NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION OFFSEASON ROLL CALL

Game 4 of the NBA Finals isn’t for a few more hours. But the end of the season is very much in site as draft night is officially less than 2 weeks away.

A lot of talk will be about cap space that teams have, and their ability to maneuver. Ultimately, if you’re properly motivated you can get almost anything done. If the Cavs (a franchise currently in gross salary cap hell) had the opportunity to sign Kevin Durant, they could figure out a way to get it down. It wouldn’t be easy, and it’d cost them assets to get rid of bad deals, but it could be done. The point being that there is a lot of chirping about teams with “max salary slots”, which is certainly enviable. If you’re looking to add Kevin Durant and pair him with Kyrie Irving, you’re better off being the Clippers or Knicks than you are being the Blazers or Heat.

That being said, assuming every player with a player option opts out of their deal and becomes a free agent, there are still only a hand full of “max guys”, and some of these are certainly “ish” relative value, but will certainly get a max offer simply because there are more max slots than max players available.

Who is actually worth a max slot that should be out there? Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving? Certainly. Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson? Sure. Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, DeAngelo Russell? Well, the market says they’ll get it. What about guys with an injury risk, guys like DeMarcus Cousins, or Kristaps Porzingis?

We know the Nets are now in a position to go after 2 max slot guys, the Knicks can create 2 slots, as can the Clippers. That’s 6 spots right there, and lets not forget that those player’s teams don’t need salary cap space to re-sign them (except Cousins, he can only be offered a percentage raise over his 2018-2019 deal with the Warriors, a number he is certainly going to be able to eclipse this summer given the market conditions).

But for now lets not focus on what teams COULD have, but rather what they DO have. Who are the players under contract? Lets assume everyone who CAN opt out, does opt out. What do teams have left? What is the foundation on which they hope to build their 2019-2020 squad?

We’ll start today with the SouthWest Division:

HOUSTON ROCKETS: 

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Chris Paul
  • James Harden
  • Eric Gordon
  • Clint Capela
  • PJ Tucker
  • Gary Clark
  • Chris Chiozza
  • Michael Frazier
  • Isaiah Hartenstein

DRAFT PICKS:

  •  None

COACH:

  • Mike D’Antoni

The Rockets are in a position where they could return a more than adequate starting 5 of Paul/Harden/Gordon/Tucker/Capela. But that team has left them wanting in terms of meeting their post season goals, and Chris Paul’s contract doesn’t get any friendlier as the all time great point guard continues to age. There is virtually nothing on the bench. I’m more intrigued than most on Hartenstein’s potential, but I’m not sure he’s a great fit in the D’Antoni system. They’re capped out, and really have no tradable assets that would allow them to add, only alter. From this vantage point it feels like the Rockets peaked in 2017-2018, but Darryl Morey is one of the best in the biz at pulling a rabbit out of his hat.

DeMar DeRozan Spurs

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • DeMar DeRozan
  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Patrick Mills
  • Davis Bertans
  • Marco Belinelli
  • Jakob Poeltl
  • Bryn Forbes
  • Lonnie Walker IV
  • DeJounte Murray
  • Derrick White
  • Chimezie Metu

DRAFT PICKS:

  • 1st Round Pick #19
  • 1st Round Pick #29
  • 2nd Round Pick #49

COACH:

  • Greg Popovich

Who am I, or anyone to judge the state of the Spurs? Whatever ingredients they put into the stew, it always comes out tasting like a hearty beef stew fit for a king. Throw in squirrel? Tastes like kobe beef. Grass clippings? Mmmm Mmmm good, these taste like the freshest carrots I’ve ever had! Doesn’t matter what goes into them, the end product is simply magic. In the case of how they look on paper though. They’ve got a veteran all star in DeMar DeRozan, who is in that “good enough to be called a perennial all star, but not good enough to be called a super star” cache’ of players. Another all star caliber player in the leaving his prime years LaMarcus Aldridge. A few young players that have shown potential to carry the next version of the Spurs; DeJounte Murray, and Derrick White, and they hope/believe Lonnie Walker IV. Not sure any of them are good enough to be the face of the franchise the way The Admiral, Tim Duncan, and then Kawhi Leonard were. As constituted this feels like a franchise in danger of being in that dreaded limbo area. Good enough (with Pop around) to be the 7th or 8th seed in the west, but not good enough to advance beyond the opening round.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Mike Conley
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Avery Bradley
  • Kyle Anderson
  • CJ Miles
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • Bruno Cabocio
  • Dillon Brooks
  • Ivan Rabb
  • Jevon Carter

