120 were getting into close to the preseason.
Here was just announced just about an hour ago, a zit, this recording that the preseason schedule has been announced.
So things were getting really around here.
We know that the NBS came back in short order, and we're very excited for the opportunity to watch basketball again.
But as you can see here, I have a very special guest with me here on this podcast.
This is Sekou Smith.
Ah, lot of you all will probably know this man very well from his work in NBA TV.
As an ****yst, a writer, he's also part of the hang time podcast.
So this man has a lot of expertise when it comes to the game of basketball.
He knows his stuff.
He knows he's talking about here so very happy to have the opportunity to speak to second here on this podcast.
I'm sure you guys love to hear what he has to bring this conversation from the perspective of the off season that we are currently in and just talking about some of these signings here, so sick you.
I'm so glad you have the opportunity to join me here, man and makes dropping your time to discuss some of these off season moves with the fans here and so excited to get down and down to business here as we talk about some of these signings of these teams have been making here in the past few weeks.
Yeah, appreciate it. Thanks for the invite, man.
Appreciate. I always love to talk.
N b a basketball.
Probably a little too much around my household.
Probably probably good.
I'm talking to somebody else.
Yeah, I could definitely to that.
My family is definitely miss her quite a bit for me over the past two weeks of the off season.
So I could definitely two that your man, before we get into our conversation here formally, I just want to give a shout out to cover our sponsors that really help make things run here Unwrapped Sports is a part of our podcast.
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But with that being said, let's go ahead and dive into the offseason content Here.
Sekou, I've split this up three ways.
Good, bad, ugly asses we talked about before the podcast.
This is my perspective of the off season so sick you might have a completely different opinion that some of these teams and the moves they've made, but just some general guidelines here where we get started here.
So let's go ahead and dive in here, man.
So the good moves or free agency, I want to go ahead and start off one team in the Northwest Division that has had a great offseason, according to most people that you might talk to you or interact with on Twitter or around the MBA circle.
That's the Portland Trail Blazers.
So for Portland today have been very active as we know they had an incredible run in the bubble it by Damian Lillard He really got them in position to be in the playoffs, and he had been had some heroics going down the stretch there and just the fact that even had a shot to be in the playoffs.
There was a testament to his greatness and just how much he really carries that team on his back.
So looking at some of the signings they've made, I mean, they've really been busy here and they boasted that front court specifically, you look at guys like Derrick Jones Jr.
Robert Covington, Harry Giles, even cancer coming off of the bench here at the center position.
They've been very active in all of these moves are going to really help them when it comes to that wing forward rotation.
Uh, it's definitely been a need for them in the past few years.
They brought in Trevor Rees the last season.
He does a good things for them, but he wasn't present in the bubble.
So having some guys, namely like Derrick Jones and Harry Giles to provide energy and Robert Covington for that three and D is gonna be very timely here, man.
So So if you want to get your opinion on this their offseason specifically like, what do you think of the moves they made here? And what do those moves specifically kind of tell you about what Portland is trying to do a zit as we get closer to the 2021 season here, not too far away? Well, I think Portland found themselves in a position where a couple of years ago they had Mo Harkless in Al Farouq Amino is there is there waiting for words and they basically playing interchangeable at the power forward to small forward and versatile enough to defend, switch and guard basically, whatever you needed to, um, Then last year they tried to go bigger, and I think they had in mind to play Zach Collins and use of markets together.
And it didn't give them the kind of versatility I think they thought they'd have.
Collins, of course, got injured and had their daughter their plans.
Carmelo Anthony comes in and and winds up being the the answer that they needed there.
But I think with Neil O.
Shea is doing is trying to get back to that.
You know, Portland lineup we saw a couple years ago where he had to really, um, versatile three and D four words that could kind of do a little bit everything.
You get that in Covington, who's an excellent defender? Um, you're gonna get Rodney Hood back, but I mean, there's gonna be enough versatility at the position with the additions they made, and I think Giles is.
You know, I love Covington's game.
I love and unselfish wing forward who can guard his position and several others and hit threes and scored a weekend rebound physical.
But I like I think the Harry Giles pick pick up is more, um, indicative of what Neil O.
Shay's vision is for this team.
And that's when you when you're gonna and getting, um, low risk, high reward players like that, you know, finding guys on rosters that you think you come in and play a bigger role on your team or maybe be the missing piece to your rotation, their deep at that at that perimeter forward spot.
You know, that could be one or two positions, you know, given the way teams like to play small ball now.
But I think it really gives you the versatility with, you know, So you have Carmelo coming off the bench now, you know, in Covington starting.
You're talking about a second group for Portland with, you know, Gary Trent Junior and Simon's in all these different pieces in this cancer, they're gonna have a second group, I think, that boost them into that next category of teams.
I put them in my top four, based on what we've seen so far in the Western Conference, ahead of some other teams, like Utah, Phoenix and others.
Even, you know, even Houston, who have had off seasons that haven't been very clear in terms of them, even getting better, what they're trying to do.
I just feel like Portland given where they finished I know is the first round exit against the Lakers, but their trajectory.
But the guys they have coming back to court group they put together, I think, puts them in that mix for one of the top four spots in the West.
Yeah, you know, I totally agree with what you're saying about the movies.
They made a free agency, and the theme you keep bringing up is versatility.
You look at their line line up, and it's like offensively and defensively.
I mean, they could go big, small.
They can match it with the Lakers and the Nuggets of the world that they need to go up against a Yokich or Anthony Davis or whatnot.
And then, of course, it seems like Houston historically that have gone smaller.
Then they come out with them very well.
So you know, the Portland definitely has a clear vision, and I think that gives them an edge when it comes to the moves that they're gonna be making and the division they have the goals they have for next season.
