Melo Traded to Bulls…Then Cut

In what seems to be the new revolving door, Carmelo Anthony was traded yet again. His destination? The tanking Bulls, fresh off of a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, decided that more toxicity and bad chemistry was what they needed to truly lose in the NBA. It was a great move to get them more in contention for the first pick, but then the organization pulled the rug out from under us just as fast as they placed it there. Yes, when the full news of the trade broke, many Melo fans saw the writing on the wall. I mean, what team takes cash and a player for essentially nothing?

So, it is time to bid adieu to Melo’s Bulls career. While it was not as long as his Hawks career, it was just as entertaining…to me.

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)

Buck’s Wild Wednesday (11/28/18) – Let’s Predict Where the Ultimate Snake (aka – KD) Migrates This Offseason

So I have been working on this one ever since the first rumors broke out about KD being unhappy in good ol’ San Fran.  Of course, the argument between Dray and KD only helped fuel this article.  With all the reports since?  Well, let’s just say it all but solidified my opinion that he shall be leaving this offseason.

Multiple teams will have cap space, but that is not what KD wants.  KD wants a contender.  He wants to win a ring on his own AND be “the dude” on that team.  Tough bill to front, I know, but the surprising thing is…he can find those teams.  He will be the 2nd biggest (behind Anthony Davis, sorry Pels’ fans) to hit the free agency.  He took a paycut to chase rings, and he won’t do it again.  He wants the big paycheck that he passed on to betray Russ, and form the superteam that even the NBA Front Office despised being formed.

So, on that note, let see where his aspirations take him…

Washington Wizards
Odds – Soft 2

I have to put his hometown team down solely because of the fire sale incoming from their organization (expect a nice BWW next week breaking down my predictions on said trades).  The Wizards could quite easily eliminate $40-$55 mil off their books by dealing 2 players.  If they were able to pull off a full sale, they’d be ale to wipe about $75-$80 mil off their books.  That would leave enough (going off the smallest $40 mil estimate not including the waiving/declining of Dwight Howard’s option) to pursue KD and a nice roleplayer or two.  It is nice to know he could go back home to play in front of his hometown with a semi-decent team, but that isn’t what he wants.  He needs/wants a contender or a team a piece away from being a contender.  Pretty tough ask, and it is a bill that the Wizards cannot foot to say the least.  Best case scenario the Wiz are able to keep their best players on their roster right now and pick up KD.  Know what their starting lineup is sans bench? Satoransky, Beal, Oubre, KD, and Morris.  Not exactly a winning lineup, and that’s with them being able to move the other 6 players in the 10 man rotation they have now.

Brooklyn Nets
Odds – Hard 4, maybe even Soft 5

So the Nets are thankfully in the same city that KD said he wants to play in (FYI – KD about a month ago said he could see himself playing in New York because he loves the city).  Unfortunately, they are not the pinnacle of primetime basketball right now.  The Nets would definitely solve all of their problems at the 3 spot (and small ball 4) by signing him, but would KD want to be there?  The Nets have a ton of great young guards, and Jarrett Allen is going to be a good center in the league.

…but they got nothing else besides that.  They have 4 good guards, a good center, and that’s it.  Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Demarre Carroll are serviceable, but not good.  Even then, I am considering my main man D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell) a good guard, even though Spencer Dinwiddie (the backup) is better.  Also, the Nets market is A LOT smaller than the Knicks market.  Even though the Nets will have more available money this offseason to pursue other rotation players, I don’t expect them to make too big of a splash.  Don’t expect it, but I still could see him going there over Washington.

Portland Trail Blazers
Odds – Hard 6

So the Trail Blazers, for the history of their organization, have struggled to try and pick up a 3rd All-Star.  As is the case with most small market teams, they can get two, but not over the hump and get three.  However, that may change this year.  The Trail Blazers could afford to sign KD, and they would be stacked if they did.  They are one of the best teams in the West right now, and have a top five guard duo in the league.  Their 3-5 is currently defensive/rebound focused, but their bench is strong.  Incredibly strong in fact.  So strong, that their hair would make Mitch jealous (shout-out Will Ferrell in “The Campaign”).

In all seriousness though, multiple things would have to happen.  In order for them to clear enough space to even get KD to listen to their low contract offer, they would have to trade 3-4 players AND not take on any additional salary.  This, coupled with the fact they would have to not draft anyone in this year’s class, would put them in a sticky situation to say the least.  I personally can’t think of many teams that want Evan Turner or Meyers Leonard.  But stay tuned, maybe they decide to make a splash this year and go to big-time contender status.

