Category Archives: Chicago Bulls

Trail Blazers trade Vonleh to the Bulls

The Portland Trail Blazers traded power forward Noah Vonleh to the Bulls in exchange for the rights to Milocan Rakovic.


Bulls grade:

Noah Vonleh has been a major bust in the NBA since he was drafted 9th overall in the 2014 draft. However, Vonleh is still only 22 years old and there is the possibility that the Bulls could develop him into a decent role player. The Bulls are a perfect fit for Vonleh since they are a team in rebuilding mode and they can afford to give him more playing time than any other NBA team could. Chicago is giving up nothing in return for Vonleh as Milocan Rakovic is a 32-year old player that will likely never play in the NBA. This is a very low-risk trade for Chicago and there is a potential that they could develop Vonleh into a decent contributor for their team.

Grade: A-


Trail Blazers grade:

This trade is specifically for financial reasons as this deal helps the Trail Blazers fallow below the luxury tax threshold for this year. Noah Vonleh wasn’t much of a contributor for the team anyway as his minutes had been declining dramatically recently. The Trail Blazers are receiving nothing besides financial relief in this deal as Milocan Rakovic is just a player that was drafted in 2007 who has no intention of ever playing in the NBA. Overall, this was a decent trade for Portland as it clears up some salary and a roster spot for a cheaper bench player.

Grade: B-


Bulls trade Nelson to the Pistons

The Chicago Bulls found a suitor for veteran point guard Jameer Nelson as the team traded him and a 2022 2nd round pick to the Detroit Pistons for center Willie Reed and a 2022 2nd round pick.


Pistons grade:

Jameer Nelson is a good veteran leader at 36 years old, but besides that he won’t provide much value to the Pistons. Nelson is a washed out point guard and he likely won’t have much of a role on the Pistons as they are already relatively deep at the position. However, Detroit gave away backup center Willie Reed in this deal which doesn’t help the team much since they already were thin at the center position. Also, swapping 2nd round picks in 2022 isn’t ideal since the Pistons will likely be rebuilding at that point in time. This just seems like a waste of a trade for Detroit as it really doesn’t benefit them immediately or in the future and it could actually make the team worse.

Grade: D+


Bulls grade:

This trade makes sense for the Bulls as they are getting a minimal return for a 36-year old point guard that doesn’t provide much anymore. Nelson was taking away minutes from some of the younger guards on the Bulls roster so it didn’t make sense to keep him around since he doesn’t provide any short-term or long-term value. The Bulls are receiving Willie Reed in this trade, but he will be waived by the team as he was just an add-in for this trade. The real value in this trade is that the Bulls are swapping 2022 2nd round picks with the Pistons. Basically the Bulls are hoping that they will be rebuilt by that point in time and the Pistons will then be in decline which would probably give the Bulls a better pick in the 2nd round of that draft. Chicago was likely to release Nelson soon anyway so possibly getting something in return makes this a good trade for the team.

Grade: B

5 NBA Teams on the decline this offseason

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have been a playoff team every year for the past 6 seasons after the team drafted star power forward Blake Griffin in 2009 NBA draft and traded for star point guard Chris Paul in 2011. Now, the Clippers are in serious danger of losing their two top players this offseason as they have already lost Chris Paul and that makes it even likelier that Griffin will sign elsewhere. Los Angeles would barely be a playoff team even if they retain Griffin, but if they lose him then it could be devastating for the Clippers. The Clippers appear on their way to a somewhat lengthy rebuild after trading away Chris Paul and they are in a position that they might not even make the playoffs next season.

2. Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta was one of the top teams in the NBA just two seasons ago in 2014 when they had the best record in the eastern conference with 60 wins. Also, the Hawks haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2006 season. However, this is a team clearly on the decline as they have traded away Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and Dwight Howard all within the past year. Paul Millsap was the player that made the Hawks a playoff team last season without much talent around him, but Atlanta is in danger of losing him in free agency this offseason. If Millsap leaves in free agency then the Hawks probably wouldn’t be a playoff team because there just isn’t much talent left on their roster. Point Guard Dennis Schroder has emerged as the franchise player for the Hawks moving forward, but if Millsap leaves then there will literally won’t be much talent on the roster at all. Atlanta has been getting rid of their key veteran players the past few years and now the Hawks are clearly a decline and it appears that they are faced with a lengthy rebuild.

3. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls already showed that they are moving in a different direction after they traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves during the draft. Chicago still has Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo on their roster, but they probably won’t be enough to be able to lead the Bulls to the playoffs anytime soon. Chicago has some very talented young players with Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen, although none of those guys are going to make this a good team immediately. Chicago probably won’t make the playoffs for the next couple of years, yet they have some good young talent that they can build around for the future even though it might take a few years to get their team back on the right track.

4. Indiana Pacers

Indiana is in an extremely tough situation right now because they are certainly a playoff team heading into next season as they are currently constructed. However, starting point guard Jeff Teague is a free agent this offseason and it would be a big loss if he were to leave. Also, the Pacers star player Paul George has expressed his intent to leave Indiana once he becomes a free agent after next season. The Pacers would probably receive a lot in return for Paul George if they trade him soon, but it would still put the team into a rebuilding situation where they probably wouldn’t be a competitive team for a few years. Indiana is still a playoff team as of right now, but if Teague and George leave soon as expected then this is clearly a team on the decline.

