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NBA Chat With Jabari Davis 12/10/16


Join Basketball Insiders writer Jabari Davis for his weekly NBA Chat session this Saturday at 3 p.m. EST.  Be sure to add your questions and basketball topics or questions in advance!

  1. Aristotle

    Hey Jabari,

    Unimpressed with Luke Babbitt’s performance so far, I ask as a fan, is it allowed for Miami to move him to the D-League and bring up someone like Okaro White, or is there a rule against dropping a main roster player to the D-League?

    • Jabari Davis

      Hey folks, thanks for joining again this week. I see we have a few more questions than usual, so let’s have some fun…

      Hey Aristotle, looks like you won the tip. Thanks for leading things off for us. After a halfway decent year in New Orleans last season, Luke Babbitt simply hasn’t looked like a great fit there in Miami. Not sure what sending a guy in his 7th year down to the D-League would do in terms of development (or if you even CAN do that), so I would imagine the likely answer will look like him in a suit at the end of the bench at some point, unless he is able to turn it around once he returns to the court. I do, for the record, get the appeal of Okaro. He’s been playing pretty well for Sioux Falls, so it wouldn’t shock me to see them bring him up at some point.

  2. Tim

    hi my friend.
    love your weekly chat and thanks for taking the time answering question on saturday.
    whats the biggest trade we expect to see this season? everything is so quiet and no rumors coming out at all.
    and when people start expecting big things for the clippers, they lost 2 in a roll. do u think they finally getting through either warrior or spurs to reach wcf or even nba final?

    • Jabari Davis

      Absolutely my pleasure, Tim. Thanks for continuing to join and for your kind words! Even though we (as NBA fanatics) LOVE to speculate on such things, trades are always tough to predict. And by “tough” I actually mean just about impossible. That said, it would not surprise me to see teams like the Wizards (pretty much anyone BUT Wall..unless he expresses true interest in leaving), Kings (Gay, Boogie…or any of their other 5 or 6 big men), Timberwolves (Thibs looks pretty frustrated with that group already), Lakers (while the early success has been great, I still wonder about some of their pieces and figure other teams will inquire about Lou), Warriors (nothing huge, but to solidify the center position for the playoff run) and several others being active the closer we get to the deadline. Keep in mind that certain recently signed deals cannot be moved until either Dec. 15th or Jan. 15th, so teams are kind of waiting to act.

      As for the Clippers, I maintain that it is now or never for them. They’ve looked rough some nights, but have been really good for much of the season. Teams hit lulls like the one they went through last week, but as long as they stay healthy, I expect this to be their best shot at competing against the top teams. No clue if they finally push through to the conference finals, as much of that could depend upon seeding and matchups, but let’s just say they have all the pieces you should need to do that on paper.

  3. john

    keep up the great work with The Shop! who needs to step up for the Lakers in order for the team to take the next step?

    • Jabari Davis

      Thanks a lot! Absolutely love doing those each week with Lang and our guests. Should have some surprises for you guys in the coming weeks. With the Lakers, I have been cautioning people since the start that we should probably temper our expectations. The early success has been phenomenal, but this is still such a young group that it really wouldn’t be fair to expect or demand a playoff run in year one under Luke & Co. As for players that need to take the next step…it’s tough to label it as that since most of them are so young and simply continuing to develop. If choosing one, I’d go with Clarkson. He looked really strong at points in the preseason and early in the year, but seems to have regressed a bit over the last couple weeks. I’m left wondering what happened to all that talk of him pushing himself to make a defensive impact out there? Love his fight and definitely see him working out there, but there are still too many possessions on the defensive end that he is free-lancing or simply not getting after it like he can. I’d also like to see him look to be more of a playmaker at times. Especially with DLo and Calderon out, someone has to be willing to sacrifice their scoring in an effort to keep the offense from being so stagnant and iso-heavy for such long stretches.

  4. john

    Is Luke Walton your Coach of the year frontrunner at this point? What do the Lakers need to do for Walton to win the award?

    • Jabari Davis

      Way too early to consider that, but I will say what Luke and his staff have done has absolutely been impressive. Aside from the fact that last year’s squad didn’t win its 10th game until February, it has been great to see how they got this team to buy-in on the offensive end from the start. Now, the true test will be in maintaining that buy-in and finding a way to instill the same type of commitment to the defensive end. They look great when everything is rolling or when in the midst of a comeback (as this team has shown a tendency to do with regularity), but I’d like to see the same type of communication, connectivity and effort defensively throughout the games. Brian Kamenetzky (ESPNLA) made a good point of this the other day when he described it as a “focus” issue rather than primarily an “effort” thing. While they are guilty of not fighting on the backboards and for position in the post (on the defensive end) at times, I agree with BKam that some of it is a lack of focus to the details and little things that leads to bigger problems as a defensive unit. But to your original point, I think Luke would at least garner some serious attention and consideration if these Lakers were able to somehow stay around or even slightly above the .500 mark. That would be pretty amazing for a lot of reason, but shouldn’t necessarily be an expectation given the injuries and eventual grind of the season.

