All-Star Voting Has Opened…

And as I am sure you can tell by the picture, I have an amazing set of votes going out. Sure, there may be a couple people that the “fake news” media may cry out are “not deserving to be in there.”

I say, “Shut the hell up.”

For those that do not know or cannot read that bad picture (shoutout iOS), my votes are as follows…

West
– G – Mike Conley
– G – Jrue Holiday
– F – Luka Doncic
– F – Joe Ingles
– F/C – Rudy Gobert

East
– G – Kyrie Irving
– G – Victor Oladipo
– F – Kawhi Leonard
– F – Giannis Antetokounmpo
– F/C – Al Horford

Before anyone says anything, I agree. Nikola Jokic could and should be the F/C for the West. I do not know what I was thinking, but I can guarantee that I will be voting on alternating days for those two.

Oh, are you wondering why the West looks the way it does? And why other players should be in there? Are you asking why I don’t have any Warrior player, LeBron, AD, Dame, CJ, Harden, CP, D Book, KAT, DeRozan, Aldridge, either Gasol, or any other player in my voting? Is that 2-4 slots giving you a headache to look at?

Good.

All-Star voting is deciding who the best All-Stars are IN MY OPINION. Jrue is the best guard on the Pels, and is their best defender after AD. Luka is the ROTY and best player to come out of the draft. And why don’t you think Joe Ingles (aka Jingles, Slo-Mo Joe, Mistah Fine Wine, the Ageless Wonder, the Aussie Phenom, the Sniper from Down Under, the Outback Assassin, etc.) deserves to be an All-Star? This is the same man that is calling his shots in a Larry Bird style while his opponents are guarding him. Despite his age, he is regarded as one of the best three and D wings in the league. This man deserves this vote.

In actuality? Those three players won’t even come close to making it. Like at all. Why? Because the All-Star voting is just a “who’s popular” vote. I mean, there is a reason Zaza Pachulia almost made the All-Star team a couple years ago. Who cares who I voted for, but you best believe I will go down with this ship. Just because my vote doesn’t matter, I shall not change my stance because that is the true American way.

*eagle screeches in background*

LeBron Out for Foreseeable Future

Yes LABron fans, it is time to be fearful. The Almighty King has finally shown his mortal side, and it has been said that he will finally miss time with an injury. While this sounds like a big issue, it might not be. Sure, the “meme team” has turned into the “injured team.” Sure, Luke Walton’s spot on the hot seat has been getting ratcheted up throughout the course of this season.

Yes, they beat the Warriors without LeBron, but that was on the back on Rondo (who just was announced out) and Lance (no other words necessary). And yes, the MRI on LeBron’s groin (done by someone not named Beyounce I believe) came back negative, so he is not ‘hurt.’ However, the Lakers still decided that it would be best for LeBron to take an extended leave of absence. It is health related, but this leave of absence could not fair well for Luke Walton since the consensus is that Magic and his group are waiting for an extended losing streak in order to make a coaching change.

Thank goodness we are starting to get some drama.

Realistic Odds on the AD Lotto (which may occur sooner rather than later)

A couple reports have come out recently stating that the Celtics and Lakers are hoarding assets in order to make a trade for AD. Whether it occurs before the deadline this season, in the free agency, or during next season, it doesn’t matter. It is a year away, and the class this year is stacked with a ton of All-Stars. The issue? They are on a very very tight deadline. Of course, this isn’t factoring in other teams offers, and this also is not including the package the Pels can offer (I could have just said contract, but I had to say package lol).

The following teams are just a few that have a shot. Of course, this is all predicated on many factors happening for some. For instance, one team pretty much will need to sign multiple players and improve their team tremendously in order to even get a meeting with AD. Of course, that will be addressed, along with my odds. I will only be going over these teams, since they are the only ones who will have the money to offer in free agency, or be able to trade for (and afford) his contract during/after the seaso.

Any who, lets start this off with one of the more intriguing teams to be on this list…

Boston Celtics

This article originally was one comparing the Lakers, Celtics, and Pelicans since all three are considered the front runners. In fact, the hottest take of this may be that the Celtics are the favorite, and they have been staying out of the limelight of this whole situation! As is the Celtic way, they are trying to stay out of the spotlight while keeping tabs on the situation. Classic Ainge.

