HAWKS TRADE FOR #4 PICK!

Yes, it happened. The Pelicans have officially traded out of the #4 pick. To make this even better, I called this exact situation happening…with incorrect details haha. Details are as follows:

Pelicans Receive: #8, #17, and #35 picks in the 2019 NBA Draft
Hawks Receive: #4 and #57 in the 2019 NBA Draft, a future 2nd round pick, and PF Solomon Hill

Catch me and @soft7juice popping bottles for predicting this, but this is exactly what the Pelicans wanted to do. This gives them cap space to pursue an All-Star or absorb an All-Star via trade. It also puts them in line to grab Zion’s other college teammate, Cam Reddish.

Hawks wise, this gives them the ability to draft DeAndre Hunter, aka the player they always wanted. Cannot wait to see this all go down in about 2 hours.

Don’t Play Texas Hold’Em With David Griffin

I feel like a mad genius right now, and I just had to share this…

I just sat here with @soft7juice, and went through our staff mock draft to try and have it make more sense. What ended up happening? Well, we kinda came up with a scenario where David Griffin becomes Executive of the Year. As some may know, the Pelicans just traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers for an amazing asset haul. I do not really like the players that the Pelicans got, and the pick is interesting but not amazing. The future picks are great, but they won’t get moved. Where I am now, if I was David Griffin, I would be looking to consolidate assets or improve the roster. With that in mind, we came up with three moves that would not only revamp the roster, but allow the Pelicans to become the young, sleeping giant in the NBA. Let me take you on a walk down this path…

STARTING ASSETS:
– #1 and #4 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil)
– SG E’Twuan Moore (1 yr/$8.6 mil)
– PF Solomon Hill (1 yr/$13.25 mil)
– SF Brandon Ingram (1 yr/$7.3 mil + RFA rights)
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights)

Looking at the Pelicans roster right now, I am not really enthralled with the lineup. Sure, at the end of this season, the Pelicans will be off of E’Twuan Moore and Solomon Hill’s combined $21.85 million. Those are very enticing contracts that I am sure that more than a few teams will want to acquire. I am not high on Ingram, Ball, and Hart, and think that they hold more value as tradeable assets than cornerstone pieces. Ingram and Ball are too injury-prone to me, and I do not think that Hart is good enough to start or even be a good sixth man. With the goal in mind to create a contender centered around Zion, then the team needs to reflect that.

There is interest in the assets they hold now, so why not consolidate assets and actually create a team that fits around Zion, not putting scraps around him and hoping they fit. Like a good card player, David has his hand close to his chest. However, he will have to position himself at the table to get the best situation and deals possible. This leads us to the first move…

MOVE #1: “The Flop”
Hornets Receive: SG E’Twuan Moore (1 yr/$8.6 mil); SF Brandon Ingram (1 yr/$7.3 mil + RFA rights)
Pelicans Receive: C Cody Zeller (2 yrs/$30 mil); #12 pick in 2019 NBA Draft

ASSETS RIGHT NOW (after M1):
– #1, #4, and #12 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil)
– PF Solomon Hill (1 yr/$13.25 mil)
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights)
– C Cody Zeller (2 yrs/$30 mil)

Picture this…

You’re Michael Jordan. You’re doing two million dollar bets at the craps table in Vegas. You’re doing good, but your NBA team still sucks. All the sudden, you get a text from David Griffin. Not like a “LOL I screwed Boston on purpose” kinda text, but a “Let’s make a deal” kinda text.

Before you can even ask what the terms are, you get the double text just as fast. It reads, “We’ll take Cody and 12th for Ingram and Moore.”

Now, if you were the Hornets, you take this trade immediately. You get off of Cody’s horrible contract, and you also get players that can actually score to put around Kemba. A small ball lineup of Kemba-Moore-Lamb-Ingram-MKG would be enough to sell tickets in Charlotte, and might even be enough to sell Kemba on wanting to return. You wipe $8.6 million off the books at the end of the season, and you have a piece to build with Lamb when Kemba retires eventually.

