Pelicans Set to Soar Out West
By Moke Hamilton
He seemed comfortable enough. He answered the questions that were being asked of him with a candor that seemed so sincere. He smiled frequently, chuckled often and frowned not once.
With a simple, black crew neck sweater, Anthony Davis fielded questions from all around, but today, he fields the biggest of them all.
What’s next for the New Orleans Pelicans—his team?
Yes, he seemed quite comfortable in New York City. Davis was making his second consecutive All-Star appearance and had already endured a grueling availability schedule that had him a bit exhausted. But he took it all in stride.
50 NBA Predictions for 2015-16 (Part 1)
By Joel Brigham
Every year I put together 50 predictions for the season to come, which is really my lone opportunity in a given 12-month period to write something in the first person. These are insanely fun to do until the actual season starts and everything that I thought was going to happen ends up not happening. Actually, truth be told, while I usually only get about half of these right, a lot of the ones that I do miss end up pretty close.
The good news is that whether I nail them or bomb them, I’ll come back to these predictions in the spring to hold myself accountable for what I foolishly thought would happen this season. Right or wrong, we’re all pleased as punch that actual games are just around the corner, which is a perfect time to run these through.
Here’s a look at the first half of my 50 predictions for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Suns and Morris Trying to Make It Work
By Steve Kyler
The Phoenix Suns opened training camp yesterday with their annual media day. As expected, vocally disgruntled forward Markieff Morris was not only in attendance, but he did his best to defuse the dispute that played out in the media over the summer after the Suns traded away his twin brother, Marcus, to the Detroit Pistons.
Phoenix had said that they were not going to entertain trading Morris, despite his claims that he was finished with the organization. Suns brass felt that once they got Morris into camp and could talk with him and have him around his teammates, things could be turned around and smoothed over.
Donovan Not Interested in Changing Durant, Westbrook
By Susan Bible
There is a discernible buzz right now in Oklahoma City, and the reason is clear: The Thunder’s 2015-16 NBA season is about to start and the team looks like a legitimate title contender. The Thunder organization, as well as its supporters, are ready to erase the memory of last season and the ridiculous amount of injuries that occurred, and now simply focus on the return of their elite basketball team.
With the deepest-ever Thunder roster in place and all players returning healthy – including, most importantly, former league MVP Kevin Durant – championship expectations have never been higher.
Journalists gathered at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday for the team’s media day. One by one, players paraded in to face the media’s onslaught of questions about last year, the offseason and what to expect this season.
Magic Counting on Young Core to Lead Playoff Push
By Cody Taylor
By now, every NBA team has hosted their media day. The annual event signals the beginning of a new NBA season, as training camps typically kick off the following day.
The day gives fans a first look at the new players their teams acquired over the summer. Players also discuss how their offseason went and what they worked on during the summer. Above all, the day hypes up fans for the upcoming season.
For Orlando Magic fans, media day brought plenty of excitement and optimism. It’s perhaps the first season in the post-Dwight-Howard era in which the Magic feel they can legitimately compete in the Eastern Conference. Listening to players talk on Friday inside the Amway Center, the feeling is that these guys expect to compete this season. Nearly every player who spoke to the media mentioned the playoffs in some capacity.
The Case for Keeping Markieff Morris
By Eric Saar
The Markieff Morris situation in Phoenix is pretty unique.
Markieff and his twin, Marcus, both signed four-year contract extensions to remain with the Suns exactly one year ago yesterday. They decided to sign for less money so they could remain teammates in Phoenix. Not only was this scenario unique because the twins decided to take less to stick together, but also because Suns management let them decide how they wanted to split the $52 million that they had allocated for them. It was an interesting idea and, at the end of the day, Markieff received $32 million while Marcus got $20 million. Those were considered bargain contracts at the time, especially for Markieff, and the deals look even better today compared to some of the monster contracts handed out this offseason since teams know the NBA’s salary cap will increase significantly next year.
Tiago Splitter’s Fresh Start In Atlanta
By Lang Greene
It may be hard to fathom on the surface, but veteran center Tiago Splitter could play a pivotal role for two franchises this season in their respective quests to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy next June.
The San Antonio Spurs shipped Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks at the beginning of free agency. Without the deal, the Spurs wouldn’t have been able to re-sign forward Danny Green and offer a max contract to All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency.