I mean, this is a contending team.
You have somebody like Damian Lillard, you know, M v P candidate.
Every year that could get you 30 and 40.
Any given night, you're clears.
Had to be your Your goals had to be quite clear.
C. J. McCollum, those guys being a lot of scoring.
But of course, there's deficits in that backcourt Defensively, they're not the most versatile bunch.
So they're trying to compensate for those weaknesses in other areas of the roster, so absolutely agree.
And then that bench that you mentioned, I mean, that's definitely been a weak spot.
Even last season two years ago, three years ago, they've had one of the least scoring bench units in the league.
So Simon's gonna have another year under his belt.
I think he's gonna be ready for a full time backup point guard role, and I think that's why they didn't come in and bring in someone you like that, like a D J.
Augustine or George Hill to come in because they have full confidence in Simon's to man that role very well, so absolutely agree with you, Gary Trend Jr.
We saw from him, man.
What a revelation.
I mean, from those two guys coming off the bench, you're gonna be in great hands.
And I think that regardless of other damos CJ on the court, they're gonna be there gonna be quite all right defensively offensively.
So I think that's what gives them a clear path to be like you said, when the top four teams, it's definitely not out of the question, for they have to make up for it.
And I think the key for their second will be what kind of chemistry you can develop with those young guys in the backcourt assignments and trend Junior and Rodney Hood and Carmelo on def.
If his cancer is your backup.
He played some of his basketball basketball we've seen from him since he's been in league.
Um, when he was with Portland, you know, playing that role, filling in a couple years ago in the postseason that, you know, that entire unit, I think, is going to be critical for Portland because Damon CJ, for whatever reasons, have had their bumps and bruises the past few years, where you know where they're not.
You put so much of the scoring burden on those two guys, and to me, that kind of chokes.
You know, the energy out of what they do.
If you have Carmelo and Riding Hood coming off the bench and and then trend during the way he can stretch the floor, you're gonna be able to play basically whatever way you want with your second unit, which is critical.
I think the the one thing I learned watching games in the bubble is, um, you know, your depth.
It can be good on paper, but if it's not good in the flesh, like if you can't put your second group out there have ah second group that has a catalyst for you that can score and direct traffic or or just being kind of a force on the court, you're gonna be in trouble.
So the fact that you you look around and see all these different teams, you know, making sure to fortify their second group is not a coincidence.
I think that's something that a lot of teams recognized in that unique experience.
That was the bubble, that you can't go out there leaning on your stars to the point where you know they don't have it come playoff time.
Look at the Clippers.
Couldn't find that right.
Synergy with their second group, and it cost him absolutely, absolutely.
And one last point I want to make is how Harry Giles kinda fits into the rotation.
Like how he's gonna make a name for himself with that team.
You know, he had up and down tenure with Sacramento and I read an article about him just yesterday, and he really says that he has an opportunity to come back to that team that actually drafted him three years ago coming out of college.
And, you know, we had those a.
And, you know, he really had some setbacks physically.
That hampered his ability to be one of the higher draft picks.
But the talent is there, the ability is there, no question the physical ability.
So for him to be able to come in and maybe be that full or small ball five, I wouldn't be surprised if you know he's supplants cancer in that rotation.
Maybe later on, if he has a really strong run here, you know, he really asserts himself as one of those energy players that bullet could depend on each night.
If he stays healthy, I think the opportunity is there for him. He said it himself.
He's fully confident in his ability.
Still, he's not discouraged by his setbacks, and he think he's gonna have a really great bounce back season.
In a place like Portland, that's a place to learn from.
The front court has a lot of experience.
The backcourt, They've been through a lot of playoff battles, So I'm really hopeful that Jobs is gonna have a bounce back season.
Um, you know, considering where he's been, you know, I think he's gonna have, Ah, great opportunity.
At the very least, let's see if you can take advantage of it.
If you If you look at what Rodney Hood did a couple years ago, what Carmelo did kind of, you know, rekindling their careers, um, important.
It's just something about that.
Yeah, there's kind of, ah, magic to what they do out there in terms of the fan base and the way they play.
They play development program, the great situation you get to be in as a as a role player because Damon CJ shoulder the burden, the leadership burden, you know, being the star players.
The guys do expect you out every night and scored the that all star level.
It allows a guy like Harry Jobs to come in and not have any pressure on him in terms of what the expectation is, if he has to ease into a role and kind of find Is this That's perfect, Um, and again, he allies you so much, you know, he gives Terry starts so many different dimensions.
If they wanna play a small group with he or even Covington, you know, garden at the five.
You know, I think you get away with that.
It's just gonna be a matter of how quickly that group comes together and what kind of chemistry they developed as an entire group.
And as a second group in terms of that backup rotation for sure for sure.
Absolutely. So that's gonna be a team to watch.
Whether it's on lead, pass, one of the lead pass darlings going into the playoffs run.
I think they're going to be a fascinating team, and I can't wait to see what Dame and that whole roster can accomplish together because they have all the makings off very, very solid team.
An elite team even, um, eso moving on here.
So we have, um, Phoenix, another team that a lot of people are talking about all the right reasons.
I mean, you go in and you pick up a point guard.
That is all N b A caliber player, even in his mid thirties first ballot Hall of Famer, one of the great point guards we've ever seen in our game.
He's gonna come in and share the backcourt with Devin Booker, one of our great talents of our game at the shooting guard position.
Those two guys should be able to make sweet music, no matter who has the ball, who matter who's operating on or off the ball.
I'm so decided to see those two guys work together.
I think that would be one of the best 12 punches in the week.
And just looking at some numbers here for Chris Paul.
You talked about just a few minutes ago about not having you know, your star player run into the ground and having energy left over towards the end of the season, he said.