Now, if you are the Pelicans, I would take this trade, too. The 12th pick is a great asset to have in a draft that many scouts are saying has whatever players draft 4-17 as being roughly equal. Maybe it takes another pick to really secure the trade, but it makes sense. Ingram has DVT and is coming off surgery, so who knows if he will be good to go anyway. He needs to have the ball in his hands on offense, and you will have to pay him after this upcoming season anyway. E’Twuan Moore is needed to match salary in the trade; the move is being made to free up shooting guard minutes for future trades/picks and for Josh Hart. Maybe the Pelicans need another pick to make this work, but this move alone is better than anything that they could do by keeping Moore and Ingram on the books.

Speaking of books, this leads us to the next move…

MOVE #2: “The Turn”
Hawks Receive: #4 and #12 pick in 2019 NBA Draft; PF Solomon Hill (1 yr/$13.25 mil)
Pelicans Receive: #8, #10, and #17 picks in the 2019 NBA Draft; C Alex Len (1 yr/$4.16 mil); PF DeAndre’ Bembry (1 yr/$2.6 mil + RFA rights); PF/C John Collins (2 yr/$7 mil + RFA rights)

ASSETS RIGHT NOW (after M2):
– #1, #8, #10, and #17 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil)
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights)
– C Cody Zeller (2 yr/$30 mil)
– C Alex Len (1 yr/$4.16 mil)
– PF DeAndre’ Bembry (1 yr/$2.6 mil + RFA rights)
– PF/C John Collins (2 yr/$7 mil + RFA rights)

The writing has been on the wall for the Hawks players pre-Travis Schlenk era. In a tale as old as the NBA itself, GMs like having guys they drafted on the roster. Len, Bembry, and Collins were all drafted under the old regime, and the market couldn’t be higher for Collins. He made the dunk contest, and looked fantastic next to Trae Young. However, he is not the center of the future for them. They need a better offensive center, not one that can just catch lobs. On top of this, Collins comes up for his restricted free agency soon, and I do not think they wish to pay whatever he gets offered. To cap it all off, the #8, #10, and #17 picks are all good, but will be in a portion of the draft that will be frontcourt heavy. Schlenk would not take three forwards, or two forwards and a center. Too many question marks, and it will be tough to target Schlenk’s second favorite player in the draft: small forward De’Andre Hunter.

Right now, the #4 pick is slated to have Hunter be available. On top of that, Solomon Hill’s contract expires after next season. Bembry and Len combine for almost $7 million off the books, but $13.25 million is definitely more than $7 million. The extra money will help them take on more money for a future asset (like a salary dump from a contender like the Hornets in the future) or pursue a nice free agent in the 2020 free agency. The 12th pick may need to be added to help smooth out all of the assets, but I do not know if it needs to be added into the trade. I did add it to appease Hawks fans, but I don’t think it needs to be there. It is more of a sweetener than the main course.

The main course is for the Pelicans to expand their proverbial portfolio. Flipping a guy that won’t play and two picks for 2 serviceable players, a starting (borderline franchise) player, and 3 picks? If the Ainge-father himself did this, there would be a parade for him at major news outlets. The Pelicans need assets to get really good players to help build around their franchise player in Zion. The 8, 10, and 17 can net them 3 guys that are very good to expand the player count and quality around Zion. However, the easiest way to expand the count and quality is to go for the killer of all trades…

MOVE #3: “The River”
Bulls Receive: PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights); SF/PF Josh Jackson (2 yr/$16 mil + RFA rights); #17 pick in 2019 NBA Draft
Suns Receive: PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil); #10 pick in 2019 NBA Draft
Pelicans Receive: SF/PF T.J. Warren (3 yr/$35 mil); SG/SF Mikal Bridges (3 yr/$14 mil + RFA rights); SG/SF Chandler Hutchinson (3 yr/$9 mil + RFA rights); PF/C Richuan Holmes (small contract sign-and-trade); PF Lauri Markkanen (2 yr/$12 mil + RFA rights); #6 and #7 picks in 2019 NBA Draft