Phoenix Suns
Odds – Soft 7 in my heart, soft 2 in reality

So I decided to include Phoenix in this because of an interesting trend I have started to observe with the Denver Nuggets.  The Nuggets sold out defense for offense, and have been rewarded in kind by being the #1 offense in the NBA this year.  I’ll do a Nuggets article in the future (maybe even this week, stay tuned) on why this is the case, but look  at the Suns roster.  Despite having almost no point guards and horrible defensive bigs, they are winning games.  Why?  Well, shockingly it’s because of D Book running point (finally) and the rookie Mikal Bridges.  Kind of seems like another young UK guard and awesome 3 and D guard to me (a la the aforementioned Nuggets)

Now, the only reason I have included the Suns is solely for these two reasons:
1) They will have a crap-ton of money this FA, and can have even more if they trade players away.
2) Their star (Devin Booker) is a legit star.  He also said that he wants to make his own super team.
3) They are young, which means that they will only get better (hopefully)

Do I think the Suns will actually be smart this off season?  No.  Do I think they will have the same GM at that point?  No.  Do I think people even want to go there?  Who knows.  The Suns are a question mark to me with the only things I know for certain being threefold:
1) Their coach and D Book are awesome.
2) Their owner sucks.
3) They should have drafted Luka.

Let’s see what happens, but color me intrigued.

Dallas Mavericks
Odds – Soft 7 in actuality

So I actually really want this to happen.  Even though it means that I would have to forsake my love of the Mavs, they are poised to make a splash and compete sooner than people anticipated.  Luka, Kleber, and Smith are legit young stars.  Also, their bench is pretty good.  Let’s not forget that they could potentially have (if Harrison Barnes turns down his option) $40 mil heading into this off season.  More than enough to get their high draft pick AND secure a top tier free agent.  It doesn’t get KD out of the West, sure, but it’s a good place to win.  Big contract in a big market?  Everything is bigger in Texas, and what’s not to like about that?  I’m keeping this one short and sweet because, logically, it makes a lot of sense.  Too much sense to actually happen, but hey, who knows!  Weirder things have happened

New York Knicks
Odds – High enough that Wiz Khalifa would tap out of the rotation, let’s give it a hard 420

The Knicks might easily become the next super team of the NBA next season.  The 2019 free agent class will be one of the most talented ever in NBA history.  If the Knicks can shed one or two (best case three) more contracts, they could easily, and comfortably, sign three All-Stars with a rotation player or two.  That is bewildering to think about.  They could easily go from lottery to championship.  Why?  Well, lets dive in.

The Knicks have been the talk of the town for all hitting the market this year.  Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and KD have all talked about making the Big Apple their new home.  This isn’t including other big stars like Kemba Walker, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins.  Hell those are just the household names.  There will be about 100 players expected to sign new deals, and over 30 will be players that have made an All-NBA list in the last 4 years.

…wow.

I’ve heard talk that a Kemba, Thompson, KD, Knox, and Prozing-God could be in the mix as a starting lineup next year for this team, and even if one of the three doesn’t sign, that lineup is still ridiculous.  Hell, you could put Delante West out there with two of those four All-Stars and you could make the conference finals.

While I don’t believe the Knicks will be a big player to sign three All-Stars this free agency, I do believe they will be able to snag two.  One of which should be KD.  If they don’t get KD, then they well and truly fumbled the bag.

Cavaliers Want Markelle Fultz

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly reached out to the Philadelphia 76ers regarding a trade for first-round pick Markelle Fultz. Fultz has recently denied reports that he wants to be traded, but that does not mean he isn’t available. He has had a rougher relationship with Philly since he return from injury, and I am sure the arrival of Jimmy Butler isn’t making things any easier. Maybe a trade would be the best option for him.

No players have been named as possible trade targets from Cleveland. That being said, who wouldn’t love to see a Kyle Korver homecoming back to his first team? Not to mention how badly they need shooters. His and Fultz’s salaries are actually close enough to make this a straight player swap. JR Smith has also been super vocal about wanting out of Cleveland. I am sure he meant that he wanted to join LeBron in LA, but personally, I would settle for just about anywhere else at this point.

Cleveland would be a great fit for Fultz. He would be surrounded by young talent including Collin Sexton, Cidi Osman, Billy Preston, etc. and could help build the organization. The Cavaliers would also be a good destination because he would be allowed to struggle. He is obviously going through something right now. If Fultz shows up to games with both shoes on the correct feet, the Cleveland media will say he is doing “surprisingly well.” That would be great for his confidence. Fultz can’t be blamed for shortcomings here, because all the Cavs do is fall short. Hell, I’d pay $2 to go see Fultz bobble the ball around.