5. Toronto Raptors

This is a big offseason to say the least for Toronto as they could lose both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka in free agency. Toronto might still be a borderline playoff team without those guys as they will still have DeMar DeRozan on their roster. However, the Raptors wouldn’t be one of the top teams in the eastern conference like they have been the past couple of seasons. We’ll see what happens for the Raptors in free agency, but this is a team that will probably lose at least one of their really key players and that would be devastating for a team that is already showing signs of decline.

2017 NBA Draft 1st round grades

  1. Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz – Point Guard – Washington

I really like this selection for the 76ers. Sure, they gave up a lot to move up 2 spots in the draft in order to get Fultz. However, Fultz gives the 76ers a tremendous scorer that they haven’t had in awhile and now they have a really good trio of young players with Fultz, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons. The future is bright in Philadelphia and don’t be surprised if they sneak into the playoffs next season if their 3 top players can all stay healthy.

Grade: A

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball – Point Guard – UCLA

Lonzo Ball is perhaps the most well-rounded player available in the NBA draft. He isn’t a great shooter, but he has good offensive ability. Also, he rebounds and passes the ball very well for a point guard. If Ball can become a better shooter then he will be a star in the NBA, but he is a very good all-around player with tremendous potential to be even better. The Lakers suddenly have three really good young players to build around with Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle.

Grade: A

3. Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum – Small Forward – Duke

This guy is an impact player that already is a very talented offensive player and a solid rebounder as well. Also, he has the length and athleticism that gives him the potential to be a good defender for the Celtics. Tatum is an impact player that should be an upgrade over Jae Crowder at the small forward position. However, this pick likely also means that the Celtics won’t pursue star Utah small forward Gordon Hayward in free agency.

Grade: A

4. Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson – Small Forward – Kansas

Josh Jackson certainly is a dynamic player that has a chance to be a star player at the NBA level. He is already a tremendous athlete and he is a really good scorer as well. However, he needs to develop a jumpshot in order to be truly successful for the Suns. Jackson is a good defender and he is one of the most well-rounded players in this draft overall. Phoenix could be getting a great player and the only thing that he’s missing from becoming great is his lack of a consistent jumpshot.

Grade: A-

5. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox – Point Guard – Kentucky

De’Aaron Fox is my favorite player in this draft and he can really score points in bunches at times. Also, he is a good defender and he can pass and rebound somewhat well. Fox isn’t a great shooter, but if he can develop that area of his game then he would definitely be a great NBA player. Sacramento is also a good situation for him since he can possibly learn from a veteran point guard like Darren Collison and then Fox could at least be a solid starting point guard in a few years.

Grade: A

6. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Isaac – Small Forward – Florida State

Jonathan Isaac is a very athletic player with tremendous potential to be a very good NBA small forward. Isaac is a defensive specialist that has the ability to defend quick players out on the perimeter very well. He has very average offensive ability and it will be great for Orlando if he is able to score 15 points per game at some point. This is a great pick for the Magic especially since he is able to do many things very effectively.

Grade: A-

7. Chicago Bulls(From Minnesota) – Lauri Markkanen – Power Forward – Arizona

The Bulls are clearly in a rebuild mode after trading star player Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves on draft night. However, Markkanen is a great selection to start the rebuilding process as he has the potential to be a very good offensive player for many years. Markkanen is 7 feet, but he moves well for his size and he is a terrific shooter as he shot 42.3% from 3 last season at Arizona. Markkanen isn’t the type of player that spends much time around the basket, yet he is an average defender and he will have no problems scoring at the NBA level. He reminds me a lot of Dirk Nowitzki and Frank Kaminsky as players that shoot 3-pointers very well for guys their size. This is a very good pick for Chicago as this will provide a player that can score effectively from the power forward position.

Grade: A

8. New York Knicks – Frank Ntilikina – Point Guard – France

I’m not quite sure how this pick will turn out for the Knicks and it is really unknown what type of player that Ntilikina will become at the NBA level. He is a really good defender and he has good ball-handling skills as well. However, it is a mystery as to how he will perform on the offensive side of the ball. I compare him to Ricky Rubio of Minnesota since they both pass the ball effectively, but neither are very good offensive players. There is no doubt that Ntilikina has high potential, but this is a risky pick since he might not adjust to the NBA level very well.

Grade: C+

9. Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith Jr. – Point Guard – North Carolina State

This guy has as high of potential as any other player in this draft and he is a proven scorer as he averaged 18.1 points per game last season at North Carolina State. However, Smith is a very risky pick at this spot since his effort isn’t always there and his consistency is a concern as well. This guy has a chance to be a star player in the NBA if his effort level is consistent and if he commits himself to becoming a better defender. Either way, he should be a good starting point guard for Dallas and he will be a much needed scorer for them.

Grade: B

10. Portland Trail Blazers(From Sacramento) – Zach Collins – Power Forward – Gonzaga

The Trail Blazers badly need help at the power forward position and Zach Collins has probably the biggest potential of any power forward in this draft. Collins never got the opportunity to be a starter during college at Gonzaga because of how talented their frontcourt was. However, Collins is an athletic big man that has good offensive ability and he should develop his offensive game even further if he can develop a more consistent jumpshot. Collins probably won’t make an immediate impact right away, but he has the potential to be a very good power forward within a few years.

