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NBA PM: McDermott Trade Costs Bulls Cap Space

Contrary to popular belief, the Bulls’ trade for Doug McDermott did not add cap space; it actually cost them money… Philadelphia, believe it or not, is putting together a future dynasty.

Joel Brigham

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The Truth Behind the Doug McDermott Trade

When it was first announced on Thursday night that the Chicago Bulls had made a trade that would send the No. 16 and No. 19 picks in the draft for the rights to Creighton forward Doug McDermott, the initial response was pretty much this:

“Oh good. The Bulls traded two first-round picks for one so they can amass as much cap space as possible in a potential free agency push for Carmelo Anthony. Let all of us in Chicago rejoice!”

The truth, though, is something quite a bit different, and that truth became clear once it was made known that forward Anthony Randolph and his $1.825 million salary would also be coming to Chicago in the deal.

According to Mark Deeks of Sham Sports, by adding that money to McDermott’s $1.898 million cap hold as the 11th pick and a roster charge of over $500,000, the Bulls actually added money to the payroll in this deal rather than create more space for Anthony by consolidating picks. All told, Chicago has about $1 million less to offer Carmelo in free agency (assuming they amnesty Carlos Boozer) than they would have had they drafted Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris themselves.

So why make the trade, then? The way Gar Forman spoke at the introductory press conference, the deal was made because Chicago really, really liked McDermott. He’s been on their radar for years and is, quite frankly, a pretty perfect player for their team this year. He’s mature and accomplished enough to help right away, plus he can score the ball in a variety of situations, and putting up points was an area in which Chicago was dead-last in 2013-14.

Denver apparently sensed Forman’s desperation and moved the trade beyond just the No. 16 and No. 19 for the No. 11 and got Chicago to take back a dumb contract and send the Nuggets a future second-round pick. The answer to why the trade was made is pretty simple: the Bulls wanted him and were okay doing something silly in order to get him.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Randolph is in the team’s plans, and Forman has referred to him as a sign-and-trade piece despite the fact that Randolph already played in New York and they were so interested in him that they let him walk away to sign with Denver. Who traded him Chicago. Who now thinks there’s an outside chance that he can be used as part of a sign-and-trade package for Carmelo Anthony.

It doesn’t seem likely, and it’s even tougher when one considers that his contract cannot be aggregated with another player’s contract in trade for two months. Deeks has explained in depth that there is a sneaky way around this, and that Randolph could actually be included in a deal that would send him back to New York along with other Bulls players, but the hard part is dealing with New York’s perceived disinterest in Randolph (and Boozer, for that matter) more than it is about dealing with the money.

Randolph is a very small expiring contract, so unloading him shouldn’t be an entirely impossible task, and now that McDermott is on the roster, trading Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and his $3+ million salary next year is a little more palatable, as well. Amnesty Boozer and do something with Taj Gibson, and Chicago could have enough money to sign Carmelo outright.

If they can convince New York to do a sign-and-trade (if Chicago is where Anthony ultimately decides is the place for him), they probably lose the same players but then keep their mid-level exception, which could potentially be used on Euro-stud Nikola Mirotic.

Obviously, the sign-and-trade looks as though it would be the better deal for both teams, but it’s impossible to know how all of this will pan out. What we do know is that Chicago absolutely did not create cap space by pulling off the McDermott trade. Rather, they have $1 million fewer to offer Melo as a result, at least for now.

Philadelphia’s Still All-In For the Future

You got the sense that the Philadelphia 76ers were building toward something. With four lottery picks in the last two seasons, it would appear to be easy to turn things around in a relatively expedient way, but GM Sam Hinkie is building his team in a rather unconventional way.

Of those four picks, only one of them—Michael Carter-Williams—will have played his first full season in the league. Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft, sat out all last season rehabbing his knee after a torn ACL, the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, Joel Embiid, has a couple of now-infamous pins in his foot and is likely out at least five months and the No. 10 pick this year, Dario Saric, has a new contract with a Turkish club that will keep him from the NBA for at least two years.

In other words, despite having two top-10 picks in this year’s draft, Philadelphia looks primed to come into next season with more-or-less the same awful lineup that tied a record for consecutive losses and finished with the second-worst record in the NBA.

