BS Meter on Latest NBA Draft, Free-Agency and Offseason Rumors
The NBA rumor mill is a fascinating place this time of year.
Between the draft, free agency and the always entertaining trade market, a wealth of roster-reshaping activities sit just on the horizon.
Some teams have been crafting their offseason strategies for months. The smart ones have done so for years. Given the proximity to these plans being put in place, the typical whispers about them are becoming more of a constant buzz.
The challenge for fans, of course, is knowing which rumors have legs to them and which fall under the category of posturing. When your personal smell test can't decipher the difference, our reliable BS meter does the trick.
Knicks Could Trade Down From No. 3 Spot?
The New York Knicks hold the third selection in a three-player draft. For some reason, they might consider moving out of that slot.
ESPN's Jonathan Givony hears the Knicks have "explored the possibility of trading back in the lottery" and considered potentially swapping the pick for the Atlanta Hawks' first-rounders (Nos. 8 and 10). Should New York stand pat, most draft prognosticators expect it to take Duke freshman RJ Barrett.
This feels like either a case of wildly overthinking things or perhaps just "due diligence," as SNY's Ian Begley characterized it.
Barrett is no worse than the third-best prospect in this draft. He averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as an 18-year-old freshman in the ACC. While efficiency wasn't a strength (45.4 percent shooting, 30.8 percent from three), it's worth noting the Blue Devils didn't have the floor spacers needed to clear his attack lanes.
The idea of moving down for less-heralded prospects seems rooted in the idea those players might better complement potential star free agents. Should the Knicks land, say, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they might be more interested in hustlers, three-and-D wings and spot-up snipers than an offensive alpha.
But Durant and Irving aren't on the roster. There's no guarantee either ever will be.
Drafting for need instead of taking the best player is often a recipe for disaster. Drafting for a need that doesn't exist now and may never instead of adding a potential star sounds like a criminal case of roster mismanagement.
Verdict: Hopefully, BS. Barrett is a big-time talent. But these are the Knicks, so...maybe?
Pelicans Coach Intrigued by Lonzo Ball-Jrue Holiday Backcourt?
Despite the best efforts of executive vice president David Griffin, the New Orleans Pelicans will almost certainly need to deal Anthony Davis given the single-browed superstar's option to bolt in 2020 free agency.
Whenever the Pelicans cross that bridge, they should have no shortage of attractive trade offers at their disposal. It seems one prospect in particular has caught the eye of head coach Alvin Gentry.
"The Lakers do have good assets that people in the Pelicans organization value," Andrew Lopez of the Times-Picayune said on Mason and Ireland (via ESPN Los Angeles). "For instance, Alvin Gentry loves the idea of having a Lonzo Ball-Jrue Holiday backcourt."
It isn't hard to see the pairing's appeal.
Offensively, it'd be a snug fit. Holiday doesn't dominate touches, so Ball's vision and creativity could be better served than they have in L.A. Both have the athleticism to wreak havoc with Zion Williamson in the open floor. If Ball can find his three-point touch (he saw a nearly 2.4-point bump in his 2018-19 percentage), New Orleans could always have a trigger man on one side and a sniper on the other.
Defensively, the duo's ceiling might sit even higher. Between the 6'4" Holiday and 6'6" Ball, the Pelicans would have interchangeable parts who could seamlessly cycle through switches. This past season, each ranked among the top 10 point guards in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus.
The question here isn't whether Ball would fit but rather how the rest of the offer would look around him and if it will prove the best package available to the Pellies.
Verdict: Minimal BS at the concept, but Ball shouldn't be the primary focus of a Davis deal.
Suns Shopping No. 6 Pick for Veteran Guard?
After Devin Booker voiced his frustration with losing in April 2018, the Phoenix Suns ostensibly tried to rush their rebuild.
They chose polish over potential on draft night by dealing Zhaire Smith and an unprotected future first-rounder for Mikal Bridges. They added veterans Trevor Ariza and Jamal Crawford in free agency. They traded for Ryan Anderson and promptly made him an opening-night starter.
But they never bothered to add a point guard and, subsequently, punched their return ticket to the draft lottery.