Grade: B+

11. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Monk – Point Guard – Kentucky

The Hornets needed another scorer to go along with Kemba Walker and they certainly found probably the best scorer in this draft by selecting Malik Monk out of Kentucky. Monk will make an impact right away most likely as a role player, but he reminds me a lot of Jamaal Crawford as both players can light it up offensively. However, Monk is similar to Crawford because neither player commits to playing defense. If Monk can get a lot of playing time then he will have the ability to score a lot of points. We’ll see if his defensive ability gets a little bit better, but he has the potential to be a star player for the Hornets.

Grade: A

12. Detroit Pistons – Luke Kennard – Shooting Guard – Duke

Luke Kennard is a really smart player that is a tremendous shooter especially from 3-point range. However, Kennard is probably as good of a player as he’ll ever be and he doesn’t have very high upside. Also, he doesn’t have the explosiveness or athleticism to be a very good defender at the NBA level. Kennard probably won’t ever be an all-star player, but he could be a solid starter and he will certainly be a very good role player for the Pistons at least.

Grade: B

13. Utah Jazz(From Denver) – Donovan Mitchell – Shooting Guard – Louisville

Mitchell is a very good defender that has a decent ability to score as well. He isn’t a great shooter, but if he can improve that part of his game then he could be an all-star caliber player. He will mostly be used as a defensive specialist for Utah, but he does everything somewhat well and he is one of the most athletic players in the draft.

Grade: A-

14. Miami Heat – Bam Adebayo – Center – Kentucky

Bam Adebayo is a mystery pick because I really didn’t see him going this high in the draft mostly because his offensive capabilities are very limited. However, Adebayo is one of the best defensive players in the draft and he will be a force around the basket. Miami isn’t a great fit for Adebayo either since they already have Hassan Whiteside who is basically the same type of player and Whiteside is already the unquestioned starter at center. Adebayo could be a good role player early on for Miami, but they have much bigger needs than at center right now and Adebayo probably won’t have a chance to be a starter as long as Whiteside is with the Heat. Overall, this pick is a reach for the Heat and they could have found a better fit because they didn’t need another shot-blocking center on their roster.

Grade: C-

15. Sacramento Kings(From Portland) – Justin Jackson – Small Forward – North Carolina

This is a solid pick for the Kings in this spot because they are getting a player that will be able to start immediately. Jackson has low upside as an NBA player so don’t be expecting him to turn into a superstar at any point. However, Jackson could be a good starting small forward in the NBA for awhile and at least he will be a very good role player. Jackson is just an average shooter for a small forward and that could limit his offense in the NBA as he’ll have to be more creative in finding ways to score points. Jackson is ready to play right away and he will give some more stability at small forward for the Kings since Rudy Gay is expected to leave the team in free agency.

Grade: B+

16. Minnesota Timberwolves(From Chicago) – Justin Patton – Center – Creighton

Justin Patton is a high energy player that will fit in well on a very young and talented Timberwolves roster. Patton could be a good role player for Minnesota for many years to come and if he continues to develop then he certainly has the potential to possibly be a decent NBA starting center. Patton is an extremely athletic player for his size and he has figured out ways to be a good scorer around the basket. However, Patton really needs to become a better rebounder and he needs to become a more physical player near the rim. Patton still has a long ways to go before he is a solid NBA player, but he has the talent to be a decent role player coming off the bench for Minnesota.

Grade: B

17. Milwaukee Bucks – D.J. Wilson – Power Forward – Michigan

D.J. Wilson wasn’t even a starter for most of his college career at Michigan and he didn’t really start playing well until late last season and that was when his draft stock majorly improved. Wilson isn’t an above average offensive player, but he did show some potential as a shooter last season at Michigan. Wilson is just a well-rounded player that doesn’t really specialize in one area of his game. He doesn’t project well as a starting power forward in the NBA, but he could be a good role player for many years.

Grade: B-

18. Indiana Pacers – TJ Leaf – Power Forward – UCLA

TJ Leaf didn’t get as much recognition as he probably deserved last season at UCLA because he was overshadowed by star point guard prospect Lonzo Ball. However, Leaf was just as productive of a player as Lonzo Ball was last season at UCLA. Leaf is a good shooter for someone of his size and he has the ability to score inside the paint and he is a really good mid-range shooter as well. Leaf will probably need to bulk up in order to be a starting power forward in the NBA and his lack of strength will hurt him as a defender in the NBA. However, Leaf has solid offensive ability and athleticism for his size and he is an intriguing player with tons of potential to be a good starting forward if he can improve his defense.

Grade: B+

19. Atlanta Hawks – John Collins – Power Forward – Wake Forest

The Atlanta Hawks appear to be heading towards a somewhat lengthy rebuild especially if star power forward Paul Millsap leaves in free agency which he probably will. However, they might have found a player in the 1st round that has the potential to eventually be a good replacement for Millsap. John Collins proved to be one of the best offensive players in the nation last season as he averaged 19.2 points per game in probably the best conference in all of college basketball. Collins already has a very good scoring ability around the rim and he started to get a better mid-range shot as well. If he can develop a more reliable jumpshot then Collins has the potential to be a terrific offensive player in the NBA. Collins also is a very good rebounder already and he figures to hold his own in that area at the NBA level. The main concern for Collins is his defensive ability and that is something that he will need to improve upon to become a reliable NBA power forward. Collins might not be a starter right away, but this is a great pick for Atlanta as he has the potential to be a very good starting power forward within a few years.

