We are back for Week 4 of Around The League and this week we had 3-fantastic guys, share their thoughts on the hot topics in the NBA. Unfortunately the answers were turned in before the stunning Kristaps Porzingis trade, but we do discuss: what the Pacers should do without Oladipo, what the Pelicans should do with Anthony Davis, the surging Brooklyn Nets, Luke Walton's future and the best rivalries in the game today.
So without further ado, let me introduce our guests on Around The League With Alex Golden 4.0:
Blake Murphy (The Athletic), Tony East (8 points, 9 seconds) and Zak Noble (4SZNS Podcast).
Photo Credit: Nuvo.net (Phil Taylor)
Question: Unfortunately, Victor Oladipo went down with a season ending knee injury, in a Pacers win against the Raptors on January 23rd. Should the Pacers do anything with their roster before the Trade Deadline?
Blake Murphy (The Athletic) - "This is such a tough question. Indiana can still be good and tough and strong defensively without Oladipo, but he's so important to their offensive upside that I'm not sure they can win a playoff series without him if they land in the 4-5 matchup in the East, which feels likely. Selling as a near-certain playoff team is tough, and the Bird rights on some of their expiring contracts (Thad Young, Bojan Bogdanovic) might hold more value than an asset they'd get in return. Tyreke Evans (non-Bird rights) probably becomes too important with Oldaipo down to move. Still, I think a name like Cory Joseph might make sense to see what's out there on, and non-Bird free agent Kyle O'Quinn might be attractive as a depth add elsewhere. Big picture, I think they're too far into this to blow it up or anything."
Tony East (8 Points, 9 Seconds) - "I see value in being buyers, sellers, and doing nothing for Indiana. If they can acquire a good player on a longer term deal, they could at least somewhat compete the rest of this year while being really good in the future (Conley, Jrue, Love, etc.). But trading AWAY assets when your team is at a forward-thinking crossroads seems like a bad idea if you’re just thinking holistically.
The “sellers” idea just comes from timing. All these expiring contracts lends the mind to think that trades make sense. But there’s not a ton of expiring trades that make sense since the Pacers themselves are looking ahead at cap room.
Ultimately standing pat and promoting Edmond Sumner just feels like the best move that rewards the right people. They will still be good and have a bright future."
Zak Noble (4SZNS Podcast) - "In all honesty, this team has played enough games without Victor that I believe they will still make the playoffs as is, in a very shallow Eastern conference. They have proven to be a top 3 defense regardless. On offense they make teams get out of sync to adjust to their slow pace. With that said they should bolster the roster any way they can. Target A being Mike Conley. Anything to bolster rebounding and volume 3 point shooting."
Photo Credit: SI.com
Question: Rich Paul of Klutch Sports told New Orleans front office that his client, Anthony Davis, wants a trade and doesn’t plan to resign. What should the Pelicans front office do with Davis and the rest of their current roster?
Blake Murphy (The Athletic) - "The most clear part of this is whether they move Davis or not, they should begin selling their other assets. Either way, they are moving Davis at some point and can begin expediting a rebuilding by dealing Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, E'Twaun Moore, Julius Randle, Jahlil Okafor and whoever else. It's unlikely any of these names are part of a rebuild, and it would seem that selling Davis in the search of a foundational star is a better, if more difficult, approach than remaining semi-competitive given the realities of that market. As for Davis, I see the argument for moving him now (better offers with two playoffs of Davis going to a buyer, avoid the optics or any cultural impact of dragging this out) or waiting until the summer (the Celtics can get in the mix, there is pick certainty, they can target Zion or whoever, etc). I also wonder if the NBA's recently announce investigation may take a Lakers deal off the table for the deadline, which would shift the weighting further to the summer."
Tony East (8 Points, 9 Seconds) - "The Pels should hold off on doing anything for now. If they wait until the summer, they allow Boston and their numerous assets to get involved in the bidding war which drives up the price somewhat.
If they do trade him now, Toronto and Philadelphia seem like the only teams with the right combo of win-now assets to entice New Orleans to make a deal pre-summer. Siakam/OG/Valanciunas/Wright for example from Toronto, and Simmons/Korkmaz/Amir/1st out of Philly. But I doubt that happens pre-free agency.
As for the rest of the Pels roster - keep it! Jrue Holiday is a boss, they have some nice frontcourt players otherwise, and most of their picks going forward. If you get competent players for AD you can still compete. Don't give in!
Plus, a rebuild could send them to Seattle. They will do everything in their power to avoid that. "
Zak Noble (4SZNS Podcast) - "They absolutely have to trade Davis for the best package available. The timeline being summer at the latest. I would for sure keep Julius Randle. Only trade Niko for younger, more promising assets. Otherwise, keep them. Jrue Holiday has very high value around the league right now, so I would capitalize on that, for the best package of young assets available. If they make sound decisions, this team could be ready right now and for the future."
