Hoops Talk Podcast: NBA Finals and Latest Rumors

Hoops Talk Podcast: NBA Finals and Latest Rumors

On this episode of the podcast, I discuss Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Preview Game 2. Also, I take a look at the latest and hottest NBA rumors. Listen to the entire audio of the podcast below:

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L.A. Clippers Super Team?

L.A. Clippers Super Team?

Super teams have been a trend for the last decade in the NBA. It all started with the Boston Celtics when they acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to team with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. The Miami Heat continued the trend when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined their pal Dwyane Wade in Miami. James took the Heat to four consecutive Finals, winning two championships there. James leaves Miami to form the next super team in Cleveland. Lakers attempted the same thing in 2012, when they acquired Steve Nash, Dwight Howard to go along with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Back to James, who is now playing in his second consecutive NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, surrounded by two All-Star sidekicks in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

So how do the Clippers fall into this equation? What does James have to do with the Clippers? The answer is–everything. It’s not impossible for the Clippers to be the next super team. Not to get confused, the trio of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan are not exactly a super team. If the stars (no pun intended) were to align, they could be one. Here is how it happens:

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Could James and Paul be teammates?

It all has to start with Golden State winning their second consecutive NBA title over James and the Cavs. Losing two Finals in a row would be maddening to any player, especially James who left a championships team for a second chance to restore Cleveland to glory. If he loses yet again, the realization might be that glory just can’t be achieved in Cleveland. Is he going to waste his prime years with a team that just can’t get over the hump? They gave him two All-Stars, but if that’s not good enough, then James has no choice but to start looking elsewhere.

Earlier this season there was a report of James being interested in reuniting with Wade and his other best pals Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Per Bleacher Report’s Howard Back, during All-Star Weekend James was quoted saying:

“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” James said of Anthony.  “At least one, maybe one or two seasons, €”me, Melo, [Dwyane Wade], [Chris Paul], €”we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that.”

Maybe at the end of their careers, James said. Maybe sooner. One more ring chase, this time with everyone on board.

“It would be pretty cool,” James said. “I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”

Before bounding away, he smiles and closes with a coy chirp: “We’ll see.”

So you say there is a chance? Could the Clippers be the team to unite James, Melo, Wade, and Paul? Yes, they could. This is how it happens:

CLIPPERS MOVES:

Clippers would need to get a “wink, wink” agreement from the agents of James, Wade, and Anthony confirming that they desire to come to the Clippers. The Clippers would need to start unloading salaries. That would mean letting all their free agents walk. Hoping players like Cole Aldrich and Austin Rivers opt-out. Trade DeAndre Jordan to a team like the Celtics for multiple draft picks and little salary in return. Now onto the deals:

WADE & JAMES MOVES:

Wade decides against resigning in Miami and offers to take a low salary of around $10 million (so much for $10 millions being low amount for us non-athlete folks). James would have to do the unforeseeable and leave Cleveland…again. That might be another huge public relations hit for James, but he’s been through it before. If it means winning championships then it’s worth it. Just like Wade, James would have to take a $10 million-a-year deal. That’s a far drop from someone who is making more than double that amount ($22.9 mil). At this point in both of their careers they might be willing to do that with the crazy amount in endorsement deals they are making.

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Wade would have to take a major pay cut to play for Clippers

CARMELO MOVE:

This move the Clippers might not be thrilled in making. Trading Blake Griffin for Anthony works money wise. It’s the fact that the Clippers would be trading away their franchise cornerstone player for an aging and declining star. They would have to do this deal to make the others happy. It’s worth it, if you are assured James and Wade are coming. On the Knicks end, they would do this trade in a heartbeat. Getting a young player with Griffin’s superstar potential would be a no-brainer.

PAUL STAYS HOME:

The final piece of the puzzle is the easiest one for the Clippers to fit. They already have Paul on the roster. No tinkering needs to be done there.

THE RESULT:

It’s complicated, but feasible. A lot has to come together. A team of James, Paul, Wade, and Anthony would be a powerhouse. There is no way that team wouldn’t be considered a front-runner to win it all. The shelf life would be limited, as all of these guys will be 30 or older by the start of next season. If I’m Doc Rivers I’d make all of this happen in a heartbeat, if possible. Forget about Durant or Westbrook trade, this is the best possible outcome the Clippers can dream up. If this dream somehow becomes reality, then James, Wade, Anthony, and Paul will be hoisting up the trophy next June–all in Clippers jerseys. It’s a Hollywood script come to reality–in Los Angeles.

