NBA Draft Recap+Trades And Firings

The offseason is here!  This column has been in the works for over a week; it’s a big one!  A lot has happened since the draft, so we’re gonna recap it all.  First, I’ll give my thoughts on almost every pick of the first round and the notable picks of the 2nd round.  Then, I’ll talk about the GM firings in Cleveland and New York, Paul George, and the trades during and after the draft.  Here we go!

No.1, Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz, Washington

No.2, Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, UCLA

(Scroll to No.2)

No.3, Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum, Duke

I had the Celtics taking Josh Jackson due to his upside on both ends, but Boston finds Tatum as the better fit.  Tatum fills the shot-making hole and can be a consistent contributor for them.  I worry about his defense and whether he can get better instead of remaining at a Harrison Barnes/Danny Green-like level.

No.4, Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, Kansas

I could not be more excited about this pick.  Jackson gives us exactly what we need: A 3-and-D guy who can be effective immediately.  As good as TJ Warren is, his destiny might be an off-the-bench, instant offense guy.  Jackson makes us longer, more athletic and scarier than before.

No.5, Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky 

The Kings needed a franchise point guard, and actually took the right guy!  Fox is incredibly gifted with athleticm and defensive ability.  The jumpshot needs obvious work, but with the suddenly frisky and young team around him, it’s not necessary right away.  Overall, the Kings’ draft was one of the best in the league last week.

No.6, Orlando Magic: Jonathan Issac, Florida State 

This was a very Magic-like pick, but I’m not gonna knock them for it since they’re under new management.  GM John Hammond built a great team in Milwaukee strictly based off of length and athleticism.  Issac possess those two things, but at this stage nothing else.  The ceiling is high; maybe Hammond and that coaching staff can reach it with Issac.

No.7, Chicago Bulls (More on this trade later): Lauri Markkanen, Arizona

I guess the one positive coming out of this Bulls’ draft was that Gar Forman and John Paxson drafted someone who has a jumpshot, something completely lacking from their roster right now???

No.8, New York Knicks: Frank Nitilikina, France

I understand New York needs a point guard, but passing on Malik Monk here was stunning to me.  Nitilikina projects as a distributor-like point guard with a low ceiling.  Monk was the 2nd best player in the draft, perhaps the most exciting player in the draft, and is capable of having an offense run through him, AND could have been the most exciting player to came MSG home since… Jeremy Lin??  Oh, and Nitilikina was drafted solely to help run the triangle, which is now defunct with Phil Jackson gone (more on that later).

No.9, Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith, North Carolina State

Smith was a really tough projection.  There’s a chance his athletiscm makes him completely unstoppable at the NBA-level, but there’s also a chance he’s a turnover machine and will be towered over.  He’ll make Dallas more dynamic; something desperately needed on this very average team.  I trust Rick Carlisle & Co. to make this pick turn out.

No.10, Portland Trail Blazers (Traded up; gave Sacramento No.15 & No.20): Zach Collins, Gonzaga 

This trade was so bad on all ends and none of it has to do with Zach Collins the player.

First of all, there was absolutely no reason for Portland to trade up.  I had Collins taken by Portland at No.15 in my mock draft, and even though my mock was much different than the actual draft, the cards probably would have fallen the same way (Who’s taking Collins, a low ceiling stretch 4, before 15?  Charlotte maybe?  Did they really need anymore big, tall white guys?).

Giving up two picks to move up five spots to get a guy you could have gotten without making the move is Portland’s front office in a nutshell these past two years.

From the Kings’ perspective, moving down was a little idiotic too.  By the 15th and 20th pick, your odds of landing one of the “guys” in this draft are limited, and even though I liked their picks at those spots, it’s always better to take the best player available (In this case, Fox’s former teammate Monk).  Even though I thought Monk and Fox hurt each other’s game at Kentucky, Dave Joreger, a very underrated coach in the league, would have figured out a better way to use the two effectively than John Calipari did this past season (Honestly, I could have probably figured out a better way.).

Anyways, Collins makes a lot of sense for Portland.  They desperately need a spacer next to Jursuf Nurkic, and Collins’ range fits that bill.  I just didn’t like it at No.10 overall.

No.11, Charlotte Hornets: Malik Monk, Kentucky

I was absolutely stunned at how far Monk fell, but it wasn’t cause of Monk as a player, it was cause of idiotic front office’s like Sacramento’s, Portland’s, the Knicks’ and Chicago’s that passed on him.  Monk will make them pay.