You should rates hovering around mid eighties to 90% in his career.
But the great thing is into his thirties.
He's had a graceful decline and how much he's dominated the ball going down into, you know, the 75th percentile down there, Um, in about 27% usage.
So that's perfect for him.
But he still has a great assist percentage.
Still been great with the ball, you know, never been a great high turnover players.
So somebody like that next to Devin Booker, it's almost like a supercharged version of Ricky Rubio, who they shipped down along with Kelly.
You bring to make this possible.
So I love how that pairing is gonna work out and said, How do you think that those two are gonna operate off of each other? And how might Chris Paul make life easier for Devin Booker? Um, going into probably the most important season in Phoenix basketball in quite some time? Yeah, I think they'll be fine.
I think they're gonna be a lights out duo.
In terms of backcourt, you start ranking the best backcourts and lead.
They gotta be in the conversation just based on what they've done.
I think Chris will allow Devin more flexibility on offense.
He's not going to see is many double teams traps and, you know, gim****.
You know, defense is to come at him because you can't leave Chris Paul kind of shooter.
He is at this stage of his career.
He's always been a really good shooter.
He's a great shooting, Um, late in his career, just a great mid range shooter shoots the three can can drive and create dish, get his own.
He's going to make it very difficult for you to commit your best defender to Devin Booker and then ask yourself, because this is one.
Something Ricky Rubio simply couldn't do is he couldn't beat you consistently with his offense.
Least not not a shooting he could create.
But CP gives you both those dimensions, and I think that's ideal.
Um, I do think money, money.
Williams has done something really smart in that when he came in, he kind of changed the dynamic for those players in Phoenix in that there was no debating who's team it was who was star who was your number one player so that a lot of the guys, you know, it's easy to play your role when you know your role.
Chris is coming in with really the last three years of his careers.
He's had to share the ball more.
You mentioned his you straight, you know, in a steady decline.
Well, that's gonna happen when you play with James Harden on.
Then you get a three guard rotation in Oklahoma City with then Intruder and shake Gildas Alexander, and it may be forced him to play in a more democratic way than he has early in his career.
I think, Oh, that's been beneficial for him.
There's a reason the Sun's identified Chris is the right point guard to have next Devin Booker.
And if they can get DeAndre Atan, Mikhail Bridges, who I love.
It's kind of, you know, a New age Andre Iguodala type for the sons.
You know, they can get all those pieces around those guys to play at a high level, like we saw in the bubble when they went undefeated.
There's they're scary group because the West is going to be thick at the top.
But there's gonna be Cem flattening out once you get to the middle and lower half.
And this is a huge opportunity for the sons to step into that boy and become a, you know, a real playoff team.
The opportunity is is wide open for them.
Um, teams like Golden State are gonna be a little bit iffy with the Clay Thompson injury.
Uh, man, I'm seriously, I'm sick about play me to my favorite player in the league, hands down in tow.
Lose him for a second straight season is just brutal.
I mean, somebody told me on Twitter the other day, they're like, Oh, let's go.
Because some highlights of Clay Thompson I was like, I don't know if I'm ready to go there yet, man.
Like just seeing how that guy wasn't, you know, when he was fully healthy and everything was clicking for him.
Game six against.
Okay, See, I was like, Man, that just kind of really brings me back and, you know, it brings back some of the pain and seeing him out again.
So, I mean, I'm actually agree with you on that perfectly perfect complementary player in today's MBA guy who shoots it, you know, on another level and then can guard on the other end.
It's just I'm seriously, I was I was down for the whole day.
When I heard about it, I was like, The next day I was like, I don't want anybody, but I don't talk to me.
Don't call me, Don't tweet and I don't wanna hear.
Put the phone on silent.
No, do not disturb.
This is one of those days.
It's not my favorite thing to see Clay Thompson struggling.
At this point, we hopefully gets back healthy.
Obviously, I'm shout out prayers up play.
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
All the best to that guy.
He really deserves better than what he have suffered the past couple of years here.
But I wanted to go back to your point about that young core.
You know, talking about you're talking about Bridges I'm really impressed from Phoenix is offseason perspective because they didn't give up either of those guys in that trade.
I was afraid that Bridges would be one of the players that okay, he asked for.
It's a like, Hey, you know, we're going to need that guy that we really think it's gonna be one of the prototypical wing players, Um, in today's MBA and Phoenix stood their ground, you know, and they gave up a guy like Rubio that, you know, had some great years for him.
But he's not going to be their long term solution at that position.
On Ben, of course, it is still on board Cameron Johnson, who had a better than expected season, I think, um, at least from a fit perspective.
I mean, he's a perfect in that front court with those guys.
So he I played his, uh, I think he outplayed whatever anybody's projection for him would have been in probably made Kelly uber expendable.
Um, if you look at the way the roster broke down because I really loved you break with that group, he was kind of the Trevor reason.
If you're talking about fit and you know where it got kind of makes his bones on a team.
He was Phoenix's version to me of what Trevor reason was for Houston a few years ago when they had CP and James Harden.
So yes, listen, the one thing that I'll say about Phoenix is, for whatever reason, a different wind seems to have blown in there since money Williams showed up because I felt like a couple of years ago they were on the right track and then they kind of took a step back and, you know, they just they weren't sure.
I don't know if it was internal or what, but they just seemed like they weren't sure of the plan that they had.
So there was kind of ah kind of, ah, hiccup in their process.
But I think they've got back on that track now.
And Monty Williams is, you know, one of the great coaches you're going to see in the n b.
He knows what he's doing out there.
So him, along with that front office, I think that really aligned on their vision for this team.
It's really evident because you have that switch double front court.
You have one of the great stars and Devin Booker.
You have that steady point guard presence, and you know, everything is kind of clicking for them now and the opportunities for them to make a run.
