If you’re a superstar on the move, do you aim for one shot or several?

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Kevin Garnett was the last NBA superstar to play the “trade me” game right. He made sure he didn’t pull the trigger too soon, managed to go to a big market, didn’t allow his team to get too much in return that would leave him short when he got there, and best of all, somehow managed to twist it into not being something he should be criticized for. KG got the best of all worlds. A title, the market, the respect, the whole shebang.

But he only has one ring, and while the window isn’t closed, it’s closing. They say that one ring is worth anything, but KG was also older and needed a sure shot. If you’re one of these younger players shopping for a new locale, are you looking for that kind of recipe? Or should you be aiming for a team best suited to contend for several years?

What brought this to mind was a quote from Jim Boeheim yesterday about Carmelo Anthony. When talking about where Boeheim thinks Melo should go, he shared this thought:

“I’d tell him to try to get the best chance to be good – whether that’s with young players, with draft picks or what kind of players that team can get together.”

It presents a much different concept from the Celtics, or even the Heat. Both of those teams attempted to simply put together three established veterans, then filled in the ranks with primarily old players. But Boeheim, even casually, is suggesting a new pattern. One that, oddly enough, the Nets are well positioned to make good on. They have young players, cap flexibility, and their draft picks in place for the future. They have a franchise center in Brook Lopez and a talented point guard. They’ve got a shooter in Anthony Morrow and other components. Oh, and they’re moving to Brooklyn.

But let’s move past the Nets. The central concept that we’re talking about is the idea that you have a better chance of winning multiple championships with a roster that is built around you, a great player, alongside talented pieces. Which is, you know, Oklahoma City pretty much. Except they managed to acquire their superstar using the draft. But that should be the target situation in this scenario.

The problem is that few players are willing to have that kind of vision. It’s hard to look at a team’s win-loss total being severely below .500 and say “That place has the best opportunity for me.” It takes faith in the management, and that’s the biggest X factor here. Not talked about as much in the formation of the Heat this season is Pat Riley and his ability to sell the vision he’s had. Of course, Riley selling three friends who are also All-Stars on playing with one another is much easier than telling a star to commit to unproven players an his ability to bring in talented assets. The first person that comes to mind is Kevin Pritchard, which is something to keep an eye on.

A superstar can load himself up with veterans and make a run at a title. But if his lofty goal is multiple championships, he needs to set himself up for the future. Those windows can close fast with injuries and age. It’s riskier to shoot for the future, but the payoff is greater. I wouldn’t expect many to be taking that way out regardless. Gold is too valuable.

 

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

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Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.

Hawks hire Travis Schlenk as general manager

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The Hawks picked Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk as their next general manager. All that was left was negotiating terms.

That’s done.

Hawks:

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Travis Schlenk as General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations. He will start leading Hawks basketball operations on June 1.

Schlenk worked his way up the latter and helped the Warriors become the envy of every other NBA team. He deserves this opportunity.

But the job won’t be easy.

The Hawks are stuck between two directions. On one side, they have veterans Paul Millsap (a 32-year-old pending unrestricted free agent whom the owner has basically promised a huge contract) and Dwight Howard (who sounds unhappy). On the other side, they have a youth movement featuring Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. Tim Hardaway Jr., who bridges the age groups, is about to enter a potentially tricky restricted free agency.

Keeping the core together offers the upside of a playoff-series victory or two annually, modest outcomes for the cost. But a fragile Atlanta fan base might not tolerate a rebuild.

Schlenk works for owner Tony Ressler, and Ressler sounds committed to maintaining the status quo by keeping Millsap. It’s now Schlenk’s job to execute that vision or convince his boss to approve a different direction.

Potential none-and-done first-rounder Hamidou Diallo returning to Kentucky

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The more I’ve looked into the 2017 NBA draft, the less impressed I’ve become. There are a few bright spots in the first round relative to an average draft – No. 2, 5ish-10ish, 17ish-22ish – but I’m not convinced this is the generationally strong draft it has been touted as.

In the absence of prospects who offer secure promise, why not turn to upside? Hamidou Diallo offered plenty and was increasingly viewed as a first-rounder.

Yet, he’ll return to Kentucky for his freshman season.

Diallo:

A highly ranked recruit, Diallo began last school year at a prep school then enrolled at Kentucky for the spring semester. He practiced with the Wildcats, but never played.

Then, he went to the combine and posted excellent measurables: 6-foot-5, 6-foot-11 wingspan, 44.5-inch vertical and strong agility and sprint scores. Just 18, Diallo might have been the second-youngest player drafted this year (behind only Ike Anigbogu).

It wouldn’t have taken long – likely somewhere in the middle of the first round – for a team to bite on all that potential.

Instead, Diallo returns to Kentucky and must now show his ability to actually produce in basketball games. If he does, there’s no limit on how high he goes in the 2018 NBA draft. If he doesn’t, he’ll regret missing the opportunity to get drafted before his game got picked apart.

Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to opt in

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Dwyane Wade said he wants to see the Bulls’ plan for Jimmy Butler and the rest of the roster before deciding on a $23.8 million player option for next season.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I can tell you is most everyone associated with the Bulls believes Wade will pick up the option and remain in Chicago for a second season. More surprising things have happened in league history, though. So stay tuned.

This could be a tell that Wade will opt in. The Bulls could obviously be positioned to base their prediction on inside information into Wade’s thinking.

This could a tell the Bulls won’t trade Butler. If they know they’ll keep Butler, they can extrapolate what that’d mean for Wade.

Or the Bulls, like so many of us, just assume a 35-year-old Wade won’t turn down so much guaranteed money at this stage of his career.