It’s not all bad, though, as Philadelphia put together some impressive work drafting in the second round, which couldn’t have been too hard considering they owned one-sixth of the picks there. Still, they used them well, drafting highly-touted Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic, trading the rights to Russ Smith for Pierre Jackson and drafting a couple of players that probably should have been first-rounders: K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant.

Those are nice building blocks and should help make the team better than they were a year ago, but not dramatically so. Noel’s presence will be appreciated, but there’s a good chance Embiid doesn’t play this year. We know Saric definitely won’t.

So what’s the play here? Why submit Sixers fans to another year of brutally awful basketball? Because Hinkie and the rest of the Philadelphia front office is swinging for the fences. To be a great team and have a shot at a championship, the roster has to be flush with star talent. Rookie of the Year Carter-Williams is a nice start, but Embiid is a transcendent talent when he’s healthy. Without major injury setbacks, many believe he’ll be the best player from the best draft class in a decade.

Saric, meanwhile, has plenty of potential for NBA stardom himself. In any other year (and with the guarantee that he’d actually play for team that drafted him) he’s probably a top-five pick. With those two guys and Noel, who also would’ve been the top overall pick a year ago without his own injury concerns, there’s plenty of long-term potential here to see the Sixers grow into an Eastern Conference powerhouse.

But Hinkie is gambling that everybody pans out. In that crowd he’s got a bad knee, a bad foot, a bad back and a European address. That’s not winning championships immediately, but the Sixers keep drafting these boom-or-bust players because they think Embiid, Saric and Noel are the type of players who will eventually get them there.

We’re a long ways away from seeing whether or not this all pans out, but if Philly is back in the lottery again next year and adds someone like Jahlil Okafor or Cliff Alexander or Emmanuel Mudiay, the picture for this franchise could be incredibly rosy by 2016-17. That’s a long time away, but when this team finally all comes together and matures, it’s hard to come up with a young core featuring more elite (potential) star power.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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NBA

Rookie of The Year Watch – 12/13/17

Shane Rhodes checks back in on what’s become a relatively consistent Rookie of the Year race.

Shane Rhodes

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It has been a pretty ho-hum Rookie of The Year race so far in the 2017-18 season, with the top rookies staking their claims to this list at the beginning of the season and, for the most part, staying there. While there has been some movement up and down over the season and since our last installment, for the large part those who were on the list remain on the list.

Those players have earned their spots on this list with their play, however. This rookie class is one of the better, more exciting classes in recent memory. These players have just managed to remain at the top of the hill.

Let’s take a look at this week’s rankings.

stockup456. Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls (Last Week: Unranked)

By virtue of John Collins missing time due to injury, Markkanen jumps back onto this list. However, that’s not to say Markkanen has played poorly this season. On the contrary, the former Arizona Wildcat and current Chicago Bull has played very well; it’s just hard to get recognized when you are on the worst team in the league.

Markkanen is averaging 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, third and second among rookies, respectively, while adding 1.3 assists per game as well. Athletic enough to get his own shot and big enough to be a mismatch when he’s on the floor, Markkanen is probably the best (healthy) offensively player the Bulls have. While his defensive game isn’t great, his defensive rating of 106.4 still ranks ninth amongst rookies.

Perhaps most importantly, Markkanen inspires hope for a brighter future in Bulls fans that have watched the team plummet from the 50-win team it was just three seasons ago.

stockup455. Dennis Smith, Jr., Dallas Mavericks (Last Week: 6)

His shooting percentages continue to underwhelm and the Dallas Mavericks still have one of the worst records in the NBA, but Dennis Smith Jr. has been one of the Mavs’ bright spots this season while averaging 14.4 points, four rebounds and four assists per game.

While he hasn’t been a great shooter overall, Smith Jr. has managed to be a big contributor on offense for the Mavs, with an offensive rating of 101.4, ninth among rookies, and an assist percentage of 25.2 percent, fourth among rookies. He is second on the team in scoring behind Harrison Barnes’ 18.4 points per game as well. He is still a work in progress, but Dallas has found a keeper in Smith Jr.

stockdown454. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers (Last Week: 3)

While the Lakers have stumbled over the past few weeks, Kuzma continues to play well when he is on the floor. He still paces the Los Angeles Lakers in scoring with an average of 16.1 points per game, third among rookies, while also dishing in 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

Kuzma is now second among rookies in double-doubles with eight on the season and three in his last five games. With a diverse offensive game, the power forward should continue to impress as the season goes along.

stockup453. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (Last Week: 4)

Donovan Mitchell has been electrifying in recent weeks. Second in scoring among rookies, Mitchell is averaging 17.3 points per game to go along with three rebounds and 3.2 assists. As his confidence has grown, so to have his field goal percentage and three-point percentages. Mitchell has led the Utah Jazz in scoring in 11 of their 27 games, and is second on the Jazz in scoring too, behind Rodney Hood’s 17.7 points per game.