Grade: A

20. Sacramento Kings(From Portland) – Harry Giles – Power Forward – Duke

Harry Giles was a highly recruited player coming out of high school a couple of years ago and it seemed that he would be the number 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. However, he slipped down the draft boards because he has torn the ACL in his both of his knees in just a few years. Giles had terrible production during his time at Duke as he averaged just 3.9 points per game in limited playing time last year at Duke. Giles might be the most talented player in this entire draft, but there is a legitimate question about if he will be able to stay healthy in the NBA or if he will ever be close to the same player that he was in high school. If he can return even close to the type of player that he was before college then this might be the best pick in the entire draft. However, there is also a risk for the Kings that he might not even be a productive role player for them. I think this is a really good pick for the Kings to make at this point in the draft, but there obviously is a major risk associated with this pick which is why I’m not giving it an A grade.

Grade: B+

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Terrance Ferguson – Shooting Guard – Australia

Terrance Ferguson is probably one of the most raw players available in this draft and he wasn’t very productive as he averaged 4.6 points per game during his one season in pro basketball in Australia. However, Ferguson also has the potential to be a very good starting shooting guard in the NBA. He already is known for having a very good jumpshot and he has shown flashes of his tremendous athleticism as well. Ferguson is an inconsistent defensive player at this point, but he has the potential to become a good defender. Ferguson isn’t a very good all-around prospect, but as long as he continues to develop his scoring abilities then he has a chance to at least be a good role player. Ferguson probably won’t make much of an immediate impact at the NBA level and he probably needs to start his career in the NBA G-League in order to develop. There is no doubting Ferguson’s potential, but it is unknown if he’ll ever become a solid NBA role player at least.

Grade: C+

22. Brooklyn Nets – Jarrett Allen – Center – Texas

The main thing that Jarrett Allen has is outstanding physical tools that project really well to the NBA level. He has the length and athleticism to be a very good shot-blocker and he should also be a good interior defender. However, the main issue for Allen is that he doesn’t have the size necessary to try and stop big NBA centers near the basket. Also, he relies too much on scoring near the basket and if he doesn’t add more size then he won’t contribute much offensively since he can’t rely on his athleticism alone to be able to score. This guy has a long way to go on both sides of the ball before he is ready to be a starting center in the NBA. However, if he can just add some more strength and maybe get a decent mid-range jumpshot then he could be the eventual solution at center for Brooklyn.

Grade: B

23. Toronto Raptors – OG Anunoby – Small Forward – Indiana

This guy could have probably been a lottery pick in the draft if a knee injury hadn’t prematurely ended his last season at Indiana. Anunoby might be the best defensive player in this draft as he has the athleticism to go up against any small forward in the NBA. If he can recover from his knee injury effectively then this could be a great pick for the Raptors. However, there are some major concerns about his offensive ability and if he can ever be an above average offensive player. Anunoby doesn’t have a good jumpshot at all and he was an awful free-throw shooter last season at Indiana. Anunoby should definitely be a good role player based solely on his elite defensive ability. However, he will need to develop his offensive ability if he is ever going to be a good starting small forward. Either way, Anunoby is a great pick at this point and this point in the draft and he could push for a starting spot within a couple of years.

Grade: A

24. Denver Nuggets(From Utah) – Tyler Lydon – Small Forward – Syracuse

It appears that Danilo Gallinari might be leaving the Nuggets in free agency and now drafted a small forward in the 1st round of the draft that has a very similar playing style to Gallinari. Tyler Lydon is an excellent 3-point shooter for someone of his size and he has also showed an ability to block shots during his time at Syracuse. Lydon needs to strengthen up if he wants to compete at the NBA level, but he is a good shooter that provides some potential in other areas as well. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be an effective starter in the NBA, but he is a good depth player at small forward for the Nuggets.

Grade: B-

25. Philadelphia 76ers(From Orlando) – Anzejs Pasecniks – Center – Latvia

I really don’t like this pick much for the 76ers as Pasecniks has a lot of upside, but he might not even make it to the NBA anytime soon. Pasecniks is a good scorer and he has remarkable athleticism for someone his size which is probably why NBA scouts thought he was a 1st round pick. However, he is a major work in progress as he doesn’t have the size or physicality to be able to compete defensively at the NBA level especially around the basket. Pasecniks also is an awful rebounder and he doesn’t figure to make much of an impact in that area. This pick mostly makes no sense for Philadelphia because the team is stacked with young talent in the frontcourt and Pasecniks would most likely just be a benchwarmer for awhile. Also, I’m really wondering why the 76ers would even trade for the rights to this guy since he might not even play in the NBA for awhile and they gave up a 1st round pick in 2020 just to acquire him. Pasecniks will probably continue to play in Europe for a few years at least and he might never decide to play in the NBA especially for a 76ers team that doesn’t have a role for him. This could end up being just a wasted pick and a terrible trade for the 76ers.