The Celtics can (realistically) offer the best trade package compared to anyone that wishes to get involved with this. I won’t get much into specifics, but if a trade were to occur that would involve a top 5 player in the league, I would assume it would come down to picks and (young) players. Out of every team on this list, the Celts are the only ones that can reasonably offer not only both, but some of the best with both. I don’t know many teams that would turn down a (hypothetical) Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and 2 first round picks. Hell, I’d consider that a baseline for anyone wishing to get AD, like they would have to do better than this trade. And that isn’t even the best one the Celts can make. Scary to consider.

I get the whole agent connection to LA, but Davis has already fired one agent. He could and would do it again. The Pelicans, as an organization, may find it hard to turn down “The Godfather” offer from the Celtics, since we all know Ainge has been working AD since he entered the draft. Issue I see is the fact the Celtics cannot trade for AD until next year due to the designated veteran player extension rule (long story short = cant have 2 players with that contract designation on the team that you didn’t draft). Maybe that factors in, maybe not. At the end of the day, they have the BEST parts to offer.

God save the NBA if a Kyrie-AD high pick-and-roll becomes a thing soon. We may not see the East be the same afterwards.

Buck’s Odds – 30% (stabilized)

Brooklyn Nets

The issue the Nets have besides terrible management and a horrible track record in trades is simple, but difficult to overcome: they don’t have the assets to move in order to get AD. Yes, they could trade them D-Lo, Caris Lavert, Jarrett Allen, and a couple picks…but then who do they have left besides Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and a (pretty bad) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? If you count DeMarre Carroll, then that roster looks pretty bare to me, and thats assuming his agent green lights this trade. While they would have the cap to get AD and another star, this seems slightly out of the question to me. They would essentially gut their team to get stars, and that’s assuming the stars want to meet with them.

Sorry Nets fans, I just can’t see this working out unless they are willing to be (arguably) worse than they are currently.

Buck’s Odds – 5% (falling)

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are on here not because they can offer the best trade package or anything of that sort. In fact, it would be best for the Mavs to not try and get in a bidding war at all over AD, since they would lose completely. However, what they can do is be the money man in the free agency. Roughly $35.5 mil will come off the books when PF/C Dwight Powell’s and SF Harrison Barnes’ contracts end after the 2019-2020 season. Another $28 mil will come off as well when SG Wes Matthews’s contract ends this year. This also isn’t factoring the nearly $23 mil of DeAndre Jordan’s money that comes off the books as well. Do I think these are likely? Hell yes. Maybe they give some small “Thanks for being here, and we like you” contracts to them (beside DJ, apparently this experiment will not be renewed after this year). If they paid to keep Powell, Matthews, and Barnes around on about $20 mil (<$5 mil, >$5 mil, roughly $10 mil respectively), they will still have about $53 mil free this offseason AND about $40 mil (in other contracts as well) cap space free next season. This is INSANE to think about, and that is with no other draft picks. It would be criminal to see Dennis Smith, Luka, Barnes (capable 3 and D), Maxi Kleber, and AD walk out. Have your bench be J.J. Barea, Wes Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dirk, and Dwight Powell? Remember, this is WITHOUT ANY OTHER SIGNINGS as well.

Legitimately would trade my Cav’s fan membership card to watch Dirk unretire to win one more ring with that squad.

Buck’s Odds – 2.5% (rising)

Los Angeles Clippers

There are 4 teams on this list that could feasibly offer a good trade package to the Pelicans. I mean, REALISTICALLY there are 5 teams that can afford the trade, but I consider two team’s packages (lol) to be “half” packages. Like they are only half as good as what the other 3 teams could offer. The Celts are one of those 3, as is this team: the LA Clippers.

Long regarded as the “other LA team”, the Clippers have better plays top-to-bottom on their whole roster than the Lakers do. While yes, LeBron is better than anyone the Clippers have, I would say that it is a bad sign when a member of “the Meme team” is the second best player (aka the Shaqtin’ a Fool MVP Javale McGee) on the Lakers. This is where the Clippers can easily step in and say, “Hold my beer.”

The Clippers are one of the teams that can either pay AD or trade for AD, and that is something no other team can truly say. They can ask the Pelicans who they want, and I can only see about one or two players the Clippers say “No way” to. And those players aren’t even their best. Pels more than likely won’t able to take two of each position, but they could feasibly say they want Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat, and some picks. The Clippers would promptly then say, “Where do we sign?”

If they can’t get a trade worked out, then who cares! They could sign him. They are walking into the free agency with about $60 mil burning a hole in their pocket. They could pay him AND Kawhi for all they care. Top defense in the league? More like best team in LA. Hell, I’d say best in the West when the Warriors implode this offseason.