And, you know, I'm just so glad that Booker is gonna have the opportunity to We're gonna assume B a playoff team and you know a guy like that that's really put up the numbers he's had over the past few years.
He's been wrongly accused of being the reason why they've been a bad team, which, you know from your reaction of assume that you've seen it as well.
And it's just really crazy that people would say like he's an empty numbers guy.
He's not a winter and you know this, that and the other, it's really unfair for him.
So this is This is a stunning moment.
This is coming out party.
People are going to really realize just how great of a player Devin Booker is, no matter what his defensive shortcomings may be.
All that aside, I mean, he's just one of the great talent.
So this is his opportunity.
I'm just so glad that it's finally come along with from, you know, better late than never.
It's taken four or five years, but you know this is their time to make it happen.
I think his defense, you know, improved dramatically.
If you watched him in the bubble, he wasn't just good on offense.
He was good on both ends.
He was he was dominating people.
He was he was putting in work. I mean, and I'm biased.
Um, you know, we Devin and I share hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I know about him when he was, you know, kind of coming up and before he was a hotshot, recruiting went to Kentucky and got drafted.
You know, I was a fan of his dad's when he played his dad played for the C B, A team in my hometown.
And so, you know, he's It's been fun to watch him evolve as a player.
And I, you know, I started calling him the the long lost slash brother his rookie year and when he kind of, you know, played beyond the expectations people have for John Calipari tricks.
Credit said that Booker was vastly underrated when he was in college.
You didn't get a chance to see all the things he could do.
It Kentucky because of the talent they had and the way they played.
So, you know, kudos to John Calipari.
He said that about several of his guys, Jamal Murray and others, and he's been spot on.
Yeah, he's been spot on about those guys being better prose than they were one and donors at Kentucky.
But, you know, give give Devin Booker credit, give James Jones credit and multi.
We give all those guys credit for recognizing the step that needed to be taken and embracing the change that comes with that because it's not easy.
You know, if your Devin Booker you could have easily said, Look, I don't want anything to interrupt these numbers are putting up.
He got his big contract, you know, so that you could look at it from a selfish perspective and say, Why would he want things to change to the point where he's gonna have to change where he plays, you know, upgrade everything around me, But leave me alone.
He didn't do that.
When Monty Williams came in.
He embraced the notion that hey, you gotta be better on defense.
You gotta be a better leader if to be more assertive.
I mean, he he accepted all those challenges and and flourished.
I thought in the bubble was, you know, one of those coming out party type moments for him.
Um, now we got to see if DeAndre 18 is ready to take that next step in his development, had the hiccup last year suspension, but has shown us some signs that he could okay in a league where we don't rely on back to the basket. Biggs.
He's got a chance to be on a rarity in in terms of a traditional center, so to speak, with some, you know, modern nuances to his game, but but certainly a dominant low post type center.
Which would give, I think we'll give the Sons and Chris Paul a comfort zone in a default setting where he could really go to work and make DeAndre eight in a better player than what we've seen so far.
Yes, the other part of it, that pick and roll game with Chris Paul and ate it should be a thing of beauty.
And, you know, go ask DeAndre Jordan what Chris Paul did for him.
You know, go ask Steven Adams with Chris.
Paul didn't have last season.
You know, Chris is one of those guys.
He's gonna make everybody better, But those big man, especially guys like Steven Adams E.
Yeah, best basketball.
Yeah, but yeah, I mean, it was just a It's something I know we've gotten into the this age of position, less basketball on the redefinition of certain spots, you know, in point guards that scores opposed point guys who come down to facilitate.
But CP does all of it, And he had.
There is, you know, you can ask David West.
There hasn't been a teammate that he's had.
That's on the cusp of bigger things that hasn't realized it while playing with him.
Blake Griffin as well.
I mean, he helped elevate the games of quite a few guys he's played with throughout his career, and I I would think that DeAndre would be in line for a similar type bunk playing with CP.
I mean, look out for him is being one of the most improved players.
I mean, I wouldn't put it past him to be in that conversation.
Even if he doesn't win it, you know, I can see him having a leap in efficiency.
Eyes counting stats might take a small bump up, but everything overall is gonna be better for him as a result of having a guy like CP three, the catalyst leader to make things happen for him to be that driver.
So I'm super excited about Phoenix.
And you know, we could go all day about the promise that exists in the desert looking at what they've done.
But, you know, suffice to say they're going to be one of the great teams to watch.
But transitioning here.
Second, we have to talk about some of the teams that have made some questionable decisions.
I mean, not every team has had a great free agency that haven't passed with flying colors.
Uh, let's go ahead and talk about Sacramento here a little bit.
I mean, they've made a couple of moves over the past couple days that have raised some eyebrows and made us question.
You know what their path is.
And this is one of the common denominators of teams that have struggled and not made the playoffs in 16 years like Sacramento is, they don't really have a vision.
They don't have a clear direction.
They have DeAndre Fox, but after that, our Dion Darin Fox.
But after that, it's really just like, What is your plan? What do you see yourself in two or five years? And Maxim foxes? Great.
Having healed is great, even though you know he has some trouble with that team, so I don't know how long it's gonna be there, but e mean drafting.
Um, Halliburton was a great move, but declining that offer sheet declining to match that offer sheet for Bogdanovich raise some eyebrows.
Some people said that it was okay, move because it would have tied up some or cap would have constricted some of the opportunities for that team in terms of what they could do roster wise.
But I mean, overall, I mean, that's a contract he could have used to flip later on. It's another asset.
It's another great player, a great shooter, you know, He's a guy that's gonna average 14, 3 and three for you.
Be a versatile wing, be a great shooter and pretty good in the pick and roll game as well.