ASSETS RIGHT NOW (after M3):
– #1, #6, #7, and #8 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– C Cody Zeller (2 yrs/$30 mil)
– C Alex Len (1 yr/$4.16 mil)
– PF DeAndre’ Bembry (1 yr/$2.6 mil + RFA rights)
– PF/C John Collins (2 yr/$7 mil + RFA rights)
– SF/PF T.J. Warren (3 yr/$35 mil)
– SG/SF Mikal Bridges (3 yr/$14 mil + RFA rights)
– SG/SF Chandler Hutchinson (3 yr/$9 mil + RFA rights)
– PF/C Richuan Holmes (small contract sign and trade)
– PF Lauri Markkanen (2 yr/$12 mil + RFA rights)

The Bulls love Lonzo Ball, and their second string small forward right now is Denzel Valentine. You’re able to secure another athletic forward that you desperately need, and you trade back to an area of the draft that players like Brandon Clarke, PJ Washington, and Rui Hachimura are residing on some boards. The new GM and coach value defense and team values over anything else, and Lauri is not the player this team drafted. Chandler Hutchinson is a guy that they really like, but they would rather have a point guard starting that isn’t someone like Kris Dunn or Cam Payne. Sure, they give up the 7th pick, but they net a better point guard than anyone they could get with that pick.

The Suns want any point guard that is a veteran and an All-Star. While Jrue is not an All-Star is the West, he would have been one in the East. They don’t need to add Richaun Holmes to the deal, but he is needed to make the math work. You could even add Josh Hart in the trade to make it work more if they get upset over only getting one player (and giving up the most players). However, they get the 10th pick, allowing them to target someone like Keldon Johnson, Jordan Nwora, or Cam Reddish (should he fall that far). They can get off of T.J. Warren, injury-prone Mikal Bridges, and troubled Josh Jackson. That alone is worth the trade, considering they also clear up a lot of long-term money and make some space for a potential (whiffed) blockbuster signing in the offseason.

I mean, looking at the trade, I really don’t see why either team would turn it down? And that is why the Pelicans would make this particular offer. They score some good wings and some VERY good bigs. They also can flip an injury prone PG and an All-Star for a ton of assets, especially the #6 and #7 pick. Sure, the guard depth of the Pelicans is depleted almost immediately, but they gain cap space. A lot actually. the combined salary of the players currently acquired (including Josh Hart) is roughly $54.46 million. Add in the drafted players first year salaries, then you are looking at an additional $15.447 million. The total salary of those 14 players is $69.907 million, which leaves them with roughly $39.093 million to play with in the free agency when compared to the salary cap ($109 million). That is prime All-Star and competent starter contracts. While they would be depleted at guard, they could easily make a ludicrous restricted offer to D-Lo or Malcolm Brogdon. They could sign Ricky Rubio, JJ Reddick, Darren Collison, and even (possibly) Danny Green. The amount of flexibility this trade will give them is ridiculous, especially considering they will be able to draft three out of these six players: Darius Garland, Coby White, Jarrett Culver, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, and Goga Bitadze. Sure, the moves they made kind of eliminate the need for Hayes and Bitadze, so that leaves them being able to target three of the others.

If your mind is just as blown as mine was after reading this, then I am sorry for doing that to you. I hope you all you Pels fans start rooting for this to occur, since I want to see the talking heads on some sports sites get their minds blown like mine would be.

WTF: Analysis on the Mavs-Knicks Trade and How It Broke The Internet

I don’t know if the title can properly demonstrate my shock and amazement that I had over the course of an hour. I was so in shock that @soft7juice had to take the reins on breaking the news of the trade for me while I finished up at work.

…but Jesus Christ man, this is amazing.

