• This time of year is usually pretty slow for basketball news, making for some pretty dry “Daily Dish” pieces.  However, this summer we are lucky enough to have a Summer Olympics to help pass the offseason.  In addition, the NBA schedule for the 2016-2017 season was released on Thursday, providing for some exciting matchups to analyze and look forward to.

    Team USA came through against Australia, winning by ten after trailing for a majority of the game.  Carmelo Anthony had to carry the team and give USA the lead with less than eight minutes left in the game.  After scoring 31 points, Carmelo became the all-time leading Olympic scorer for the United States.  Australia has had some solid team through pool play, led by Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova.

    I’m keeping the Olympic coverage light in this Dish, as one of our other writers is providing more in depth coverage on a regular basis on the site.

    The main news for this Dish is the release of the new season schedule.  Commissioner Adam Silver reduced the number of back-to-back sets this season, which will hopefully reduce player injuries.  As expected, the NBA made sure to highlight some key matchups to add for premium drama on the biggest days of the season.

    Opening night will take place on October 25th with a double-header on TNT.  Viewers will get to catch the defending champion Cavaliers versus the revamped Knicks in the first game.  The second game of the night will feature the top two teams in the western conference last season as the Warriors battle the Spurs.  Portland will also be hosting the Jazz that evening, but will not be featured in a primetime slot like the other two games.

    With some big name players changing teams in free agency this offseason, there will be added drama when these players face off against their old teams.  Dwyane Wade will return to Miami for the first time in early November.  Kevin Durant will face off against his old team in early November as well, but does not return to Oklahoma City until February.

    Christmas day is one of the biggest days of the NBA season each year and the matchups for the five games on the schedule this season are: Celtics @ Knicks, Warriors @ Cavaliers, Bulls @ Spurs, Timberwolves @ Thunder and Clippers @ Lakers.  The choice of matchups for this marquee day are very interesting and may be a sign of expectations by the league for certain teams this season.

    The Knicks have an opportunity to make some noise in the eastern conference with some big name free agent additions, but will really need to stars to align with all the injury liabilities on the roster.  It is no surprise to see the first finals rematch between the Warriors and Cavaliers on the biggest day of the season.  The game I think is the most intriguing is the Timberwolves @ Thunder matchup.  The Timberwolves are a team that I think could make some serious noise in the western conference playoff picture and the league seems to agree.

    In other big news, Lebron James has signed a three-year deal with the Cavaliers.  Many expected him to continue to ride short term contracts so he had the ability to control his NBA future, so this was an interesting twist to the offseason.

    That will sum up today’s Dish as we look forward to the season opener in a little more than a couple months.  Keep checking back to the site for news on Olympic updates in hopes of a successful run by Team USA.

Fantasy News

  • Bobby Portis - PF - Washington Wizards

    Tony Jones and Fred Katz of The Athletic are reporting Bobby Portis is looking for as much as $16 million in free agency and has interest from multiple teams.

    According to Jones and Katz, the Wizards aren't expected to match a huge offer sheet on Portis. As a restricted free agent, the Wiz declining to match would allow him to go elsewhere. The Utah Jazz have been a team at the top of the list on the rumor mill. Portis averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in 28 games for the Wiz last season.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter

  • Nikola Vucevic - C - Orlando Magic

    Per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, the Mavs like how Nikola Vucevic fits alongside Kristaps Porzingis, but his expected salary would cost too much for the Mavs to sign.

    The Mavs will enter free agency with a ton of cap space, but after the expected max contract that they'll extend to Porzingis, they may be more inclined to spread the wealth around or target Kemba Walker than committing a max contract to Vucevic. Vucevic had a career year as an All-Star for the Magic this past season, but his next destination remains a crapshoot.

    Source: Dallas News

  • Jimmy Butler - SG - Philadelphia Sixers

    Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets' ideal plan in free agency is to get Jimmy Butler by a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers.

    Butler is going to be a sought after commodity once free agency opens as the Sixers, Lakers, and others are also going to be looking to ink him to a long-term deal. Butler regained his level back to max contract level after his play during the playoffs this season. The Rockets don't have any cap space to sign Butler outright, so they'll have to get a commitment from him to take a pay cut, while also getting the Sixers to agree to help facilitate a deal. This is going to be interesting.

