Tag Archives: Montrezl Harrell

NBA Offseason Aftermath Pt. 2: Just the Worst

We already know who’s had the best, but which teams have had the worst offseasons in the NBA so far? It’s been a little over a week since the NBA Draft and free agency has hit its lull.

Restricted free agents like Brandon Ingram have even signed after seeing no movement outside of Bogdan Bogdanovic who ended up with Atlanta.

There was a surprising amount of activity but not all offseason moves are created equal. There was also at least one team with a disturbing lack of activity.

Who Had the Worst Offseason in the NBA?

Honorable Mentions:

Utah Jazz

Perhaps this is being nitpicky, but a team that finished sixth in the Western Conference and got bounced in the first round (albeit in seven games) didn’t add anyone of consequence to their roster this offseason?

Outside of the return of (another) defense-oriented big in Derrick Favors and adding another in Udoka Azubuike with the 27th overall pick they must be counting on more 50-point explosions in the playoffs from Donovan Mitchell.

Or maybe they’re relying on the return of Bojan Bogdanovic and perhaps second-rounder Elijah Hughes (that’s sarcasm, though he was a near-20 PPG scorer at Syracuse last season). We may have seen this group peak already.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks listing here is even more nitpicky as they did manage to do some very nice things with their roster. Trading for Jrue Holiday is a move very much akin to bringing in another Khris Middleton.

A player who can handle the ball, perform off the dribble or as a spot-up shooter, and is a very capable defender. Milwaukee was also able to unload the albatross contract of Eric Bledsoe in the process.

Can he, D.J. Augustine, and Bobby Portis keep Milwaukee in contention for not only a championship but also retaining the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason? Their little snafu with Bogdan Bogdanovic probably didn’t help the situation.

5. Charlotte Hornets

It’s pretty hard to have a roster as bad as the Charlotte Hornets, take arguably the best players in the draft, and add a former 20-point per game scorer to the roster and still be considered among the worst.

Drafting LaMelo Ball third overall was a no-brainer. But that former walking dub, Gordon Hayward, will cost Michael Jordan and the Hornets just shy of $40 million a year. That’s his $30 million deal (already grossly overspending) plus an additional $9 million from stretching the remainder of Nicolas Batum’s horrendous contract.

And that’s the rub, this isn’t abnormal for the franchise formally known as the Bobcats. Cody Zeller has never averaged more than just over 11 PPG and has never averaged close to double-digit rebounds yet is making upwards of $15 million this season. And has anybody checked on Terry Rozier?

4. New York Knicks

Can anyone answer why a team that has been searching for a point guard since Linsanity was a thing decided to pass on arguably three of the best and go for an older prospect with questions about his fit at the next level? One Kevin Knox isn’t enough so you go and get one with a lower ceiling?

Nevermind Tyrese Haliburton, Cole Anthony, and Kira Lewis were all still on the board. Austin Rivers is here to join Dennis Smith in the endless recycling of once-promising lead-guard prospects. The additions of Alec Burks and Omari Spellman are cool in a vacuum for a good team.

Their acquisitions for the Knicks, at least in Burks’ case is puzzling. Then again, this is the Knicks we’re talking about. That’s why they aren’t higher on this list. You can only be so upset about something you expected to happen.

3. Detroit Pistons

Here we have a team that, while expected to do silly things, actually provided a glimmer of hope in the draft just to sabotage their own work with odd free agency decisions. The easier path to the playoffs in the East has the Detroit Pistons drafting for the future but working free agency largely for the now and overpaying in the process.

Jerami Grant’s deal will see him average $20 million based largely on his bubble performance. He’s a valuable, versatile player. But no one expected to see him sign a deal worth that much. We haven’t even gotten to Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor. Just why?

Again, you expect them to screw things up for themselves. But their promising draft which included Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey out of Villanova (one of the most underrated prospects in this draft) is overshadowed by poor free agency decisions.