Buck’s Odds – 25% (rising)

Los Angeles Lakers

In the Clippers section, I talked about how there were 3 teams that can offer a good trade package? Ya know, one that would be super hard to turn down if you were the Pels?

Yeah, the Lakers aren’t one lol.

The Lakers have the worst trade package to offer from those that wish to offer any kind of package (lol). I would rather have one that is at the end of this list over this one. I don’t know how intrigued I be by choosing three from the pool of Ball, Rondo, KCP, Lance, Kuzma, Ingram, and Chandler. That’s even with getting picks from it as well. While all are good in their own right, I just cannot see any being anything besides okay. I also don’t know if the Pelicans even want to trade with them since there seems to be (based on the Suns refusal to include the Lakers in any talks for a 3 team trade) a rising anti-Lakers-trade sentiment starting to creep into the West.

There is a downside to getting LeBron, and that clearly is one.

However, one of the biggest benefits is that the free agency draw is out of this world. The Lakers will have money to blow in the free agency, and this is what they are prioritizing. Of course, Magic gave himself a deadline, so he will overpursue this year and (maybe) next year as well. I know that their top 5 is (tentatively) Kemba, Klay, Drey, AD, and Kawhi. That is in no particular order, but this is just through the free agency. This is not including any trades that may occur. The only way the Lakers get a meeting with any of these players though (I mean, a “I’m actually paying attention” meeting) is to acquire another star via trade. And that’s the hard part since it seems that no one wants to trade to make this happen.

Smart move rest of league.

Buck’s Odds – 15% (stabilizing)

Milwaukee Bucks

I considered including them earlier, but dismissed the idea when looking at their financial situation. However, hearing that Giannis walked up to AD and pretty much said “Should come here bro” made me reconsider and include them.

Bucks’ fans have much to worry about since Giannis’ free agency is looming, and they can’t put together a team around him no matter how much money they throw around. Khris Middleton and Brooke Lopez are amazing, sure, but at one point they had close to $40 mil wrapped up in Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, and Tony Snell. That’s also not including other, less tasteful assets (cough cough Jabari) that they used to have. This also isn’t factoring in the issue that they currently have about $51.5 mil accounted for between George Hill, Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, and Ersan Ilyasova.

Yikes.

However, a trade FOR Davis would help alleviate some of this stress, but I don’t see the benefit of doing so since that would more than likely see Brogdon, Lopez, and Middleton/Hill/Bledsoe leave along with a pick. I don’t know if they can afford to do that since they are gelling REALLY FREAKING well right now.

However, signing AD? Definitely in the scope for the Bucks. They will have to first make sure they retain Middleton when he inevitably declines his player option and tries to get more money from the Bucks this offseason (especially with his play currently). This also isn’t accounting for the Bledsoe and Lopez free agencies as well. After next season? Well hopefully they not only move on from George Hill, and also find a way to trade Ilyasova and Tony Snell (since I doubt Tony will decline his almost $11 mil player option for that year). If they do that, they could easily free up about $38 mil. More than likely it’ll be about $30 mil since Middleton’s new contract may very well be $20-22 mil a year. This will still be more than enough money to pitch to AD, and this isn’t even factoring in the salary cap rising either.

A lot of things have to fall a certain way, which is why it is tough to justify. However, I cannot realistically think of a better frontcourt than Middleton, Giannis, and AD. I can’t even think of a better 4-5 combo. Ever. God imagine that high pick-and-roll. You can’t defend that.

I hope AD at this point considers playing with them.

Buck’s Odds – 10% (falling)

New Orleans Pelicans

It sucks to be a Pels fan right about now. It really does. I mean, you got the best big man to enter the league since Shaq. You’ve finally had a team around him that not only can compete, but even made it to the second round. And what happens? He comes out and says he doesn’t care about the money, and that his legacy means more to him than anything else. Bullsh*t aside? It means he wants rings and not stacks. He’s already got the proverbial bag, and he’ll get more when he goes to a major market with sponsorships. So what’s another couple mil in a small market on a bad team, when he could be on a smaller contract on a contender?

While the Pels can’t trade for AD since he’s on their team (duh), their inclusion is solely because they their goal is to convince him to stay. I find it highly unlikely they can, but the money IS THERE. I just don’t think he wishes to stay on a team that, for 8 years, has not been able to do much until last season. And they lost the third best player from that playoff run! It will be sad to see them slip back into mediocrity, but at least they had some time in the limelight.