The Hawks, an undersized unit that finished 28th in the league in rebounding last season, had the salary cap space to absorb Splitter’s $8.5 million salary for the upcoming campaign and desperately needed more size on the low block.
John Wall Talks MVP Goal, Pitching Kevin Durant, More
By Alex Kennedy
In recent years, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall has solidified himself as one of the best floor generals in the NBA. Last season, Wall averaged 17.6 points, 10 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 44.5 percent from the field. He ranked second in the NBA in assists per game (10) and total assists (792), trailing only Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Wall and Paul each recorded 40 double-doubles last year, which led all guards.
Wall put up these impressive numbers despite being hobbled by various injuries (including sprains in both ankles, a shoulder sprain, a sore Achilles and debilitating migraines) throughout the year. However, the two-time All-Star toughed it out, playing the sixth-most minutes of any player in the NBA (2,837) while leading the Wizards to a 46-36 record and the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Little Giants: Utah’s Big/Small Conundrum
By Ben Dowsett
In a league that seems to get smaller and more spaced out by the week in recent seasons, the Utah Jazz appear to be heading in the opposite direction. Their primary identity only got bigger last season when Rudy Gobert left the bench, bringing the starting frontcourt (Gobert, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward) to an average height of over 6’10. One piece is down for the season in Dante Exum, but with Alec Burks and Rodney Hood battling for the bulk of the shooting guard minutes, the Jazz are set to head into their core’s prime featuring a starting unit without a single guy under 6’6.
This alone doesn’t prohibit Utah from changing with the times, but their relative lack of spacing across the lineup has presented roadblocks and will continue to do so. Exum was a non-threat as a shooter in his rookie season, and his in-house replacements this year either have a track record as sub-par shooters at the professional level (Trey Burke, Raul Neto) or so many other question marks that it’s unclear if they’ll see the floor consistently (Bryce Cotton). Gobert is doubtful to ever be a threat outside of the paint, and Favors only became a reliable mid-range shooter last season. Things could tighten up quickly in Salt Lake City.
Lee Brings Veteran Leadership to Celtics
By Jessica Camerato
There is no lack of depth on the Boston Celtics. They have logjams at several positions and are stacked with young talent. However, what there is not an overabundance of is veteran leadership.
Not including those signed to the training camp roster, the average age on the Celtics is 24 years old, the same as the team’s most tenured player, Avery Bradley. There’s a combined five rookies and sophomores on the roster.
This offseason, the team traded its oldest player, Gerald Wallace, to the Golden State Warriors for another 32-year-old: David Lee. The 11-year veteran is the only member of the Celtics who is over 30 and just one of three players who were in the league when the Celtics won the title in 2008.
Is Thompson Worth a Max Contract?
By Jesse Blancarte
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson have been unable to reach terms on a new contract this offseason and with the 2015-16 season right around the corner, the situation is intensifying. Thompson and agent Rich Paul took a big gamble earlier this week by allowing the deadline to pass on accepting the Cavaliers’ one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer. With the preseason underway and no contract signed between Thompson and the Cavs, the question of whether Thompson is worth the contract he is demanding is more relevant than ever.
Context is everything and determining what annual salary Thompson is worth is a bit complicated. First, by allowing the deadline to accept the qualifying offer to pass, Thompson and his agent sacrificed significant leverage. Now, Thompson does not have the option of playing on a one-year deal and entering next season’s free agency pool as an unrestricted free agent. Instead, if Thompson remains unsigned through March 1, he will still be a restricted free agent next offseason, which means that even if he receives a max-level offer sheet from another team, Cleveland can still match the offer and retain his services (while Thompson misses out on a full season of salary).
How Will Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis Co-Exist?
By Tommy Beer
According to rumors that ran rampant in the days and weeks after the draft, it appeared that the relationship between the New York Knicks’ two most important players would get off to a rough start. Published reports indicated that the Carmelo Anthony was unhappy with the moves his team had made, including the decision to draft a highly touted, but unproven, seven-footer from Latvia named Kristaps Porzingis.
Anthony is the undisputed face of the Knicks franchise. He has been since the day he arrived in New York. Phil Jackson made sure that would remain the case when he signed Anthony to a massive $124 million contract last summer. Jackson and Anthony were hoping that the Knicks would be able to rebuild the organization around ‘Melo while still putting a competitive product on the floor.
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