Hip Hop and Hoops Draft/Free Agency Recap

The season has been over for a couple of weeks, but the die-hards know that there is still plenty to follow in the NBA. Hip Hop and Hoop’s Eric Nehm and Jordan Swoyer exchanged some emails to discuss the draft, and the madness of free agency.
Jordan (June 29th): I’m learning not to buy into the hype heading into the draft, trade deadline, or free agency window. We go in wanting crazy things to happen (trades, blockbusterhaveitall acquisitions, etc.), but they usually don’t. Take this year’s draft: the consensus #1 was drafted first, the Sixers drafted another big man, Knicks fans booed, the Heat got lucky, and no blockbuster trades went through. Disappointing.
I’m still excited to see how some of these rookies will fit in the league next year: Does Winslow make the Heat a contender in the east? Will Emmanuel Mudiay force Ty Lawson out of Denver? Will Lebron or Anthony Davis be the runner up to MVP Mario Hezonja?
Am I wrong to be underwhelmed? Will free agency be more exciting?

Eric (June 30th):  I don’t think you were wrong to be underwhelmed.  We were expecting insanity on draft night and the first trade we saw was the Bucks moving a 2017 late first round pick and a second rounder to the Raptors for Grevis Vasquez.  Not exactly a typical #WojBomb.

I think the biggest disappointment was everyone being much smarter than we thought they’d be on draft night.  The Kings didn’t trade Boogie Cousins for hot garbage, the Knicks probably picked the right guy at 4 with Porzingis, and no one took the Celtics up on their sampler platter of mediocre draft picks.
With that being said, I’m looking forward to League Passing a number of this year’s rookies.  Willie Cauley-Stein hanging out with Boogie Cousins will be an experience.  Devin Booker and Sam Dekker chucking from deep in three-happy offenses in Phoenix and Houston should be fun as well.
Now, I really want to say things are going to get crazy in free agency.  I really do, but I’m worried about getting my hopes up like I did for the draft.Important to note this offseason is the escalating cap.  This summer’s cap will be around $67 million.  Next year, it jumps to $90 million.  And the year after, it will go all the way up $108 MILLION.  So, in each of the next two years, pretty much everyone will have cap space.  On the other hand, a smaller number of teams will have max cap space this summer.
Will the smaller market teams with money – Detroit, Milwaukee, Orlando, Phoenix, Utah – swing for the fences this summer?  Will they actually be able to sign someone?
Will the Knicks and Lakers be able to lure anybody to their teams with their globs of money and tantalizing markets?

Jordan (July 1st): Although we’ve seen different strategies from the small-mid market teams you mention, the results have pretty much been the same. A couple (Orlando-Millsap, Phoenix-LMA, Detroit-Green) are making plays at marquee free agents, but it doesn’t look like any of them are going to land a big fish. Still curious if one of them is going to make a desperation move and overpay someone (looking at you, Bucks).

I think the question you ask about LA and NYK has been answered with a resounding NO. It just doesn’t make sense on the court for any of the big name free agents to sign with the Knicks/Lakers. Melo might have been lured with the money/large market last year, but this year’s crop of players (Gasol, Aldridge, Leonard, Butler, etc.) are a cerebral group. And for the most part, they seem to be considering teams that make sense on the floor.
So much stuff has happened between these emails, I’m definitely feeling a little overwhelmed about where to take this conversation. I guess I just want to know what signing/near signing excites/intrigues you the most? I’m going to dig deep, and go with the Monta Ellis-Pacers and DeMarre Carrol-Raptors acquisitions. They both seem like weird moves to me. The Ellis acquisition fits in my opinion (love the backcourt fit of Hill, Ellis, and George), but I still don’t feel like they’re a contender in the East next year, and I don’t trust Monta long term anywhere. And honestly, I have a similar feeling, but for different reasons, about the Carrol signing up North. Don’t like the fit there. The Raptors are effective on offense (4th in ORating last year), but it’s a ball-stopping offense (22nd in assists). How is Carroll going to contribute? I guess he’ll help defensively (and they need help), but I feel like their problems on that end are all in the paint. He’s a nice player, but it’s an overpay at $15 million, and a bad fit.
Eric (July 3rd): I think the signings/near-signings that intrigue me the most is the quintet – Blazers, Clippers, Mavericks, Suns, Spurs – that have pursued DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge.  The teams that sign one of these two will be contenders in the Western Conference and the ones that don’t may very well have to go in a completely different direction with their franchise.With the moves the Blazers have made this offseason, losing Aldridge may force them to think about completely rebuilding their team.  The Clippers may try to move forward without DeAndre Jordan, but it would be nearly pointless to try it in the West.  Even if the Mavericks sign Jordan, I think there are significant questions about their plan going forward.  Without him, they might be one of the least talented teams in the West.  If the Suns fail to get Aldridge, they would have moved a large portion of their roster and be forced to go into next season with Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight as their main offensive weapons.  Yuck.  And the Spurs may be able to stay in the playoffs without Aldridge, but they’ve already moved Tiago Splitter and their old guys are always a half step away from becoming irrelevant.  Getting one of those two free agents is essentially life or death for those five teams.

One more question and then we can wrap this thing up.  Which team has done the most good for their team thus far this offseason?

Jordan (July 3rd): Fate of one of those teams was decided today. Never thought the future fate of a team with 2 of the top 15 players in the league would be so dire, but I fear for the Clippers…

I love what Washington has done. They took advantage of the over-zealous Bucks and acquired a great replacement for Paul Pearce in Jared Dudley. I definitely love his fit with the Wizards. He’ll do a nice job knocking down corner 3’s, and his versatility on defense helps any team. And it’s not set in stone yet, but I think David West would be a great pick up as well (*Editors note: Maybe this isn’t going to happen now?). They already have a nice pick and roll player in the front court in Gortat; West is a nice foil as a high post man. The Wizards didn’t over extend themselves, but have done just enough to put themselves into contention in the East.

Eric (July 6th): And now, with LaMarcus Aldridge signing with the Spurs, the fate of two more of those teams have been decided as well.  The Suns have painted themselves into a tough corner by trading away some key players to make room for Aldridge and Portland is just a mess.  I have no idea where they’re going to go with that roster.

I think the Kings have made my favorite offseason moves. Just kidding, well not really. It’s such a disaster that it’s going to be super entertaining.  Seriously, though, I think the Knicks did a really nice job this offseason.  They missed on the big time free agents they had targeted at the start of the offseason, but they signed a lot of talented players to good contracts.  Robin Lopez at 4 years, $54 million is great value, as is Arron Afflalo at 2 years, $16 million.  I’m not so sure about Derrick Williams, but Kyle O’Quinn for the next four years at only $4 million per year is a steal.  The Knicks aren’t going to be at the top of the Eastern Conference, but they’ve certainly made the necessary moves to get themselves out of the bottom and may even contend for a playoff spot.

After about a week of emails and nearly 1400 words, I think we’re done here.  Good with you?
Jordan (July 6th): Yeah.  Sounds good.  It’s been a crazy week and should lead to an even crazier season.  League Pass is going to be a lot of fun next season.
The final Hip Hop and Hoops of the year can be heard this Wednesday at 8:00. Look for it to return in the 15-16 season with a new crop of hosts.
By: Eric Nehm

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