Zion to New Orleans, Even Though He Really Wants to Stay at Duke Another Year

Every college basketball fan’s worst nightmare was almost realized and we didn’t even know it. Zion Williamson actually wanted to go back to Duke for another year. Turns out, we actually have something to thank Coach K for. In a recent interview with Franklyn Calle of the Slam, he said:

“You get this college experience once,” he says. “If you’re in a situation like mine, where you’re one and done, I’m just trying to make the most of what I got. I love Duke, and honestly, I don’t want to leave. If I didn’t have as much at stake, I probably would stay for another year. But I can’t.

“Being at Duke was a dream come true for me. Everything about it. Looking to the sidelines, Whoa, that’s Coach K I’m playing for! Coach K is looking at me [and] telling me I’m built for this moment. I have a true brotherhood on and off the court. Everything was just a movie,” he says. “This was the best year of my life. So if I could come back for a second year I would, but unfortunately that’s just not the reality we live in. The reality we live in is [that] my ultimate dream is the NBA. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about as a kid so I have to pursue that. And I have to take care of my family.”

Probably didn’t want to take a pay cut.

The highest rated prospect since LeBron James not only went to college, but also had to be convinced to leave it. I get it. Playing for Duke and Coach K, experiencing Cameron Indoor and being the top story every single day had to have been incredible. But also, if I had to pick between having an incredible experience again or millions of dollars… I’m getting paid every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

This is absolutely insane to hear. Zion works his entire life to get himself to the place he is now and he really wanted to delay it for another year. Is cramming on Luke Maye really that fun? I would imagine so, but I wouldn’t pass up millions of dollars for that. Why would he want to risk another injury like the one he had a couple months ago just to lose in the first round to a 15 seed? He may be afraid of sharing the spotlight, because right now, it looks like he would rather play with Alex O’Connell than Anthony Davis.

Evaluating the New Orleans Saints’ Offseason So Far

bridgewater-brees-08312018-us-news-getty-ftr_11yz7a3o2b60d14c6cwtlaygv8The New Orleans Saints have signed running back Latavius Murray from the Minnesota Vikings. Today the team and Murray agreed to terms of 4 years $14.4 Million per Adam Schefter. Murray had spend the past 2 years at the Vikings my way of the Oakland Raiders. The 5 year player from UCF has certainly made an impact in the league with 899 touches, 3,698 yards, and 34 touchdowns. However, most of his time in the league he has been splitting time with more formidable running backs. His role is expected to be very similar to what Mark Ingram has been for the past 2 years for the Saints as more of a complementary back to Alvin Kamara. Not a bad signing since he has been a very consistent running back in this league; however, I think I speak for most Saints fans when I say that I would much rather have Mark Ingram to be Alvin’s partner in the backfield.

In addition to adding Murray, Teddy Bridgewater is now expected to be re-signed by the Saints rather than taking a much larger deal from the Miami Dolphins. NFL sources have said that he would much rather stay with the Saints because he said he values the locker room culture and the prospect of one day becoming the Saints’ starting quarterback. If you ask Drew Brees about the possibility of that being the case, he would say that he agreed. Drew has said a few times that the guy he wants to replace him is Teddy Bridgewater.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

So then what does this mean for Mark Ingram? It means that the Saints won’t be able to re-sign the fan favorite because he probably is too much for them. Even before the Saints re-signed Teddy Bridgewater and signed Latavius Murray, Mark Ingram was looking for upwards of $7 million a year, and the Saints weren’t going to be able to afford that. Its really unfortunate because that backfield was so fun. We hate to see Mark go, but we wish him all the best, and I’m sure he knows he has a home in New Orleans.

 

-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

A Letter From A New Orleans Saints Fan

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To the Refs and NFL league office,

I just would like to take a moment to express my utter disappointment in your inability to make the right call on that blatant pass interference on Tommylee Lewis. The man was literally mugged out there, cold clocked. It was as if I was watching WWE. That might have been one of the worst no calls to have ever happened in postseason history. It literally decided the game. I understand that the game went into overtime and the Saints had an opportunity to win it there, but the game should have never gone into overtime. If the right thing was done, the Saints would have had the ball on the 3 yard line with 1:48 left to go in the game, with the Rams only having 1 timeout, and a Saints 1st down. You completely took the NFC Championship game away from us. I have never seen such a call dictate the outcome of a game as much as that blown call did.

