NBA Chat With Joel Brigham, 1/30/14

Joel_ChatJoin Joel Brigham this Thursday at 1:00 p.m. ET to chat about all things NBA, from the impending trade deadline to the draft to fantasy hoops.  Get your questions in early, and be back here Thursday afternoon to take part in the festivities.

  1. Noah Litwiller

    Hey Brigs!

    I just read an article that considered the possibility of Luol Deng coming back to Chicago as a free agent next season. I assume that the Bulls would be willing for what they deem to be a fair price, but it would also require Deng to swallow some pride. The Bulls would only go after Deng if they were unable to land a big name free agent, so my questions are…

    1) Who is the most likely free agent for the Bulls to go after?
    2) Who is the most likely for the Bulls to actually get (if not their first choice)?
    3) If all else fails, do you see Luol Deng coming back as a possibility?

    Hope you’re enjoying the snow days…I don’t get many anymore.
    Noah

    • Joel Brigham

      Good afternoon, Basketball Insiders family, and welcome to another edition of my weekly chat! The Rising Stars rosters were announced yesterday, which was fun, and the actual All-Star reserves are going to be announced later, which will also be fun. I’d love to chat about some All-Star stuff, but I’m down for whatever today. Let’s dig into the questions starting with a former student of mine from years ago (Hi, Noah!)…

      1. From what I can tell, Chicago is going to have about $15 million worth of cap space, which is a good deal of money, but not enough to haul in a max level free agent like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. I think someone like Lance Stephenson could be a possibility, but only if you want to pay him $12 million a year, which is what it would take to loose him from Indiana.

      2. Stephenson is realistic, but if they weren’t going to pay Deng that much, will they give it to Lance? I’m not sure. Honestly, if Deng would take the $10 million he was offered, he’d absolutely come back with no hurt feelings. It’s not a matter of swallowing pride. It’s more about him wanting to test the market to see what he’s worth. If what he’s worth is $10 million, the Bulls would be happy to have him back.

  2. Mike

    Isaiah Thomas is an ELITE Point Guard

    5’9 Isaiah Thomas has to be the most underrated player in the NBA and should be the front runner for MIP. Thomas is averaging 20 PPG on just 14.6 FGA on 46% and nearly 40% from 3 to go along with 6 assists. He Dropped 38 on the pacers last night just a few days after he had 38 against the thunder. His 22 PER ranks 17th in the league and he gets to the FTA 5.6 times per game which is 4th amongst all point guards. He’s played at an All Star Level this season even in the crowded west. He obviously wont make it because of the competition at his position and his team record but he deserves honorable mention. I don’t ever hear anybody talk about Thomas but I think its time to consider him one of the better point guards in the league. Quite honestly I don’t think he’s that far from Damian Lillard. Obviously Lillard is the better player but its WAY closer than most might think, and actually Thomas has the better stats and analytics.

    Besides the Hype how exactly is Damian Lillard better than Isaiah Thomas? You can go by any stat or analytics and Thomas has him beat.

    • Joel Brigham

      Lillard is taller.

  3. Charlie

    If you were Masi Ujuri and Kyle Lowry’s agent tell’s you he will resign in Toronto for a 4 year / 40 million dollar dear. Do you accept? Why or why not.

    • Joel Brigham

      In a heartbeat. Lowry has been on a tear since the Rudy Gay trade, dropping some major points as the Raptors eke their way back towards respectability. I know Ujiri has been cleaning out the guys from the old regime, but Lowry has proven a worthwhile part of the future. I know injuries are a concern with him, but $10 million is completely fair considering that’s less than what someone like Jrue Holiday makes. In fact, that might even be a bargain, assuming he doesn’t end up hurting himself again.

  4. Mac

    If Joel Brigham is given a vote for ROY, who do you have at this point in the season and why: Victor Oladipo or Michael Carter Williams

    • Joel Brigham

      Michael Carter-Williams, pretty easily. He’s been hot since “go” despite his injury issues, but considering he’s in the top ten among all players in assists and in teh top three for steals, I’d say he’s made more of an immediate impact than Oladipo. Put some muscle on MCW, and he’ll be dangerous. I didn’t think he’d score as much as he has, but he’s really been just an all-around stud. Oladipo has had a VERY strong January, but MCW’s body of work on the season is stronger.