Buck’s Odds – 5% (falling)

New York Knicks

So the Knicks are on here because they WISH to be contenders. Whether they do this through the free agency or the draft, no one really knows. It seems to be that they wish to do both, which I don’t believe they will be able to since they need to trade 2 bad contracts (G Tim Hardaway, Jr. and G Courtney Lee). Both contracts add up to ~$31 mil, and they will also lose the horrible ~$19 mil contract of C Enes Kanter at the end of this year as well. Maybe they can even move SF/PF Lance Thomas well to free up another $8ish mil (unlikely though). The issue with that $40 mil free (if they can do it)? They still have to pay the Unicorn himself, Kristaps Porzingis.

Which now present a weird conundrum I am sure you are asking: why would they want Porinzin-God and AD on the same team? And while this may have failed on the Clippers and Pels (when they brought in Demarcus Cousins), they could go with the “Twin Towers” mentality. Imagine the lid they would put on the rim; they could easily average 10-15 blocks a game as a team.

I mean, I don’t see this occurring. I consider it solely because the Knicks NEED to make a move to make themselves a destination. While I believe the only way to do this is through the draft (or by landing KD in the free agency), getting an All-Star is better than not having an All-Star. I mean, I bet the Thunder didn’t expect Paul George to last the year. If you can get a guy in, then you can work on him and convince him every day that you are the best place for him.

Who knows, maybe Dolan sells and the new owner turns them into the “super team” their fanbase believes they deserve to be.

Buck’s Odds – 5% (falling)

Phoenix Suns

I thought it was very short-sighted of the Suns to trade Ariza at this point in the season. I’m opening with this statement because he was a valuable asset, and they moved him for nothing. Why? You could easily have used him to get some better compensation than Austin Rivers (who may not even sign with the team) and Kelly Oubre. Who? Well, maybe AD.

Many of you will look at this trade, and say, “The hell you talkin’ ’bout Buck?”

But hear me out right now with this…

-Pelicans Trade – PF/C Anthony Davis, SF/PF Solomon Hill
-Suns Trade – SF/PF TJ Warren, SF/PF Josh Jackson, C Deandre Ayton + picks (more than likely next year’s draft pick)

…right?

If the Suns still had Ariza, you’d just take out Josh Jackson and put Ariza in instead. This trade looks…well, if I was the Pelicans, I’d take it. You get a new, young “franchise” player, you get two very capable wings, and you also get a pick out of it. Suns on the other hand? They finally get a great running mate for D Book, and they also finally get a center that understands how to play defense. They also get a capable defender that they can have play the wing, and they can move on from either Warren or Jackson (since they both play the same position, though I’d more than likely prefer to trade Jackson over Warren). In one trade, both teams benefit mightily. Pelicans can focus on a rebuild OR compete for the 8 seed in the playoffs, and the Suns immediately become a hub for the free agency (cough cough any point guard).

Now, I haven’t gone through the money side of this. In fact, this team came to me at the very end. But color me intrigued to say the least. I mean, this trade could still happen as far as I am concerned. This package is pretty hard to refuse (lol).

Buck’s Odds – 2.5% (and rising)

Dirty ‘Nati Bungles Need to Finally Realize It’s Time to Tank

The Cincinnati Bengals are 6-8 (4th in their division), and on a 1 game winning streak right now.  This, of course, is coming on the heels of another injury to their depleted wide receiver core (this time Tyler Boyd with an MCL sprain). They have already shut down AJ and Andy, and hopefully Jeff Driskel and the merry band of misfits don’y win too many more of their remaining games. Why you may ask?

…well, ’cause they suck, and it seems like it may have finally sunk into Paul Brown’s thick skull during that atrocious three game losing streak. Even though they have no moved up in a lot of mocks I have seen, they are still sitting at that Lucky No. 13 spot in the draft. All the idiot “Draft Experts” are raving at the fact there are so many amazing defensive players, and how “we could see more than a dozen defensive linemen taken before the 20th pick”. While I don’t agree that will be true since a lot of teams need o line and qbs (as always), and more teams may trade up to draft said players. Hell, the Rams need tightends and wide receivers, not defensive tackles or edge rushers.