My only concern about the Monk pick for the Hornets is how his minutes will affect the team as a whole.  Not that he will make them worse; his offensive numbers will be ridiculous while his defensive stats will be slightly above average, but Monk has to start for this team, and that would force Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to play small-ball 4.  Though a good defender, I might trust Marvin Williams more on the offensive end, and with Dwightbola spreading through the locker room now, Monk’s addition may not make the Hornets any better.

No.12, Detroit Pistons: Luke Kennard, Duke

I said before the draft that I thought Luke Kennard was a safe pick, but that didn’t mean he had to go before Donavan Mitchell and that didn’t mean Detroit had to take him at No.12.

Reggie Jackson is like the 17th best point guard in the league, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a free agent.  While Kennard is “combo-guard”, Mitchell has the better chance of succeeding at both positions, and could be an extremely good point guard down the road.

Detroit is stuck in the middle right now, and Kennard really doesn’t move the needle.

No.13, Utah Jazz (Pick was traded by Denver): Donavan Mitchell, Louisville

Had Mitchell been taken by Detroit, I can guarantee you Utah doesn’t trade up here.  With George Hill a free agent and Dante Exum nothing but a backup, Utah needed a foundational point guard.  Ricky Rubio is now that guy, but Mitchell can become what we once thought Exum would be.

No.14, Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo, Kentucky

This one was… interesting.  I can’t tell if this is a Pat Riley-type pick or not.

Bam has the potential to be a really nice, mobile center who can block shots and protect the rim.  The problem is that the Heat already have that in Hassan Whiteside.  Sure, Adebayo’s a little more athletic, but you can’t play him and Whiteside together.  With guys like Justin Patton and TJ Leaf still available, this felt like a reach.

No.15, Sacramento Kings (Pick was traded by Portland): Justin Jackson, North Carolina

I really, really like what the Kings did this year.  Yeah, they took a lot of very well known college guys who may not have super high ceilings.  But it at least shows that they’re thinking differently, a progression thats been desperately needed for awhile now.

No matter how you feel about Jackson, he’s probably replacing Rudy Gay on the wing, and thats an upgrade in any way.  He’s also gonna give the Kings more length defensively; him and Fox will cause problems.

No.16, Minnesota Timberwolves (Pick was traded by Chicago): Justin Patton, Creighton

Minnesota just completely rocked the Chicago trade on draft night.  Between stealing Jimmy Butler and this pick, the Timberwolves might finally be ready.

In Patton, the Wolves are getting more depth under the basket while possibly developing a poor man’s Karl-Anthony Towns.  Patton has a lot of the same skills: Rim protection, rebounding, high pick-and-roll usage, spacing.  He’s still working on his three point shot, but his athleticism should help him fit in just fine.

No.17, Milwaukee Bucks: DJ Wilson, Michigan

Uh, what?  Who?  Wilson’s name was not on my radar for the first round.  My friends who I was watching the draft with, who follow college basketball much closer than I do, were dismayed by the Bucks’ pick.

No.18, Indiana Pacers: TJ Leaf, UCLA

I really liked this pick for Indiana.  It was right in range and shows their committal to getting younger and more modern.  Leaf’s a great shooter who’s more efficient than Thaddeus Young and can play better next to Myles Turner.  Now, the Pacers just have to turn Paul George into something…  Anything really at this rate.

No.19, Atlanta Hawks: John Collins, Wake Forest

Collins is a project, but if he turns out, then the Hawks will have something really special on their hands.  Collins has the skills, but needs to put the effort in and gain some experience if he wants to be successful at this level.

No.20, Sacramento Kings (Pick was traded by Portland): Harry Giles, Duke

As concerned as I am about this pick and Giles, I think it might be worth the risk.  The Kings had a great draft, and if Giles can regain his confidence on the court and stay healthy, he has the potential to be one of the defensive centers in the league.  He’s like a mobile, skinny DeAndre Jordan.  But those knees have been through a lot in 19 years, and that’s very, very concerning.

No.21, Oklahoma City Thunder: Terrance Ferguson, Australia 

Ferguson fills a need for the Thunder with Andre Roberson (hopefully) departing (Would you really want to pay him $15 million a year??).  Ferguson is essentially Roberson with a jumpshot: A 3-and-D guy with both components.  Ferguson was the 3rd best shooter in the draft.  That should translate well with great impact on Oklahoma City.

