Chat With Nate Duncan 8/12/14

Nate Duncan is an NBA analyst and attorney.  His chats get started on Tuesdays at 11 Eastern and include all topics NBA. Nate_Duncan_Chat_3

  1. Grant J.

    Roughly speaking, where do you rank Kobe historically? Is it safe to say that he’s behind LBJ? Seems there’s no real statistical argument that would suggest Kobe > LBJ.

    • Nate Duncan

      Good morning and welcome to the weekly chat. Feel free to submit some less traditional questions as we near the depths of the offseason.

      Yes, it is almost impossible to come up with an argument for Kobe. LeBron IS only 29 right now, so if he were to suffer some sort of unfortunate injury and never really contribute again maybe you could make the argument that Kobe had more longevity and provided more career value. But LeBron has probably had between 8 and 9 seasons better than Kobe’s second best season aside from his great 06 season. And even that is probably worse than LeBron’s 5 best.

      Also a quick aside: LeBron averaged over 42 minutes a game in 04-05 and 05-06 at ages 20 and 21. That is pretty remarkable. Plus he did USA basketball in the 04 and 06 summers as well.

  2. Oleg

    Good day sir!

    Now that it looks less likely kevin love will be going to the lakers next summer, who do you think the lakers should be looking at? Thank you sir!

    • Nate Duncan

      With Kobe Bryant taking up $25 million of the salary cap, it is hard to see why a star in their prime would come to the Lakers next year. Much like this year, someone like Carmelo Anthony would realize that there would not be room for a second star with Kobe making that much, so the ceiling would be pretty low. Not a lot of first tier stars want to waste a season of their late prime like that, so the Lakers might have to either overpay for a 2nd tier star or have essentially a 3rd straight transition year with a lot of shorter term contracts like this year.

      The only true star level guys as free agents will be Love and Aldridge, assuming LeBron stays true to his word and re-signs a new contract for a bit more money next year. Aldridge would presumably be leaving Portland because he didn’t feel like he had enough chance to win, and the Lakers wouldn’t offer that for at least a year. Plus, a maximum contract for someone like Aldridge, who will be turning 30, probably isn’t a great idea. The Lakers could be in trouble until at least 2016, because they will very likely lose their 2015 draft pick as well. It really is remarkable how hamstrung they have been by the Kobe extension–especially because his presence will presumably prevent them being bad enough to hold onto their top-5 protected pick they owe PHX this year.

  3. Chris G

    This question might be moot by chat time (I’m writing it Saturday), but it sounds like Cavs-Heat and Warriors-Clippers are on tap for Christmas Day games. Who else might join them? My guesses are Bulls-Lakers (two big markets, and virtual Gasol/Boozer swap), Spurs-Thunder, and maybe Rockets-Knicks, just to fit New York in the picture (Anthony did spurn Houston, so there’s a story there). That covers most of the big markets and top teams. If the full Christmas Day roster has been released by chat time, which game is most intriguing?

    • Nate Duncan

      I haven’t checked since yesterday, but I would say Dubs/Clippers sounds the most interesting there, unless Miami and Cleveland haven’t played yet. Thunder/Spurs is always interesting, but Spurs regular season games individually seem to mean so little since we know they’ll be good and Pop isn’t going to play his best guys big minutes. So Warriors/Clips is the pick there I think.

  4. Rob

    Hey Nate,

    some members of the media think that Spain is the WC favourite now.

    Why? I don´t get it? If you take a look at the US team you still have NBA stars like Rose, Curry, Irving, Davis.

    The Spanish team has Marc Gasol. And Pau? The still good but not great anymore Pau? Rubio – one of the most criticized players in the NBA?

    Do they have such a great chemistry? Or is the US media trying to avoid huge expectations for the home team?

    I´m from Germany and of course I´m just a fan and not an expert, but still, the US team on paper should absolutely be the clear favourite.

    • Nate Duncan

      The biggest reason the US should still be the favorite is that Spain has a MUCH harder bracket than the USA. The most difficult matchup the US will have is with Lithuania or maybe Slovenia before they get to the Final. Spain must contend with France, Brazil, Argentina, Croatia, Greece, and Serbia before the final. If Spain does get to the final against the US, I would give them about a 50% chance of beating Team USA on home soil.

      You are right that the US has more talent individually. Shoot, the city of Chicago along has more talent individually than Spain. But the Spanish team has consistently played well above the sum of their parts, to the point that the US has found them very difficult to stop. (The Spanish have had close to zero success defending the US though.)

      You are right that one reason to think Spain may not pose as much of a threat this time around is the fact Pau and Juan Carlos Navarro (who had 19 points in the first half of the gold medal game in 2012 and also killed in the 2008 final) are slowing down age-wise. But the US’ main advantage internationally is the fact that nobody can match up athletically with our wings. With no Durant, LeBron, or even Iguodala on this team, that is mooted. Forcing someone like JCN or Rudy Fernandez to try to guard those guys was the biggest problem for Spain.