You took away much more than a NFC Championship away from this team and city, though. You took away Drew Brees being able to solidify his legacy before he retires; you took away the chance for this city to experience another Super Bowl; but worst of all, you took away all the potential revenue that come with your team being in the Super Bowl. All the money that would have been spent if the Saints were in the Super Bowl would have brought to this city and now will never be seen. You have single handedly effected the New Orleans economy and local businesses.

To the referees: I hope that this call haunts you for the rest of your lives. I hope you never find work again. I hope you never get that call about working another NFL game ever again, you bums. I hope every night you can’t fall asleep because you can’t stop thinking about how you took something away from the amazing people of the city of New Orleans.

All that being said, you can never break our spirits. New Orleans always comes back stronger than ever. You may have taken our chances at another Super Bowl, but there is something you can never take from this city… Mardi Gras.

P.s. you’re not invited.

Sincerely,

Parmesan Don

@parmesandon

NFC Playoff Prediction

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4 Dallas Cowboys at 2 Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Dallas Cowboys seemed to be in pretty good control over the Seattle Seahawks this past weekend despite what the final score showed. We all know what this defense can do, and they proved that they could shut down another premier quarterback in Russell Wilson. The difference between the Seahawks and the LA Rams, though, is that they Cowboys now have to game plan for both a stellar passing game with Jared Goff, and a really strong running game with Todd Gurley.

The Cowboys are no slouch on offense either. Ezekiel Elliott is considered one of the best running backs in the league and he’s proven it time and time again. They also have seemed to revitalize their passing game with the mid-season addition of Amari Cooper. The real problem that I see for the Cowboys is who they have playing quarterback. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Dak Prescott is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the NFL. He might not even be overrated, I think others agree with me. If teams want to beat the Cowboys, it seems like the recipe for that is to just keep the ball in Dak’s hands and force him to throw.

The Ram’s defense is extremely impressive, especially their d-line. They have the potential NFL defensive player of the year in Aaron Donald. In addition, they have Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Their secondary is strong as well, and that might be what causes this game to be an issue for the Cowboys.

I predict that, since the Rams are playing at home in LA, they are able to handle the Cowboys with no problem. Rams win and move on to the NFC Championship game. Final score 27-17.

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6 Philadelphia Eagles at 1 New Orleans Saints, 4:40 p.m. ET

The defending Super Bowl champs have made it past a very strong Chicago Bears team on the road. No Bear weather though, like I said. Eagles have had a resurgence since the starting of the humble leader Nick Foles. The man, can play. I have to give it to him. Also, the teams really likes to play for him. We forget that they are still the team that won the Super Bowl last year. They haven’t changed much. They still have the impressive defense that can really help control the game for them. While their offense isn’t as impressive, they still seem to keep them in the game. Zach Ertz might be the best TE in the league.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they don’t really have a rushing attack, and the lack of dynamic against this New Orleans Saints’ defense might be a problem. The Saints’ defense is extremely good against the run, and they can get to the quarterback. If the Eagles can’t establish a rushing game then they lose that dynamic and would have to rely on Nick Foles to lead the team, which is fine, but then they are one dimensional. I don’t see any way this Eagles offense can get anything done.

The Saints’ offense on the other hand is extremely dynamic with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees leading the passing game, Michael Thomas receiving, and then the two headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. The Saints’ offense is just going to roll over this team.

I see no way that the Nick Foles magic continues, and the Saints stomp the Eagles. Final score 41-20.

NFC Championship Game: Saints vs. Rams

So then this would leave us with a rematch of the Saints vs. Rams game which took place back in week 9. In that game the Saints handled the Rams pretty well. Just like that game, this game will be played in New Orleans. Usually, I do not like picking teams when there is a revenge game, because teams are usually out for blood. The Saints however, do not have to worry about the Rams’ passing defense, and the Saints can trow the ball. Drew Brees carved up the Rams defense last time and I see no reason for them to do it again.

The Rams, let’s be honest, aren’t as good as they were when the teams first played. The last time they played, Cooper Kupp was still healthy. I think this will almost be a mirror image of the last game, except the a little lower scoring. I think the Saints set their sights at the Super Bowl.

Saints beat the Rams to win the NFC Championship. Final score of 31-21.

-Parmesan Don

@parmesandon

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)