No.22, Brooklyn Nets: Jarrett Allen, Texas A&M

With Timofey Mozgov just kinda there under the rim and not really part of any future plans, the Nets needed a future anchor down low.  Allen is exactly that.  He’s an absolutely massive human being at 6’10 with a 7’5 wingspan.  The Nets are adding a piece at a time, and for now, thats okay.

No.23, Toronto Raptors: OG Anunoby, Indiana

Concern over his Achilles and the time he will miss this upcoming season is the only reason OG Anunoby fell this far, and Toronto should be estatic.  A terrible defensive team that was exposed in the playoffs should improve greatly with the addition of Anunoby, who was this draft’s Jaylen Brown.  Toronto still has a lot to figure out with their core, but Anunoby is one step toward the future.

No.24, Denver Nuggets (Pick was traded by Utah): Tyler Lydon, Syracuse

I wasn’t super educated on Lydon pre-draft, but he’s a great scorer, and the one thing holding Denver back is their lack of a No.1 option on the offensive end.  I’m not sure how dominant of a force he can be, but Lydon projects a nice and efficient player to boost their scoring capabilities.

No.25, Philadelphia 76ers (Pick was traded by Orlando): Anzejs Pasecniks, Spain

No.26, Portland Trail Blazers: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

I understand that Portland needed to build their front-court, but I’m not sure Swanigan is a great fit for today’s NBA.  He’s big, short and can’t protect the rim.  I don’t trust the jumper for a guy with his build.  I saw him as a 2nd round pick; this was a reach.

No.27, Los Angeles Lakers (Pick was traded by Brooklyn in the D’Angelo Russell trade): Kyle Kuzma, Utah

Kuzma has a great jumpshot and is capable of playing the small-ball 4, fitting perfectly in today’s NBA.  With Brandon Ingram still very raw and Luol Deng on a travesty of a contract, Kuzma gives the Lakers good value and another asset.

No.28, Utah Jazz (Pick was traded by the Lakers): Tony Bradley, North Carolina

The Jazz just continue to take good players in the frontcourt.  Bradley is an excellent rebounder and projects as some type of cross between Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert.  I’m not sure he’s a good option has a rim protector, but could be used as the 5 in small lineups due to his athleticism and build.

No.29, San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White, Colorado

White fell quite a ways, and many see him as a sleeper pick at this spot.  Whatta you know, another pick everyone loves by the Spurs.  Him and Dejounte Murray are gonna be a dynamic duo next season.

No.30, Los Angeles Lakers (Pick was traded by the Jazz): Josh Hart, Villanova

Probably about where he should have gone.  There was some early 20s buzz a few weeks before the draft.  Hart’s a great passer for his position, and can get almost any shot he wants.  He’s a faster, more efficient Jordan Clarkson.  This pick was made based off the possibility of Clarkson being traded and the theory of best player available.

Only doing notable 2nd round picks…

No.31, New Orleans Pelicans (Pick was traded by Charlotte): Frank Jackson, Duke

I couldn’t believe Jackson went ahead of Frank Mason.  I just didn’t see anything super special with Jackson this past season.  He’s fine, but he projects to be an average facilitator who’s athleticism causes him to try and do too much.  However, his passing ability will become be very handy with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

No.34, Sacramento Kings: Frank Mason, Kansas

I just loved what the Kings did.  Yeah, it’s college-star heavy.  But all the guys they took have the potential to all be impactful in the NBA.  Mason projects as an excellent point guard who makes others better coupled with great scoring ability.  His age made him fall, thats it.

No.35, Memphis Grizzlies (Pick was traded by Orlando): Ivan Rabb, California

Finally!  I still can’t believe he didn’t come out in 2016.  Here’s what you get for waiting.

Anyways, I loved this pick by Memphis.  It’s great value, and Rabb is essentially Zach Randolph’s replacement assuming JaMychal Green bolts in free agency.  Rabb’s big and physical, which Memphis likes, but also has range and can use his athleticism guard multiple positions.

No.38, Golden State Warriors (Pick was (idiotically) traded by Chicago): Jordan Bell, Oregon

Never count out the Bulls to do something stupid…

First of all, why is anyone helping Golden State in the first place?  They didn’t have  a pick this draft; why accept anything to get them in it, one of the best drafts in the past 2o years?

Secondly, why not make them cough up some future assets?  The Warriors paid $3.5 million for this draft pick.  This isn’t baseball.  That money can’t be used to improve the roster.  Every team is given the same amount of money to spend on their team (Ever heard of the salary cap, Bulls?  Who are you?  Vlade Divac?) .  Cash is a useless object in the NBA.

