Category Archives: NBA

Triple Zeros: Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago

Triple Zeros

Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago

Happy to welcome Ryan Taylor (@rytay_), Digital Content Producer for NBC Sports Chicago, to Triple Zeros! Ryan joins us to discuss the Chicago Bulls on the heels of a very revealing and eventful Media Day and the first day of training camp. We talk about the impact of Lonzo Ball’s surgery and absence as well as the effect the entire situation appears to be having on him. Ryan later shares who he expects to start in Ball’s absence – and who he would start – after Billy Donovan hinted at a training camp battle

Then, we shift towards how the offense is expected to look after Patrick Williams alluded to major changes this season. Could we see him unlock a new level of playmaking alongside the Bulls’ Big 3? Ryan also gives his assessment of the Arturas Karnisovas-led front office and their approach leading up to and including this offseason. Will their decision to “run it back” pay off? All of that and much more on this episode of Triple Zeros!

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

 

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Follow the show on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, @ClockerSports), and check out ClockerSports.com today!

Heavy on Bulls/Last Word on Pro Football/Soaring Down South

Why the supermax system is flawed – A Portland Trail Blazers study

The Portland Trail Blazers extended Damian Lillard‘s contract for a further two seasons in this current offseason. This is an intelligent move for the franchise at the right price. However, the price is certainly not right for the franchise. This is especially so with the age Lillard will be when the extension kicks in.

The problem is that Lillard is already 32 years old, before the start of this season. He then has two seasons left on his current deal before his extension kicks in. This means that the superstar will be 35 before it kicks in. In the final year, he will be 36. He will earn $58.5 million in 2025-26 and then $63.2 million in 2026-27.

To put this into context, the current salary cap for the 2022-23 season is only $123.6 million. The Trail Blazers are already over the luxury tax, which is set at $150.2 million. The Blazers are going to hope that the salary cap explodes over the next few seasons. Otherwise, they are going to struggle to put a competitive team around him.

The Portland Trail Blazers rebuild is going to be a struggle.

The Blazers had been tied to the Lillard, CJ McCollum backcourt until the trade deadline this season. They had invested almost $80.0 million for the next few seasons. They managed to trade McCollum’s contract to the New Orleans Pelicans. Now, instead of giving over $30 million to one player, they have split that between Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic.

However, going forward, it is going to be difficult to split the remainder of the salary cap enough to get quality players to stay. The supermax system was designed to help the smaller-market teams keep their star players. What it is actually going to cost them the ability to win championships. The goal was for these franchises to keep their good players. They should have then been able to add solid role players to round out the team

Instead, teams are just paying out huge sums of money to these stars. They have to choose if they want to go into the luxury tax if they want to win a championship. In order for there to be a fairer playing field, these franchises need a new system. What that system is, I can’t tell you. The NBA is still not a level playing field but it is better than it was. Let’s hope the next CBA helps make it even leveler.

The Deandre Ayton saga with the Phoenix Suns has another chapter

The Deandre Ayton saga has been going on for months now. The Phoenix Suns pinned a portion of the blame for their playoff exit on the young star, However, this is not the first part of the story. Ayton believes that he is a max player and the Suns did not believe this to be the case and let him test the waters of restricted free agency. This could have been to save the Suns a heap of long-term money. It may have also been done to continue the Kevin Durant pipedream.

Ayton was the first pick in the 2018 NBA draft and he has seen players like Trae Young, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander get rookie-max deals but he has missed out. This has to hurt because he is the only player from his draft to have a key role in a team that has made the NBA Finals. We are quick to point out his deficiencies, every young player has them, but why are his good qualities not praised?

How many other players in NBA history have averaged a double-double over their first four seasons. The answer would not be that many. Thanks to knowing his game, Ayton is also able to hit 59.9 percent of his field goals. He is an excellent offensive rebounder and has averaged one blocked shot per game over his career. These are incredible numbers for the third option of a team.

So why did the Phoenix Suns not offer Deandre Ayton a rookie-max extension?

The rumor is that Ayton did not want to sign anything less than a max deal. On the other side of the fence, the Suns did not believe that he was a max player. There are not many places to go when both parties have such variances of worth. This was the exact scenario that just panned out in Atlanta with John Collins.