      Meanwhile, the US could really struggled with the athleticism of Ibaka–if they play him. He’s a better player than Pau at this point and could really shore up the Spanish defense, but it’s hard to believe they’ll play him down the stretch over Pau.

      The US does have a ton of talent, but a lot of it is unproven internationally. Much will depend on Anthony Davis. If he can be the US team’s 2nd leading scorer, avoid foul trouble, and protect the rim, they should be ok. If not, things could get dicey.

  5. Jasen

    Nate, who are some potential targets that the Cavs are looking to acquire next offseason with Haywood’s non-guaranteed contract and Memphis’ first round pick as an attractive package? Marc Gasol & Larry Sanders seem to jump out at me.

    • Nate Duncan

      Gasol will likely command a maximum contract, so more assets other than Haywood will be needed to make the deal work cap-wise. It would also have to be a sign and trade, as they will not have cap space due to Kevin Love’s cap hold. Would Memphis agree to such a deal? Perhaps, if Marc were dead set on leaving. But it seems like they are planning on rolling with Gasol for a while longer, given the extension of Randolph for another two years after this one. If they make him a maximum offer, he seems pretty happy there unless things unexpectedly fall apart this season.

      For Sanders, I’m not sure if that works for the Bucks. Sanders is just starting his $11 mm AAV extension this year. Granted that looks bad right now with his problems last year, but if he improves enough this year that the Cavs would want him, he’ll command more than just the first round pick you mentioned in a trade.

      I am not sure getting a real rim-protector with just that Haywood contract and the first-rounder are realistic. Those guys are too valuable to obtain via trade for so little. Maybe they could throw someone like Waiters into the deal if he looks awesome this year, but even that may not be enough.

  6. Gregg

    was debating with someone about this…..I woulda traded Kyrie over Wiggins..his perceived value woulda meant that Cavs could keep Bennet too (or trade him for someone else) plus he’s not good off ball spotting up, terrible defender, small….Wiggins could be good defender this year and learning from Bron could be great for him…Cavs problems will be D, they could start Waiters and he’s good enough driver and 3pt shooter and last… Kyrie would give them more flexibility and cap relief since Wiggins will be on rookie deal for years…not sure if possible since he just signed, but they could have planned for this, seems like Lebron knew he was leaving for a while now….thought?

    • Nate Duncan

      They had already agreed to a maximum extension with Irving before James agreed to come there, at a time when it did not appear likely that he would. By all accounts, even if LeBron knew he was leaving (which I don’t buy, as I think if Riley could have offered him a clearly upgraded team he could have stayed) Cleveland did not know. So they wouldn’t have been able to avoid giving Irving the max extension. Signing a guy to that and then trading him to an NBA backwater immediately after isn’t great for your team’s reputation. But let’s say they could get past this.

      I have never been as high on Wiggins, and I think it’s unlikely he’s ever as good as Kyrie is right now, even if he’s cheaper for a few years. More importantly, LeBron wants to win now, and he likes Kyrie. There’s no way Wiggins produces as much as Kyrie over, say, the next 3 seasons. Plus you’ve now got a team with huge holes at PG and C, and without enough shooting with Wiggins and LeBron as the wings playing big minutes. Their current team will be much better than the squad under what you’re proposing this year, and likely next year as well because they aren’t getting any free agents as good as Kyrie next year either. LeBron wants maximum contention for his age 30 and 31 seasons, and they’d be smart to maximize that this year and next while he’s still realistically the best player.

      But most importantly, this isn’t what LeBron wanted, so it wasn’t going to happen.

      Note by the way, that if Irving were traded he would count salary-wise as the average of the 5 years of his extension and this year’s last year of his rookie contract. I am not sure precisely how that would work since we don’t know the exact amount of Irving’s extension until next summer when the finances are set for the first year of his extension. I will have to ask about that.

  7. Cody Rhoads

    Nate, first year graduate student in Sports Business with a concentration in Sports Analytics. I am looking to pursue a career in player representation or basketball ops. Any advice on how to prepare to land an internship?

    • Nate Duncan

      Wow, there are actual graduate programs in that now huh? How many sports analytics jobs can be out there to support these programs? I guess they’re responding to the market place, and I have no idea how big yours or other programs are, but it’s hard to imagine all of the people in the class can get jobs. (I’m a little sensitive to this because I think a lot of law students have gone to law school without realizing there may not be jobs waiting for them.)

      That said, you need to have some skills that will differentiate you, have a way of proving that (i.e., work that you have made public), and most importantly make as many connections as you can. But frankly, I’m probably not the person to ask since I’ve never actually held a job working for a team.

  8. Ben G.

    Thoughts about Bruno Caboclo in general/summer league? Is he really that far off, or was Fraschilla just pushing a fun sound bite?

    • Nate Duncan

      Fraschilla was way way way off. He’s only 1 year away from being 2 years away.

