largely the result of an All-Star point guard who created open shots for everyone else. He’s the type of player that can be replaced. He’s the ultimate ‘3 and D’ guy: he hits 3’s and plays good defense. Those are the kind of players you can find in free agency for cheap.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards' success last year, but he is replaceable.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards’ success last year, but he is replaceable.

Continue reading

Bulls Bolster Lineup With Two Key Additions

In the past few days, the Bulls have reinvigorated their roster. Last year, they miraculously managed to win 48 games without Derrick Rose. It might have been Tom Thibodeau’s best coaching job. The Eastern Conference was historically weak, but the Bulls were a team without a single player with a typical scoring mentality. Yet, they would grind out wins with defense and toughness, the staples of Thibodeau’s teams. After being eliminated in the playoffs by the Wizards, it was obvious that the Bulls had drastically overachieved in the regular season, and needed a major influx of talent, or at least a healthy Derrick Rose if they were to be taken seriously in the playoffs.

Gasol will probably spend most of his time at the high post, directing the Bulls offense.

Gasol will probably spend most of his time at the high post, directing the Bulls offense.

But in the offseason, the Bulls have made several moves to bolster their offensive fire power. Drafting Doug McDermott was the first significant move. He is a scorer first and will create space in their half-court sets, with his ability to hit 3’s and put the ball on the floor and hit mid-range jumpers. More recently though, the Bulls made two moves that should help even more.

First, the Bulls agreed to terms with Pau Gasol, who’d been deciding between the Bulls and Spurs. Gasol is the type of player that can fit into any team. His passing skills are unsurpassed by any big man in the league, and he is a great guy in the locker room. Unless he’s on Kobe’s team and Kobe is jacking up too many shots! But in all seriousness, he is a great fit on the Bulls. With Noah and Gasol, the Bulls will have arguably the best passing tandem of big men in the league. Playing Gasol at the high post will let Noah operate more under the basket. Gasol is not a shoot-first player, but he is a facilitator, and teams in need of scoring can always use facilitators to get guys open shots. That’s what Gasol will do. Continue reading

Rockets Miss Out On Bosh And Parsons, Add Ariza

Houston’s mastermind plan of adding Chris Bosh and then matching the Mavericks’ offer sheet to Chandler Parsons ended up being nothing more than a pipe dream. The Rockets lost out on the Bosh, and then strangely, and somewhat surprisingly, decided not to match Dallas’ offer sheet to Parsons. It’s a serious blow to the Rockets, who many were starting to project as the second best team in the West, assuming they retained Parsons and added Bosh. Without those guys, the Rockets are left with a Howard-Harden duo and mediocre supporting players. It’s a team that is still in the playoffs, but decidedly less imposing. They couldn’t even make it out of the first round with Parsons.

The Rockets supposedly let Parsons walk for financial reasons. That’s somewhat understandable. Matching the 3 year/$46 million deal that Parsons got from Dallas would’ve been Houston’s way of saying they believed they could win a championship with a Howard-Harden-Parsons nucleus. Keeping Parsons would have hamstrung their cap for the next few years, and only given them minimal space to add other quality players. Is Parsons worth over $15 million per season? The Rockets didn’t think so. He’s only 25 years old. He has been a very productive player in the NBA so far, and is fairly versatile. His numbers might be a tad inflated playing on the up-tempo Rockets. Most fans think of him as purely a shooter, thus fitting the typical stereotype, but that really is not Parsons. He’s a good shooter, but his game is much more versatile than that. Parsons is good at putting up shot fakes and scoring off the bounce. And he’s a much better passer than he gets credit for. It’s tough to find quality footage on YouTube of Parsons’ game in college, other than the pair of buzzer-beaters he hit and general highlight clips. But in college, he basically served as a point-forward for Florida. He has great vision for a player of his size, especially one who’s primarily a scorer. Continue reading