In that case, there was no second team that wanted to sign Collins for what he thought he was worth. The Pacers basically forced the issue with Ayton such as his level of talent. Thanks to them making all the moves to sign Ayton. They cleared some players off cap space by waiving players. They then offered Ayton the biggest offer sheet in NBA history, which he signed.

It took the Suns three minutes to match the offer. This means that they had every intention of keeping Ayton. However, the machinations of this move are a thing of beauty. Ayton got close to the maximum that he could get. However, the Suns got their man for a year less and without the usual kickers that are associated with a rookie max deal. This could save them close to $80 million over the term of his contract.

What could the drawbacks of the deal be for the Phoenix Suns?

The drawback of the deal is that the Suns cannot trade Ayton until the middle of January. After this time, Ayton has veto power on any trade until the first year of his deal is complete. So apart from the money savings, the Suns now have the ability to trade players and remain over the cap.

This is going to be crucial if they are to trade for a superstar like Durant. The Suns have not given up any of their first-round draft picks in any trades so they could satisfy any trade requirements to land a superstar. If they put any superstar player with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Ayton then this is a superpower team.

However, if this does not happen then the Suns have the flexibility to potentially trade him. There is always a team down the bottom of the pack that is looking for a franchise player. They have made sure that they did not lose their former No. 1 pick for nothing.

The impact of Pat Connaughton’s extension with the Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks have extended the contract of wing Pat Connaughton for another three seasons. The contract is valued at $28.5 million per Woj of ESPN. The seven-year veteran played his first three NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. After those three seasons, he then signed on as a free agent with the Bucks.

Connaughton has a player option for next season which he is obviously picking up. This means that the Bucks have bought back another member of their 2021 championship team. This is going to keep them competitive in the Eastern Conference. Given how much of their salary cap is taken up by the big three, it was crucial to get a rotation piece like Connaughton cheaply.

Given that he has spent the past four seasons with the Bucks, he understands how to play with Giannis Antetokounmpo. This is crucial given how vital he is to the franchise. Playing with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday is also important. However, without Antetokounmpo, this team is middle of the pack at best. Finding players who can highlight Antetkounmpo’s strengths is the best way forward.

Pat Connaughton gives the Milwaukee Bucks flexibility

Connaughton naturally swings between the two-guard and small forward position. He is a good backup for both Khris Middleton and Grayson Allen. This flexibility has been a huge reason for the Bucks’ success. Their ability to throw a multitude of quality lineups at their opposition with Antetnokounmpo at the heart of it all makes them hard to defend.

Connaughton has come off the bench for all but 35 of his 417 career games. However, he is certainly capable of starting. In the 19 games that he started last season, he averaged 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 30.4 minutes per game. These numbers were moderately up from his reserve sats, where he averaged 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 24.2 minutes per game.

As long as the Milwaukee Bucks continue to surround Antetokounmpo with players who can play off him, they will compete.

Summer League Simple as 1-2-3 for 2022 NBA Draft’s Top Picks

This needs to be prefaced with the obligatory “it’s still early” disclaimer. There have only been a couple of games played in the NBA 2k23 Las Vegas Summer League. So we do need to temper all reactions accordingly if we are going to make it to the regular season with any sanity.

That does not mean we cannot take some things away from what we have seen from the action so far.

Naturally, the top of this year’s rookie class makes for easy targets.

They had the most fanfare coming in and have garnered much of the discussion even when their respective teams are not in action. That being said, let’s add to the discourse and check in on how they have adjusted through a couple of meaningless exhibition games.

2022 NBA Draft’s Top Picks Thriving in Summer League

1. Paolo Proves Place

If there were any questions as to why the Orlando Magic made Paolo Banchero the first-overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, they aren’t anymore. Banchero is averaging 20.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in his two games.

He has looked so good that the Magic have decided to hold him out of the remaining summer league play.

It has not all been pretty.

Banchero is shooting just 40% from the floor and has averaged nearly as many turnovers (5.0) as assists. He is averaging 2.5 steals and shooting 50% from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder has also gotten to the free-throw line for 10 attempts per game.

It’s his combination of size and skills, though, that has still been clear right away. It could spell good things for a Magic organization that has had success picking first overall before.

Of course, we have to hold off judgment until we see him when the games count. Specifically, as it pertains to his physicality and defensive presence. But it’s hard not to like what he has shown at this level already.

