By: Tom McDermott
Over the past week, the Houston Rockets were able to land Carmelo Anthony for the veteran’s minimum salary after he completed a buyout with the Hawks. On the surface, this sounds like a slam dunk for the team coming off a painful loss in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. A loss that was in part due to a stretch of 27 straight missed three point attempts. Carmelo has also been known to have long stretches of missed shots as well. So, when we really take the time to breakdown this move, it is not as simple as the Rockets adding a future Hall of Fame player for next to nothing.
Many people agree that last season was Melo’s worst in his fifteen year career in the league. In 2018, Melo shot 35.7% from deep and only 40.3% from the field. Even his percentage from the line saw a dip below 80% last season for only the second time since 2009 for him. Despite a conflicting report from Woj, it still appears that Melo will not give up his starting role without a major fight. With that said, Melo is being asked to replace Trevor Ariza, a manageable task for a player of Anthony’s caliber.
Last season, Ariza averaged 11.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.6 apg, to go along with 1.5 steals a games. In comparison, Melo put up 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 1.3 apg. He also managed to get 0.6 steals per game. Anthony may not be able to match Ariza’s defensive contributions to this team, but he will add a different dimension in scoring. That is, if Carmelo can reduce his volume of shooting, while increasing his percentages. Ariza put up 41.2% from the field and 36.8% from three last season. These percentages were only slightly better than Anthony’s, as previously shown above. If Melo is asked to reduce his volume of shots, we will likely see an increase in the quality of shots taken from him, leading to higher shooting percentages.
This will be absolutely imperative if Carmelo is to succeed with his third team in as many years (Sorry Hawks fans, a few days does not count). It will be the little things that go a long way in determining his success. While I have no question Anthony can far surpass Ariza offensively, every team still needs their glue guy. I highly doubt Melo will be the “glue” for this team, but if he is able to add any cohesion with his offensive ability, Houston will be better for it.
Given the changes made this offseason, Houston appears ready for a potential rematch against Golden State in the Conference Finals. Only this is not the Golden State that swept Cleveland in the NBA Finals. This is the Warriors team that swapped out Javale McGee for Boogie Cousins without losing any major pieces in the process. This team continues to improve far more rapidly than the the rest of the league. So even if Melo embraces his smaller role and thrives with his new team, there is still a five-headed monster awaiting them in the Western Conference Finals.
By: Sam Gagliardi
On Monday, Kevin Love was a Cleveland Cavalier. Today, Kevin Love is the Cleveland Cavaliers. After signing a 4 year contract extension, which kicks in after this coming year, Love will make a total of 145 million guaranteed and don a Cavaliers uniform until age 34, well maybe. First, let's focus on the now, and why the Cavs and Love agreed to this new contract.
For Love, it is fairly straightforward. Remember back in 2015, Love could have waited another year and cashed in on the summer of 2016 spending spree that saw Timofey Mozgov rake in 96 million freaking dolllars. But Love did not take that risk, he signed a 4-year extension. Circumstances are obviously quite different this time around, but for Love it still behooves him personally and professionally. After signing that extension in 2015, Love incurred injuries in each of the next four seasons. Locking down a long-term contract now is a wise, safe move. Separately, back in 2015 Love desperately wanted to be apart of Championship team, which he and the Cavs finally became in 2016. This time, Love seems intent on becoming the veteran, and champion-tested face of a franchise that will help lead a new, young team back to the playoffs. Kind of in the mold of LeBron when he came back to the Cavs in 2014, Love seems to now be taking on that role.
For the Cavs, this was a no-brainer. Yes, Love may have already passed his prime and has a history of injuries, however statistically speaking only 4 players last season — LeBron, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kevin Love — had a true shooting percentage better than 60%. Shooting 41% from three last year and again averaging more than 10 rebounds a game, Love is still an elite defensive rebounder and sharpshooter from the 4-spot — a very valuable commodity in today's NBA. Financially for the Cavs, Love actually structured his contract to take less than the max during the final two years of the deal, with the last year actually decreasing in value. Because of this structure, if Love has a solid one of two good years upfront, even if he has a relative decline afterwards, the contract should be flexible enough to become a decent trade piece during the final 2-3 years of the deal. Even if Love is traded down the line, the Cavs extended Love for one reason and one reason only: because it’s Cleveland.
It may be difficult for Cavs fans, myself included, to no longer consider themselves the center of the basketball universe after LeBron’s departure, but not many all-stars have or will want to play in Cleveland in the foreseeable future. That Love, a 5-time All Star, willingly wanted to stay and commit long-term to Cleveland means something. If it leads to wins in the coming seasons is still to be determined, but yesterday was a sure-fire win for Kevin Love and the Cavaliers.