First of all, I would be remiss if I did not list the trade in order to fully dissect it because…well this is a blockbuster to say the least:

Knicks Receive – C DeAndre Jordan (1 yr/$22.9 mil), SG Wes Matthews (1 yr/$18.6 mil), PG Dennis Smith, Jr. (2 yrs/$8.6 mil + 1 yr/$5.7 mil team option) + two lightly protected first round draft picks (which transfer year by year if not conveyed at listed dates)
Mavs Receive – PF/C Kristaps Porzingis (1 yr/$5.7 mil + RFA rights), SG Courtney Lee (2 yrs/$25 mil), PG Trey Burke (1 yr/$1.8 mil), SG/SF Tim Hardaway, Jr. (2 yrs/$35.5 mil + 1 yr/$19 mil player option)

First off, let’s go into why the Knicks did this, and while it does not absolve them of everything that has been done, it does explain why this deal occurred.

The Knicks have said multiple times that their goal this offseason was to make a big splash in the free agency. They never once talked about building around KP. They never once have talked about resigning KP. They also have never said whether or their plans for the future even involved KP. Therefore, when the rumors began coming out the KP was actually healthy and could be playing this season (but they weren’t to tank and get a better draft pick), it was bound to create friction. You can’t exist in that system. It is essentially a fantasy world that they created in order to “have their cake and eat it too.”

Image result for porzingis

We can go into how many GMs try and get rid of players who are not “their guys,” and the same could be said with what the Knicks are going through. While I personally thought that they could not trade away KP before Frank Ntilikina, I expect both now to be gone in the near future.

But why make the trade?

Simple: KP said he wanted out. In a team meeting this afternoon, KP met with the Knicks organization to discuss the future of this team, and the direction they were going in. What resulted was Porzingis telling them he hated everything about their plan and requesting a trade. They traded him within an hour to…the Mavs?

I was just as skeptical when the report came out. I had heard rumblings that the Raptors, Pelicans, and Hawks were major players. But the Mavs could offer the Knicks something better than those three teams could offer: expiring salaries and a PG of the future.

With Kyrie announcing that he holds no love for the Boston organization and will make his FA choice on the first day of the FA, the Knicks (if the can move Frank Ntilikina and Lance Thomas) will have over $75 million to play with in this free agency. Yes, you read that right. $75 MILLION! That gives them enough money to buy the services of two super-max players…like Kemba/Kyrie and KD. Again, this is very much on line for what their plans were heading into the 2019 FA. Hell, they still have their pick in this draft, AND they future picks, AND they also have the Mavs lightly protected picks as well.

So yes, you can argue that the Knicks not only did something smart, but also have a bright future.

Now the Mavs, on the other hand, eliminated themselves from the derby that will be the 2019 FA. Of course, this is somewhat in part to the fact that not a single player has expressed interest in playing in Dallas.

Like, no joke, go look back. Not a single player has said that they could (or would) play in Dallas.

So, operating under the logical assumption that they would not get any of the top-tier FAs, they decided to cash in on a fringe star that wishes to move on from his team. While I do believe they may have overpaid a tad, this is a risk many would have taken. Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway, Jr. will help them lose games or win (if they wish to win out), but the important thing the Mavs did was paint them as a destination for 2020 and 2021. Harrison Barnes (if he opts into his player option in this offseason), Dwight Powell, and Courtney Lee all come off the books in 2020, which will give the Mavs about $40 million to play with. This is not factoring in KP’s extension he will sign (since he would be stupid to accept his qualifying offer).

The Mavs and Knicks both won the trade as I look at it right now. Of course, we are talking about the Knicks, so they may sh*t the bed this offseason and not be able to do anything with said money. They also probably will take the wrong player in the draft (again). But the Mavs also took a huge gamble on a fringe All-Star that hasn’t played this season, tore his ACL, and has been hurt twice. Who knows, maybe they both lose. All in all, I like this trade.

Also helps I won $200 betting that Porzingis got traded before AD. So drinks on me this weekend if ya can find me bois. Cheers!