So losing out on him, I wasn't a great fan of it.
I wasn't a huge fan of it, but I've seen both perspectives.
So that's why I'm kind of curious to hear your thoughts on this.
Um, if you were the front office in Sacramento like, would you have taken the opportunity to match that, or would you let him go.
Um, as we just saw them do just a few days ago Now I would've matched it, you know, without even blinking.
Um, I'm fundamentally you don't give up an asset in this league if you don't have to.
Um, you always find a way to turn it into something, even if it's second round picks, cash consideration.
So you don't you don't let an asset walk out the door.
Something but Bogdanovich.
I'm not saying he's an All Star.
I'm not saying he's gonna come to Atlanta and turned out like Joe Johnson did when you know when the Hawks got him.
But he's a good enough player that there would have been a a robust market for his services around the league.
If you really wanted to get something done, a sign and trade would have been very doable.
Um, I don't You know what, and I don't have a good answer for what the hell's the Kings are doing.
I don't think they dio they to me.
They've been on a weird passed since they fired Mike Malone.
Um, when he was coaching, I've scratched my head, trying to figure out exactly what it is division is.
Have they stuck to it or have they crumbled it up and throw it away four or five times in this stretch trying to figure out what's next and it? And it falls to three ownership in front office level to really understand what's going on to try and comprehend what that internal vision might be, Um, Out.
I really like dear Fox, so I mean, I'm not.
I'm not at all opposed to building on him, but I think they're rolling the dice dramatically on Marvin Bagley, who I loved in that draft, I thought, just from a ceiling perspective, that was the kind of player you want.
A prototypical front court, you know, versatile score with the kind of size and length and athleticism to be good on both ends in the league, where Yanis and Kevin Durant and LeBron and quite Leonard and some of those guys that play that flex forward position I called flex forward.
You could be a point forward or your stretch forest.
Whichever forward spot that can be your you know, your main guy, your number one guy.
Um, if you're gonna draft somebody like that where you draft them.
Even bring it up for Kings fans when you talk about who they passed up to draft him.
Um, yeah, That's gotta be a sore spot for Kings fans.
You passed up a couple of All Star starters in their second seasons to take to take badly over them. That's a tough.
That's a tough look.
So they it'll be There'll be some hand wringing in Sacramento until, as you mentioned, that that playoff, you know avoid is humongous, especially for a franchise that had been so consistently in a previous era.
You're not going to get the grace period that you hope for.
If you're you know, for that grand of eBay and and the new front office, you're gonna you're gonna have toe show something.
People have to see something out of this group.
You decided to build around it.
So it's gonna be a lot of pressure on Luke Walton.
No question about that.
I mean, their their off seasons have been very disappointing for the past few years, and I mean, I was onboard badly as well.
I thought it was a great signing at the time, and I think part of the reason he struggled his injuries.
I think he still has a very high ceiling.
But, you know, it's just kind of unfortunate that they find themselves in this position again, where it's kind of like they're just running in circles, you know, they might see one season where it's like they get to 30 wins and it's like, Wow, we're making progress And then the next season, they're back in 24 25 win.
It's just like this constant kind of hamster wheel.
This this from, you know, habit.
They find themselves in there just kind of taking one step forward two steps back.
And you know, it's tough for fans.
It's tough for everybody to kind of see on Ben.
Of course, the other movie made the other day, you know, signing you know, a certain center that played for Portland last season.
Um, you know, being a heat fan, I have some not the greatest memory, so it's kind of a staple of my podcast.
I don't name him his.
His name is taboo in our in our kind of our fan base, but you know that seven footer over there coming out of he was actually, you know, there's some pictures, bottom of him with DeMarcus cousins, you know, back around the time he was, you know, they were in that draft.
Yeah, he came in the lead there.
So he's coming full circle.
And I just think that although he has so much talent, you know, he could put up all the numbers in the world.
I mean, how do you guy like that on your bench in your in your locker room? It's just like your culture is already kind of unstable.
You know, bringing a guy like that that will complain about minutes, complain about touches and just give people a hard time is not the kind of thing I would want to see if I was a fan.
If I was another player in the organization, I would be a little bit kind of turned off by that move.
You know, just saying you know, his past and some of the things he's done.
I think there's no surprise, you know, there's a reason why it took him so long to get any kind of deal.
I don't think there was many suitors out there for him, and you know that says something if you're putting up double doubles and two or three blocks a game and you can't hardly get an offer so that's just red flags everywhere, you know? Yeah, I don't I didn't realize I'm sorry.
I didn't realize he was he who should not be named on this podcast.
So I won't say his name either.
Yeah, but listen, I mean, let's let's just be playing about it like when you have when you have the sort of baggage he's carrying around as a player, Um, whether it was in Miami or in Portland or wherever he's been, that's a difficult burden to shake in this league, because, hey, you're Yeah, you're playing a position that has been completely redefined since you came in the lead.
Um, so you're not a stretch big man at all.
You're literally a traditional back to the basket, low post rebounding shot blocker.
So the market for your skill set is gonna be scarce Anyway.
You add in the baggage and the fact that there's people murmuring and wondering.
Does this guy I love to play basketball does, you know? I mean, yeah, all of that.
All of that becomes an issue for that player because of it s o I and I and I thought he did some admirable things for him in Portland.
I thought his the role he played, the energy he played with the after he gave was It's good as I've seen from him on the consistency basis when he was important and it still wasn't enough for them to say, You know, I mean, so that anytime an in***bent team takes a flyer on one of its own, that that's a not a red flag.
But that certainly is a signal to the rest of league what the value is or what they might feel about.
Yeah, absolutely so.
I mean, I mean, there's no more to say about Sacramento other than it's gonna be another year in the lottery, Most likely, and hopefully they find a way to turn around at some point because they've been through it.