      I thought it was a good pick. He has a 7’7 wingspan and can move and shoot. With the 20th pick, on a team that could use another high-upside guy, why not? I think he could be ready to contribute next year with his physical tools, especially if he gets into a strength program and progresses the way Giannis has. Caboclo seems like someone who could really improve his athleticism once he starts working out on an NBA level.

  9. Brandon

    Hello Nate! Which rebuilding/tanking team do you think has the most reason to believe there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel? Utah? Boston? Orlando? Philly? Lakers? Milwaukee?

    • Nate Duncan

      My rankings:


      Milwaukee, a lot depends on a bounce-back from Sanders. But he and Jabari could be an amazing frontline that would fit together extremely well in the new NBA. And Giannis is also dripping with potential. Add a guard with another draft pick this year and that’s a great, high-upside nucleus.

      Utah finally got the star potential they needed with Exum. They should get another solid pick this year also.

      Philly will get another draft pick this year, and has some high-upside guys with Embiid and Noel (defensively).

      Boston vs. the Lakers I struggled with. I believe in LAL’s ability to attract free agent talent a bit more. But Boston does have a ton of draft picks, including their own this year and I like Smart slightly more than Randle.

      The Lakers have Randle, but more importantly cap space and a market that people theoretically want to come to. The big problem there is the lack of a 2015 pick though.

      I’m not sure I believe in what Orlando is doing to be honest. I think picking Gordon over Exum was a mistake–who on this team projects as a potential superstar? How about someone to protect the rim? If you’re well into your rebuild and don’t have either of those things, it’s hard to project how you become an elite team.

  10. jim

    What do you think of the Thad/Bennett deal? Going to happen?

    • Nate Duncan

      I’d have kept Bennett if I were Minnesota. At least he has some upside. Young probably just leaves in a year, and they are unlikely to make the playoffs anyway.

  11. Shawn

    What moves (if any) would you make if you were the Spurs GM. They have one roster spot open for a free agent

    • Nate Duncan

      I think they have their rotation pretty much set. Maybe grab another toolsy wing guy and see if I could develop him. But nobody specific comes to mind right now.

  12. Ryan

    Thanks, for chatting. I understand that the Cavs probably had to make the Love trade but did they have to give up so much. Two number one overall picks and a 1st rounder is way more than any superstar trade has garnered in the past. Especially given the Wolves only leverage was the threat of a Bulls trade that would have been tough to negotiate. What do you think of the trade? Can you think of team in a similar situation that got as much as the Wolves?

    • Nate Duncan

      Bennett was so bad he’s not really anywhere near the stature of a number one overall pick. In fact, given his rookie year, it’s likely that he provides negative value relative to his contract over the course of the deal. Now, he COULD be a lot better, and that’s worth something. but the likely outcome is he won’t.

      I can’t think of a team that got as much as the Wolves, but it was a unique situation. If LeBron doesn’t go to CLE, and they don’t have a ton of assets to spare, it probably ends up being something more like a typical return, along the lines of the possible offers from GSW and CHI.

  13. David

    Do you think there’s any chance at the Wiggins-Love deal falling apart?

    • Nate Duncan

      Not really. Why would it?

  14. zounds

    With Love joining LBJ, you gotta wonder about their complimentary players. They need rim protectors, shooters and defenders, and after LBJ, Love and Kyrie their next best players (Andy, Tristan, Waiters)don’t seem to suit their needs. More trades on the horizon?

    • Nate Duncan

      I think they will at least start the season with this squad and see how it goes. If the defense doesn’t look good, I think you are right we could see more moves. Shooting will be fine though, with Miller and possibly Ray Allen.

  15. Dan

    What do you think Miami’s offense looks like without Lebron? They couldn’t score with him off the floor in the playoffs, and the 2nd unit is weaker this year. They’re going to have less shooting and spacing as well.

    • Nate Duncan

      Yeah, you make a good point. With Bosh playing center they should still have ok spacing in theory, but that helps less if he’s going to be more of a primary option now with the ball in his hands. Luol Deng has struggled to shoot the last couple of years, and they won’t have Ray Allen any longer. They are going to have to hope McRoberts continues to improve from three point range. He should start for them, and his spacing will be crucial with little coming from the wing players Wade and Deng.

  16. Ken

    Earlier Cleveland traded Carrick, cash and a draft pick for three non guaranteed contract players from Utah to help facilitate their pursuit of Kevin Love.

    Now that the parameters of the potential Love deal have changed, these players are not needed in the transaction and there probably are not roster spots available if Cleveland sign Marion and Ray Allen.

    Do you see any probability of Cleveland keeping John Lucas III as a back up point guard? Or being able to move him for a pick?

    • Nate Duncan

      Lucas will almost certainly be waived. He couldn’t get run on a Utah team desperate for PG help last year, and was disastrous when he did play. He’s negative value on his contract, so moving him for anything would not be possible.

      Alright, that’s it for today. When you’ve just answered a John Lucas III question, that might mean it’s time to call it quits.