“NBA Notebook–Teams & Troubles”
This should be a big night, the NBA Draft, with all these college stars, but it seems to have been hijacked by what’s happening with free agency, and the aftermath of the NBA playoffs.
Take a tour around the NBA road map.
NEW ORLEANS….Zion Williamson, the Duke center, lands on Bourbon Street. Arriving with him will be 3-top young players from the Lakers , Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball and the Lakers 4th pick in the draft. See what happens in the next couple of hours, either the Pelicans keep the 4th pick and draft another big man, or deal it to another team for a veteran player. Otherwise maybe they wind up with Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech or DeAndre Hunter of Virginia. The Pelicans could be a really good team, correction, a really good college team.
LAKERS…This should be a time to celebrate the arrival of Anthony Davis in the 6-for-1 deal with the Pelicans, but LA has traded its entire future away, and now seems to have made a miscalculation in the salary cap, now learning they do not have the space for another max contract. Add to the fact they have to sign 10-players to put around Davis, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma. If they don’t deal away more, they won’t have 33M space to get Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, or another elite free agent.
CLIPPERS…They built a good team, but don’t have true stars. They have two max slots available for free agents, but with Kevin Durant hurt, and a great unknown in the emotion of Kawhi Leonard’s future decision, they might land both, maybe one, or possibly none in the free agent market. They traded away a lot to get to this point, but what if the marquee names go elsewhere?
GOLDEN STATE….A tremendous run might be ending, though Coach Steve Kerr does not agree. Klay Thompson possibly re-signs, though he doesn’t play till next April with that knee surgery. Durant could leave, but he’s likely out all year with the Achilles surgery. What if he stays too? The great unknown.
BOSTON…Danny Ainge has always collected assets,young players, draft picks, and has never been afraid to deal. But now he’s got a problem, despite owning 3-first round picks, all late in the first round. He’s losing C-Al Hereford, headed to a big payday somewhere. He did not get Anthony Davis in the New Orleans trade. Kyrie Irving has opted out. Suddenly it does not seem to be a destination point for free agents. How did they miss the boat?
TORONTO…The feel good season could be over shortly, if Leonard leaves shortly to free agency. He not only won an NBA ring for his team and the city, but also for the country. He is so unique, so private, maybe he stays. If he doesn’t, it’s been a great run.
NY KNICKS….They have two max free agent slots, it’s the Big Apple, playing games at the Garden-the Mecca, but that’s all there is. Ownership problems, a relentless critical media, and little talent on hand. Who would go play there? Will it ever get better?
BROOKLYN…A strange configuration, this franchise in the shadow of the Knicks. They have two max slots, and view themselves as player for Kyrie Irving, leaving Boston, but you look at the Nets and think the Clippers always playing second fiddle to the Lakers. Maybe Durant and Irving wind up there together. Maybe they don’t and the dreadful years continue.
HOUSTON…Such an explosive season and now they seem ready to implode. The bitter divorce of Chris Paul-vs-James Harden, the decision to shop a bunch of other key support people, not much interest from free agents to go there. Harden could be left by himself by the time the off season is over.,
MIAMI…Remember when Pat Riley controlled the world? The franchise has never been the same since LeBron James left, Dwayne Wade got old, and Chris Bosh suffered from blood clots.
MILWAUKEE…A great season for the Bucks, but now Kris Middleton is opting out of his contract, and they face an enormous challenge to keep the team together, knowing that superstar Giannis Antetokoumpo can be a free agent a year form now. Is it over before it ever got started?
OKLAHOMA CITY….Two stars, two big contracts, but they’re not good enough even with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. How do they make it better?
Going to be an interesting Thursday night at the draft, and an equally interesting week going towards July 1st free agency.