They've definitely been through it.
But another team, speaking of teams that have been through it over the past few years, go talk to some Knicks fans about their experiences over the past few years and they will give you many stories about you know the booze during the draft and, you know, consistently being one of the top, you know, one of the worst three teams in the league.
And, you know, this offseason didn't do much to change their fortunes.
I mean, kudos to the front office for making a few value signings like Austin Rivers.
You know, Nerlens Noel.
And they're fine players and the values were good.
But, you know, just nothing that's really going to change your fortunes.
I mean, they did draft.
I'll be topping, you know, great pick up.
I didn't like that pick.
I mean, he's gonna be a good, solid player for a long time, you know, giving a skill set in his athletic tools and everything.
Here's the problem, though.
You know, you get a guy that's actually got a lot of talent, and it's like, Wow, they're really making some strides here.
And then you go look at the depth chart and there's a guy by the name of Julius Randle sitting at the exact same position that he plays.
So again, it's gonna be a lot of balancing acts there.
I mean, it's not like you play those guys together very often without giving up 115 points a game.
You know, it's gonna be it's gonna be a tough balancing act for them.
So they're probably have to split those minutes up before which I don't think Randall or Top, they're gonna like they both want to get some playing time.
They both want to come in and start themselves.
I mean, you're paying Randall 20 year, so that's not a guy you're gonna just going just bench, you know, the entire game.
So that's just another, you know, another difficult thing about this whole thing they're gonna have to deal with and balance.
Or over this next season, Um, they re sign out for Peyton.
It's like, Well, you know, fine.
You know you can't shoot for for anything, but I guess it's not the worst deal.
Um, Kevin Knox is still there, toiling away.
So other than maybe, yeah, it's just it's just disappointing.
You know, I don't see any other, you know.
It's a young roster in a lot of respects, Mr Robinson, I think, is certainly a keeper.
I like R. J. Baird.
I know a lot of people are down on bare.
I like e think he's just gonna have to figure out where his spots are in the league early on and continue to develop offensively.
Obviously, it's just tough when you when you continue toe running on a hamster wheel the way teams like you know, you mentioned the Kings and the Knicks and some of these other teams who have just been, you know, fixtures in the lottery.
It's tough to get out of there because even when you get it right, it feels like you got it wrong, you know? I mean, I remember that sports thing is getting booed on draft night.
People were panning in big time.
They didn't care about the ceiling and potential.
Then he goes out and to me really exceeds a lot of people's expectations for him.
So you got that right.
And then he wants out.
You can't hold on to, so it's like even when you get it right, you get it wrong, you know? And you just wonder.
Ah, great way to study how teams have progressed in in that I've used in all my years.
Covering llegaron is I go back and look at your past five drafts and and ask myself how many of the guys you've selected in the draft in the past five seasons to whatever season we're in now are either Stars, rotation players, mhm on your team or even in the league, you know.
And if they're in the league got up.
Did you draft him? Did you not have the patient's necessary to see it through? And there's somewhere else flourishing.
But you start looking at the teams past five drafts, and it'll color a picture for you.
That's very clear about where they fit in the league overall than the Knicks.
They haven't had a great drafting record, whether it's players they picked that didn't stick it out in New York or what have you.
That's the first thing you look at the that revolving door they've had, you know, in the front office and at the coaching level, for sure.
But at the front office level, there's there's a certain amount of continuity you have to have when you're a bad team, that if you don't you will be a bad team until further notice, and they just haven't exhibited that for enough time to help them climb out of this mess and and get get ready to play the high level.
I like how you brought up there to players.
Actually looks like that Have hit on over the past couple of years.
Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.
The only issue would bear it.
It's like, you know, they have to give them space to operate their kind of choking off hiss.
Um, you know, ability to drive, get to the paint.
I mean, if you said Alfred, Peyton, I mean, what is that going to do for a guy like Barrett that exceeds going downhill and using that strength? And you know that that body control to his advantage, it's just disappointing to see the fit in the roster, even when you do get some those pieces, right in terms of talent and ability.
So, yeah, all around, it's just kind of like another, you know, it is what it is kind of story, you know, we're here again with the Knicks, and, you know, go on holiday exactly what it is.
Eso We're heading on here to the last category here.
We're looking at the ugly boo.
So that wasn't bad enough.
We have another category that goes down a little bit ****her than that.
So Detroit in Charlotte or the two teams that I picked on for the segment? Detroit.
You know, they have centers.
What more can you say they like? They like centers, you know, they love centers and, you know, I mean, other than that, I mean, they picked up this.
So here's what kind of confused me.
I just want to put that out there.
They sign all these centers and then they go out there and get Zeier Smith from the Sixers.
And people were saying like, Wow, they got this nice young player that hadn't really had a chance to prove himself.
They're making some great moves and then they just wave them, you know? So I'm just like, you know, I don't really know what you're doing at that point.
Are you really trying to build? Are you trying to buy low? Because I think you mentioned that point.
You know, back earlier we were talking about like Portland and these teams like that.
It's like by a low, low risk, high reward.
I saw him is one of those players, but unfortunately on the roster anymore.
Would you buy low with, you know, with low risk, high reward players when you have stars like when you That's when you're filling out the roster.
Not when you're trying toe retool.
Wanna resurrect Detroit? We've just had an interesting time so far.
In that chair is the G M of the Pistons.
What we don't know.
I'll give him a pass.
Or what we don't know is what their master plan might be.
Everybody you see, So you pile up assets for reasons.
Um, the Hornets.
That's a different Well, I don't saying I understand.
You know, you're thinking, How are we going to get high level players to come here? Do either hit on one in the draft, which, honestly, they have not again.
