Report: Hornets forward Josh McRoberts opts out

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Career high scoring average? Check. Josh McRoberts scored 8.5 points per game this season.

Reputation as a winner? Check. He helped Charlotte make the playoffs for just the second time since re-entering the NBA as the Bobcats.

A rapidly increasing salary cap? Check. The cap is projected to jump to $63.2 million.

All the ingredients exist for McRoberts to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Hornets, which would have have paid him $2,771,340 next season.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

\https://twitter.com/rick_bonnell/status/479314557840531456

McRoberts started all 78 of his games this season, and he proved an excellent fit next to Al Jefferson, Charlotte’s top player. With McRoberts’ passing and outside shooting, Charlotte’s starting lineup – which also included Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – outscored teams by 10.9 points per 100 possessions. For reference, the Spurs’ regular-season net rating was best in the NBA at +8.1.

This is definitely a system worth preserving.

But Charlotte also drafted Cody Zeller No. 4 last year, and they want to develop him into its power forward of the future. Plus, the Hornets have the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft and a quality power forward – Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Dario Saric, Doug McDermott or Adreian Payne – could be available there if Charlotte increase its odds of producing a young replacement for McRoberts.

McRoberts is a stop-gap solution until a higher-upside player replaces him. I bet Charlotte tries to re-sign him for at least a couple more years, maybe even with the intention of transitioning the 27-year-old to the bench by the end of a deal. He and the Hornets have a good thing going, though he’s allowing the possibility of something to come between them:

A larger offer from another team.

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.

PBT Extra: Why Derrick Rose more likely to be Spur than Chris Paul next season

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San Antonio heads into this summer looking to answer the question: What do we need to do to challenge the Golden State Warriors? Well, besides keeping Kawhi Leonard healthy.

They need to get more athletic, particularly along the front line, and they need a secondary shot creator and playmaker, that’s all at the top of the list.

One rumor that keeps gaining traction, Chris Paul to the Spurs. In this PBT Extra, I get into why that move is unlikely, and why a one-year contract with Derrick Rose is more probable. Basically, if you want to see a significant roster shift in San Antonio, wait until the summer of 2018.