June 29, 2017, 1:52 am
Two big “shoes dropped” in the NBA off-season over the last 24 to 36 hours. The first was that Phil Jackson was fired by the New York Knicks. The second was that the Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers in a blockbuster deal.
Each of these major events will have their respective repercussions in the fantasy basketball Universe. Fret not, we at Hoop Ball have got you covered on that end here on the Daily Dish.
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The new New York Knicks
Jackson had his chance in the form of a few years charting the course for the Knicks. In the end, the continued playoff drought only added to the pressure and highlighted the fact that the recurring status quo was not working. Something had to change. James Nolan decided to shake things up top and start fresh from there.
Phil Jackson‘s departure, which reportedly had a Carmelo Anthony contract buyout as part of the tipping point, will obviously steer the Knicks franchise in a different direction. At the end of the day, we have to call it what it was, the Jackson-Knicks marriage was not a match made in Heaven, to put it lightly. Currently, the names of Mark Jackson and Masai Ujiri have been heard to be potential candidates to fill Jackson’s shoes.
For now, GM Steve Mills will be calling the shots in free agency. He has some big decisions to make in the weeks ahead. One thing that will be working in his favor is the advantage that players acquired/signed need not have “knows how to execute triangle offense” on their resumés, as a requirement. It’s not exactly a clean slate that he has to work with though. The Knicks are still saddled with Carmelo Anthony, the no-trade clause in his contract, and the financial headache of a contract buyout as an option.
It appears that Kristaps Porzingis‘ future with the Knicks is secure. At least for now. That’s a good thing for his Knicks and fantasy fans alike. A realignment will take place and it should safe to consider Porzingis as the centerpiece of the team’s vision for the future. People are, after all, not calling him a “basketball Unicorn” for nothing.
Things are still fluid at the moment and we should get a clearer picture in the coming weeks or so. Everyone save for Porzingis and possibly Melo (no-trade) can be considered dispensable or disposable. That said, I’m still pretty high on Porzingis improving on his 2016-17 production. How much? Well, that would depend on who he will be sharing the floor with. For now, eyeballing it, I’d venture to take him somewhere in the latter end of the second round to the early part of the third round in standard drafts. Of course, it’s far too early to really tell but stay tuned as this situation is something we at Hoop Ball will follow closely.
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Houston Rockets: Harden + Paul + ?
The Rockets sent the Clippers everything but the kitchen sink to acquire 32-year-old All-Star point guard Chris Paul, to pair him with James Harden, forming far and away the most talented backcourt duo the league has ever seen.
The package sent to LAC consisted of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, as well as a top-3 protected 2018 first-round pick and $661,000. That’s a hefty haul for Doc Rivers to sort through but he seems satisfied with the “assets” he has to work with.
As far as the Rockets are concerned, the motives for and vision behind this major move are clear. They fully understand the tone that has been set by the Golden State Warriors. Either you try to stack talent and form a “superteam” or you fade into the shadows of irrelevance as far as the NBA Championship conversation is concerned. The Rockets chose option 1. In that regard, they are taking the necessary steps towards that end. Acquiring Paul was the first step.
With Harden and Paul manning the backcourt duties, Houston now has a fluffy welcome mat for another superstar to join their ranks. However, just the combination of these two talented guards has raised a few questions. Compatibility? Too many point guards? If anyone can make this Harden-Paul backcourt duo work, it’s Coach of the Year awardee Mike D’Antoni. James Harden was second in the league last season in touches with 99.2. Chris Paul was eighth in that category with 86.2. Is there enough basketball to go around to share between these two guys and a potential third star? While there is obviously no guarantee that this will succeed, if both guards want to make it work, they have the tools and the talent to make it work. That said, neither player will probably be averaging 9.5 assists per game next season and thus making an impact on their respective fantasy values and rankings. Off the top, as things stand as they do now, which obviously will not be the case come October, you can’t really pick Harden anymore as your top choice in 8-cat. This Rockets rebuild opens the door for guys like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis to close the gap. Chris Paul will also slide in 9-cat and 8-cat rankings. How far? It will depend on what the final form of the new-look Rockets will look like. For now, CP3 is still worth a look in the second half of the first round.
Who are the options for Houston as far as the next piece of their superteam is concerned? Paul George could make for an interesting piece, then again so could Chris Paul’s former teammate, Blake Griffin. Now, here are where both news items converge. Word is that if he is bought out by the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony will join his buddy Chris Paul on the Rockets’ roster. The said buyout remains a question mark at moment, but who knows to what lengths New York will be willing to go for a “fresh”, post-Jackson start?
I’ve predicted a healthy and volatile player movement market coming into this 2017-18 season, and so far the league has not disappointed. Expect more big moves ahead, from the Rockets and from other teams wanting to be the next superteam to challenge the Golden State Warriors for basketball supremacy.
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