Grade: F

26. Portland Trail Blazers – Caleb Swanigan – Power Forward – Purdue

Swanigan was arguably the best player in the Big Ten conference last season and that is a conference that is one of the top conferences in all of college basketball. Swanigan is a physical player that makes his living almost entirely right around the basket. That is why his offensive abilities might be limited at the NBA level. However, he is definitely the best rebounder in this entire draft and if nothing else he could provide that as a decent role player at the NBA level. He might have trouble finding playing time with Portland since the Trail Blazers drafted Zach Collins 10th overall in this year’s draft. However, Portland knows what they are getting with Swanigan and he should be a decent role player very soon.

Grade: C

27. Los Angeles Lakers(From Brooklyn) – Kyle Kuzma – Power Forward – Utah

Kyle Kuzma wasn’t considered to be even close to a 1st round prospect not too long ago, but an impressive showing at the NBA combine really improved his draft stock. Kuzma is a very athletic power forward that is an effective scorer despite not having a consistent jumpshot. Kuzma has proven that he has the potential to be a good defensive player, but he was often an inconsistent defensive player during college. The Lakers already have plenty of young depth at the power forward position, so I’m not quite sure what role that Kuzma will have for the next few years. Los Angeles will probably just send him to the NBA G-League so that he can continue to develop a more consistent jumpshot. If he can develop his offense further then the Lakers might be getting a good role player. Kuzma wasn’t very productive in college overall which is why I’m shocked that he went this high in the draft. However, Kuzma does have the athleticism necessary to maybe provide some depth to the Lakers.

Grade: C

28. Utah Jazz(From Los Angeles Lakers) – Tony Bradley – Center – North Carolina

The Utah Jazz had a big need for depth at the center position behind star player Rudy Gobert and they might have just found a decent backup in the 1st round of the draft by selecting Tony Bradley out of North Carolina. Bradley didn’t play a ton of minutes while in college, but he was very effective when he did receive playing time. He is known to be a terrific interior defender and a terrific rebounder as well. Bradley won’t provide much offensively at all, although he does have the size and physicality to get some easy baskets inside the paint. Don’t expect Bradley to ever be a starting center in the NBA especially since he isn’t a player that has the conditioning to be able to play a lot of minutes every game. However, Bradley should provide the Jazz with a high energy player that will make a big impact defensively when he is in the game.

Grade: B

29. San Antonio Spurs – Derrick White – Point Guard – Colorado

Derrick White was one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball last season as he was quietly one of the best players in the Pac-12 as he averaged 18.3 points per game for Colorado. White played his first 3 seasons at division 2 school University of Colorado-Colorado Springs before transferring to Colorado. White is a terrific shooter and he is also a good passer which is obviously important for a point guard. This is a great pick for the Spurs since they are desperate for point guard depth right now. Starting point guard Tony Parker is likely to be out until January and backup point guard Patty Mills might be leaving in free agency. White might have to play a lot early on for San Antonio and he might just be the point guard of the future that the Spurs need. Either way, this is a great pick for the Spurs late in the 1st round of the draft and he has the potential to be the Spurs new starting point guard within the next few years.

Grade: A

30. Los Angeles Lakers(From Utah) – Josh Hart – Shooting Guard – Villanova

The Lakers needed more depth at the shooting guard position after they traded away D’Angelo Russell prior to the draft. They found some quality depth late in the 1st round though as they drafted Josh Hart out of Villanova. Hart played 4 years at Villanova and he ended up winning a national championship there during his junior year. Hart is an outstanding shooter and a very good defender as well. However, his lack of athleticism is the main reason that he wasn’t drafted until the last pick of the 1st round. Hart will be a good role player at worst for the Lakers and he should provide an immediate impact to a team in need of a shooting guard.

Grade: A



Free Agent that Every team must re-sign this offseason

Atlanta Hawks – Paul Millsap – Power Forward – 2016 Stats: 18.1 PPG and 7.7 RPG

Paul Millsap is one of the best free agents available this offseason and he is by far the best player that the Hawks have. Atlanta isn’t a very good team with Millsap, but without him the Hawks likely aren’t even a playoff contender. If Atlanta doesn’t re-sign Millsap then it could be the beginning of a very lengthy rebuild for the Hawks.

Boston Celtics – Kelly Olynyk – Center – 2016 Stats: 9 PPG and 4.8 RPG

Kelly Olynyk isn’t a starter for the Celtics, but he is perhaps the most important role player that the team has on their roster. Olynyk is still only 26 years old and even though he won’t make a huge impact when he’s on the floor he still is a player that they must retain for depth purposes. Olynyk is a restricted free agent this offseason so I’d be shocked if the Celtics let him go especially if he doesn’t cost much money.

Brooklyn Nets – Randy Foye – Shooting Guard – 2016 Stats: 5.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG

Randy Foye is the only pending free agent for the Nets this offseason so I obviously had to pick him as the player that the team must re-sign. Foye won’t provide much besides a good 3-point shooter for the team off the bench. Foye is worth keeping around for the Nets since he’ll be a valuable veteran presence for a very young Nets team that is in a very lengthy rebuild right now.