2. Indiana Pacers

How have the Indiana Pacers done so little in the offseason check-in so high on the list of worst offseasons? That’s exactly how, actually. Indy finished fourth in the East but, like Utah, was a first-round out via sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat.

Their saving grace was that arguably their best player in Victor Oladipo wasn’t at full strength and they were without Domantas Sabonis who also could make a claim as their best player. But since their elimination, it has been reported that there is a rift between Oladipo and management resulting in the two-time All-Star seeking a way out.

For an organization that didn’t do much to add to its early-exit roster, losing an All-Star caliber player seems less than ideal. The entire thing looks even worse considering Oladipo could have opted-out to preserve himself but played to help in the playoffs.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

A second-round exit and subsequent implosion (that may have been taking place all season) are why the (still) star-studded Los Angeles Clippers find themselves atop this unflattering list.

Getting bounced by a one-legged Luka Doncic is bad enough, but to have all the tea spilling about players dissatisfied with the treatment of stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Montrezl Harrell was a name continuously mentioned among those displeased and found his way to the rival Lakers; making his feelings on the situation very well known. They replaced him with Serge Ibaka and Landry Shamet with Luke Kennard.

Considering what the Lakers added and the fact the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead with many of the same players they’ll have this season, the latter has dropped the ball on what may be a pivotal offseason. Both Leonard and George can opt-out and become free agents after this season.

It’d be a shame if both left for greener pastures.

Early Aftermath of a Short (but Sweet) NBA Offseason

It’s been a week since the 2020 NBA Draft. With less than a month until the start of the 2021 season and free agency well underway, this is a good time to take stock of our favorite moves. Five teams, be it their draft decisions, free agency signings or trades, or both if they were really smart.

NBA Aftermath: Who’s Had the Best Offseason?

Honorable Mentions: Golden State Warriors/Miami Heat

You have to hand it to Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob. As trade acquisition Kelly Oubre said, Lacob is willing to spend to keep his team competitive. Oubre was taking a not-so-subtle jab at Phoenix Suns ownership, but the point stands. Lacob is spending upwards of $80 million due to the luxury tax. This even though Klay Thompson is out for the year with a torn ACL. It’s as easy to take Oubre’s words as just lip service as it is to dismiss the Warriors as contenders. But Oubre and James Wiseman is a good haul for a team in their particular situation.

There is a sense of underestimation with what the Miami Heat have done this offseason. The reigning Eastern Conference champs have flown relatively under the radar in a surprisingly active offseason. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been doing well though. Landing Precious Achiuwa with the 20th pick is a steal. In free agency, the Heat lost Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr, and Solomon Hill but retained Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard. They replaced them with a pair of hard-working, two-way players in Maurice Harkless and Avery Bradley.

5. Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are in a new phase in which they seek to add impact veterans to supplement and aid in the development of their young superstar point guard, Trae Young. That didn’t stop them from taking athletic, shot-blocking forward Onyeka Okongwu out of USC with the sixth pick. They hit free agency hard, going after and landing playoff point god Rajon Rondo and certified bucket Danilo Gallinari. Then, they went with younger vets in landing tough defensive guard Kris Dunn and signing Bogdan Bogdanovic, who shot 37 percent from three last season to an offer-sheet.

4. Phoenix Suns

On one hand, you have to like what the Phonix Suns have done this offseason. Even more so if you include their perfect 8-0 record in the bubble. They took their slide in the draft thanks to the lottery in stride, landing Jalen Smith, a veritable Jonathan Isaac clone, out of Maryland 10th overall. Chris Paul comes with hopes of recreating some of his magic from Oklahoma City. Crowder brings toughness and perimeter shooting along with E’Twuan Moore and Damian Jones is a good backup for Deandre Ayton. It’ll be up to Paul and Devin Booker to prove Oubre wrong.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

David Griffin, you clever so-and-so. Not one to be overshadowed by the Prestis and Moreys of the world, the former Cavs general manager continued his facelift of the New Orleans Pelicans centered around phenom Zion Williamson. Gone are, Moore, Jrue Holiday (via four-team trade), Derrick Favors (FA to Utah), and Jahlil Okafor. Griffin replaced them with Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe (both via the Holiday trade), and guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13th pick). He also extended Brandon Ingram. This will be a tough defensive group at worst.