Go back and look at the team's draft record and ask yourself how many of the players have the Hornets drafted? You can go back further than five years.
You go back seven years.
How many have they drafted in the last seven years? Who are stars, All stars, even really good players on their team or anywhere else? I mean, it's the record has been spotting um, the best player they've draft in the last decade is, uh, was an All Star and was the face of the franchise.
And now he plays for UNECE turn conference. Rather.
So Kemba Walker.
So I'm much more confused.
I would given incomplete as of right now, because we don't know what else they're trying to get done.
The Hornets, I would give a much different letter grade.
It wouldn't be good.
Um, because I don't know what it is they're trying to do, and they're far more established in terms of where they've been in recent years.
Like they just I thought the Michael Kidd Gilchrist thing would have been a great peace for him.
Like, to me, he should have been a high level peace as a defensive stopper.
You know, kind of, Ah, I'm dating myself because you might not a been paying that kind of attention.
If there was a guy named Shawn Stevenson, he used to play for the Wizards, who was a talented Yeah, it was a talented guy, but wasn't a wasn't the fully rounded talent you need them to be.
But he was so good as a specialist as a defensive agitator and, you know, opportunistic shot maker that he probably elevated himself beyond where he really would have been normally in the league.
That's what M K G needed to be for the Hornets.
Like even when you don't hit it out the park with those lottery picks, you got to get a guy who is least, ah, staple in a fixture in your lineup.
Kind of like what the Atlanta Hawks did when they drafted Marvin Williams to.
And Marvin didn't become the superstar player that his draft positioning suggested, but he played 15 years in the league.
It was a very productive player on some really decent teams that were playoff teams.
You can't you can't swing and miss as often as the Hornets have in the draft and expect to be a better team than what they are.
Yeah, I mean, I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on Charlotte.
I mean, my my issue with them is, and, you know, e understand the ball signing.
They went with the best available talent.
I mean, I would do that every day.
I mean, a team like that, you're not gonna find guys like that in free agency.
So you just kinda have toe, you know, just hope for the best.
I mean, you could be a bust, but, I mean, there's a chance he could be a special players.
So you have to bank on that opportunity.
Since you're a team, that's not gonna be one of those free agent destinations.
You know, you have to approach track a little bit differently.
But yeah, that Gordon Hayward signing, it's just rough.
And then not only are they trying to get him for 30 season, but on top of that, they don't have the room in their salary sheet to accommodate his salary.
So what they're trying to do is they're trying to open up 8 to 9 million to bring in that salary, which might Nessen right, require them to stretch the Tombs salary, which is nine million a season.
So effectively paying almost $40 million a season for guys probably give you could be an All Star, and that might not even be healthy.
You know, if you look over the past two or three years for Gordon Hayward, at some point, he missed his 10 year, 12 games for a hand injury or ankle or something like that.
So it's just rough, and it almost seems like they're going down the same path as they went down with Kemba Walker.
It's like this great talent, but they're not able to bring in anybody else along with him.
So you're urinate seed, your ninth seed.
You're good, but you're not really great.
And that's not where you want to be in the MBA.
So that's what makes me a little bit worried.
Would projecting out over the next few years, Um, you know, for the Charlotte organization and, you know, again, you know, when you're piecing together, whatever the puzzle might be 14.
You just have to look at transactions, drafts and where players were acquired, what they've ended up doing.
They were applauded for going all in a few years ago and paying their own free agents like everybody's like, Hey, you know, Charlotte's doing it right.
You know, they they had a team.
They make a breakthrough and get to the postseason.
And then they they you know, they double down on their own guys and it just busted on.
You know, Batum never was the same player he was before he got that deal. No fault of his own.
Sometimes, As you mentioned, Gordon Hayward's a prime example.
He struggled the last couple of years because of injuries, not because he's magically, not the same talent that he was when he was in Utah and when he was one of the hot free agents on the market.
It's just the way things evolve.
Sometimes it is.
You know what happens is beyond the control of the players involved.
But as as an organization, you know, to me when you start talking about building culture and just understanding who and what you are, I thought the Hornets head the patron saint for their predicament in Kemba Walker.
And when they decided after paying all those other guys, the price tag for Kimble was too great.
I thought that's not the message.
That's not the right message you send externally.
But it's also not the right message internally.
When everybody knows that this thing runs because you got Kimba mhm and you know his free agent years coming, you know that is gonna be an opportunity if you don't make the decision to double down on your guys, which I think they got burned doing it before that with the tomb and some of the other guys and thought, We're not going to do this again.
It's like you messed it up the first time.
Whether you, it was your fault not.
But you can't hold that against Kimble the next time when it's clear that he be cornerstone player in your franchise, it's just a It's tough because you're battling like I said those external expectations of what people think of you with the fans.
And then there's an internal vision of what you wanna be is a team in franchise.
I told people, Do you think anybody think out of 30 teams in the league, 10 to 12 of them go? You know what we think you know.
We don't wanna be good.
We don't Of course not.
They wanna get lucky and they want the guy that they draft wherever they draft him to turn out to be the best player in the draft away.
Milwaukee did with the honestly.
I mean, like everybody wants that to be.
Their story is just It's just not the reality.
Yeah, unfortunately, that's how it goes and it's a little bit more difficult for front offices like that in small markets because you can't just be the Lakers and be absolutely awful for six or seven years and wake up one morning and you have LeBron James.
It just doesn't work like that, unfortunately for those franchises.
But, you know, before I let you go sick, you wanted to kind of end this podcast on a little bit of a lighter note more optimism.
So you got down to some of these teams, you know, from your perspective.
You know, you you are somebody that writes about the league.
You cover the league in a very high level going into this next season, 2021.
Like I said, preseason just a couple weeks away.
