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PBT Mailbag: Where does DeMarcus Cousins land after Warriors?

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Submit your questions to the mailbag by e-mailing pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

This week’s mailbag is smack in the middle of summer, with not much to talk about save for Donald Trump literally being racist toward LeBron James. And here I thought August was going to be relaxing.

I was heartened by the response that fans, the league, and players had to Trump’s tweet about James this past week. It was an excellent reminder that the stupid just need to scream louder as their soapbox gets cut lower and lower.

Meanwhile, as James funds the education of real human beings, Trump is moving forward with the SPACE FORCE which sounds like it was a CW Saturday morning cartoon show from 1999 that got cancelled after one season. I mean, it’s definitely cool that LeBron could both physically and culturally dunk on that guy, but the fact that we even have to write stories about this is insane.

Put it this way: Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my name would be on the NBC Sports masthead. Having to write stories about the guy from Home Alone 2 insulting the best NBA player of all time while under that masthead induces an emotion that is completely beyond description.

The mantra in the NBA is always about just making it to the start of the season come fall, but I’m not sure if that can save us this time, guys.

Let’s get to your questions.

Eliot

Where does Boogie end up in 2019? No way he fits into the Golden State system. So where does he end up?
Toronto?(Beavertails & salmon jerky) Orlando?(unlimited touches) Clippers?(big market & BIG BALLMAR BUCKS) DA KNICKS?(Dolan craves star power players)

Who wants this coach killer 20 techs a season immature whiner? Hint: he cant play for his fav coach in Malone. Nuggets already have an adult at center. Time for Cuz to think about “chess move” to China. Checkmate!

This reads as though a Sacramento Kings fan, drunk on stashed bottles of Pliny the Elder and Alizé, decided to write me an e-mail. Bolstered by their sixth-straight viewing of Lady Bird, they decided to fire off an e-mail that is only tangentially related to the NBA and underwritten with the faintest understanding of the last 10 years of NBA transactions.

Frankly, I love it.

The idea that DeMarcus Cousins is a volatile player while on the basketball court is nothing new. It’s been proven over the course of his career, and according to ESPN he has accumulated 118 technical fouls in his eight years in the league. But what so many fans seem to get wrong is the idea that they can discount who Cousins is because of his emotional outbursts.

Look, I get it. My best friend is a Kings fan, and that poor bastard was always going off about how Cousins was making a fool of himself and in some cases, even putting the team in danger of being non-competitive. I mostly thought he was being sarcastic, but I digress. I mean, the guy let Meyers Leonard be his foil for years. It takes a special kind of dummy to be the best center in the NBA while also letting a backup big man get under your skin like that.

The real issue with Cousins in 2019 will not be his demeanor, nor has it ever been. Teams in the NBA want to win and they are always willing to pay players with potential character issues if they believe doing so will get them closer to that goal. Cousins will have an interesting time finding a suitor next season largely because of his torn Achilles.

But no matter the case, even if Cousins looks middling in his return late in the year for Warriors, some team with a massive amount of cap space next year — likely one who does not typically sign big-time free agents — well throw a truckload of money at him. That’s just sort of how it works.

Meanwhile, Eliot, I have to assume you are a Kings fan. I’m sorry your cool billionaire owner turned out to be such a goober.

Lee

Do you see the Mavericks topping 40 wins?

Westgate released their odds for the 2018-19 NBA season and the Dallas Mavericks were at a STRONG at 34.5 wins. That feels about right, even with Dirk Nowitzki returning to help mentor some of this young roster. The real problem is not that Dallas is relying on an aging Nowitzki to get them through, it’s that they are still so incredibly young.

Even with Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. in the bag, it takes a special kind of talent to move a roster with young lottery picks up the playoff standings. That’s to say nothing of the idea that the West has become significantly more difficult. It’s not just about LeBron. It’s about all these teams out West continuing to mesh together after 2016.

At this point, the best outcome for Dallas is that nobody gets seriously injured and DeAndre Jordan plays above the slowly declining output we’ve seen from him lately. The Mavericks aren’t winning 40 games but it’s fun watching The Cubes spend nearly nine figures to do it.