2. Portland Trail Blazers

This has to be People’s Champ for best offseason. The Portland Trail Blazers brought back Carmelo Anthony (yes, there is some bias here) and Rodney Hood. They also brought rebounding savant Enes Kanter and potential-laden Harry Giles to bolster their big rotation along with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. They also signed Derrick Jones Jr, but the piece de resistance is Robert Covington. One of the absolute best 3-and-D players and just what Portland needs behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

The rich get richer. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers are still celebrating their championship while reigning Executive of the year Rob Pelinka is right back at it. Securing Dennis Schroder early was smart. Who knows what Presti could have extracted out of him further along in the process. “Stealing” Montrezl Harrell from the “rival” Los Angeles Clippers is a work of art. Granted, Harrell wasn’t going back to the Clippers after this past season played out how it did. But he will be motivated by what he clearly saw as slight from them. Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews bring good defense and enough outside shooting.

We also have to look at what Pelinka kept and got rid of. Moving Danny Green’s deal while bringing back Markieff Morris shouldn’t go unnoticed. Unsung playoff-hero Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns as well but, as a Klutch Sports client, duh. Ditto for the best “free agent” available in Davis. And they didn’t have to move Kyle Kuzma or Talen Horton-Tucker to do any of it. Losing Rondo and Howard can be overcome with the moves made. And they get to run it back with an integral piece from their Staples Center sub-lessee. The Lakers didn’t have many teams to be concerned over in the first place. It’s hard to imagine any team did enough to beat this squad fully-healthy.

NBA Playoff Surprises and Disappointments: Western Conference

Let’s look at the playoff field in the Western Conference, in particular, the most surprising and disappointing playoff teams. The 2018-19 NBA regular season is drawing to a close and the playoffs are essentially here for some teams needing wins at the end of the campaign.

Playoff Winners and Losers in the Western Conference

Pt. 2

Clippers Cutting Up

44. That is how many wins ESPN had the Los Angeles Clippers pegged for (at best) back in October. It was actually an improvement from the 35 wins the sports media giant projected in the summer. Sitting at 47-34, L.A. is getting the last laugh, but if they foresaw the season going this way they are the only ones.

A roster built with bench and injury-prone players has turned out to be greater than the sum of its parts. Potential 6th-Man of the Year Lou Williams is averaging 20 points and career-highs with 5.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds. They have gotten 19.9 points (and 67 games) out of Danilo Gallinari and 16.5 off the bench from Montrezl Harrell. L.A.s top-five scorers are rounded out by rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet.

Los Angeles is fifth in true shooting percentage and eighth in opponent effective field goal percentage. But the elephant in the room is how far can this scrappy group go with no superstar? Especially in an era where true contenders have two and three such players. Whatever the outcome for this team in the postseason, the real target is 2019-20. With space for two max contracts this summer, the Clippers have at least given themselves a shot at a big fish (or two).

Spurs Spurn Offseason

Fifth in offensive efficiency, third in percentage of points from twos, sixth in effective field goal percentage, and second in field goal percentage. All the hallmarks of a Coach Pop-led San Antonio Spurs team. They even made the playoffs to boot; currently the seventh-seed. That seeding could typically be construed as a negative for this organization. But this year was supposed to be vastly different.