 

NBA Free Agency and the Clippers: Small Forwards

NBA Free Agency and the Clippers: Small Forwards

In the final edition of the free agency player positional rankings, today’s focus will be on the best available small forwards. This is truly the best for last list. Small forward position is the deepest and most impressive in free agency. Small forward is also the biggest need for the Clippers, but unfortunately they won’t have the money to get into serious negotiations with most of these free agents.

  1. Kevin Durant / 6-9 / Team: Oklahoma City / 28.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 5 apg (Unrestricted)

Kevin Durant is easily a top-3 player in the NBA. You could argue where he falls in that pecking order. There is no player of his size and length that can shoot that ball like he can. Aside from Steph Curry, he is the most dangerous offensive force in the league. He’s just entering his prime at the age of 27. Durant can transform any team into an immediate title contender. He’s unrestricted so any team with cap room has the chance to make a run at him and offer the max. Does he still have unfinished business in OKC that might keep him there?

Clippers chances: 25% (Only via sign and trade for Blake Griffin)

2. LeBron James / 6-8 / Team: Cleveland / 25.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 6.8 apg (Player Option)

This will certainly be the only time you will ever see LeBron James second on a list of desired free-agents. While he’s probably a more accomplished player than Durant, he is older than Durant, therefore, second on this list. James has been the face of the NBA for the past decade, he’s still a premiere franchise altering player. He left Miami to bring Cleveland a championship. Short of stunner, he won’t be leaving Cleveland. Another Finals failure could make things interesting though.

Clippers chances: 10% (An unforeseen move to the Clippers is a minuscule possibly, stay tuned)

3. Harrison Barnes / 6-8 / Team: Golden State / 11.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg (Restricted)

Barnes will be heavily courted in free agency. Due to the success of his team, Barnes is the fourth-best player on the Warriors. He’s not even 25 yet, so the best of him is yet to come. He can do a bit of everything and his shooting from long distance is good, but still improving. Barnes could be a great player to jump start a young franchise that’s looking for a go-to player. No doubt Barnes will get the max, but will Golden State afford to match it?

Clippers chances: 0%

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Harrison Barnes is looking to go from the fourth to first option for some team

4. Nicolas Batum / 6-8 / Team: Charlotte / 14.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.8 apg (Unrestricted)

Batum had a great year for the Hornets after being traded from the Trail Blazers. He was deserving of an All-Star nod. Batum is the prototypical small forward. He can give you 15 points a night, a good amount of rebounds and assists to go along with his solid defense. He’s lanky and athletic so many teams are in need of a player of Batum’s caliber (Chicago Bulls come to mind). He should get the max or near to it, and there will be plenty of teams willing to throw their money at him.

Clippers chances: 0%

5. Chandler Parsons / 6-9 / Team: Dallas / 13.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg (Player Option) 

Parsons had a bit of a rocky year that included injuries that kept him off the court. When healthy he’s a freakishly athletic and lanky forward that has a nice shot. Dallas signed him two years ago to be the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki, but Parsons has yet to establish himself as an elite player. He has All-Star potential. If he opts out (he should), he will have plenty of suitors knocking on his door. Dallas will have the money to keep him, and they probably won’t let him get away.

Clippers chances: 0% 

 

NBA Free Agency and the Clippers: Shooting Guards

NBA Free Agency and the Clippers: Shooting Guards

The free agency positional rankings series is coming to an end. Only one more to go. Make sure to check out the previous ones on the best available centers, point guards, and power forwards. Today I’ll be taking a look at the best available shooting guards on the market:

  1. DeMar DeRozan / 6-7 / Team: Toronto / 23.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4 apg (Player Option)

I’m certain that DeRozan will exercise that player option. He’s coming off his best year of his career with a deep run in the playoffs. His value is at an all-time high as he’s entering his prime. DeRozan is the kind of player that could easily be your number two or a number one option for a young and rebuilding team. Watch out for the Lakers. He’s from LA and rumors are that he would like to play for his hometown team. 

Clippers chances: 1% (He’s from LA, that’s where it starts and ends).

2. Bradley Beal / 6-5 / Team: Washington / 17.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg (Restricted)

Beal is a star in the making–if he can stay healthy. Health has been a major problem for Beal the last few years. If he can finally stay healthy he’d be a big time addition to any team. Very few have a sweet shooting stroke reminiscent of Ray Allen, but Beal does. Chances are that Washington won’t let him get away since he’s a restricted free agent and they can match any offer for him. They will.