Thirdly, why pass on Jordan Bell?  There’s a chance he’s Draymond Green minus the offense.  He’d be the most athletic/modern player on the Bulls roster.  I swear, it’s like they’re trying to go backwards.

Bell’s going to be unfair in Golden State.  He’ll be a monster in their defensive scheme; blocking shots, switching, etc.  It will look masterful.

No.39, Philadelphia 76ers: Juwan Evans, Oklahoma State

Philly needed point guard depth, and Evans projects as a great backup point guard with excellent passing and playmaking ability.

No.40, Charlotte Hornets (Pick was traded by New Orleans): Dwayne Bacon, Florida State

Bacon’s extremely athletic but is raw in just about every area.  He’s a project but will make Charlotte more dynamic, something they desperately needed.

No.41, Atlanta Hawks: Tyler Dorsey, Oregon

The Hawks love shooting guards who can ball out (Thabo, Bazemore, Hardaway).  I like Dorsey the most out of their current options.  He had an awesome tournament, came up in the clutch and showcased his scoring ability.

No.42, Los Angeles Lakers (Pick was traded by Utah): Thomas Bryant, Indiana

The Lakers are building a really dynamic, athletic team for the future, and this pick of Thomas Bryant reinforces that.  Bryant’s extremely athletic for his size, can protect the rim and defend pick and rolls.  He’s probably not a starter, but if Julius Randle ends up somewhere else he could see a lot of playing time.

No.45, Memphis Grizzlies (Pick was traded by Houston): Dillion Brooks, Oregon

Disclaimer: I tweeted the night of the draft about how awesome Dillion Brooks would be on Houston without realizing he was traded to Memphis.

Anyways, Brooks would have hit 100 3s on the Rockets, but for Memphis he can turn into a premier scorer with his creativeness.  Effective on or off the ball, this was great value at No.45.

No.47, Indiana Pacers: Ike Anigbogu, UCLA

The Pacers seem to be trying to become a more modern team, and drafting Anigbogu, a lengthy center who can protect furthers that case.  With Myles Turner in place, he won’t be a starter, but him and former teammate TJ Leaf will make a nice duo off the bench.

No.48, Los Angeles Clippers (Pick was traded by Milwaukee): Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina

Another sleeper pick late.  Thornwell balled out in the tournament and projects as a more efficient Jamal Crawford for LA.  He’s gonna need the ball in his hands, but with the status of the Clippers’ bench, that’s probably a good thing.

No.51, Denver Nuggets: Monte Morris, Iowa State

Like him as a future backup point guard.  Was really fun to watch in college.

No.55, Utah Jazz: Nigel William Goss, Gonzaga

I really liked Utah’s draft too.  Goss was awesome in college and gives Utah even more point guard depth.  He’s also sneakily crafty with the ball.

No.59, San Antonio Spurs: Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

I can’t believe Blossomgame wasn’t drafted higher.  He was a joy in college and the Spurs will turn him into something because, well, they’re the Spurs.

How did these guys not get drafted??

  • Isaish Briscoe
  • Chris Boucher
  • PJ Dozier
  • Isaiah Hicks
  • Kris Jenkins
  • Kennedy Meeks
  • Melo Trimble
  • Bronson Koenig

Best drafts:

  • Kings
  • Lakers
  • Jazz
  • Hawks
  • Hornets
  • Clippers
  • Lakers
  • Grizzlies
  • Spurs

Worst drafts: 

  • Bulls
  • Pistons

On the Jimmy Butler trade…

It seemed as if we had been talking about it for two years, and on draft night, it finally happened.  The Timberwolves fleeced the Bulls by trading for Jimmy Butler, only coughing up Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine and No.7 overall for one of the best two-way players in the league.

This trade provided the Bulls a chance to kick off a rebuild with a nice package of assets, and instead they got some potato chips.  Sure, Lavine and Dunn are good players.  But Lavine is someone who plays no defense and has to have the ball in his hands to be effective (When he does, he’s good though).  Dunn had a terrible rookie year and figures to only be a good defender and passer.  The No.7 pick could have been used on Malik Monk, but the Bulls instead took Lauri Markkanen, a one-dimensional, power forward who’s the best or 2nd best shooter on the team.

There’s pros to the package, but it just wasn’t enough.  Jimmy Butler is one of the 15 best players in the league.  That should demand a nice haul.  The Bulls got no sure things in return.

For Minnesota, this couldn’t have worked out better.  They got a guy they’ve coveted  for years for cheap, who just so happens to be one of the best 15 players in the league, and who’s playing for a coach he loves.