2. Holmgren’s Skill Outweighs Frame

Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren’s scoring output is a bit more modest than Banchero’s. But the second-overall pick has cast aside aspersions about his slender build to stuff the stat sheet in his first two “NBA” games in Las Vegas.

The 7-foot big man is averaging 14.0 points, 9.0 assists, 3.0 blocks, and 1.0 steals while slashing 50/40/100.

It’s not like the concerns over Holmgren in the post will go away. Not after Memphis Grizzlies second-rounder Kenneth Lofton Jr. manhandled him under the rim in their matchup in Salt Lake.

Holmgren got his too, though, with 11 points, 12 boards, three assists, and two blocks.

He was inefficient. But the fact that he still found a way to be effective is more important than the stats at this point. Holmgren has always presented an air of confidence. And he will surely put on some weight as the years go on.

There are some things you cannot teach, however, such as size and feel for the game. He has both of those things, and they should serve him well as he continues to adjust to the NBA.

3. Smith Slid Home

Jabari Smith was projected to go first-overall my most outlets right up until the night before the draft when word of Banchero’s rise began to spread. The question then became where Smith would ultimately land.

Those questions grew louder when the Thunder took Holmgren as they had been projected all along despite Smith’s availability.

Their decision has been the Houston Rockets’ gain after they took him third overall.

While Smith certainly would have liked to go first, he might have landed in the best situation out of the three given the talent already on the roster, namely second-year guard Jalen Green.

Green has shown signs of stardom while fellow guard Kevin Porter has been a nice find. They also have the added ability to attract free agents in a way that Oklahoma City and Orlando simply cannot.

That probably does not bode well for the Magic and Thunder.
Smith, who faced questions about his motor during the draft process, can fit in as the third option capable of taking over until he fully grows comfortable. When that happens, the Rockets will have a two-way weapon that was in the running for the best player in his class on their hands.

For Smith, the reward could certainly turn out to be worth the wait.

Another Australian is trying to resurrect his NBA career with the Sacramento Kings

After suffering what appeared to be a career-ending, Aron Baynes is working out with teams at the Las Vegas Summer League. However, he is not the only Australian trying to resurrect his career. Matthew Dellavedova has also gone to Las Vegas, he is working out with the Sacramento Kings in an effort to revive his career.

Dellavedova has not been idle in his time away from the NBA. He has been back in the Australian NBL, leading Melbourne United. While his numbers have not been eye-popping, Dellavedova has never really been a numbers man. For the record, the guard averaged 10.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game.

This is exciting news for the Australian whose career appeared to be over after the 2020-21 season. He was unable to shake injuries, playing in just 13 games for the season. However, thanks to a season in the NBL where he stayed healthy, Dellavedova is trying out for his old head coach, Mike Brown.

The Sacramento Kings could do with Matthew Dellavedova’s experience.

Dellavedova is not going to come into the Kings squad and displace De’Aaron Fox at the point. In fact, if he makes the team, he may not appear in many games at all. He will be bought in to teach the young team about tenacity and hard work.

The fact that Dellavedova has won an NBA championship does not hurt his case either. The Kings have a 16-year playoff drought and they are desperate to make the postseason again. Even if Dellavedova does not make the team’s opening night roster, his work ethic and competitiveness will help prepare the young Kings.

If Dellavedova does not make a team, he still has two years left on his deal with United. At the age of 31, Dellavedova still has a lot to offer the game of basketball. Let’s hope for the veteran guard’s sake, it is back in the NBA.

Triple Zeros – Very Late Draft Review, Kinda Late Free Agency Primer

Triple Zeros

Very Late Draft Review, Kinda Late Free Agency Primer

Triple Zeros: Dropping in to do an extremely late draft review and trying to catch up on all of the happenings in NBA free agency. The favorite pick is easy: Paolo Banchero going No. 1 overall. But also, which team had the best draft? Who had the worst? The Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls went in surprising directions. Were they the right ones?

The news of the day was Kevin Durant requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets just one day after teammate Kyrie Irving opted into the final year of his deal. Can either of the Bulls or Hawks land the 12-time All-Star? Atlanta already made the blockbuster of the offseason (so far) acquiring Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs. Will the Bulls get in on the action? The New York Knicks made quick work of Jalen Brunson‘s free agency despite reports he would take other meetings. All of that and free agency has not even officially begun!