  5. 416nova

    Hey Joel,

    What do you think about these moves for my raps, can they happen and what is the likeliness:
    – Raps dont resign lowry and take whatever picks in the 2014 draft they can get
    – raps sign stephenson in the offseason to take over for lowry
    – trade t. ross and a future 1st for monroe

    what do you think of a monroe/jv frontcourt?

    does N stauskas’ game translate to the NBA or is he the canadian jimmer?

    thanks and keep up the good work

    • Joel Brigham

      I like the nickname “Canadian Jimmer.” Let’s roll with that for Stauskas. And no, I don’t like him as an NBA prospect. Pass.

      As for the Raptors, I don’t think Lance Stephenson is really a replacement for your starting point guard (who I’ve already stated I’m in favor of re-signing), but I’d be all over a trade for Greg Monroe if it were possible. Detroit doesn’t HAVE to dump him, but they may choose to since they’ve already got so much money wrapped up in Josh Smith. Ujiri is exactly the kind of tactful GM who could snatch him away for the kind of offer you’ve put out there. Valanciunas and Monroe would be fun, though I’m not sure how those two would gel defensively. Still, you can build off of that frontcourt with Lowry at the helm. Don’t know if Stephenson ends up in Toronto, though. I think he stays in Indiana, ultimately.

  6. Radu

    Hi Joel,
    How would you say Michael Carter Williams compares with a young (say, second year in the league) Tyreke Evans? The stats are very similar and they were (are) both primary ballhandlers on losing teams with no serious aspirations to contend.
    I am assuming Philly fans will be quick to say they expect more out of MCW, but can we really be blindly optimistic on all young players who have good starts to their NBA career?

    • Joel Brigham

      It’s fair to say we expect more out of MCW because Tyreke was the kind of guy that HAD to dominate the ball in order to be effective, while Carter-Williams is a much better distributor. Granted, I think some of his massive production this season has come as a result of having a HUGE role on a pretty awful team, but he’s a completely different player than Evans. I was never excited about Tyreke, but I’m thrilled about MCW. He looks like he’s 15 years old and he’s doing the things he’s doing. Just wait until he grows up a little. I hope Nerlens Noel is just as good and Philly gets the young core they’d hoped for.

  7. Storm Boy

    Augustin only weeks ago couldn’t get a game and is now playing possibly career best basketball. We often see players change teams, only to regress and people assume they have just taken the money and slackened off or they progress and the player is seen as maturing. But there is change of systems, coaching styles, player personnel etc. which can positively or negatively affect the players game.
    1. Who are the best players you have seen have their careers progressed / regressed a result of being in the right / wrong system?
    2. As a Bulls fan I don’t think that Mirotic will fulfill his potential in the Bulls system and would be better used as a valuable trade asset that may return someone better for their system. Your thoughts?

    • Joel Brigham

      1. I would need time to really think about it, but obviously Dwight Howard in L.A. last year just didn’t work. The opposite is true, though, for players that do better in new systems. Chicago’s offense is built for an aggressive offensive attack from the point guard, which is why Nate Robinson had such an awesome year last season and why D.J. Augustin is so much better now than he was in Indiana. For those role guys, it’s about finding the right team, but when free agency offers big bucks, they take the cash and worry about fit later. You see how bad Gerald Green was for the Pacers, and now he’s an important part of a surging Suns team. It’s about finding the right place at the right time, which isn’t always easy to do.

      2. I want Mirotic on this team as soon as possible. He’s crazy good and is going to be worth the $5-7/year they end up paying him. Bring him on!

  8. Smitty

    In your last chat, you stated DeRozan would be PERFECT for the Suns and that you really didn’t see any roadblocks in making that happen. Agreeing this is true, if you were the GM of the Suns what type of offer are you giving Toronto in return?

    • Joel Brigham

      Phoenix has all those picks, so that’s where I’d start, but what I didn’t consider last week was that Toronto has homecourt advantage in the playoffs if the season ends today. Might be hard to trade away your leading scorer if you’re wanting to stay on that pace. I still think DeRozan would fit quite nicely in Phoenix, but they’d have to give up some “now” assets, too, if they wanted to pry him away this year. Raptors look headed for the playoffs, and they’ll need DeRozan’s 21+ PPG to make that happen.