There will be some adjustments.  Butler needs the ball in his hands, but him having it is much better than having Andrew Wiggins possess it.  This trade affects Wiggins the most.  He’s not a spot-up shooter, but also isn’t the type of player who’s gonna deliver every time either.  There’s a chance he becomes hidden on that side of the floor and strictly becomes a defensive specialist.

Butler, Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns is a menace defensively.  Thibs will work magic on that end.  The chemistry on offense will come, but Minnesota finally looks ready to make the leap.

On the Trey Lyles trade…

I like Trey Lyles, but the Jazz had to give him up to get Donavan Mitchell, a guy I really, really like and will have more of an impact on any given game.  Plus, the Jazz have options at power forward.  With the position almost eradicated, Utah has enough athletic, versatile guys to take the spot.  Plus, I’m not sure I trust Lyles’ jumper.  It’s a good risk for Denver, but Utah isn’t losing a lot.

On the David Griffin firing…

Based on everything I’ve gathered and read, it seems as if the decision to let David Griffin walk as GM of the Cavaliers came down to his reluctancy to break up this core of LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Essentially, Griffin saw the light.  He knew there’s a chance LeBron bolts for LA next Summer, and wanted to keep at least Kyrie to help build for the future.  Some of the trade rumors out there during draft week were insane, with Cleveland looking at major pieces like Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.  There could have been even bigger deals in play.  It’s hard to have those conversations without Kyrie Irving’s name come up.

On the other end, Dan Gilbert is delusional, and probably doesn’t think LeBron would dare leave again.  It seems as if Gilbert wanted to blow it up and swap out this core for a new one to help LeBron win again.  Say a core of LeBron, Melo, Paul George and CP3…  Getting those guys requires trading Love and Kyrie, something it seems Griffin was against (At least, against trading Kyrie).

At the same time though, it was Griffin (and LeBron) who built this roster in a way so that they’d be locked in with a core.  Clearly, that core is flawed, and a simpler reason for Griffin’s departure.

On the Phil Jackson firing…

I think people are overrating what this move means.  Phil Jackson didn’t ruin the Knicks.  The Knicks have been ruined ever since James Dolan bought the team.  Their bright spots are Jeremy Lin, the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis (which was almost obliterated last week), and probably this move right here.  Jackson might be gone, but the Knicks still possess one of the highest concentrations of incompetentness in the league thanks to their owner.

Jackson’s firing essentially guarantees that Porzingis won’t be traded, that’s it.  I mean, there’s chance Dolan’s gonna hire Isiah Thomas back.  I could be running the Knicks soon.  Who really knows…

The Knicks are still the Knicks and are still ran by Dolan.  Besides Porzingis being traded, anything is possible.

Jackson’s tenure was abominable, but I’m not sure it hurts his legacy in the long run.  Jackson was an amazing coach in his time.  But eras change and you have to adjust.  Jackson didn’t.  He’s old.  Old people don’t like to change the way they’ve done things their whole life.  Pair that with fading logic and rising age (It’s just the way it is!  People get dumber as they get older!), it was never a smart idea to hire Jackson or for him to take the job.  But hey, keep getting dem’ checks Phil!

On the Paul George rumors…

At this point, Indiana is gonna have to take what they can get.  His value is only going down further the longer they wait.  They have no one to blame but themselves.  Keeping George at the deadline remains a massive mistake.  It allowed time for the PG to the Lakers buzz to explode, the Celtics to have a better shot at Gordon Hayward, and for the league to realize that George, as good as he is, isn’t more than the 2nd best player on a championship team.

Take all that into consideration, and you’re not getting a package good enough to kickoff a rebuild.  That’s worst case scenario for any team, and it’s where Indiana is right now.  The Pacers need to make this move as soon as possible to salvage any value thats left.

On the Chris Paul trade…

Besides the finances, it made no sense for Chris Paul to remain with the Clippers.  Their current group of players, year after year, had failed to get it done.  The team never really seemed to like each other.

We knew big changes were coming this Summer, and the first domino fell Wednesday.  After telling Los Angeles he would leave for the Rockets, Paul opted in to his contract (PS:  Props to Chris for A) Opting in and alerting the Clippers of his departure so they weren’t screwed and B) Opting in so that Houston was on the books for a little less money this upcoming season), allowing the Clippers to trade him for anything they could squeeze out of Houston.  The deal worked out pretty nicely.  LA landed Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and a 2018 protected first round pick from the Rockets, in addition to DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer and Darrun Hilliard.  Expect Hilliard and Liggins to be waived; they were only included so that the salaries matched.