I digress. Sorry, mock draft “gurus” and “talent” scouts in the mainstream media really grind my gears. I mean, Deandre Ayton is the best rookie in the NBA? Nah, let’s keep it football related, how about you tell me again Mel Kiper how Trent Richardson is the best running back Alabama produced? Or how John Ross should have been drafted fourth and had the most talent out of anyone? Or how it’s a shame that other QBs are getting drafted over Christian Hackenberg?

Yeah, go back to your precious “rankings”.

Okay, enough of the tangent. The mock drafts right now are speculating that the Bengals (with no movement in the draft order) will take a linebacker. While I agree with the pick since the last linebacker taken in the first two rounds by the Bengals was Ray Maualuga back in 2009. So a decade later, it seems that they are conflicting reports on who they would select. Some are saying Mack Wilson (ILB Alabama) would be a good fit. Others (myself included) say that Devin White (ILB LSU) might be a better fit. While I personally hate Alabama and think that their defense/linebackers are overrated this year, I would not be upset. Both linebackers are good, and more than likely may be there. Why? Well, pretty simple…

In the last 10 years, a linebacker has been drafted in the top every year but one (2017 class, #13 pick saw first linebacker taken). Of those nine years, only two have been considered busts. Four years saw the first linebacker taken become an All-Pro (Aldon Smith #4 in ’09, Von Miller #2 in ’11, Luke Kuechly #9 in ’12, Khalil Mack #5 in ’14). The other three linebackers taken? All starting/rotation players on respective teams and still in league (funny fact: four of the last five first-pick linebackers taken in the draft all play on Da Chicago Bears). You may be asking though what this means for the Bengals, since the 2017 class saw a linebacker go #13, and the last 3 years have seen linebackers float around the 8th, 13th, and 9th picks respectively?

Easy, the Bengals need to lose more. I am not saying pull an NBA-level kind of tank, where they bench the starters and only play the backups. They don’t need to do that. I believe that they are more than capable of losing with the players they have currently. The main issue I see is that Marvin might try to coach to save his job. While he (thankfully) has worn out his welcome, he might try and scrap together a decent season so he can try and get another job after this season. That is what scares me: the human desire for safety. He WILL want a new job, so he shall try and prove he can coach up this ragtag group of misfits. I am not saying the Bengals need to lose every game and jump into the top five in the draft. That would be horrible. However, I do believe that management should take a hard-line approach and suggest that this is the course they wish to take.

I agree that they need to take a linebacker. The Burfict experiment needs to end, so a replacement that doesn’t get hurt every other week needs to be acquired. Where the draft “experts” see the glut of defensive line talent as a plus, and see a rush to be made to snag them, I see the opposite. A surplus (based on simple economic principles) means a lower sell point to get rid of said surplus. If you are a team, why would you waste the 6th overall pick to draft the 4th best defensive tackle (I don’t see how Ed Oliver slips there, but those are where some have him landing)? There is no point if the 5th best DT is nearly the same as the 20th best DT. Why waste a pick in the first when you could get someone like him in the second? This is why the Bengals need to start tanking to rise higher. They need a linebacker just as bad as the Giants and Jaguars need new quarterbacks. Hell, if they rise high enough, they could flip that pick to a QB-desperate team, trade down, get more picks, and still get who they want.

But let’s not get into draft strategies. This is solely why they need to tank because…well, they suck lol.

NBA News Update: The Drama is Coming…

…and boy oh boy does the NBA know how to start off well.  The literal first hour Trevor Ariza can be traded, he is dealt straight-up for Oubre and…well, it leaves a lot to be desired.  The Wiz got another wing…but he can actually play defense at multiple positions.  The Suns also got another young wing who’s future they can control.  The issue with this?

…it’s just weird?  Like these two teams shouldn’t be doing a trade for either of these players.  Suns need a point guard, and the Wiz have four.  Yet the Wiz trade away a good building block for a rebuild, for a guy that they are hoping will help get them away from that projected 7th place Eastern Conference finish.  While I find that doubtful, and a waste of young assets, I guess anybody can keep their job is they can convince a stupid owner/ownership group they know what they are doing.

Speaking of stupid owners, James Dolan (the Knicks owner), has just announced that he is willing to sign away his team for a ‘bona fide offer.’  Just like you, I have no idea what that terminology is supposed to mean.  What I do know is that we will finally (FINALLY) get rid of someone in the “Top 5 Worst Owner” List (dropping soon?????).  Rejoice Knicks fan, you’ll finally win a game that matters here.