MLK Day Basketball is Here

While many (myself included) will describe NBA Christmas as the best day for regular season basketball, MLK Day comes in at a close second. Multiple playoff teams play each other, and some always have a bigger picture at stake. For instance, a certain team playing early today should hope to lose to improve draft positioning, whereas the game right after will feature two teams vying for the 8 seed in the playoffs. There is so much to get into, and so little time, so we should probably go in order of TV air times right?

12:30pm = Thunder-Knicks

As stated earlier, the first game, while shaping to be a blowout, does have a lot of implications for the future. Paul George can slightly let off the pedal of his dual MVP/DPotY race since there is not a single talented players stepping on the court wearing a Knicks jersey. Russ can easily get his triple-double average he desperately craves. Most importantly, Enes Kanter will again enjoy the satisfaction of riding the bench and eating to put on size to rival future teammate Zion Williamson. However, much like football, this is a trap game. If the Thunder let off the pedal too much, the Knicks do have the firepower to score themselves back into the game. For the Knicks, while they may WISH they want to win, they should remember that they don’t WANT to win. It would be better for both teams if the Thunder won, which I predict they will do.

5:30pm = Pelicans-Grizzlies

As stated earlier, this is a fight for the 8th seed in the playoffs. While I fully expect Anthony Davis to dominate the aging Marc Gasol, I do not think Jrue will be able to best Mike Conley. With that push between the two stars, this means that the fight will occur with the rest of both team’s lineups. Both teams are defensive juggernauts, but which sideshow duo (Moore-Randle vs. Anderson-Jackson, Jr.) will be able to overpower the other to help secure the win?

Who knows, but it should be interesting to see. Both team’s fates are intertwined to the outcome of this game since the trade deadline is fast approaching. Maybe a loss convinces one team it is time to cut ties with an All-Star? Gimme the Pels though over the Griz in this one (sorry @soft7juice).

8:00pm = Rockets-76ers

This is the PPV (not to be confused with POV) of the night for sure. You cannot miss the culmination of Harden’s INSANE stretch be dethroned by the 76ers. While I do not believe the Rockets with Capela and Paul can topple an Embiid-Butler-Simmons 76ers, I do believe that Harden will shot/score enough to keep them in the picture. I can’t wait to watch all the iso ball that will go on in this game, and I will for sure LOVE the fact that Butler will be guarding Harden for the majority of this game. I might even make popcorn. I got the 76ers in this one.

10:30pm = Warriors-Lakers

For what looked like a marque matchup at the beginning of the season, a LeBron-less Lakers don’t fan my flames as much as it may for some. I will go ahead and get this out of the way now:

– the Warriors are gonna kill the Lakers

– Kuzma will be the best player to don the purple and gold tonight

– Ingram will suck

I can’t wait til LeBron is back because watching the Lakers without him is like watching a train go off the rails. Never forget Laker fans didn’t even want him, and they are now begging for him to return.

Pathetic.

Move Aside Oklahoma and UCF, OSU Deserves the playoff berth

With the AP and Coach’s Polls dropping earlier this week, and the CFP committee poll dropping tonight, prepare for the debate to rage on…especially in our own house!

Yes, with the “vaunted” SEC championship game coming up with #1 Alabama going up against (projected) #4 Georgia, the issue arises that maybe two SEC teams may make the tourney.  Of course, this only occurs if the Bulldogs can topple the Tide, which…well, looks unlikely.

Aside from the obvious media bias’s that exist towards the SEC, the true competition for the 4th and final spot exists in the #5 to #7 slots in the rankings.  In order, it goes Oklahoma (fresh off of a shoot-out with West Virginia), Ohio State (fresh off of throttling of rival Michigan), and UCF (fresh off of a win that cost them their starting QB).