It’s not exactly a package that can kickoff a rebuild, but it’s a nice bounty of assets that can form a decently-competent team next year.  Patrick Beverly will run point, Lou Williams can come off the bench and score (Even with JJ Redick probably gone, I would start Austin Rivers).  Sam Dekker’s probably the best shooter on the team right now.  Montrezl Harrell played really well last season, and gives the Clips a versatile big man, something they lack right now.  We’ll see where the pick lands, but given the fact that the Clips don’t have many in the next few years, it’ll be valuable.  Oh, and Kyle Wiltjer should be kept on the roster.  He’s a good shooter like Dekker too.

The ramifications for the Clippers signals the end of this big three era.  Though he can make more money, it’s hard to see Blake Griffin staying.  This team, with or without him, is staring right into 35-40 wins next season.  Better situations are aplenty: Boston, Miami, OKC (Are we sure though?), Phoenix (I actually don’t want him).

That leaves DeAndre Jordan, who should feel pretty screwed over after being convinced to stay with the Clippers by CP3 and Blake just two years ago.  It’s really him and a bunch of combo guards.  LA could be starting Beverley-Rivers-Dekker-Brandon Bass-Jordan next year.  They have Bev, Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and Lou Williams all in the same backcourt!  It’s the perfect combination of production and terrible efficiency, with a trace of good defense in Rivers and Bev.  Bottom line: It’s extremely mediocre.

As for Houston, this trade is somewhat of a risk.  They gave up a lot, especially considering that they could have gotten CP3 for free.  Williams was great off the bench.  Beverley fit in well next to Harden.  Harrell was awesome off the bench; there was no difference between him and Capela (Honestly, Harrell’s defense was much better.  They were more exciting with him out there).  Dekker’s a flyer for the Clippers; he didn’t receive much playing time for Houston.

Plus, there’s the unknown answer to how James Harden and CP3 will mesh on the court together.  The two clearly believe they can make it work.  Reports had them “determined” to play with each other.  But are we sure?  These are two of the most tempered guys in the league.  CP3 is a pain-in-the-you-know-what to play with.  They both love to have the ball in their hands and create plays for themselves and others.  The chemistry will be tricky.  Mike D’Antoni is an offensive mastermind; I’m sure he’s craving to get his hands on this new team.  He should figure it out, but no one can predict the mental state of both players.

Essentially, Houston will have to revamp their offense, which seems odd since their attack last year was one of the best ever, and is the type of style you must play to beat the Warriors.  Harden will move back to shooting guard, as CP3 is the much better ball-handler.  Pablo Torre of ESPN reported that Harden wants to participate in a more slash-and-kick-like offense, where Harden moves off-the-ball more and dives towards the rim.  It’s gonna change things, and I have doubts about whether this moves them closer to Golden State.

On the Ricky Rubio trade…

I was just about to publish this column when the Rubio news broke.  This really pissed me off because this column has been in the works for over a week, and was supposed to go up Wednesday before the CP3 occurred.

Anyways, the Rubio rumors had been in the air forever; even longer than the Wolves-Butler rumors.  Considering this, the Wolves got pretty good value.  Usually when a player is floated for awhile, his value plummets (Like, as we discussed above, Paul George).  Rubio’s continued to play well, and even got a lot better at the end of this past season.  That said, a top-14 protected pick is all I would have given up, and giving that the Wolves almost dealt Rubio straight up for Derrick Rose in February, I’d be happy with the return if I’m a Wolves fan.

Minnesota clearly has a big signing coming.  Tyus Jones isn’t ready to start, and he’s their only point guard on the roster.  Kyle Lowry is the star that pops into mind, but getting anyone to come to Minnesota is tough, even with Jimmy Butler on the recruiting trail.  Jeff Teague or George Hill is more likely, but if Minnesota is bringing on one of those guys, why trade Rubio?  Neither Teague or Hill see the court the way Rubio does, and both are terrible defenders while Rubio is excellent on that end of the floor.  Sure, they’re better scorers, but Rubio’s offensive role would have been limited anyways with Butler added.

The only way I approve of this trade for Minnesota is if they land Lowry, because in Hill or Teague, you’re not upgrading whatsoever.

As for Utah, this is an awesome get.  Swapping Hill for Rubio is a sweeping victory, and I loved Utah’s draft, so the pick next year isn’t too valuable.  Maybe a better point guard convinces Gordon Hayward to stay!