Lance Stephenson’s 28 points on the Knicks — and how he plays with a real flair — has a lot of people around the NBA asking if he is an All-Star?
That’s the first topic in the latest edition of the ProBasketballTalk Podcast, featuring myself and Brett Pollakoff of PBT, plus Eytan Shander of NBC Sports Radio. The general consensus, yes he should make the cut. If Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose were healthy this would be a different conversation, but with both out (in Rondo’s case he returns Friday but that’s not going to win him points among coaches, who select the reserves).
After that we talk about the Lakers’ “fight” and Nick Young, the from there more foolishness in L.A. with Magic Johnson vs. Jim Buss.
Finally, do the Heat need home court to beat the Pacers? And why would Paul George give the Heat bulletin board material?
A number of teams — Boston, Miami, and others — are expected to take a run at Griffin. (In Boston’s case, he’s a backup plan to Gordon Hayward, but there will be conversations.)
What Chris Paul — also expected to opt out and become a free agent this summer — and Griffin choose to do will help set the market. They are two of the biggest free agent names out there where they could switch teams (Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are staying put). If they take their time making a decision, it leaves the Clippers in a bind — they have to wait to hear from these two before starting replacing or rebuilding, but by the time they know other players may have decided — and could bottleneck the free agent process.
The Clippers are going to be one interesting team to watch this summer.
Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended two games for DUI
This is the standard penalty for coaches and players hit with a DUI. I don’t think the penalty is stiff enough in general for a serious issue, but this is the precedent that has been set.
Detroit Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been suspended two games by the NBA for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan,” the NBA announced. He will miss the first two games of next season.
This will not stop Caldwell-Pope from getting PAID this summer.
A quality wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he is a restricted free agent. Other teams with cap space — Brooklyn and Sacramento come to mind — could step in and give him a max or near max offer. Then Stan Van Gundy needs to decide if he is going to match. He may not have much of a choice, if he wants to keep Andre Drummond and build an inside-out team around him, he needs Caldwell-Pope, and the Pistons don’t have the cap space to replace him.
One way or another, Caldwell-Pope is in line for a massive pay raise. This suspension will not slow teams, it just takes a little money out of his pocket.
Lonzo Ball tops Rookie of the Year early betting odds
The two bets I like here, if I were a gambling man, are Jackson in Phoenix and Dennis Smith in Dallas. I doubt Smith wins it, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft Smith will start for them next year, which means he gets opportunities and can rack up assists feeding Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow for a year.
Jackson is going to be unleashed in an up-tempo Suns offense where he will be the defender they need on the wing, play with high energy, and get buckets in transition. Winning ROY is as much about fit and opportunity as talent, and Jackson has landed in a good spot.
Paul George-Gordon Hayward-Celtics rumor doesn’t add up
I don’t what George would do, but it’d be a MAJOR financial disadvantage to go this route.
There a couple ways it could happen – George getting extended-and-trade or George getting traded then signing an extension six months later. The latter would allow George to earn more than the former, but even if he pledged to sign an extension, would the Celtics trade for him knowing he’d have six months to change his mind if he doesn’t like Boston as much as anticipated?
There’s a bigger issue, anyway. Both extension routes would leave George earning far less than simply letting his contract expire then signing a new deal, either with his incumbent team or a new one.
Here’s a representation of how much George could earn by:
Letting his contract expire and re-signing (green)
Letting his contract expire and signing elsewhere (purple)
Getting traded and signing an extension six months later (gray)
Signing an extend-and-trade (yellow)
Expire & re-sign
Expire & leave
Trade, extend later
Firm numbers are used when it’s just a calculation based on George’s current contract. When necessary to project the 2018-19 salary cap, I rounded.
The Celtics could theoretically renegotiate-and-extend, but that would require cap room that almost certainly wouldn’t exist after signing Hayward.
Simply, it’s next to impossible to see this happening. It’d be too costly to George.