  9. Frank

    If you were starting a team from scratch, rank your preference #1 through #5 from these bigmen (without taking current salary into account): Greg Monroe, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson

    • Joel Brigham

      #1: Marc Gasol (biggest, offers the most on both ends of the floor)
      #2: Kevin Love (puts butts in seats, special offensively)
      #3 (tie): Jordan/Monroe (it would depend on whether I was going to build around a defensive or offensive mentality).
      #5: Al Jefferson (not the fifth-best player, but age and injury issues would have me looking at younger, fresher players).

  10. Ryan

    Hello, Joel!

    Would Orlando be a good destination for Greg Monroe–via trade or free agency? I know the Magic have quite the logjam at PF, as of now, but I feel like Monroe and Vucevic would be a very nice pairing. Thoughts?

    • Joel Brigham

      If I’m Orlando, I’m not doing anything crazy until I see where I end up with the draft. If I’m Rob Hennigen and I pick, say, fourth in the draft for some reason, Julius Randle might be my best option, and I would hate to have traded away other assets for Monroe when someone like Randle would’ve been available in the draft. I agree that Vuc and Monroe would be a fun pairing, but if I’m Orlando I’m in no hurry to get better in this lost season. Just keep stinking, see where the draft gets you, and then consider trades in July.

  11. Jon

    PJ Hairston may’ve already scored more DLeague pts than his coach Eddie Najera had in his entire career. How do scouts compare DLeague competition to what he would’ve faced at UNC?

    • Joel Brigham

      Well, it’s not like we’re oblivious to what Hairston can do against college competition because we’ve got two seasons’ worth of data to consider. But considering there are more former D-Leaguers in the NBA than ever before, we know that the competition there isn’t completely awful. But at the same time, Marquis Teague was a monster on the D-League level, too, and we see how things have panned out for him in the NBA.

      Despite all that, I think Hairston (a former McD’s All-American) is a sure-thing first-round pick. Dropping 40+ points consistently against any pro or semi-pro competition is good stuff, and a 27.4 PPG average through five D-League games is certainly noteworthy. We’ll have to see how the rest of the season goes, but he’s selling himself rather nicely right now, isn’t he?

  12. Sven

    Hi Joel, great new site ! Allthough they miss lot’s of players and aren’t winning any games the Lakers should be exciting and in the news…it’s Hollywood after all…so can you please ask Jim to sign Smush Parker ?

    • Joel Brigham

      I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  13. Jon

    Any thought that the Wolves just move on from the Rubio experience and try to move him for a guy like K. Lowery hoping to make a playoff push and keep Love in town?

    • Joel Brigham

      He’s first in the league in steals and fifth in assists, so I’m not exactly champing at the bit to get rid of him. I’m not aware of any rift between him and Love that would suggest Love needs Rubio gone in order to stay in Minnesota. Quite the opposite, really, and while Lowry does some things that Rubio can’t, namely scoring in volume at a clip higher than 30%, Rubio is elite in areas where Lowry is not.

      This is actually a great sub-question, though… who says no to a Lowry-for-Rubio trade? I’m not sure I could tell you.

  14. Jason

    Joel – what do you think the sixers can get for young or turner? They are winning too many games and need to move these players. Perhaps Okafor and a pick from PHX for Young. Can we involve Turner in a deal for Lamb from OKC?

    • Joel Brigham

      Either one of those deals is possible, but I couldn’t tell you just how likely. I agree though that they should trade one or both of those guys, not only because they need to lose more games, but also because they aren’t planning on keeping those gentlemen around long-term. Why not cash them out now for some kind of asset before Turner in particular goes bye-bye this summer in restricted free agency. I’m keeping MCW and Noel and everybody else is for sale as far as I’m concerned. Throw Spencer Hawes (whom I love) into that conversation, too. Trade them all!

  15. Jason

    If Sixers have 2 lottery picks, who do you target, assuming 1 is 3-5 and 1 is 9-12? How about Wiggins/Venloh or a Randle/Garry Harris combo?

    • Joel Brigham

      Don’t think Vonleh will slip to the 9-12 range, but Gary Harris or Dario Saric are good targets for that range. At the top of the order, I think order of preference for them would be:

      1. Wiggins
      2. Parker
      3. Randle
      4. Exum
      5. Embiid

      Give me any of those guys if I’m Philly, and I’d be happy. Wiggins or Parker, in particular.

  16. Gustavo A Thomas

    Andrew Bynum to Portland is good, bad or perfect idea?