Charlotte Hornets – Christian Wood – Power Forward – 2016 Stats: 2.7 PPG and 2.2 RPG

It won’t hurt the Hornets if they don’t re-sign Wood since he is basically a benchwarmer for the team. However, Wood is only 21 years old and he was projected to be a 1st round pick in the 2015 NBA draft before he ultimately went undrafted. Wood just needs an opportunity to show his talent and he would be really cheap for the Hornets to re-sign this offseason. We’ll see if Charlotte chooses to keep him around, but he is worth keeping since he is a young player with some potential to be a decent role player for the team.

Chicago Bulls – Nikola Mirotic – Power Forward – 2016 Stats: 10.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG

Nikola Mirotic isn’t a starter for the Bulls, but he has been the most productive role player that the team has. Mirotic is a consistent player as he has averaged double digits in scoring during his first 3 seasons in the NBA. Also, he is still only 26 years old which means he could be a productive player for the Bulls for many years to come. The good news is that Mirotic is only a restricted free agent which means Chicago has a very good chance of bringing him back since they have his exclusive negotiating rights.

Cleveland Cavaliers – Deron Williams – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 11 PPG and 5.6 APG

Deron Williams came to the Cavaliers from the Mavericks during the 2016 season and he was still a productive point guard despite seeing his role reduced from being a starter to a role player with the Cavaliers. Williams could probably be a decent starting point guard for a non-contending team, but if he wants to win then the Cavaliers definitely give him the best chance of doing so. However, he will have to embrace his role as a backup point guard since Kyrie Irving is clearly the point guard of the present and future for Cleveland. It might not be easy for Cleveland to re-sign Williams given their current cap situation and he might have better offers from other teams. However, Williams is a productive role player that Cleveland can’t afford to lose.

Dallas Mavericks – Nerlens Noel – Center – 2016 Stats: 8.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG

Nerlens Noel hasn’t been the dominant center that many people thought that he would be when he entered the NBA. However, the good news is that Noel is only 23 years old and he is still a really talented player that could develop into a great player for the Mavericks. Dallas gave up a lot in order to acquire Noel and I’m sure they’ll do anything to make sure that he is the franchise centerpiece for many years to come.

Denver Nuggets – Danilo Gallinari – Small Forward – 2016 Stats: 18.2 PPG and 5.1 RPG

The Denver Nuggets have plenty of young talent on their roster, but perhaps no player is more important to them than Danilo Gallinari. He isn’t a flashy player, but he does many things well including scoring points and he is still only 28 years old. Gallinari will be one of the top 2nd-tier free agents available in this free agent class which means he’ll likely receive a big contract. The good news is that the Nuggets have as much financial flexibility as any other team, but the question is how much they will bid in order to retain him. Gallinari has been a very good starter for the Nuggets for many years and it would be a big loss if he were to leave in free agency.

Detroit Pistons – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Shooting Guard – 2016 Stats: 13.8 PPG and 3.3 RPG

Detroit has a really young and talented backcourt with point guard Reggie Jackson and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope is only 24 years old and he is only getting better. Caldwell-Pope isn’t a great starter, but he knows how to score effectively despite being just an average to below average shooter. The Pistons could find a better shooting guard than him, but without him the Pistons would be lost since they don’t have much depth at the position behind him.

Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 25.3 PPG and 6.6 APG

When Golden State drafted Stephen Curry with the 7th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft the team wasn’t even close to the playoffs. However, Curry has turned around the franchise from a non-playoff team into a championship contender every season. Curry is one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA and he is also one of the best players overall in the NBA today as evidenced by winning the NBA MVP in 2015 and 2016. Golden State would probably still be a playoff team without him, but Curry is the player that the franchise revolves around and they would be a much worse team without him. There will probably be many teams that would try to sign Curry, although the Warriors will likely do anything it takes to re-sign him this offseason.

Houston Rockets – Nene Hilario – Center – 2016 Stats: 9.1 PPG and 4.2 RPG

Nene isn’t a quality starting center like he used to be, but he is still a very productive role player for the Houston Rockets. He isn’t a good shooter, although he is a player that dominates the paint and has a high field goal percentage because he almost always takes high percentage shots in the paint area. The only concern for him is that he is 34 years old, so his time in the NBA seems to be winding down. However, the Rockets could re-sign him at a cheap price and that would be important to do so since he is a very key player off the bench.

Indiana Pacers – Jeff Teague – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 15.3 PPG and 7.8 APG

Jeff Teague continues to be one of the most productive players in the NBA currently and Indiana is a team that doesn’t have many quality players other than Teague and Paul George. The Pacers will likely lose George soon which means that it is even more important that the Pacers do everything they can in order to re-sign Teague. Teague is a really good scorer and he also does a good job of controlling Indiana’s offense. He will almost certainly receive quality offers from other teams, but Indiana absolutely must retain him this offseason.

Los Angeles Clippers – J.J. Redick – Shooting Guard – 2016 Stats: 15 PPG and 2.2 RPG

When people think of the Los Angeles Clippers they usually think of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. However, there is one player that might be just as valuable as those guys and that is J.J. Redick. Redick is a tremendous 3-point shooter and he is a really good scorer overall, but his consistent play has often been overshadowed by the other 3 players listed above. Redick will likely want a major pay raise this offseason which will make it very difficult for the Clippers to bring him back. Redick is one of the best shooters in the NBA and the Clippers just wouldn’t be nearly the same team without him.

