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Sunday, November 29, 2020

BS Meter on Latest NBA Draft, Free-Agency and Offseason Rumors

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    Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press

    It’s NBA rumor season, which means everything you hear regarding the draft, free agency and potential trades may not be entirely true.

    Shocking, I know.

    Between who goes first overall in the Nov. 18 draft, which player could be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s running mate with the Milwaukee Bucks and Devin Booker’s future in Phoenix, there’s been plenty of recent chatter inside NBA circles.

    Here’s how five of the hottest offseason rumors stack up on the BS meter.

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    AJ MAST/Associated Press

    Despite leading the NBA with 56 wins this season, the Bucks should be plenty active in trying to improve the roster.

    If Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t sign a five-year supermax extension that will fall between $220 million and $250 million, the pressure will be on Milwaukee to get him some more help.

    Chris Paul looks like a lock to be traded after the Thunder let Billy Donovan leave for the Chicago Bulls, although there’s been “no traction so far—and maybe not even any talks” on a Paul trade to the Bucks, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

    Paul would be a major upgrade at point guard over Eric Bledsoe, but it’s fair to wonder when his play will suffer a major drop-off now that he’s 35.

    The Bucks would have to send a few rotation players back to match his $41.4 million salary, and the $44.2 million player option Paul holds for next season could be especially brutal if he slips in play or falls victim to injury. If Antetokounmpo chooses to go into unrestricted free agency next year, Paul’s contract could actually dissuade him from coming back.

    Lowe mentions that the Bucks “are eyeing” Oladipo, although no substantive talks with Indiana have taken place.

    Oladipo would be a huge improvement from Wesley Matthews as the team’s starting shooting guard, as the two-time All-Star can be a force on both sides of the ball when healthy.

    The two front offices presumably have a good relationship already, stemming from the Malcolm Brogdon sign-and-trade in 2019.

    Of course, trading for Oladipo comes with some serious risk. It would be easier to match his $21 million salary than Paul’s, but Oladipo will become an unrestricted free agent next season, meaning the Bucks could potentially lose two stars in the same summer.

    Oladipo hasn’t looked the same since suffering a serious quad injury in January 2019, and teams may be hesitant to give up valuable assets for him until they see how he looks a few weeks into the 2020-21 season. 

    Not pursuing Paul makes sense given everything that could go wrong, and Oladipo is a better option if he’s healthy.

    BS Meter: No BS detected

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    There have been conflicting reports regarding Devin Booker and his future with the Phoenix Suns.

    First, Ryen Russillo stated on the Bill Simmons Podcast that it’s “the worst kept secret” that Booker wants to leave Phoenix.

    A league source later told HoopysHype’s Michael Scotto that there’s “no truth” to Booker’s supposed desire for an exit, with several executives pointing to his contract status (four years, $130.8 million) as a major reason he’s fine staying put.

    A star player wanting to leave a losing franchise certainly wouldn’t be a surprise, but it depends on Booker’s confidence in his team.

    A 26-39 start to the season was a major disappointment for a squad that spent in free agency to get Ricky Rubio and saw a jump in play from second-year No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.

    Phoenix looked like a new team in the bubble, though, going a perfect 8-0 with strong contributions from players like Mikal Bridges (12.8 points, 40.0 three-point percentage) and Cameron Johnson (13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds). This was also without Kelly Oubre Jr., the team’s second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game.

    Monty Williams looks like the right head coach to lead the Suns back to the postseason, and the Suns own the No. 10 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

    While missing the playoffs was a disappointment, Booker should save any trade requests for at least one more year, especially since the Suns may simply refuse to deal their star with so much time left on his contract. He wouldn’t have any leverage even if he did want out since he won’t be a free agent until 2024.

    While the first time All-Star probably won’t publicly seek a trade (not for a few years, at least), saying there’s no truth to him wanting out is likely a reach, as well.

    BS Meter: BS that there’s “no truth”, but Booker isn’t going anywhere for now.

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    Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press

    While Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball have been the players most frequently pegged at the top of mock drafts, neither may end up going first overall on Nov. 18.

    As Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman wrote, James Wiseman could ultimately get picked over both: “Multiple sources have told Bleacher Report the name they keep hearing now for the Timberwolves is James Wiseman. ‘Some within the Golden State Warriors think Wiseman is going No. 1, whether Minnesota keeps the pick or not,’ one source plugged into the conversation said.”

