Mannix: Well, Baker, while you’re enjoying the Bay Area and the Warriors’ Game 1 blowout, I’m in Chicago, where most of the league gathers for the annual draft. I was in the lottery living room this week and spent a few days dangling around the combine harvester, and I can report – hopefully forever! The draft is great, and all non-playoff teams want to be a playoff team (or play) next season. You know, normal.But it got me thinking: which team needs one big Off season? I’m talking about next month’s draft, free agency, all that. Who is on your list?
Baker: We usually focus on the sack of sadness at the very top of the draft order. But no team needed a big offseason like the Blazers. Damian Lillard’s future and his legacy are at stake, as is the franchise’s trajectory. The lottery didn’t help. They were drafted with the seventh overall pick, which means they probably won’t get a player talented enough to change their fortunes, and the pick may not be worth enough for the Blazers to get the veteran help they need in a trade.
Mannix: Let’s talk about the Blazers first.because I am Very Curious to see how Joe Cronin worked out in his first offseason as an executive. Will he extend Damian Lillard? Lillard could add two years and $106 million to his current deal this summer.Lillard Yes The franchise; he’s the greatest trailblazer ever. But he’s also turning 32 this summer and has shown signs of wear and tear over the past few years. do you do? Are you going the extra mile with him, hoping Anfernee Simmons makes another leap next season and uses some cap space to attract someone who is right for them?
By the way, I disagree with you about what kind of impact players they can get with this pick. I spoke with some executives who thought the draft was eight layers deep. If they pick it right, they can get a cornerstone figure. I think there will be one.
Baker: As our Jeremy Woo told me on the latest Crossover pod (Subscribe/Rate/Comment!), a draft might have 8 depths, or even 10 depths. However, let’s not confuse depth with quality. Is the seventh pick really enough to make the Blazers a high-end veteran starter through a trade? I highly doubt it. Let’s also be clear: Portland took a step back when it sold CJ McCollum, Robert Covington and Norm Powell in February, and there were several in fact. They don’t get enough returns. Even with Simmons, I don’t see a path back to decent next season — especially when you consider having a healthy Nuggets, healthy Clippers, fast-improving Pelicans (thanks McCollum) , how strong the West is going to be and, presumably, a better version of the Lakers.
Heck, the Kings might even be ready to move up the standings! They have De’Aaron Fox, Thomas Sabonis and the current No. 4 overall pick. What are your thoughts on Sacramento?
Mannix: The Kings are my pick.Sacramento need A huge offseason. I like Mike Brown’s hiring. He’s been terrible with the Lakers and Cleveland, but I bet he’s learned something after six years on the bench with Steve Kerr. So this is a good start. But this team needs a star. De’Aaron Fox took a step back last season, but even if he’s at his best, I don’t think he’s a top 10 player — you need to win. Monte McNair received a lot of criticism for swapping Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis, but Sabonis is a 26-year-old All-Star. Such people are hard to find.
But they need a big draft. repeat: big. The lottery gods were with them Tuesday, with a franchise player available at the fourth overall pick. The king must recognize him. No team in modern NBA history has known the consequences of missing out on high draft picks. If Vlade Divac drafted Luka Doncic, who knows — maybe now the Kings are in the division finals. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it was the most important pick in Kings history.
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Baker: When you miss the NBA record playoffs 16 consecutive years, every move is the most important in team history. Every draft, every signing, every trade. That’s why I also love Mike Brown recruiting. He would be a good fit for that team. But you can’t achieve anything in this league without talent. I think the Haliburton-Sabonis exchange was a huge mistake, but it’s water under Tower Bridge. Which brings us back to a frustrating postseason drought: The Kings are clearly shifting to a win-now model to end it. Which makes me think the No. 4 pick could also be moved as part of a desperate bid to make the playoffs. No rookie can get them there. But maybe a team ready to rebuild will send them an old star, or a few starters, for that pick. They have to at least measure the market, don’t they?
Mannix: Do not. hell Do not. You want them to send a can, no, should What’s the point of being a franchise player, entitled to be beaten by the Clippers in the first round? I understand the urgency. And McNair operating in the final year of his deal only adds to it. But the Kings aren’t too far from the competition. They’re stars away from competition, and the only way they get stars is through the draft. McNair, Wes Wilcox and anyone with influence in the organization needs to dispel any thought of trading the pick.
Do you want to negotiate a deal? I think Houston is in an interesting position. The Rockets have some interesting parts. Jaylen Green will be a great scorer. Alperen Sengun has the potential to be a long-term starter.that’s a team serious Need some quality veterans. What do you think the Rockets should do?
Baker: Wait, so the Kings should keep their pick hope They could win in the playoffs, but should the Rockets suddenly go all-in? I don’t think Houston has yet. Not far. Jaylen Green is emerging as a great scorer, maybe even a star, but he’s still young. The Rockets aren’t ready for the big leap. They only started dismantling it two years ago. They have the ability to be patient. Reserve the pick, pick Paolo Banchero or Chet Holmgren and see how another year goes for Green, Sengun and Kevin Porter Jr. If all goes wrong, another trip to the lottery wouldn’t be the worst thing.
I can’t believe we’ve come this far without discussing the Thunder, one of the big winners, jumping to No. 2 in the lottery. Is this team ready to win again? Is Sam Presti ready to use some of his next 372 draft picks for veteran help? How many years can OKC endure bad before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander asks?
Mannix: The 12th pick should definitely be on the floor, and after OKC swapped the 16th pick last year, I’d wager. But they can’t trade the No. 2 pick. The Thunder have some good players. Gilgeous-Alexander is the point guard, Josh Giddey looks a lot like that, and Lu Dort is a Marcus Smart-like guard who will be very valuable when this team is a playoff team. But they also need a star, and Sam Presti — who has an excellent record in the draft, especially James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who are not widely seen as infallible stars – There is no better opportunity than this. do you agree?
Baker: I love collecting talent, everyone you mentioned. Are they ready to win now? That’s an even bigger problem, as the Thunder haven’t made the playoffs for the third straight year. It might not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that OKC fans never had to endure a long rebuild. How much patience do fans have? Do you have ownership? That said, you’re right: Presti won’t miss out on a top-five pick. I believe this team will find another future star at the two. Plus, if Presti needs to add some veterans, he can always trade one of the other 372 picks he has hidden away. And, worst case scenario? The Thunder are finally back in the lottery in 2023, with the prospect of drafting the next great unicorn: Victor Wimbanyama. Something tells me that the Thunder executives wouldn’t mind losing another year.
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