Only one is undefeated, and is looking like they might be snubbed from their “righful place” in the Playoffs.  While I believe personally that UCF deserves a berth more than Notre Dame, that will not be the argument made.  UCF is fighting for the same spot two legit powerhouses from two Power 5 conferences are presenting.  While @wic may lead you to believe that the underdog is destined to pull-off said upset in rankings, I don’t believe that is the case. Unfortunately for UCF, said “Group of 5/Indie” argument hasn’t faired well for the Group of 5 teams previously.  Houston and UCF (yup, same team) are the only two schools that have been deemed worthy of competing in the New Year’s Six Bowl Games, and the record (and point differential) between the two is astounding in these games to say the least.  However, both Oklahoma and OSU have one thing that UCF does not: a Heisman-hopeful, starting quarterback that is healthy.  McKenzie Milton went down this past weekend in a gruesome injury that more than likely cost UCF it’s spot as “America’s Darling”, and plunged them into the more believable “America’s Longshot”.  Before this last weekend, I was the biggest advocate for making it over both Oklahoma and OSU.  But with a so-so win, tough conference championship game, and backup QB at the reigns, I don’t know if the Golden Knights can overcome this many setbacks to make it in.

Now, the toughest argument I am seeing currently is why the Sooners deserve said #4 spot and a berth over OSU (check out @soft7juice for why he believes they deserve it).  In all honesty…Oklahoma has a shot.  Kyler Murray, while not a great QB prospect for the NFL, is looking like the best athlete on the field in every game.  He was able to out-shoot-out West Virginia in their own home stadium.  Their offense averages like a billion yards a game to couple with their million points a game.  Slight exaggeration from the truth (roughly 584 yards per game coupled with 50.3 points per game), but they do have the #1 scoring offense in the NCAA per the NCAA themselves.  However, they kinda need that offense desperately, since it would be a compliment to call their defense only “abysmal”.  After firing their defensive coordinator mid-season, their defense has not improved much at all.  I mean, they gave up 726 total yards last weekend to a team that was 8-2, and they lost to Texas (who lost to Maryland and Oklahoma State).  The BIG 12 itself is a joke, only having 10 teams in it’s conference.  Tie in the fact that apparently no one can play defense, along with the fact that they get killed in every bowl game, and you got yourself a mediocre conference.  There are only 3 teams ranked in the BIG 12, and West Virginia is one of them.  They are 4th in the conference standings.  Prepare for this slugfest of a conference championship between Oklahoma and Texas.  Hook ’em Horns.  Now get this joke conference out of my sight, and let’s move on to where the real football gets played: the Midwest.

I’ll start this off by confirming that yes, I am an Ohio State fan.  And let’s just say that God himself decided to bless them (and Chris Olave for that matter) heading into “The Game” this past weekend.  While I had the distinct pleasure of watching the game with my 60 plus first tier family members, I also was with a couple of TTUN fans (That Team Up North, which means Michigan in Ohioan).  I can now thankfully say that while the abbreviation can now be phrased as That Trash Up North, I cannot say I was really hopeful going into that game.  I assumed that the Wolverines with their #1 defense in the country would come into the Shoe and shred OSU (yes, I can rhyme anytime).  Instead, I watched the highest scoring game in the rivalry’s history, along with the most points to be scored by one team.  But that wasn’t the highlight.  The highlight was (for the first time all season) Ohio State’s defense.  Outside of Nick Bosa, the team has looked flat and unimpressive.  This week? Jesus H. Christ they looked like they should be the #1 defense.  Outside of two TD’s in 6 seconds, Ohio State’s defense and special teams looked like the 2014 team out there.  They even got a blocked punt TD.  WHAT?!?!?  And even then, the highlight (outside of Chris Olave) was the man that should win the Heisman, the #1 QB in all mock drafts: Dwayne MuthaF*ckin’ Haskins.  Ohio State was dynamic in every facet of the game, and was able to shred a rival.  Going into this conference championship against Northwestern, OSU has to play this like 2014, and blow Northwestern out of the freaking water.  They shouldn’t even look like they belong on the same field…which they don’t.

Hook ’em Horns.  Go Bucks.