We're just over a month into the NBA season, and just like the action on the court, the rumor mill is in full swing.
The trade market isn't as active as it can be and the draft is far away, but there's still gossip making the rounds. Oh, and as of Saturday, there could be league-altering schedule change on the horizon.
Let's dig in.
Warriors GM to Scout LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Just six months after competing for their fourth Finals title in five years, the Golden State Warriors have the worst record in the NBA by a full two games thanks to an unprecedented stretch of injury-related misfortune.
For the first time in seemingly forever, this means they will be paying serious attention to the top draft prospects, and that fact was recently confirmed by The Athletic's Anthony Slater, who reported that Warriors GM Bob Myers is planning a trip to Australia to see two young guard phenoms: LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton.
Even to the casual fan, the youngest Ball brother needs no introduction, but it's notable that he's been producing for the Illawarra Hawks, averaging 14.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game in almost 30 minutes a night. Hampton has not been given as long a leash on his team, the New Zealand Breakers, but is also playing well, shooting 44 percent from the field and averaging 9.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.
Both Ball and Hampton are best as primary ball-handlers, so the Warriors would have an embarrassment of riches if they slotted one of these future lottery picks alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and possibly even D'Angelo Russell to start the 2020-21 season.
Hornets Interested in Drummond?
Though they have been a surprisingly competitive 6-10 to start the season, the Charlotte Hornets are apparently looking for upgrades down low.
Through 15 games, Drummond is averaging 18.9 points, 16.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 steals per game, all of which are career highs. In a potentially related story, Drummond is a free agent at the end of this season, and though Pistons owner Tom Gores continues to reiterate that he would like to retain Drummond, the center has been a bit cagier on his future in the Motor City despite a $28.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season.
The Hornets and Drummond are a natural fit. As the aforementioned stats suggest, he is one of the premier paint presences in the entire NBA, and Charlotte ranks last in the league in rebound percentage and 29th in block percentage.
Provided they are able to offer an enticing package of assets and young players while opening up the right amount of cap space, Michael Jordan's ballclub should do everything it can to land the two-time All Star.
At Long Last, the Schedule May be Changing
Commissioner Adam Silver often indicates an interest in altering some of the NBA's most central institutions, but given the nature of his position, adjustments can be difficult. According to a new report, however, we finally have a reason to believe some of these changes may be coming.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, Silver and the NBA are "engaged in serious discussions with the National Basketball Players Association and broadcast partners on sweeping, dramatic changes to the league calendar that would include a reseeding of the four conference finalists, a 30-team in-season tournament and a postseason play-in."
There's a lot to unpack in that statement, so let's go one item at a time.
First, Woj and Lowe indicate a potential reseeding of the four conference finalists. This would make a lot of sense with regard to addressing conference imbalance. Specifically, the Western Conference Finals matchup is usually far more competitive and entertaining than its Eastern Conference counterpart, so reseeding would theoretically erase that disparity.
Secondly, they note a possible 30-team in-season tournament. The way it's described sounds very much like a soccer tournament, with a divisional-based group stage and single-elimination knockout rounds thereafter. Woj and Lowe aptly note that it might take years for teams to take something like this seriously when the playoffs are seen as a much juicier goal, but the NBA appears willing and hopeful that, over time, it will become integral to the fabric of the league.
Finally, a postseason play-in is mentioned. Likely the least radical of the three ideas, a play-in would include the seventh through 10th seeds in each conference playing for the last two playoff seeds. This idea is sensible, specifically because the final playoff spots are often decided during the final days of the season, and having the relevant teams play each other directly for placement is the clearest way to settle which of them is the most deserving to play postseason ball.
Whether these changes will be successful is up for debate, and as of this writing, a formal agreement has not been reached between the NBA, NBPA and television vendors. But the idea that Silver is willing to take something this radical so seriously bodes well for the future of the NBA.