    Wiseman famously played only three games for Memphis at the collegiate level, which is an extremely small sample size for a potential No. 1 pick.

    Kyrie Irving played just 11 games at Duke due to a toe injury, but the Cleveland Cavaliers still picked him at No. 1 in 2011 with no other consensus top options. Darius Garland made it through four healthy games at Vanderbilt before he went No. 5 overall in 2019.

    In a draft with as few top prospects as 2020 is projected to have, though, Wiseman’s lack of experience may not matter.

    It’s tough to envision him and Karl-Anthony Towns sharing the court since they’re both centers who are extremely talented but could struggle to defend smaller, quicker power forwards. Wiseman would be a far better fit on the center-needy Golden State Warriors or Charlotte Hornets, the two teams that pick directly after Minnesota.

    A perfect scenario for the Timberwolves would be trading back to the second or third spot, letting someone else move up to get Wiseman and still landing the player they ultimately covet at a lesser financial commitment.

    BS Meter: No BS here. While not a perfect fit with the Wolves, Wiseman has the talent in this draft class to go No. 1.

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    One of the NBA’s easiest plug-and-play stars, Jrue Holiday would fit nearly any NBA roster with his scoring, playmaking, defense and presence in the locker room.

    While the New Orleans Pelicans should have playoff aspirations and certainly still have use for the 30-year-old guard, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the team is “openly discussing star Jrue Holiday in trade talks and several contending teams are pursuing.”

    When asked about the Holiday trade chatter, New Orleans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin left the door open for a deal, neither confirming nor denying the rumors. For him to not shoot down the rumors when given the opportunity to do so made his intentions pretty clear.

    Holiday holds a $27 million player option for 2021-22, which means the Pelicans would risk losing him for nothing if they don’t trade him now or during the 2020-21 season. While he’s a valuable member of the team, he doesn’t fit the same timeline as Zion Williamson (20) or Brandon Ingram (23), and New Orleans appears to be years away from competing for a championship.

    That doesn’t mean Griffin needs to trade him for pennies on the dollar now, either.

    Holiday would be the perfect addition to a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets or any other organization that’s one piece away from title contention.

    It makes complete sense for Griffin to at least openly discuss Holiday with such squads and get a sense of what the Pelicans can get back. Whether he ultimately makes a move now or waits until closer to the deadline depends on those conversations.

    Holiday could be the best player to change teams this offseason given the weak free-agent class, and the Pelicans should be able to get a good offer in return.

    BS Meter: BS that Pelicans have to deal Holiday now, but no BS on discussing a trade.

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Rudy Gobert is on the final year of his contract and eligible to sign a supermax extension or become an unrestricted free agent next season.

    The Mavericks could use a center while Dwight Powell recovers from an Achilles injury, and the trio of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Gobert would be one of the best in the NBA.

    ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes that “several rival executives have pitched the Mavs as a trade destination for Rudy Gobert,” although he mentions that the fit between the two big men may not be ideal.

    The 7’3″ Porzingis spent roughly 34 percent of his court time at center this past season, which was a sensible strategy considering his floor-spacing ability.

    While it’s true the Mavericks were good with Porzingis at center (plus-8.4 net rating in 161 minutes with a Porzingis, Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry lineup), Dallas was even better with Porzingis and a traditional center (plus-11.0 net rating in 205 minutes with a Porzingis, Doncic, Finney-Smith, Hardaway and Powell lineup).

    We don’t know if the Jazz have any interest in trading Gobert, but the thought of signing him to a full supermax ($44 million to $50 million per year) should be terrifying given his offensive limitations. Lowe proposes that a four-year, $135 million deal ($33.75 million per year) with incentives would be closer to fair value.

    Even if the Mavericks don’t end up trading for Gobert, he could be a target in 2021 free agency when they could have max cap space.

    If the Mavs don’t end up with Giannis Antetokounmpo as a free-agent prize, Gobert would make sense as a consolation.

    Dallas would have to be wary of giving up too much in a trade now, especially with just a single year left on Gobert’s contract. There’s no pressure to go all-in yet with Doncic still on his rookie deal and Porzingis signed for the next four seasons (player option in the fourth), so the Mavs would probably be better off staying put and seeing if they can snag Gobert as a free agent next year.

    BS Meter: No BS that Dallas is a destination for Gobert, but the Mavs should wait for free agency instead.

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