Los Angeles Lakers – Nick Young – Shooting Guard – 2016 Stats: 13.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG

Nick Young has seemed to be more of a problem than a solution for the Lakers in recent years, but he is still a good shooter and that will be difficult for the Lakers to replace if he leaves. The Lakers recently traded away young shooting guard D’Angelo Russell which makes it more important for the Lakers to re-sign Young. They have basically no depth at shooting guard behind Young and even if Young isn’t a starter moving forward they still should at least re-sign him as a key role player.

Memphis Grizzlies – Zach Randolph – Power Forward – 2016 Stats: 14.1 PPG and 8.2 RPG

Zach Randolph is one of the most underrated players in the NBA and he might even be the most important player that the Grizzlies have. Randolph is one of the most physical players in the NBA and that is the identity that the Grizzlies want. Randolph isn’t the same dominant force that he once was, but he is still a really good power forward in the NBA. He is 35 years old, so the Grizzlies will have to find him a replacement sometime soon, but they need to make sure that he finishes his career in Memphis.

Miami Heat – Dion Waiters – Shooting Guard – 2016 Stats: 15.8 PPG and 4.3 APG

Dion Waiters hasn’t been an elite player like some expected when he was drafted a few years ago, but he proved last year for Miami that he can be a good starting shooting guard in the NBA. Waiters had big shoes to fill after the departure of Dwayne Wade and Waiters certainly didn’t do a bad job as Wade’s replacement. Waiters is also only 25 years old, so he could be a key piece to Miami’s future. The Heat have many needs left on their roster and they can’t afford to let Waiters depart in free agency.

Milwaukee Bucks – Michael Beasley – Small Forward – 2016 Stats: 9.4 PPG and 3.5 RPG

Michael Beasley hasn’t been a star player like many people had hoped after he was selected 2nd overall in the 2008 NBA draft. However, he has become a very reliable role player especially with the Milwaukee Bucks in limited playing time last season. Beasley is a very good scorer and he was a key player in their playoff run last season. Beasley could be a starter for Milwaukee and he certainly deserves more playing time. However, the Bucks would be silly to let a productive player like Beasley go in free agency.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad – Small Forward – 2016 Stats: 9.9 PPG and 2.8 RPG

Shabazz Muhammad is a tremendously talented player that has yet to receive extended playing time because of the amount of talent on the Timberwolves roster. Muhammad has proven that he can be an effective role player as he had 9.9 PPG in just under 20 minutes per game. Muhammad is a restricted free agent, so the Timberwolves should definitely be able to bring him back and that would be wise since he is their best role player.

New Orleans Pelicans – Jrue Holiday – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 15.4 PPG and 7.3 APG

It is difficult to find starting point guards in the NBA that can score as effectively as Holiday can. However, Holiday is also an effective passer as well which makes him a very well-rounded player. Holiday will surely have many offers from other teams in free agency because there aren’t many free agent point guards as talented as Holiday is. The Pelicans need to do anything necessary in order to re-sign Holiday because they likely won’t be able to acquire a point guard better than him.

New York Knicks – Derrick Rose – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 18 PPG and 4.4 APG

The New York Knicks had a disappointing season in 2016, but the performance from Derrick Rose overall was a bright spot for the team. Rose is more of a shooting guard because he isn’t a great passer, but he certainly has the ability to score points in bunches. Rose was an NBA MVP not too long ago with Chicago, but he hasn’t been the same player ever since his devastating knee injury years ago. Rose will generate tons of interest in free agency from other teams and it might be difficult for the Knicks to keep him. However, if New York loses Rose in free agency then it would be a big setback for the Knicks.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Taj Gibson – Power Forward – 2016 Stats: 10.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG

Taj Gibson came to Oklahoma City this past season from Chicago via a trade and he went on to start 16 games for the Thunder while averaging 9 points per game. Gibson was a big upgrade over what Oklahoma City had at the power forward position and if the Thunder lose him in free agency then it would be a big loss for the team. Gibson isn’t a flashy player, yet he is very reliable and consistent and that is exactly why the Thunder need to re-sign him at least as a role player.

Orlando Magic – Jeff Green – Small Forward – 2016 Stats: 9.2 PPG and 3.1 RPG

Jeff Green isn’t a quality starting small forward like he once was when he was with the Celtics. However, Green provides veteran leadership on a young Orlando team and he is also a consistent role player off the bench. Green provides much needed depth at small forward/power forward for the Magic and without him they will lack a key versatile player at both of those positions.

Philadelphia 76ers – Sergio Rodriguez – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 7.8 PPG and 5.1 APG

Sergio Rodriguez made his debut in the NBA in 2006 with Portland and his first NBA stint lasted through the 2009 season without much success. However, he attempted an NBA comeback last season with the 76ers and he had a career year in both points per game and assists per game. Rodriguez isn’t a great scorer, but he proved that he can be a very good passer which is what makes him a decent backup point guard for Philadelphia. He is worth keeping around because of his valuable experience and passing skills. Also, he shouldn’t cost much at all which should make it very easy for the 76ers to retain him.