Mitchell became the second rookie ever, first since Blake Griffin in 2011, to score more than 40 points in a single game after going for 41 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Coupling that with his high-flying athleticism, Mitchell has been one of the best rookies to watch this season.

stocknochanges452. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (Last Week: 2)

Jayson Tatum is on pace to be only the second rookie ever to lead the league in three-point percentage. In over 38 years, the only other player to do it was Anthony Morrow, who shot 46.7 percent on 2.7 attempts per game during the 2008-09 regular season. Tatum is currently shooting 50 percent on over three attempts per game.

The 19-year-old forward has also made a near seamless transition from the isolation-dominated basketball that he played at Duke, and has flourished as the third, fourth and sometimes even fifth option on offense, having scored in double digits in 25 of 29 games and averaging 13.8 points per game on the season. His defense continues to be better than advertised as well.

Tatum has been Mr. Clutch among rookies as well. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, Tatum has 14 field goals on 21 attempts, seventh in the entire NBA and tops among rookies. In fact, Tatum is the only other rookie in the top 15 in clutch field goals.

While Mitchell has been on fire recently, Tatum has performed well enough to this point where he is still in control of the number two spot among rookies. But the race for this second spot is close and will continue to be close throughout the season. The race for the number one spot on the other hand? Not so much.

stocknochanges451. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (Last Week: 1)

It would make for a very boring race if Ben Simmons remained at the top of this list for the entire season. And it looks increasingly likely that that is going to be the case.

Try as they might, the other rookies just can’t hang with Simmons; none of them have the right combination of production and physicality to keep pace with the point-forward. Tatum has been better than advertised while Mitchell and Kuzma have exceeded all predraft expectations, but none of them can produce what Simmons has. With averages of 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game, Simmons would be just the second rookie in NBA history, the first since Oscar Robertson during the 1960-61 season, to finish the season with that stat line.

So, unless they combine their powers to become a being with superhuman basketball skills, the other rookies don’t stand a chance against Simmons in the race for Rookie of the Year.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: Another 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 12/13/17

Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler drops his latest 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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A little less than a month ago we dropped the first 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which was met with a lot of disdain. Which is often a good thing because it sparks the discussion in NBA circles.

Since that Mock dropped, we’ve seen a bit more play out of some of the top prospects and many of the assumptions made almost a month ago are starting to settle into place a little more clearly.

The prevailing thought from NBA scouts and executives is that the possible 2018 NBA Draft class has a lot more questions than answers. The common view is that outside of the top 3 or 4 players there could be a very wide range on who the next 10-12 players will be; so expect for the second tier to evolve a lot over the course of the college basketball season.

A couple of things have started to surface among NBA scouts and executives, there seem to be three camps emerging around the top overall player – Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and international phenom Luka Dončić, seem to be the leading names mentioned most, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton making a strong push into the discussion. We can safely call this a three-horse race at this point.

The prevailing belief is that none of the three is far and away better than the other as a professional prospect, making it more likely than not that the top player selected will have a lot more to do with which team ultimately lands the pick, more so than the player themselves.

This class also seems to be brimming with promising athletic point guards, which unlike last year’s draft, could provide a lot of options for teams still trying to find that impact point guard.

There also looks to be 27 players in the projected top 100 that are 6’10 or bigger, eight of which project in the top 30. To put that into perspective, there were 11 players 6’10 or bigger drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and 17 total in the 60 2017 NBA Draft selections.

As we get into the 2018 calendar year, we’ll start to do deeper dives into the tiers of players and their possible NBA strengths and weakness.

So, with all of that in mind, here is the second 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would not convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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Insiders Podcast

PODCAST: How to Keep LeBron in Cleveland

Basketball Insiders

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The media seems to think LeBron is as good as gone this offseason, but Joel Brigham and Spencer Davies discuss why that may not be the case. That, and conversation about whether NCAA or Euroleague success is more valuable in evaluating draft talent.

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