By Brandon Easler
In a shocking trade, the Raptors have dealt DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. I do not know if anyone saw a Kawhi to the Raptors trade happening, as many speculations were that he would end up in LA (either as a Laker or Clipper), in Philly, or in Boston. The Raptors are taking a big gamble here, but they knew that they needed to shake up their roster after failing to make the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the past two seasons. First came the firing of Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, and now they have shipped off DeRozan in exchange for Kawhi.
What does this mean for the Raptors? Honestly, they are probably still the third best team in the East behind Boston and Philly. However, this does make the east a bit stronger as Kawhi (if fully healthy) is now the best player in the east. Even if the Raptors get out of the east with this team, they will most likely lose in the Finals to any of the stacked teams in the west. Kawhi will most likely not re-sign with the Raptors, but they probably realized this before making the trade and just wanted to take a one year shot at winning the east. However, they pretty much killed their future as their best player after next season will be a 33-year old Kyle Lowry. They will have a decent amount of cap room, but will anyone really want to play in Toronto?
What does this mean for the Spurs? They have to be happy after getting an all-star in return for Kawhi who was unwilling to continue playing for the franchise due to how they handled his injury. As we have seen already, Coach Pop can win and get in the playoffs with pretty much anyone. The Spurs were two games out of the third seed last season without Kawhi, and after maintaining pretty much the same roster this summer (losing Parker and gaining Belinelli and Cunningham) I see the Spurs being able to get either the 3 or 4 seed battling with the Warriors, Rockets, and Lakers. Another key aspect of this trade is that DeRozan cannot escape the grasp of LeBron James. If they meet in a playoff series again, will LeBron turn DeRozan from an all-star to a bench player like he has the past few years? Can Pop get more out of DeRozan in the playoffs? Each of these questions will be interesting to watch once the playoffs roll around.
This trade put some much-needed excitement into a pretty boring offseason so far. LeBron going to the Lakers was expected, Paul George stayed with OKC, no huge draft deals, and the Warriors just continue to get better. This was really the first surprising move of the offseason, and I feel like both teams will benefit from it. The Raptors will be in the running for the east once again, and they have a proven winner instead of a player who only seems to disappear in the playoffs. The Spurs get two players that they know will actually play and also get a first-round pick. Both of these teams will likely be top 4 in their respective conferences, but as is the ultimate goal for every team in the NBA they are both still searching for ways to take down the Warriors.
By Rob Schardt
It just seems like Deju Vu all over again in the eyes of the New York Knicks. A few weeks ago during the NBA draft, Knicks fans were booing Kevin Knox on and off the stage when the team selected him, now it seems as if he is the best player in the summer league. Does this sound familiar Knick fans? Do you guys remember booing Kristaps Porzingis off the stage, because I for sure do. I get it, I know we all would have loved Michael Porter Jr, but in reality he may miss the upcoming season and his back issue is too big of a risk. He is a great player, but I think the front office did an amazing job drafting Knox.
Through 3 games this summer, Knox has been putting on a clinic averaging 21.3 points 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while displaying freak athleticism dunking over everybody. I believe this kid can be as good as Jayson Tatum or Donovan Mitchell and that says a lot. I never really understood why Knox got so much hate on draft day, but if he is anything like Porzingis, we will be bowing down to him in a couple of months. I am excited to see what the future holds for Knox and the Knicks because I want him to prove every doubter wrong who booed him on that stage and for him to show New York that he can be a star in this league. No one should ever boo a player, especially if they know nothing about him, so I hope Knox goes down the same road as Porzingis because we all know that is promising.
www.nosebleedsports.co/nosebleednba/could-kyrie-irving-end-up-in-the-big-apple-next-summer The Knicks are a VERY young team and they will all go through some growing pains together, so I believe the future is promising. Second round pick, Mitchell Robinson is also looking pretty good this summer, including a great game last night vs. the Celtics where he put up 17 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. So Knick fans, I know it’s been the past years have been beyond rough, but I think the Knicks can make a return to the playoffs especially with LeBron now out of the East. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know for one thing Kevin Knox is going to be a stud.
Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports
By: Glen Ivol
Other than a few moves, namely LeBron to LA, DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State and Paul George staying in OKC, there has not been much to excite NBA fans thus far in free agency. The same can be said for the trade market as teams aren’t looking to swap assets for players destined to leave anyway and no one wants to be capped out for next year’s mega free agency class. What players make sense to be moved right now though?
Restricted Free Agents: Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, etc.