    • Joel Brigham

      Bynum apparently wants more than minimum money, so as long as that’s the case it’s hard to imagine him ending up anywhere. I don’t love him at this point in his career, but Portland sure does need the frontcourt depth. If Bynum caves on money, go for it. Otherwise, I’m passing.

  17. Rick

    Do you think if the Pacers offered Hill and a 1st round pick for Lowery, Toronto would make the deal? Lowery being a free agent,they would get something back instead of losing him and getting nothing.

    • Joel Brigham

      It would not be a good first-round pick, for starters. I got butterflies in my stomach thinking about Lowry in Indiana, though I don’t think they’re looking to fix what isn’t broken. I especially don’t think they’re going to potentially leave themselves without a point guard for next season, though I’m sure they’d love the little bit of extra cap space that this trade would provide so that they could have more cushion for re-signing Lance Stephenson. But even though George Hill isn’t a true point guard, can you find someone serviceable and affordable to replace him if Lowry walks? Feels a little too risky considering how proud this organization is of what they’ve spent so long building. I’m guessing Indy passes here.

  18. steppxxxz

    Explain how trey burke is a top rookie shooting 37%? And why is ryan kelly on the list and not steven adams. kelly is so bad on defense that is hurts to watch. Hon mention to McLemore…so bad he was benched in favor of Marcus Thornton. Honestly, i think some of these guys may develop. McLemore no doubt will, but he’s been very bad so far. Mason Plumlee in limited minutes has been very good. Seems a strange list.

    • Joel Brigham

      I don’t always include everybody in the Honorable Mention section who deserves to be there… it’s more of a place for guys who have been noteworthy of late. I like Steven Adams, but he just doesn’t play that much and his numbers aren’t all that impressive as a result. In bigger minutes, he’ll be excellent, but I still think he came out a year too early.

      As for Burke, he’s playing a ton of minutes, shouldering a major leadership role, and helping the Jazz to win way more games than they should be. He scores a ton when he’s hot, and his ceiling is just so much higher than that of most of the other rookies. It’s a super weak class, unfortunately, and after MCW and Oladipo, Giannis and Trey are the best there is.

  19. robb

    Hey Joel,
    Im amazed at how far Lance Stephenson has come. I watch every Indy game and without him they lose some of these games their winning. Thoughts on Lance? Also what do you think if Indy gave Bynum a shot? Better offensively than Mahimi but not on the defensive end. Worth a shot?

    • Joel Brigham

      Love Lance. He’s earned the money he’s about to get, for sure.

      As for Bynum, same thing I said about the Portland inquiry. Not sure he’s worth shaking up the chemistry of a good team, but if the price is right, it’s worth a gamble. You can always cut him later if it doesn’t work out. Bynum wants more than minimum money, though, since he was cut before his $12 in Cleveland/Chicago was guaranteed. As long as he holds out for that, he’s not getting an NBA job this season.

  20. Mitch

    Grizz are roaring right now. What playoff seed is possible and who falls out to make room for Memphis? Also, Mike Conley is criminally underrated and should be an All-Star

    • Joel Brigham

      They could overtake Dallas, absolutely. It makes me pine for Marc Gasol all the more… can you imagine? What a shame that one of my favorite teams to watch is playing short-handed. But yeah, they’ve been great, but Conley plays behind a LOT of big-name guards in the Eastern Conference. You might be right about him being deserving of an All-Star nod, but it absolutely is not happening this year.

  21. Steve

    Hey Joel, It’s been a pretty rough season for the Bucks so far. With the trade deadline less than a month away do you see the bucks making any major moves? Also, how safe is Larry Drew and John Hammond?

    • Joel Brigham

      I don’t know that we can blame Larry Drew, here. Actually, give him credit for getting the young players in there to develop when what ownership really wanted was another playoff berth. They’re on track for the first overall pick and the season is dead, so unless they get offered something that significantly betters their future, they’re probably not going to be doing much at the deadline. I think if anybody were traded, it’d be Ersan Ilyasova. His contract isn’t awful and he could be very productive in the right system (Houston?). In any event, don’t expect the Bucks to do splashy things at the deadline. I just don’t think that’s happening.

      Alright gang, that’s my hour! Thanks for all the great questions, and I hope you’ll all return next week for more of the same! In the meantime, have a great (snowy) weekend, and go Bulls!