    Source: ESPN

  • Khem Birch - C - Orlando Magic

    The Magic have extended qualifying offers to C Khem Birch and F Amile Jefferson, rendering both restricted free agents ahead of free agency which is set to begin on June 30th.

    Birch, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game this past season, is seemingly a priority for the Magic to bring back, and now they'll get the opportunity to match any contracts he may fetch from other teams. Jefferson was in the G-League for the majority of the season, where he was very productive. Both may take on larger roles, should they stay with the Magic, as star C Nikola Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent.

    Source: Magic PR on Twitter

  • JR Smith - SG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers could eventually take a look at signing J.R. Smith should he be released by the Cavs, or traded and bought out by another team.

    Smith is likely to become a free agent one way or the other by the end of the month, and the Lakers will be looking at cheap floor-spacers to fill out their roster. Smith and LeBron James are familiar with one another after winning a championship together with the Cavs, and it looks like Smith to the Lakers is a real possibility.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Kristaps Porzingis - PF - Dallas Mavericks

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the Mavs will meet with restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) once free agency opens on June 30th, and the team will offer him the full five-year, $158 million max contract.

    This was expected ever since the Mavs traded for Porzingis mid-season while he recovered from his knee injury. Porzingis is fully expected to sign with the Mavs and become reigning ROY Luka Doncic's running mate for the foreseeable future.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jordan Clarkson - PG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Cavs combo guard Jordan Clarkson changed agents and signed with Klutch Sports and Rich Paul.

    Clarkson is likely to be a trade target for competitive teams ahead of next year's trade deadline, as a quality player on an expiring contract. Clarkson will enter free agency next offseason looking for the best deal possible.

    Source: Joe Vardon on Twitter

  • Julius Randle - PF - New Orleans Pelicans

    Per Marc Spears of The Undefeated, Pelicans forward Julius Randle and the Knicks have mutual interest as free agency approaches.

    The Pelicans drafted their PF of the future in Zion Williamson last week, and will seemingly let Randle walk in free agency as they are unlikely to pay him what he deserves. After a productive finish with the Lakers in 2017-18, Randle had to settle for a one-year deal from the Pelicans last summer. After another productive season on an expiring contract, it looks like at least one franchise is ready to invest in Randle as their PF of the future. Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 threes to boot this past season and makes for a good mid-round selection in drafts next season if he finds himself in a similar role.

    Source: The Undefeated

  • Andre Iguodala - SF - Golden State Warriors

    Speaking about Kevin Durant's injury situation during this year's playoffs, Andre Iguodala said that he fractured his left leg against the Rockets in the 2018-19 playoffs and the Warriors listed him out with a "left lateral leg contusion.”

    There has been a lot of smoke in regards to how the Warriors dealt with Durant's injury, as it did not appear to be as minor as the team led the public to believe when he injured himself backpedaling after a made basket. A non-contact injury is always a major red flag, but the Warriors called Durant's initial injury a "first-grade calf strain," which is the lowest graded injury designation. Weeks later, when Durant rushed back to help his team out of a 3-1 Finals deficit, he fully ruptured his Achilles in only 12 minutes of action. This is all just speculation, but this revelation from the 2015 NBA Finals MVP is an alarming development for a franchise who could seemingly do no wrong the past half-decade. The league may take a deep-dive into these claims soon enough.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • D'Angelo Russell - PG - Brooklyn Nets

    The Lakers, who are also working towards setting up meetings with a defensive specialist and a floor-spacer, have a set meeting with D'Angelo Russell when free agency opens.

    The Lakers drafted Russell at #2 overall in the 2015 NBA draft and subsequently traded him to the Nets a few years ago as a way to get Timofey Mozgov's horrendous contract off their books. He has since blossomed into an All-Star selection this past season as the leader of the Nets' push back into relevancy. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Russell and the Lakers would mend their previous relationship, but it remains to be seen if anything will come of it. If it is any consolation to Russell, Magic Johnson, the man who traded Russell to the Nets, is no longer with the team.

    Source: Fred Robbins on Twitter