On the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast, host Michael Scotto is joined by HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan. The duo discussed what Kawhi Leonard’s ACL surgery means for his free agency future, trade talks surrounding Ben Simmons and Collin Sexton, plus more updates on Kelly Oubre and Nerlens Noel.
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:37 Kawhi Leonard’s ACL surgery
Scotto: One executive I spoke to following the announcement that Kawhi had surgery to repair the partially torn ACL said he thinks no matter what, Kawhi would opt out, especially given the fact that Kevin Durant got the max after he suffered a ruptured Achilles. That executive also noted that Kawhi’s going to hit the 10-year mark for his years of service, which plays a role in upping his max contract as well.
Gozlan: The other thing the Clippers could do is apply for a Disabled Player Exception. Usually, those get granted to teams when the player is going to be ruled out for the year. The DPE would be worth the $9.5 million MLE (mid-level exception). That could be useful for the Clippers next year if they’re going to be missing Kawhi.
6:15 Ben Simmons trade talks
Scotto: My understanding is that talks for Simmons to this point are just talks with teams expressing interest leading up to the draft. Certainly, there’s a high amount of interest in a guy that’s been an All-Star for several seasons and an All-Defensive player. Philly is in a win-now mode. They’re not trying to settle on anything or taking back future assets. You’ve got Joel Embiid in the prime of his career and an MVP candidate. The time for them is now, and the rest of their supporting cast is fitting around Embiid to shoot. Simmons, I’ve heard, has been in the gym working. He does recognize there’s a part of his game he needs to address with his shooting.
Scotto: I remember talking with his old high school coach, Kevin Boyle, and Boyle always told me that he could shoot the ball, it’s just a confidence thing… They’re not just going to move him. It was one thing if they could’ve got James Harden. I don’t think they’re looking to move off of him as much as people think. I get that other people want to drive the market down so that they don’t have to give up as many assets to get Ben Simmons, but make no mistake, the Philadelphia 76ers are not just selling this guy.
12:45 Collin Sexton trade rumblings
Scotto: I’m not sure what type of assets they (Knicks) would be willing to give. Now, if you want to say maybe the draft picks in this year’s class, they have multiple first-round picks, and I touched on this with our colleague Bryan Kalbrosky on a HoopsHype podcast that they’re a team I can see dangling their picks… He’s got CAA ties, which always matters with the Knicks with Leon Rose, now President of the Knicks.
19:35 Kelly Oubre thoughts
Scotto: To me, instead of trading for Sexton, and having to pay him, the Knicks, in my opinion, could go in another direction and look at a guy, for example, like Kelly Oubre as a two-way type of player who’s entering his prime at 25 and you could pair him with RJ Barrett on the wing and the rest of New York’s young core. I think it would be interesting to see what Tom Thibodeau could do with an athletic defender like Oubre if such a pairing like that theoretically came to fruition.
If the Warriors are able to move Andrew Wiggins, their draft picks in the first round this year, and James Wiseman in a package for a star or an upgrade, Golden State could theoretically go over the cap and keep Oubre. If not, they could work out a sign-and-trade. Regarding Oubre, ideally, he doesn’t want to come off the bench, and he wants to be on a team where he can showcase his all-around game with a winning culture.
Gozlan: I just started looking into their payroll next year. With their two draft picks included on top of this roster, they already have a $163 million luxury tax bill, which is almost $340 million in payroll and luxury tax (combined)… I do like Oubre on the Knicks. From all the cap space teams available, it makes the most sense. They can give him something where he gets a big short-term offer because they still might want to roll their cap space to 2022 and he could start for them. They need more offense after they couldn’t get many buckets in the series against the Hawks.
23:01 Nerlens Noel free agency suitors
Scotto: (Noel) was the only player to average two blocks and a steal per game last season and a guy that was second in defensive rating. A couple of teams have Nerlens Noel on their free agency radar. Among those teams, the Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors, I’m told. Regarding Sacramento, it depends on what happens with their free-agent center, Richaun Holmes. We’ve done a podcast with him and talked about what he’s looking for in free agency, so give that a listen. The Knicks also remain interested in potentially re-signing Noel as a guy who was pretty instrumental in their defensive ranking as a team during the season. It seemed like a match made in Heaven with coach Tom Thibodeau.
Gozlan: He should have a ton of suitors and, in my opinion, could be the most sought-after backup center in free agency. Another team I’d throw out there is the Suns. I like the idea of them pursuing him. They’ll have their MLE (mid-level exception). They need a backup big man pretty badly… I think he’s played himself into getting a new long-term deal… I think there are going to be several teams potentially offering three or four-year deals.