With the sixth overall selection in hand, Phoenix is apparently feeling antsy once again. The Suns have reportedly informed other teams they'd move the pick "if the right veteran guard is available," per Givony.
It's tricky to tell whom that mystery veteran might be.
This team hasn't been to the playoffs since 2010, and its best players are 22 (Devin Booker) and 20 (Deandre Ayton) years old, so dealing for a 30-something like Chris Paul, Mike Conley or Kyle Lowry wouldn't fit the timeline. Even Jrue Holiday, 29 next week, could be too old to justify what would surely be a costly pickup.
While Lonzo Ball isn't a veteran, he'd be an interesting fit for this roster; but Arizona Sports 98.7's John Gambadoro says the Suns aren't offering No. 6 for him. Spencer Dinwiddie might be an option if the Brooklyn Nets add Kyrie Irving or re-sign D'Angelo Russell, but Dinwiddie isn't worth the No. 6 pick alone.
Clearly, the Suns need a point guard. And if they're as focused on competing sooner than later as it seems, maybe they would part with that pick to add one. But good luck finding a perfect match in this market.
Verdict: Should be BS, but it may not be.
Grizzlies Not Locked In to Ja Morant?
Ever since the Memphis Grizzlies moved into the No. 2 spot, it's been assumed—and reported—they'll likely spend the selection on phenom floor general Ja Morant.
However, Givony hears this might not be set in stone:
"After I reported a couple of weeks ago from the combine that the Memphis Grizzlies informed interested parties that they intend to select Murray State's Ja Morant at No. 2, Memphis has been sending out some mixed messages. The Grizzlies' ownership group is still telling people around the league that the team is locked in on Morant, but the front office has requested to have Barrett in for a private workout -- something he has declined but might revisit over the next three weeks, sources told ESPN."
Are the Grizzlies getting cold feet? Morant underwent minor knee surgery Monday, so could that be cause for concern?
In a word, no. The recovery timeline is "three to four weeks," a source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. That means Morant might not even miss any Summer League time.
While it makes sense for most teams to have contingency plans, Memphis doesn't need one. Everyone knows Williamson is bound for the Big Easy, so the Grizzlies know they can get whichever non-Zion target they want.
And it should be Morant. He's a star in the making with elite explosiveness, elite court vision and a nasty scoring punch. Moreover, he's a natural heir to Mike Conley's old throne, allowing for a seamless changing of the guard. Plus, the prospects of a Morant-Jaren Jackson Jr. pairing are spectacular. It's hardly outlandish to picture those two eventually forming the backbone of a championship contender.
Verdict: Massive amounts of BS detected.
Sixers Preparing Max Offer For Jimmy Butler?
Jimmy Butler makes no bones about his free-agency intentions—he's worth a max contract.
It doesn't sound as if his going rate will scare off the Philadelphia 76ers.
Rival executives think the Sixers will offer the four-time All-Star max money, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported on The Hoop Collective podcast (via Ky Carlin of SixersWire). The ESPN scribe said the Sixers might not go with a fully guaranteed five-year offer, but they're expected to shell out max coin.
On the surface, this isn't a no-brainer decision.
Butler has peaked as a really good player but not a great one. He can play a prominent role for a contender, just not the starring one. Of course, that works for the Sixers, who already have their centerpiece in Joel Embiid.
Less helpful for Philly, though, is the fact Butler doesn't wow with efficiency (career 34.1 percent) or volume (0.9 makes per game) as a three-point shooter. Since Ben Simmons never launches long-range looks and Embiid doesn't connect on many, the Sixers' ideal third wheel would be a sharper shooter than Butler.
That player might be younger, too. At 29, Butler is four years older than Embiid and seven years Simmons' senior. That gap might not sound enormous, but remember, Butler served two different stretches as Tom Thibodeau's prized pupil. Butler's legs have plenty of mileage on them—prior to this season, he'd averaged more than 36 minutes for five consecutive years—not to mention knee surgery in the not-so-distant past.
All of that said, the Sixers traded multiple assets for Butler in November for a reason. They feel their championship window is open, and he can help them break through it.
Verdict: No BS. This seemed to be the plan all along.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.