Phoenix Suns – Alex Len – Center – 2016 Stats: 8 PPG and 6.6 RPG

Alex Len is a big center that at 24 years old has yet to really reach his full potential as a starting center in the NBA. Len is a solid rebounder and he isn’t a great shooter, so he is at his best when he takes shots from inside the paint. He will never be a great offensive player, but he has been a quality role player for the Suns ever since being drafted in 2013. Len is a restricted free agent, so the Suns will be able to re-sign him if they want and they hope that he can become the full-time starting center very soon.

Portland Trail Blazers(They have no free agents)

Sacramento Kings – Rudy Gay – Small Forward – 2016 Stats: 18.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG

Rudy Gay has been one of the most underrated players in the NBA for many years and he does many things really well including scoring points and grabbing rebounds. The Kings really need to re-sign Gay since they have no other proven scorers on the roster at the moment. He will likely receive a lot of offers maybe even from contending teams, so it will probably be tough for the Kings to re-sign him this offseason. However, Sacramento really needs him back because they would basically have nothing without him.

San Antonio Spurs – Pau Gasol – Power Forward – 2016 Stats: 12.4 PPG and 7.8 RPG

The Spurs had a really good frontcourt last season with LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward and Pau Gasol at center. However, Gasol might be going elsewhere this offseason as he will surely have plenty of offers from contending teams despite being 36 years old. San Antonio will try to bring Gasol back at least as a role player at this point in his career, although the Spurs might not have the cap space necessary to be able to re-sign him.

Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 22.4 PPG and 7 APG

Kyle Lowry is going to get a big contract this offseason wherever he goes after he had a career high in points for the Raptors last season with 22.4 points per game. Lowry is a terrific shooter and he also rebounds and passes the ball very well. He is one of the top point guards in the NBA today and the Raptors might not even be a playoff team without him. Toronto needs to do whatever it takes in order to re-sign Lowry, although it is certainly a possibility that he signs elsewhere.

Utah Jazz – George Hill – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 16.9 PPG and 4.1 APG

George Hill has been in the NBA for awhile as he is now 31 years old, but he certainly majorly improved his free agent stock during his one season in Utah as he averaged 16.9 points per game in 2016. He has never been much of a passer, but he is a point guard that really scores points effectively and he plays solid defense as well. Hill will have plenty of teams that want to sign him this offseason and we’ll see how much the Jazz are willing to bid in order to keep him.

Washington Wizards – Brandon Jennings – Point Guard – 2016 Stats: 7.1 PPG and 4.9 APG

Brandon Jennings used to be a very good starting point guard with Milwaukee and Detroit several years ago. However, the last couple of years he has been with 4 different teams and he has been limited to being a role player. Jennings is still a good passer, but for some reason his shooting has regressed over the past few seasons. Still, Jennings is a very good role player option for Washington and he should come at a cheap price so the team should definitely re-sign him.



Bulls trade Gibson to the Thunder

This was probably the biggest trade on an uneventful NBA trade deadline day. The Chicago Bulls sent power forward Taj Gibson, small forward Doug McDermott, and a 2018 2nd round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for point guard Cameron Payne, power forward Joffrey Lauvergne, and shooting guard Anthony Morrow.

Bulls grade:

The Bulls realized that they might not be able to re-sign Taj Gibson in free agency which is why they wanted to get rid of him now. That part of the trade makes complete sense, but getting rid of McDermott and a 2nd round pick won’t help the Bulls that much in the future. The Bulls gave up a lot to acquire McDermott in the first place and it is strange that they are giving up on him after only 2 1/2 years. Meanwhile, Chicago at least received some decent talent in return. Cameron Payne is a former 1st round pick that never got much of a chance to be a starting point guard in Oklahoma City as he was stuck behind Russell Westbrook on the depth chart. Payne should get some more playing time with Chicago and hopefully the Bulls can develop him into a quality starting point guard or else this could be a very bad trade. Joffrey Lauvergne was an average role player with the Thunder, but he will probably end up seeing his minutes decrease with the Bulls. Anthony Morrow is specifically a 3-point shooter and he likely won’t see much playing time with the Bulls as well. This trade is very bold for the Bulls because they are trading away two quality players for Cameron Payne who they are hoping can improve and become their point guard of the future. We’ll see how this trade ends up in the future, but I’m not too optimistic that this will turn out well for Chicago.

Grade: C-

Thunder grade:

Cameron Payne never got a chance to play much with the Thunder and that probably wasn’t going to change anytime soon as long as Russell Westbrook stays in Oklahoma City. Also, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow were given an opportunity to be key role players for the Thunder, but they both never provided much for the team. Meanwhile, Taj Gibson is going to be a free agent this summer, but he should make a big impact for Oklahoma City right away. Doug McDermott still has some potential as a good shooter and he should at least be a decent role player for the Thunder the next few seasons. The 2nd round pick in 2018 could end up helping as well for Oklahoma City. Giving up Payne probably wasn’t easy to do for Oklahoma City, but it was the right decision since he wouldn’t have been able to reach his full potential with the Thunder anyway. This trade won’t make a huge impact for Oklahoma City, but it certainly helps their team immediately and for the future.

Grade: B

taj gibson