On the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast, hosts Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozlan discussed which teams came out as winners this offseason, including the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and more.
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1:00 New York Knicks
Scotto: The Knicks are trying to light up MSG like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I think they improved this offseason. I think getting Evan Fournier was an upgrade over Reggie Bullock… In bringing Nerlens Noel back, I was told Nerlens wasn’t promised the starting center spot, but he’ll have a chance to compete for it, and he’ll definitely play meaningful minutes in New York’s rotation. Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose should be a nice point guard tandem. I would expect Walker to start with Rose coming off the bench as a contender for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award as he did last season. RJ Barrett came in the top-10 of our HoopsHype shooting guard rankings. I think will take another step forward in his development this season.
Gozlan: I thought the Walker buyout was the most surprising move of the offseason. I didn’t think OKC would do something like that. They’ve been stashing these veterans and then trading them later. Maybe they miscalculated his market and the severity of his knee issues. Two years and $18 million for Kemba is an absolute steal.
6:35 Washington Wizards
Scotto: Another team in the East I think we can say upgraded was the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie certainly thinks they can be that type of a playoff team. He was excited to pair with Bradley Beal, and he’s really excited about Rui Hachimura’s future, as I reported on HoopsHype. Keep this one under your hat, folks, but I think Dinwiddie is going to try to, at least in his mind, go for an All-Star spot this year. Spencer felt like when Kyrie was out (2019-20 season), and he was starting that he should’ve been in the mix to be an All-Star. Now, he’s going to get the keys to the offense alongside Beal.
Sources: Spencer Dinwiddie’s three-year, $62 million contract with the Wizards has several bonuses each season, @hoopshype has learned.
$1.5 million if he plays 50+ games
$571K if team makes ECF
$400K if team makes NBA Finals
$100K if team makes 2nd round
$1 if team wins title
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) August 9, 2021
I don’t think this team is a form of hocus pocus for the Wizards. I think they’ve actually got a real chance to be a playoff team on paper when you look at them. Washington needs to be a playoff team. Now, when you talk to executives around the league, all eyes are centered on Beal, Damian Lillard, and Zach LaVine as the guys that they’re keeping tabs on for the next potential star who could be moved.
Gozlan: By doing the Westbrook trade, the Wizards got something they haven’t had in a really long time, which is flexibility. They’ve been stuck with a lot of big contracts since they signed Ian Mahinmi then the John Wall supermax deal, and Otto Porter got a big contract. They’ve been handcuffed all these years… They want to build a team properly around Beal. Now, they can actually do that.
You mentioned all eyes will be on Beal, LaVine, and others. The free agency market next season is not going to be good. Because of that, I’d think most likely these guys are going to end up staying with their teams. They’re going to get just as much money to stay with them as much as signing a max contract elsewhere.
12:00 Miami Heat
Scotto: The Miami Heat adding Kyle Lowry puts Miami back in contention to try and reach the Finals again. I loved the PJ Tucker addition. I think he’s the type of player who fits their culture, especially on defense.
Gozlan: You mentioned the Jimmy Butler extension. I didn’t like that. I get why they gave it to him, but I think that’s going to hurt them on the back end. He’s going to earn $51 million at age 36. When you fill the roster with minimum guys, you can’t fully depend on every guy you’re getting. It feels like they’re going to be short on depth some nights, especially if injuries occur. It doesn’t help that they brought back Udonis Haslem and Victor Oladipo isn’t ready yet (to play). Getting Oladipo back on a minimum is amazing because they’ll have his Bird Rights.
16:40 Chicago Bulls
Scotto: On paper, they improved that team in terms of overall talent… I asked one NBA scout for his opinion on what he thought of the Bulls, and he said, “They’re going to be a seventh or eighth seed. It’s a bunch of big names that don’t fit together. Patrick Williams needs to take a leap for them to be good.”
With Lauri Markkanen, there were really some intense talks over a five or six-day period where Cleveland was discussing three second-round picks, and then Chicago was holding firm on wanting a first-round pick. Then, Cleveland was able to get the first-round pick from Portland for Larry Nance Jr., but then Chicago also wanted a second-round pick on top of that, and there was some frustration from some of the parties involved because it seemed like the goal post was being moved a bit. Markkanen originally thought he was going to go to San Antonio on a three-year deal as part of the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade. Lauri made it clear in that report with a Finland reporter, and then, he also had a conversation with Arturas (Karnisovas) privately where he expressed that he didn’t want to be back. To get a first-round pick back for him, Arturas got what he wanted, Lauri got his fresh start. It worked out for everyone. It just took longer.