DRAFT PICKS

  • 1st Round Pick 2

COACH:

  • Vacant

The Grizzlies hopes have been on life support for probably 3 years now. And in February they finally pulled the plug, as evidenced by the trading away of Marc Gasol who is now trying for a ring with Toronto. Their most valued trade asset would be Mike Conley. A player who will surely have value once the first wave of free agents is off the board. You need a point guard, but Kyrie, Kemba, and D’Angelo spurned you? Well come on down, the price is right! Chandler Parsons is the other notable vet at the top of their salary scale, and when his albatross of a contract expires they may through a party on Beal Street. Kyle Anferson was a waste of a signing. A decent enough player, he’s too good to help them tank completely, but not good enough to carry them. Young developing players like Dillon Brooks and Jevon Carter are young enough that they could be good bench players by time the Grizzlies are ready to actually do something. More likely though they’re good enough to put up solid numbers on a bad team, then be flipped at the trade deadline for future assets (picks). At the moment, the foundation of the Grizzlies is Jaren Jackson Jr. and presumably, Ja Morant, who is expected to be the #2 pick in this year’s draft.

Anthony Davis Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Anthony Davis
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Solomon Hill
  • E’Twuan Moore
  • Jahlil Okafor
  • Christian Wood
  • Frank Jackson
  • Kenrich Williams
  • Dairis Bertans

DRAFT PICKS:

  • 1st Round Pick 1
  • 2nd Round Pick 39
  • 2nd Round Pick 57

COACH:

  • Alvin Gentry

This is a roster truly devoid of talent as it reads. E’twaun Moore should be a 10th man on a decent team. The 2nd or 3rd guard off the bench type. Solomon Hill is overpaid, and pretty much the definition of mediocre for the NBA. Jahlil Okafor showed flashes of what made him a lottery pick in the not so distant past, but still hasn’t shown capable of defending at the level needed. Jrue Holiday is actually very underrated. A very good 2 way player, he’d be best served by being the 3rd best player on a team. But the Pelicans could do worse than him being the 2nd best. As of right now the mantle of the best belongs undoubtedly to Anthony Davis. BUT, I would expect news to break about an Anthony Davis trade somewhere around Tuesday June 18th. A couple of days before the draft. Enough time so that the news cycle isn’t torn away from the incoming king of mardi gras, Zion Williamson. As the quality of the roster essentially ends after Zion and Jrue, expect the Pelicans to hope to grab at least 2 rotation ready players, and a couple future building blocks (picks).

DALLAS MAVERICKS

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr
  • Courtney Lee
  • Luka Doncic
  • Justin Jackson
  • Ryan Broekhoff
  • Jalen Brunson

DRAFT PICKS:

  • 2nd Round Pick #37

COACH:

  • Rick Carlisle

What is there to say about this roster? Its got plenty of room to add. In truth, after the deadline deal to acquire Kristaps Porzingis, there is little chance of the Mavericks letting him slip away, and as he is a restricted free agent, you can expect they’re prepared to match every offer, up to and including a max deal. Assuming Dwight Powell opts out (and there are recent rumblings that he may not, or that an extension is already being hammered out) the Mavericks would actually have room to sign a max slot guy. Since the trade for Porzingis I’ve thought them to be a dark horse candidate for former Texas Longhorn Kevin Durant. If not, they could keep Powell, and look to sign someone on a injury riddled discount, like say DeMarcus Cousins? Regardless, moving forward the idea will be to build around the foreign connection of Doncic-Porzingis. Considering the last time the franchise put their trust in a foreign star (Nowitzki), they got a championship for their efforts, it shouldn’t shock to see them go back to that well.

 

  • Written by Jason Sullivan
  • Follow on twitter, at @TopDucker or find us on Facebook at You’re Ducking Right
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