Michael

By now we all know Neil Olshey messed up the glorious summer when the Blazers had actual cap space. He obviously didn’t get fired for those mistakes, but my question is if he were to do something similar in two years when those contracts expire, would he finally get the axe or a parade through Blazer offices?

I wrote about the idea of Olshey getting the axe at length earlier this week and a lot of it applies to this question. Specifically, it seems how Olshey has angled the team is to simply wait out the rest of the Western Conference and some of the bad contracts he signed in the summer of 2016.

The problem with that strategy is that Olshey might just wind up alienating Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, or both. We already know that Lillard wants to be competitive, or at least wants to see some kind of strategy moving forward. He had an entire meeting with team owner Paul Allen about it. And to be sure, there is no way that “wait two years” can be the external plan Olshey tries to sell to Lillard. He’d flip.

Olshey is signed through the 2020-2021 season, although if he fails to make a move after next summer I think we can seriously talk about him getting the boot a little bit early. What has gone unsaid during this offseason in Portland is that Allen has to be on board with this cap-saving, luxury-tax ducking strategy otherwise Olshey would already be gone. That’s especially worrying if everyone up the ladder in Rip City — not just Olshey — is willing to risk seriously pissing off Lillard and/or McCollum.

There have been very few Blazers general managers who have been able to bring in a major player via a trade successfully. Even less have signed big name free agents to complete a roster that wants to contend. The smart betting money is on Olshey being gone in a couple of years, before he gets a chance to burn that potential cap space.

Mel

What do the San Antonio Spurs need to do to win another championship?

I mean, the first couple weren’t that hard to get, were they? All the Spurs had to do was hire the best coach in NBA history, draft one of the best centers in the NBA has ever seen, have that center get hurt, draft another center who is an all-time NBA great, then get lucky with more international prospects than is reasonable over a 20-year span, culminating in a win over so many hall of fame players in the playoffs it’s hard to even count. They can do all that again, right? Especially in an era where NBA players have more control over where they would like to play. NBA players love San Antonio! At least that’s what I hear. Plus, it’s not like that coach is going to leave the team and retire soon, yeah?

Don’t worry. It’ll all shake out. You’ve already got the formula. Just do that again.

Khalid

Why is Jimmer Fredette not in NBA?

Because he’s bad at basketball and he already got his shot during a time of expanding usage of the 3-point shooting in the NBA.

Ryan

I’m going to try to predict how the Cavaliers will use their roster: They’ll focus their efforts with Love and JR Smith as their dominant players. Kyle Korver will be an additional 3-point weapon besides Love. Larry Nance Jr. will dominate the paint and Rodney Hood will be an additional ball handler. Does this sound like a possibility?

This all sounds great! It’s going to be a wild ride to 28 wins.

Submit your questions to the mailbag by e-mailing pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Grading every NBA team’s 2018 offseason

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman graded every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there. The full results with links to each writeup:

Atlanta Hawks: B-

Boston Celtics: C+

Brooklyn Nets: B+

Charlotte Hornets: D

Chicago Bulls: C-

Cleveland Cavaliers: F

Dallas Mavericks: B

Denver Nuggets: B-

Detroit Pistons: C

Golden State Warriors: A

Houston Rockets: D

Indiana Pacers: B+

Los Angeles Clippers: C-

Los Angeles Lakers: A+

Memphis Grizzlies: B-

Miami Heat: C

Milwaukee Bucks: B-

Minnesota Timberwolves: D

New Orleans Pelicans: C

New York Knicks: C-

Oklahoma City Thunder: A

Orlando Magic: B

Philadelphia 76ers: C-

Phoenix Suns: D+

Portland Trail Blazers: C

Sacramento Kings: C-

San Antonio Spurs: D-

Toronto Raptors: A

Utah Jazz: C

Washington Wizards: B-

Wizards hire WNBA All-Star Kristi Toliver as assistant coach

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WASHINGTON (AP) — WNBA All-Star Kristi Toliver will be an assistant coach for player development for the NBA’s Washington Wizards this season.