Clippers chances: 0% 

3. Dwyane Wade / 6-4 / Team: Miami / 19 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.6  apg (Unrestricted)

Had this list been compiled a few years ago, Wade would be the unquestionable first choice. Wade has battled injuries over the years, but this past season was his healthiest in years. He does have a lot of miles on him though. Still, Wade is an All-Star player that on any given night can light you up for 30 or 40 points. He could be that number two option that will put a team over the top. However, him getting a chance to play for any other team not named the Heat are very low. They aren’t letting the greatest player in the franchise history to walk.

Clippers chances: 10% (Unless a miracle happens and all the stars decide to play for the Clippers, he’s not coming)

4. Evan Fournier / 6-6 / Team: Orlando / 15.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.7 apg (Restricted)

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The French sensation might be the best unknown player in the NBA

Most know little to nothing about Fournier. He might be the NBA’s best young player no one knows about, unless you are a Magic fan. Fournier is a do-it-all player that proved this season that he can be a scorer if given some minutes. He’s also very athletic. Teams should be knocking on his door at the start of free agency, he’s worth nearly the max. Whoever signs him will be more than pleased, as his best is yet to come.

Clippers chances: 5% (He will be in high demand, but he’d be a hell of a fit with the Clippers)

5. Jordan Clarkson / 6-4 / Team: Los Angeles Lakers / 15.5 ppg, 4 rpg (Restricted)

Clarkson is a bit of an enigma. His 15 points per game look impressive on paper, but is it because he plays for a horrible team that lacks any legitimate scorers? Or is Clarkson a player on the rise that has start potential? Chances are that the Lakers won’t let him get away with nearly $70 million in cap room that they have.

Clippers chances: 0% 

Free Agency & The Clippers: Power Forwards

Free Agency & The Clippers: Power Forwards

In the latest installment of the free agency by position look, today it’s the power forward position that I will be taking a look at. To catch up on the previous posts, check out my look at the centers and point guards.

  1. Al Horford / 6-10 / Team: Atlanta / 15.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg (Unrestricted)

Horford has been the Hawks franchise player since he was drafted by the team. Horford is a perennial All-Star and is sure to attract plenty of suitors on the market. A return to Atlanta might be unlikely as he’s certain to get offered the max by some team looking for a a big who will defend and give you at least 15 points a night.

Clippers chances: 0% (No money and they have Griffin at that position).

2.  Pau Gasol / 7-0 / Team: Chicago / 16.5 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 bpg (Player Option)

No worries potential suitors, that player option will most definitely be exercised. Gasol is good as gone from Chicago. Even at 36, Gasol is sure to be pursued hard by contending teams such as Oklahoma City and San Antonio. He is still a very solid starter and great third option on a contending team. A two-year deal would be ideal to get the best out of him.

Clippers chances: 15% (If he’s willing to take a major pay-cut, the Clippers would be a nice fit for Gasol and offer him a chance at a championship.

3.  Dirk Nowitzki / 7-0 / Team: Dallas / 18.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg (Player Option)

Hard to imagine Nowitzki being third on any list, but he’s entering the twilight of his career. It would be a major shock if he didn’t resign with the Mavericks. His loyalty to the franchise means that he’s not going anywhere.

Clippers chances: 0%

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Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki isn’t going anywhere. 

4. Ryan Anderson / 6-10 / Team: New Orleans / 17 ppg, 6 rpg (Unrestricted)

Don’t be shocked to see Anderson be more coveted than Gasol and Nowitzki. Anderson is in his prime and wasn’t always utilized properly with the Pelicans. He’s the prototypical stretch four that is very useful in today’s NBA game. He’d be a great addition to any team. The floor spacing he provides is valuable. He will get a LOT of money in free agency.

Clippers chances: 10% (Anderson would be a great addition for the Clippers, but they simply don’t have the money for him to make it happen).

5.  Terrence Jones / 6-9 / Team: Houston / 8.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg (Restricted)

Jones is an interesting player. His numbers aren’t eye opening, but he has a lot of talent and potential that hasn’t been tapped into. Jones is athletic and has a nice shooting stroke. He is restricted, so Houston has the chance to match the offer, but Jones could easily get a deal worth $10 million a year, that might price him out of Houston.

Clippers chances: 5% (Unlikely fit and cap room situation).