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Heavy on Bulls

Last Word on Pro Football

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!

Triple Zeros: Jack Simone – Talking Boston Celtics

Triple Zeros

Jack Simone – Talking Boston Celtics (Plus Charlotte Hornets & Chicago Bulls)

It was a pleasure to welcome NBA writer, Jack Simone to Triple Zeros! We covered his unique journey into the world of sports journalism and just how he finds time to cover all of the beats that he does. He gave his take on the Boston Celtics’ loss in the NBA Finals, what happened to star forward Jayson Tatum, and on the job Boston’s Ime Udoka did as a rookie head coach. How did the Golden State Warriors’ experience impact the Celtics and, ultimately the series? Also, Jack sends a strong message on Marcus Smart‘s ideal role on the team going forward.

Then, we get into the Hornets hiring Kenny Atkinson to be their head coach only to have him back out days later. How big of a surprise was it and in what direction will they go now? Also, what draft prospects make the most sense for the Hornets in Thursday’s draft? Could they make a move for a young upside player to fill a big need?

Lastly, what does Jack make of all the rumors surrounding the Bulls? Hear what he thinks of that and what Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert would have if the Bulls traded for him this summer. Plus, what should they do with youngsters Patrick Williams and Coby White?

Follow Jack on Twitter (@JackSimoneNBA) and read his work for Heavy, Celtics Blog, At the Hive, and Enjoy Basketball. Also, check him out on the “From the Rafters” podcast.

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Heavy on Bulls

Last Word on Pro Football

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!

Triple Zeros: Shoot 3s and Win Championships

Triple Zeros

Shoot 3s and Win Championships

Triple Zeros tips the cap to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. That makes four titles in the last eight seasons and seven overall. That and his first NBA Finals MVP should put the legacy talk to bed. Klay Thompson ethered Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. for something that happened during the regular season. Jayson Tatum may be the Boston Celtics’ best player. But he is far from the Kobe Byant replica he fancied himself to be. The latest Chicago Bulls rumor finally brings some positive news while Atlanta Hawks management is pumping the breaks on rumors of sweeping changes. How will Christian Wood getting traded from the Houston Rockets to the Dallas Mavericks impact the trade market this summer? Apparently, nobody wants to pick after the first three selections in the June 23 NBA Draft.

On the NFL side, second-year quarterback Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears wrapped an up-and-down mandatory three-day minicamp. Will the front office do more to surround him with weapons? They could always try to flip disgruntled EDGE Robert Quinn for a pass-catcher. The Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, and Washington Football Team were all fined for excessive hitting in offseason workouts. Chicago (this offseason) and Dallas (next offseason) both lost practices. The New Orleans Saints revealed their new alternate helmets. New York Jets rookie and 10th-overall pick, Garrett Wilson, got a reality check during his appearance on Ryan Clark‘s “The Pivot”. Deshaun Watson‘s camp is anticipating severe punishment from the league as the result of his 24 lawsuits for sexual misconduct.

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Heavy on Bulls

Last Word on Pro Football

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!

Triple Zeros: Pat Benson Jr. – Talking Atlanta Hawks

Triple Zeros

Pat Benson Jr – Talking Atlanta Hawks

Triple Zeros is happy to welcome Pat Benson Jr. of Sports Illustrated’s AllHawks.com to the show. We get into everything from his journey to journalism, his love for sneakers leading to his authoring a book about a basketball icon, and how personal tragedy played a part. All of that before we even got to the Hawks who appear set for an active offseason. Hear what Pat thinks of the season that was, some of the trade rumors buzzing around the Hawks, and what to make of recent injury revelations.

Pat then puts on his NBA general manager’s cap for the Hawks and gives his take on what a successful offseason might look like.  His attention then shifts towards the Los Angeles Lakers; his favorite team. He tells us just how far he is willing to go to get L.A. back on track after a tumultuous season. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, pack your bags. Be sure to follow Pat on Twitter (@Pat_Benson_Jr) and read all of his great work at AllHawks.com. Also, be sure to grab your copy of his book, “Kobe Bryant‘s Sneaker History (1996-202)” on Amazon.

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Heavy on Bulls

Last Word on Pro Football

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!