Toliver’s job was one of several changes to coach Scott Brooks’ staff announced by the Wizards on Tuesday, two days before they host the Miami Heat to open the season.

Toliver played for the Washington Mystics and helped them reach the WNBA Finals this year, when she also assisted the Wizards’ coaching staff during the NBA Summer League and training game. She is a 10-year pro and two-time All-Star who won an NCAA title at Maryland.

She joins David Adkins, Mike Terpstra and Maz Trakh on the back of the Wizards’ bench. Alex McLean and Landon Tatum were both promoted to assistant coach for player development.

Robert Pack and Ryan Richman will be with Brooks and Tony Brown on the front of the bench.

Pack was a scout for the Portland Trail Blazers last season, after spending two seasons as an assistant coach for the New Orleans Pelicans. He also was an assistant to Brooks with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2013-15.

 

Austin Rivers: Everybody, ‘so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers,’ overlooking Wizards and Pacers

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We picked the Celtics, Raptors, 76ers and Bucks to be the top four teams in the Eastern Conference this year and ranked the Wizards and Pacers next. If that’s not the consensus, it’s close to it.

Wizards guard Austin Rivers, via James Herbert of CBSSports.com:

“I think we’re heavily slept-on,” he tells me. “Team’s been to the playoffs, what, the last five, four or five years? Then going into this year, you add me, Dwight Howard, Jeff Green and nobody seems to talk about us. So I just think we’re heavily slept-on, but that’s fine. At the end of the day, nothing really matters until the season starts and we set that tone for ourselves. I get the hype of a couple of the other teams, but I think we have a chance to compete with the best of the East.”

I tell him I recently spoke to Tyreke Evans, who said something similar about the Indiana Pacers. Rivers gets more animated.

“Yeah, I would say Indiana’s the other team that gets slept-on, too,” he says. “You look at Indiana, they took Cleveland to seven games and then damn near, arguably could have beaten them.”

Rivers rattles off Evans’ stats from last season, then continues: “That’s who they just added to the team? And nobody seems to talk about the Pacers because everybody’s so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers. And rightfully so: they’re both talented teams. But Indiana is just as good as both those teams. And I think we’re in the same situation.”

I agree the Wizards and Pacers had positive offseasons. But Indiana might have been punching slightly above its weight as a surprise team last year, and Washington’s problem has often been overconfidence.

In that regard, Rivers – acquired in an offseason trade from the Clippers – is already fitting right in. The brashness might be good for Rivers, but it’s not what the Wizards need.

Washington could have a good season. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are a strong starting point in the Eastern Conference, and Dwight Howard could help with the right attitude and health. Rivers is a quality reserve. But let’s pump the brakes on calling Jeff Green a key addition, though Rivers would be only one of many – including someone in his immediate family – to make that error.

Report: Klay Thompson doesn’t plan to give Warriors discount

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Klay Thompson, who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has said many times he plans to stay with the Warriors. He even discussed signing a contract extension, which would have capped his compensation far below what he could get in free agency.

But Thompson is apparently no longer interested in offering Golden State that savings.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Thompson has no plans to take a discount, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, league sources say.

Thompson’s max next summer projects be about about $221 million over five years if he makes an All-NBA team (or wins Defensive Player of the Year) this season or about $190 million over five years if he doesn’t.

That’s a steep bill, but the Warriors have little choice but to pay it. They’re in the midst of maybe the greatest run in NBA history, and they’re generating massive revenue. Cheapness would be a terrible reason to break up this team. Thompson is a key contributor, and at least his outside shooting should help the 28-year-old age well.

But costs will get steep in a hurry. If the Warriors re-sign Thompson and Kevin Durant next summer and Draymond Green the following summer to max – not even supermax – deals, keep Stephen Curry then fill the roster with 10 minimum-salary free agents, their projected payroll in 2020-21 would be… about $288 million, including about $115 million in luxury tax. That might be untenable, even for Golden State.

Perhaps, Durant will take one decision out of the Warriors’ hands. But if Durant stays and Thompson seeks every penny, Green could face a belt-tightening team in 2020 free agency.