  5. Katie

    Hey Jabari, do you think the Lakers success this season is more about Luke Walton or Kobe retiring?

    • Jabari Davis

      Hey Katie, thanks for jumping in this week. I think it has to do with a lot of things. People tend to get sensitive when you attribute it to Bryant’s retirement, but that definitely factors in. Taking absolutely NOTHING away from his illustrious career, those last few injury-riddled years did leave the team in a bit of a holding pattern of sorts. The team seemed to have one foot in the “we’re rebuilding” side while the other was stuck in trying to win a bit so an all-time great could have a positive send-off. Needless to say, that didn’t work out so well. Another way of looking at it is that whether by design or due to luck, all that recent losing led to a pretty solid foundation of players to move forward with. I definitely think the fact that they FINALLY found the right coach and at the right time should be considered. In fact, it’s going to be just as much fun watching Luke develop and expand his coaching philosophy right alongside some of these young players. It isn’t mentioned often, but they were really smart to bring Brian Shaw back into the mix to assist Luke with the transition. Say what you will about his short stint as a head coach, but Shaw has always been considered a great guy to have when developing and trying to mold young players as an assistant. Both with the Lakers in the past and with that previous group in Indiana the year he helped Vogel, Shaw’s done some good work. I like what the Lakers have going and fully expect Luke & his crew to lead them back to serious contention within a couple more years.

  6. Katie

    Also, do you think there’s any chance the Lakers sneak into the playoffs? Would love for the Lakers to get in and face the Clippers!

    • Jabari Davis

      Ha! I used to get lambasted on Twitter for saying the same thing, but I would love it as well. I don’t see it happening this season, but say the Lakers continue to develop and find a way to add another contributor to next year’s mix…no reason why we couldn’t see something like a 3/6 or 2/7 matchup next season.

  7. SJ

    Happy Saturday JB 🙂 I usually like to quietly read the chats however my 1 game winning streaks 76ers 🙂 have me asking… should 76ers fans be concerned 76ers as an organization seem determined to play BS as the 1 guard? I understand his skill set, however, I thought it would be better to play @ the 3 and use those skills to dominate the position. Does Simmons @ the 1 make sense?

    • Jabari Davis

      Well, I’m really glad you decided to join the mix this week! One of the issues I could see with playing him exclusively at the three is that you’d like that player to be able to space the floor and consistently knock down the corner or wing three in today’s NBA. Also, Simmons seems most comfortable out there when at the top of the floor with space to operate and multiple angles to attack. Consider what Milwaukee is doing with Giannis right now. He’s kind of shifting around the court depending upon the lineup and situation, but playing a lot of point forward. With today’s NBA, guys are no longer locked in to what we considered “traditional” positions and roles. Teams are utilizing the skill set rather than attempting to force a square peg in a round hole, so with Simmons…it at least seems like a similar role is in store. I honestly cannot wait to see what this team looks like once he returns. With Embiid living up to ALL the hype and Saric starting to really put it together, add BS into the mix and they are going to be a lot fun.

  8. Jay

    What move or moves should people expect to see between now and the deadline?

    • Jabari Davis

      Always good to see you back in the fold, Jay. You know it’s always tough to predict moves or movement because we never quite know how much GMs truly value particular assets. That said, here is a list of some of the names I fully expect to see discussed and rumored over the next couple months: DeMarcus Cousins (if you’re Sac, you probably realize IF he’s moved, now is the time), Bradley Beal (I know they just paid him, but that mix still doesn’t seem quite right and I’d imagine other teams might be interested…maybe Porter as well), Rudy Gay, Paul George (I’m somewhat surprised and actually disappointed it seems to be coming to that since I like him in Indy…although, can you imagine what George and say…Ingram could look like as a defensive tandom alongside D’Angelo for the next few years?), Mario Hezonja (sure seems like there is more there than we’ve gotten…or at least we were told that) and Jahlil Okafor (at least he’s healthier than Noel, but can you find a team looking to build around his skill set?).

      I definitely look forward to seeing how each of these situations play out, and always looking forward to the surprise moves that take place.

  9. Rick in Seattle

    Jabari,

    Thibodeau continues to express frustration with the Timberwolves poor record, as reported here on Basketball Insiders.