At this point, um, you know, what are you most looking forward to, or what do you think might be, um, most different? You know, this season compared to last season or what we've seen before, You know, in terms of covering the league or watching league or whatever it may be from your perspective, just curious to see you know what you're really looking forward to as we dive into a season that's gonna be trying.
They're trying to bounce back here in a sense, from, um, you know, down here and some unfortunate cir***stances we find ourselves.
I thought it was fantastic that we ended up getting a finish to the 2019 2020 season.
First and foremost, kudos to the to the players, the league and everybody involved.
I was in the bubble.
I'm still scratching my head.
Is that how they pulled the whole thing off? Kept everybody safe.
So I think they have alleviated some of that pressure on the 2020 21 season because we did get a chance to see it through.
But what I'm really looking forward to is I tell you about time.
What What seems like a long time in reality in sports years is nothing.
If somebody had, if somebody had told you three years ago, the Warriors will be knocking on the outside, on on the door from the outside looking in it.
The Contender picture in the West in the Nuggets and the Trail Blazers, you know, and the Clippers would be in that space they used to occupy in terms of going into a season saying these are the teams that are contenders.
Not surprising with electors. Get LeBron.
Uh, it throws the entire time scale.
But just how quickly things change in this league, based on free agency drafts, injuries, things you have no control over, Um, that was what I always look forward to with each new season is just what is gonna be the thing that happens that nobody saw. Come.
Um, You know, we did.
Nobody saw Yanis coming.
Nobody saw you, Honest.
Two time M v p Back to back.
M v p Coming If they did, they're lying to you.
It's revisionist history now.
Everybody that didn't draft you honest that didn't get him, wanted him had him is their guy.
Um, we're plotting everything they could and then the bucks waiting, Stolen from I was like, that sounds good, but yeah, the bucks picked him when a bunch of other teams didn't.
You know what I'm saying? So they're gonna be things about this season that that will happen that we don't see coming.
There's gonna be a team that does what Miami did last year in the bubble, and really, it all season somebody we don't see coming, whose players step into bigger roles, arm or specific roles and exceed whatever expectation it might be.
That's I'm looking forward to whoever is this year's Jimmy Butler and Miami.
That's what I'm looking forward to because we don't know who they are.
We don't We will know 2030 games into a 72 game season, which all of these different parameters add intrigue to to a season.
Because we had, you know, last year was the longest NBA season ever.
Yeah, I think when I started writing about it in the calendar year and we're in a bubble and players we're talking about, yeah, man, it was a year ago today.
We were started training camp, and, you know, it's like it's jarring to think about it.
So I'm looking forward to the great unknown, which is to me what always makes the MBA season the best reality TV show around.
I start saying that all the time, like he's reality shows are actually scripted, right? You know, somebody somewhere knows the plot.
We have no idea what the plot is on any given MBA season, and that's what makes it must see TV for me as always in such an intriguing thing to follow.
True that, true that I think it's gonna be just mawr of what we love about the MBA.
It's kind of like in any given year there's gonna be those surprises.
There's gonna be teams that serve themselves, and you don't expect it.
It's just gonna be in a much bigger kind of scale this season because the cir***stances were so different.
So, um, you know, I'm with you.
It's gonna be an exciting rise to be fascinating.
So, um, you know, let's let's head into it and let's, you know, keep our eyes and ears appeal for, you know, whatever is gonna come around the corner and surprises here, but thank you.
Um, as we went on this podcast, I want to thank you again for spending your afternoon evening with us.
It was really great to hear your perspective on somebody that was in the bubble, that somebody that's covered the leak for a long time to give their take on this offseason.
So I really appreciate you.
And before you go, why don't you let listeners know people that are watching where they can find you.
If you wanna follow you on Twitter, they want to kind of start following you and what you're providing for for MBA dot com and NBA TV.
And you can follow on Twitter at Sekou Smith. MBA.
Anywhere you get, you podcast, you can find the hang time podcast and on NBA TV and NBA dot com all season long, um, they let me stick my ugly mug out there and rant about my favorite things.
So check it out.
You know, debate, Agree, disagree.
I love I love the conversation.
I love the back and forth.
I love I talked about sports 24 7.
we're just lucky.
You know, some of us are lucky enough to do it for a living.
So I never looked at in the face and take it for granted.
But but yeah, you know what? It's gonna be interesting.
I mean, I do the M v p ladder.
Um, on n b a dot com every Friday during the season.
This will be probably the most interesting year I've done it.
Given the cir***stances what we have coming back.
We need to talk about Brooklyn and with those expectations.
I mean, there's so many cool.
Mm, You know, crazy things that could go on this season.
And, uh, I'm glad that we're gonna have a chance toe kind of chronicle at and dig into it.
So on all those places, um, you confined, You know, the work of myself and my colleagues at NBA dot com and NBT NBA TV and we, uh, were fired up.
I mean, we had a short off season, Aaron, but everybody's gas and back up.
Getting ready December 22nd.
It'll be here before you know it.
So enjoy that season.
Well, thanks again for your input here, Seco.
And be sure to check him out.
Fantastic writer reporter on the lead.
You know, he's going to give you guys a great input, especially the M V p.
I mean, I've been reading it for probably about 10 years now and just fantastic work over there, So check it out guys on.
And then, of course, for business casual basketball, you could follow us on Twitter instagram BC basketball, too.
And then, of course.
BC basketball down info online.
We have a free agency list going up in a couple of days.
A lot of other concept coming suit.
So don't miss out, guys, but enjoy.
Enjoy the rest of your evening.
Enjoy this time before the off season or before the regular season because, as we know, it's gonna be full force once we dive into it.
So it's gonna be watching for listening, and we'll catch you over here from or in the ****ysis on the podcast real soon.