At this stage, it is almost pointless for teams to submit offer sheets for restricted free agents. Not only do the incumbent teams get the opportunity to match them, like we’ve seen with the Nets offering literally every RFA the previous few summers, but teams who offered the contract cannot acquire these players in trades for at least a year after. Since this is the case, it makes sense for teams interested in RFA’s to look to a sign a trade. The Bucks seem disinterested in Jabari Parker, likewise for the Celtics with Marcus Smart, so why not try to pull off a sign-and-trade for any of the RFA’s on the market? Instead of just offering a contract that will probably be matched, teams should go about swapping lower-level assets to acquire these players if interested.
Kawhi must be on a list like this at this point, right? Even though the Spurs have said they will drag this on as long as possible, the divorce between the two is inevitable. The more reports the come out, the bleaker things look for the franchise in terms of keeping him and keeping their leverage. Losing Leonard is a negative all around for the Spurs since he can be a top five player in the NBA when he is on his game. For teams chasing him, the list is small due to him not wanting to sign anywhere other than LA or possibly Philly if he ends up there this season. That leaves the Spurs with even less leverage on the situation since they will lose him for nothing if they hold out and the list is shrinking, also shrinking the return at some point.
Kevin Love (or any other Cavalier for that matter)
Now that LeBron has officially signed as a Laker, it’s time for the Cavaliers to get any value they can for their current roster. Quite frankly, the current makeup is awful, and the franchise would be well served to move on from anyone with any sort of value. The player with the most value is Kevin Love. For all his perceived shortcomings, Love was still an all-star this season should be valuable to any team looking to add some punch to their roster. He only has one year of team control left and the Cavs are said to want to keep him, but the Cavs should listen on phone calls. If Love were to demand a trade, the package for Love would only deteriorate so they should jump while they can. Other players that might (key word) interest contending teams are Kyle Korver, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood (sign and trade), and Larry Nance.
Jimmy Butler is apparently unhappy in Minnesota and that could leave them looking to move the star guard. With reports of Butler wanting to play with Kyrie Irving, Minnesota could see Butler as a flight risk as a free agent next season and look to move him instead of losing him for nothing. The list of suitors for Butler might be shorter than people think due to teams potentially viewing him as a threat to leave them too, but as we saw with Paul George, not everything works out like people assume it will. If Butler really wants to play with Irving, Minnesota and Boson could be interesting trade partners if Boston decides to back out of the Kawhi sweepstakes. Don’t be surprised if you see the Timberwolves shop Andrew Wiggins this offseason instead.
Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum
At this point, it would be hard to imagine Neal Olshey moving either one of these guys, but it’s fun to speculate about. The backcourt doesn’t seem to work, and the team is locked into its current roster due to the flurry of spending done in 2016. Damian Lillard is more enticing to other teams but would also take a lot more to get a deal, even with Lillard running wild on Twitter about where he would like to play. From a Blazers standpoint, they were swept out of the playoffs by the Pelicans after people thinking they could contend in a serious with the heavyweight teams. If Olshey starts to look for possible deals, look for big rumors about Lillard but the more likely move being McCollum.
By: Ross Sutton
So a report came out today from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that multiple NBA executives believes that Lebron already knows that he will sign with the Lakers this summer and that his “indecision is all theater”. Obviously I do not know if this report is true or not but if there really are multiple NBA executives that believe this, then I bet there is a good chance it’s true. This would be one of the least surprising stories of all-time, as Lebron is one of the most underrated ego-maniacs in the history of sports. Lebron loves to make everything about himself, so it would not surprise me in the slightest if he was leading on a few different teams, forcing other stars and teams from around the league to sit and wait to see what he does.
It’s almost as if people have forgotten about “The Decision” back in 2010, when Lebron cowardly went to Miami to start the awful trend of the “superteam” in the NBA. So of course Lebron is going to make a huge deal of the fact that he is signing with another team after not being able to compete on the same level as the Warriors. Even though I hate Lebron as much as anyone else, I think the people that say it would be a mistake for Lebron to go to the Western Conference are idiots. Lebron has to beat the Warriors or Rockets either way even if he stayed in Cleveland so it doesn’t really matter which conference he is in. I am also VERY into the idea of Lebron going to the Lakers. He has the perfect personality for LA since he thinks the world of himself like everyone else in L.A, even though he is 3-6 in his career in the Finals….ouch. Lebron being surrounded by the rest of the vapid and delusional population of Los Angeles will certainly make for a lot of great moments that ESPN will definitely not talk about. I’m not sure if it is possible for Lebron to become even more full of himself, but maybe the “GOAT” (lol) will become even more insufferable and will flop even more or slide into more DMs of local instagram models. This should make for a lot of great topics to blog about.