    If he is remotely interested in trading for Deng, the Lakers should not hesitate to at least discuss a deal. One recently proposed deal would have the Wolves sending back Pekovic and Shabez Muhammad. Yes, Pekovic is currently injured and likely out for this season. But he may have trade value next season (the final year on his current contract), and that would save the Lakers about $36 mil by not having Deng the last 2 years of his current contract. In addition Shabez (a UCLA product) is only 24 and would fit well with the current young core.

    As the Lakers continue to improve under Walton’s leadership, free agents will more seriously consider the Lakers. But with the cap-clogging contracts of Deng (and Mozgov), its going to be difficult to move them, particularly during the final two years of their contracts.

    Hopefully, the Lakers FO is looking down the road a couple years and are taking this into consideration. According to some reports, Dallas has just recently expressed interest in moving Bogut–the same Bogut that Walton coached at Golden State. Thou Bogut has had some injury issues, he is in the final year of his contract. If Dallas saw value in Mozgov (clearly an unknown factor), this might be another trade opportunity for LA. Dallas loves to make mid-season trades.

    I understand the value of chemistry and keeping and developing the current team intact. But I would strongly argue that Deng & Mozgov are not long-term core members of this team, and that their 4-year contracts are like tombstones around the (free agency) necks of this organization going forward.

    All I am saying is that the Lakers need to keep an eye out for ways to move these two players (without decimating the current core), so that it opens up future free agency opportunities.

    Where is this a bad strategy?

    • Jabari Davis

      Hey Rick, good to have you back this week. As I’ve said in previous weeks, of course you consider deals of this nature if you are the Lakers. Trouble is, these deals would each be favorable to the Lakers and I’m not sure we can expect other teams to accept that. Actually, while I certainly understand the thought process behind wanting to get out of the final years of those deals with veterans, why not reach out to Indiana about Paul George? I want to be clear that I am not starting a rumor, nor am I suggesting this was heard somewhere, but the idea of being able to pair Ingram with George as wing defenders would be the way I would be looking if I were that front office. Purely hypothetical of course, but a trio of George, D’Angelo and Ingram could be really nice core to add pieces around. Again, all of that is with respect for these players as we don’t want to forget that we are talking about actual people and not just fantasy pieces. I definitely see where your strategy was going, for the record..and wouldn’t be disappointed to see any of that take place.

  10. Rick in Seattle

    Jabari,

    Do you know what the rule is for the number of times a season, that an NBA roster player can be sent down to the D-league and recalled to the parent team?

    I thought there was a limited number of times this could be done, but the Lakers have sent Zubac down and recalled him at least three times.

    What is the limit, if there is one? Thanks

    • Jabari Davis

      It’s unlimited for players with under three years of experience. I’m happy to see them and more teams utilizing the d-league in order to speed up the development process. I like that it permits them to continue getting a mix of playing time with the opportunity to also be around the NBA team for lessons along the way. I hope to see him get more of an opportunity at some point, so it’s good to know he’ll be in shape and physically prepared for live action if that time comes.

  11. Hoops Keith

    What’s good, JD? This is more of a rant than a question. Can people stop crediting Mike D’Antoni for the Rockets’ current ascension? This is nothing more than Morey Ball Reloaded with shooters. It’s still the same Harden-dominant, high volume of pick and rolls and isos offense they ran under McHale/Bickerstaff. They still discourage the midrange jumper, and they still revert to Harden isos when the offense becomes stagnant. None of this is D’Antoni-like. He is simply a figurehead.

    • Jabari Davis

      Hey Keith, thanks a lot for joining again this week. While I do see where you’re coming from and agree that certain elements of things appear similar to that 2014 season that led to Harden finishing as the runner-up in the MVP voting, I do think there are several significant differences with this current run. One of the things I really appreciate about MDA’s system is that while it still permits one player to monopolize the ball, it sets scorers up in position to be open and available as outlets no matter where Harden winds up taking the play. Another slight difference was in MDA’s approach upon coming to town. After running into issues with Carmelo and Kobe in his last stops, he had to have realized his approach when dealing with star players was something that was discussed.

      Also, we need to give Morey some credit for putting these pieces around Harden. They may have to worry about team health moving forward given the history of their players, but they have a lot of offensive fire power when at full strength. It’s great to see Eric Gordon back and playing so well offensively. As important as each player is, Gordon’s presence really provides that scoring punch and balance the Rockets will need to maintain throughout an eventual playoff run when teams can focus in on limiting Harden.

      Let’s see how the rest of the season goes for these guys and whether MDA is put into a position of having to adjust or adapt. It has been a fun season for those guys so far, so I’m eager to see if they can maintain it.