As part of that trade, they lost Thaddeus Young in the deal. The Athletic reported the Suns have been eying him. Keep an eye on Jalen Smith, who’s been made available by the Suns according to multiple sources around the league who’ve spoken with HoopsHype.
One name to keep an eye on is free-agent forward Paul Millsap. Bulls executive Arturas Karnisovas was with Millsap during their time together in Denver. The bi-annual exception could be in play for Millsap in Chicago.
Another forward who’s gotten interest from the Bulls among other teams, including some contenders this summer, is James Ennis.
Gozlan: Millsap, I’d like that for Chicago. They can pay him a little more than other teams right now. The Warriors and Nets have been linked to him. They can only offer the minimum. Chicago can offer the bi-annual exception and also has a $5 million traded player exception. They can get a little creative in terms of trying to bring him in. I’ll be interested to see if the Suns can add Young. I’d imagine Dario Saric would also have to be involved. We’ll see if a Smith and Saric package can get it done. Overall, I consider the Bulls a winner for one main reason. If their goal was to give Zach LaVine a reason to re-sign with them next summer, they may have accomplished that. I love the Lonzo Ball signing… Alex Caruso on the partial mid-level exception is good value. I thought he might get the whole thing… I’ll be interested in seeing how Coby White fits into all this.
27:22 Los Angeles Lakers
Scotto: I know they’ve gotten a lot of flack because they’re older, but the Lakers improved on paper. You’ll have some chemistry questions there with Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James if that trio will fit together.
Jared Dudley told me he was either going back to the Lakers, or he was going to retire. He wasn’t looking to go anywhere else and play.
Rajon Rondo joked today that he was the oldest guy on his last team, and now he feels like he’s in the bottom five as one of the younger guys.
Rajon Rondo on Lakers roster: “I’m most excited about not being the oldest guy on the team anymore. I’m actually probably bottom five now. That’s a big step for me going from two months ago. I was the oldest guy on a team. Now, I’m considered one of the young guys.” 😂
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) August 31, 2021
DeAndre Jordan’s been linked there. I was texting with an Eastern Conference executive about it. The executive texted me, “I hope the Nets buy him out so he can join the Lakers’ AARP squad. Better yet, the LAARP. I’ve never seen a roster like this.”
Gozlan: The big thing is the Westbrook trade. It’s still a big risk right now. I don’t think anyone’s thought about what if it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work, it’s a disaster because then you can’t really do anything else. You traded three tradeable salaries and consolidated it into Westbrook, and you’d likely have him for another year if things don’t work out. He’s still one of the worst volume three-point shooters and hasn’t proven he can do much off the ball.
35:44 Brooklyn Nets
Scotto: Multiple sources told HoopsHype that the Nets have offered DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick swap in trade talks. Then, you see the report from The Athletic about Jordan being in potential buyout discussions.
In other news regarding the Nets, it seems the team could have some interest in former lottery pick Stanley Johnson. He’s been around team members and staff out in Southern California. He’s working out with those guys, HoopsHype has learned.
Getting Kevin Durant locked up (to an extension) can’t be understated. He came back from injury and looked phenomenal. He was as efficient as we’ve ever seen… If they get the rest of the big three to extend, that’s a grand slam for sure for Sean Marks and the Nets.
Gozlan: One transaction that I really liked was the Jevon Carter trade. They got a first-round pick (Day’Ron Sharpe) alongside him for Landry Shamet… They brought in Patty Mills. I thought that was the best mid-level exception signing of the offseason.
40:20 Los Angeles Clippers
Scotto: Another guy that re-signed in the offseason that made some waves, and in a way, you can say it was a bit of a shock because it was a longer deal than people thought. You can make a case this team is a winner in the offseason as a result of that. The Los Angeles Clippers getting Kawhi Leonard to re-sign long-term. I think a lot of people thought he would do a one-plus-one deal and hit the market again.
Gozlan: Starting two years from now, Kawhi will be extension eligible again.
43:27 Milwaukee Bucks
Scotto: I know they lost PJ Tucker, but they kept Bobby Portis. He definitely left money on the table. I thought he could’ve gotten more, but he loves Milwaukee, and he wanted to stay. I think they’ll be in a position to be a contender again.
Gozlan: I love that they got Grayson Allen. I think they got him at a reasonable price. I like him a lot more than Bryn Forbes, who they lost. Getting Portis back on his non-Bird amount is huge because that allowed them to keep their mid-level exception, and they used that to bring back George Hill, who was very important for them two years ago.