Photo Credit: Slam Online
Question: The Brooklyn Nets have been playing really good basketball lately and are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference. What has been the key to their recent success?
Blake Murphy (The Athletic) - "I think a lot of it is the commitment to the culture and system. Obviously, Spencer Dinwiddie and D'Angelo Russell showing the growth they have helps immensely, and Dinwiddie's absence is going to hurt. Still, Kenny Atkinson has been consistent in the demands for the team's approach, their young players have grown up within that philosophy, and they've added smart, high-culture vets to supplement the rotation and the locker room. Sean Marks and Atkinson have really made the most out of a really bad situation, and the Nets can hope from here that those cultural building blocks form a steady foundation once (if) they can find some high-end talent to take them to the next step."
Tony East (8 Points, 9 Seconds) - "Loading! 20.3 points and 7.3 dimes per game since December 1st. He’s finally putting it all together, it has been a joy.
They are really hitting their stride, it’s a shame Spencer Dinwiddie just went down with an injury (he’s been great too). Joe Harris has been lighting it up, Jarrett Allen has developed rapidly yet effectively, and they have a roster that just fits, an underrated part of team building. They are going to be really good in the future."
Zak Noble (4SZNS Podcast) - "By empowering Kenny Atkinson and developing their youth. Finding a core that just puts their heads down and goes to work night in and night out, more consistently than most, in the NBA."
Photo Credit: Al Drago/Associated Press
Question: Recent reports came out that LeBron James’ camp would “prefer a coaching change”. What are your thoughts on this report coming while LeBron is nursing an injury and what are your thoughts on Luke Walton as coach?
Blake Murphy (The Athletic) - "I have a hard time making heads or tails of the constant and oft-conflicting reports out of LeBron teams. The Lakers are a top-10 defense this year and have performed about how I'd expected before the season, and that's before pricing in James' injury and the other, smaller setbacks the team's run into. No, the offense hasn't been what a James-led team should be, but they also have one of the worst shooting teams in the league around James, and I'm not sure that falls on Walton. I don't think Walton's been Coach of the Year or anything, I just think that if he looks like The Problem to you, your expectations may not have been in the right place for this team."
Tony East (8 Points, 9 Seconds) - "I don’t know what to think of Luke Walton as a coach. He was awesome coaching the Warriors, I don’t want to take that away from him, but I think a lot of people could be awesome in that role.
Generally, I think he is a good coach. He has great sets but his talent optimization isn’t perfect. A team with LeBron, however, needs the opposite. That team needs a coach that can optimize the roster and the players around it and not be as set-heavy (you have LeBron, let him figure that out). I think someone else might make more sense coaching this Lakers team, though I’m not sure who that is.
The timing is interesting. LBJ is getting an outside view of Waltons coaching and maybe he has soured on him. Stuff doesn’t leak out of LeBrons camp without good reason, so maybe something is coming. But I don’t know whose available right now that is better."
Zak Noble (4SZNS Podcast) - "I respect Luke Walton as a coach. I believe he’s a top 15 coach in the league. I like him a lot when it comes to developing youth. However, it’s almost impossible to be LeBron's coach, and I’m not sure he’s ready to take a team like this, to where LeBron’s expectations are."
Photo Credit: USA Today
Question: What is the best current team rivalry in the NBA and what is the best current player rivalry in the NBA?
Blake Murphuy (The Athletic) - I think at a player level, the most entertaining one right now is the Joel Embiid-Russell Westbrook one. There are probably (definitely) more competition-based ones, but those two offer just such an explosion of personality, it's hard not to enjoy it. Team-wise, it's a little harder to say, because the Warriors being as good as they've been (and James changing teams) has sapped a bit of the higher-end rivalries. I do like Boston-Philadelphia as a pretty consistent battle with both fanbases on Twitter stepping up for those meetings. Boston-Toronto has felt like it's a playoff series away from boiling into a proper rivalry for a few years now, too.
Tony East (8 Points, 9 Seconds) - "Does Warriors-LeBron count as a rivalry? I want to pick GSW-Cavs but that isn’t a rivalry anymore. Celtics-Lakers has been a joke for a while now. Sixers-Celtics is getting up there I guess but I’ll take Warriors-Lakers at present time.
Player rivalry, oh man. D’Lo and Swaggy P was really fun. Portis and Mirotic was fun too. Kyrie vs LeBron is probably number 2 for me, but I’m taking Russ versus KD. The pretty shots and the competitive nature of both dudes is awesome to me.
Honorable mention: Kelly Olynyk versus anyone."
Zak Noble (4SZNS Podcast) - "I thoroughly enjoy Philadelphia versus Boston, even though it’s more of a fan and city thing, and not necessarily a full blown rivalry on the court. Player wise: Joel Embiid verse Centers, Joel Embiid verse Russ, Steph verse Kyrie, and Steph verse Harden are some of my favorite player rivalries right now"
Arranged By: Alex Golden