Trading Kawhi Leonard (and Danny Green) for Demar DeRozan (and Jakob Poeltl) was obviously not looked at as an upgrade. And to be clear, it has not been. They are scoring more this year (111.7 PPG) than 2016 (103.4) and 2017 (105.6), the last two seasons with a healthy Kawhi. But that output has them ranked 17th this season as opposed to 10th in ’16 and 13th in ’17. Defensively they are allowing 110.2 PPG, good for 12th in the NBA. They allowed 92.9 (1st) and 99.4 (2nd) points per game in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

San Antonio’s defensive numbers taking a hit sans Leonard was always the expectation, but DeRozan has been much more than a consolation prize. While his 21.3 points per game are down from last season, that is still above his career average. Additionally, he is averaging career-highs in assists (6.2), defensive rebounds (5.3), and total rebounds (6) per game. He and LaMarcus Aldridge (21-9-2-1) present a very underrated draw for whatever opponent they ultimately face. That is especially true if they do indeed take on the young, second-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round.

Thunder Struck

Russell Westbrook (23-11-10) is averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive season. Paul George (28-8-4) spent much of the year being rightfully touted as an MVP candidate. The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the playoffs for the fourth straight season and ninth time since moving from Seattle. And yet there is as much uncertainty as ever regarding how far this team can actually go in the playoffs. Who they face in the first round will likely play a huge part in that.

OKC has raised their scoring from 107.4 (12th) last year to 114.3 (8th), but they are 19th in field goal percentage. The only playoff team with a worse effective field goal percentage (and true shooting percentage) is the Detroit Pistons. No playoff teams are shooting a worse percentage from three-point range and they are the third-worst free-throw shooting team. No player personifies the nature of the Thunder season than Westbrook. Despite the gaudy stat line, he is shooting 42.5% from the floor and 28.6% from three while hitting only 65.7% of his free throws.
George is also….culpable in the Thunder looking more like a pretender than contender. Somewhat. ‘Blame’ is definitely too strong of a word, but OKC is 8-9 since his shoulder injury. Their current three-game win streak only almost offsets the four-game skid they hit in March when they went 6-10 for the month. The Thunder would square off against the Houston Rockets if the playoffs started today. If they continue to shoot so poorly from deep and the charity stripe, they are certainly looking at a third-consecutive first-round exit.

Trail Ablaze

The Portland Trailblazers are having their best season since 2014-15 at 51-29 and fourth in the West. They are sixth in scoring and 10th in true shooting percentage. Damian Lillard (25-6-4) is the picture of consistency and C.J. McCollum (21-4-3) has provided his usual support, despite missing 10 games with a knee injury. The dynamic duo, however, is not what had many excited about this iteration of the Blazers.
Jusuf Nurkic, aka the Bosnian Beast, was having a career year before suffering a gruesome leg injury. It is a big blow for Nurkic (15-10-3) who also had to bow out of last year’s postseason with an injury. Portland still has the likes of Enes Kanter, Myers Leonard, and Zach Collins to man the pivot, but therein lies the rub. The Blazers will be able to replace the points, but Nurkic was their only rim-protector. Kanter is a great rebounder and contributes on offense (12.7 PPG since joining the Blazers). But he is often the butt of jokes about his defensive (li)abilities. Leonard and Collins are also offensive guys on the court for their scoring.  All three lack Nurkic’s presence down low defensively.
Portland was undoubtedly looking to shake the stigma that they cannot get to the NBA Finals. Three first-round exits mixed in with only two appearances in the second round over the past five years is a high hurdle to overcome. And the Blazers have never been known as a defensive powerhouse. They also still lack that dynamic wing player to alleviate the burden on the devastating one-two punch of Lillard and McCollum. They were poised to be more physical and dominant on the boards with Nurkic and Kanter. Now they are who we thought they were, and it is difficult to see them going any deeper into the postseason than in years past.

Still Playing in the Western Conference

All of these teams are in the playoffs so one could argue that this is nitpicking. Except these are crucial to any success they might have. Sure some are out of team control, but that will not take away the sting of impending early exits if they are unable to correct the issues they face. Perhaps it is all moot since the entire basketball universe expects the Golden State Warriors to three-peat. But on the off-chance that we do crown a new NBA champion, it is approaching far-fetched to think it would be one of the teams listed above.