Let’s take a look at the latest and more crucial buzz from around the NBA.
Wizards Looking Down
In a piece for The Athletic, David Aldridge opined that the Wizards are better off losing down the stretch than going on a run for one of the last play-in spots in the Eastern Conference.
The team is dealing with a bevy of injuries, including Bradley Beal, who has a mild left knee sprain. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. recently said he “hopes” that both Beal and Kyle Kuzma, who is dealing with a sprained right ankle, return this season.
Washington has seven games remaining, including home matchups against the Rockets and Magic—two teams below them in the standings.
Potential First-Rounder Tyrese Proctor Staying At Duke
Proctor had a chance to be a first-round pick with ESPN ranking the 6-foot-5 point guard at No. 30 in their draft projections. Instead, the guard will return to school and look to improve his stock as well as take care of some “unfinished business.”
“This is the best decision for my career, both present and future,” Proctor said (via Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com). “Coach [Jon] Scheyer and I share the same vision; we have unfinished business. We have the best staff in the country, and they will push me each and every day.”
The MVP Debate Continues
I’ll save my thoughts on the MVP until next week, though I had a chance to speak to longtime NBA media host Michelle Beadle about her thoughts on the award.
“I love (Nikola Jokic). I love (Giannis Antetokounmpo). But I love the idea of Joel Embiid getting it,” said Beadle, who hosts a new show on FanDuelTV called Run It Back.
“All the arguments can be made for why he should get it, but I also love that it means something to him and he’s been very vocal about that. To me, that’s kind of cool. Most players are too cool for school and Joel isn’t one of them.”
Beadle no longer has a vote, though she doesn’t wish she was still part of the official process of figuring out who the top player in the league is.
“No, because at the end of the day, half the people took it seriously and half didn’t,” Beadle continued. “And it’s just sort of fun to watch. And then when it is picked, we get to argue about it as fans. So it’s kind of nice.”
Knicks Double Down on Star-Chasing?
Since the turn of the millennium, the buzz around the Knicks was the promise of the future with New York consistently being reported as a team in the market for a star player.
The team’s strategy in the post-Isaiah Thomas era was to preserve cap space in hopes of luring a signature player. Illusions of LeBron James and friends coming to New York turned into Amar’e Stoudamire signing and later, an asset-depleting trade for Carmelo Anthony.
The post-Phil Jackson era ushered agency connections in the front office and a few summers of hope, including the team entering the Anthony Davis trade sweepstakes in 2019 and reports that a big three of Davis, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving could be in the works. The actual outcome: Julius Randle aside, the team used its cap space on placeholders (Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, and Elfrid Payton to name a few) while essentially rounding the NBA monopoly board, merely passing go for two straight years, and collecting assets to star chase again.
With early returns of the Jalen Brunson signing paying dividends and the franchise owning the draft capital and salary flexibility to make another splash, reports of more hope in the future continue. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (h/t RealGM) compares the situation to the Cavaliers in 2014 where they brought LeBron James back
“In my view, they can trade for two star-level players if they needed to. It doesn’t mean they’d have to do those deals in the summer of ’23. Those deals can be made within the 23-24 season, they can be in ’24. But they can hold, in my opinion, they can hold Jalen Brunson, they can hold Julius Randle, and they can make two giant trades.
“Whether they can hold Brunson, Randle and [RJ] Barrett and make two giants trades, that would depend on the players. But there is even a window that they can hold all three of those and make two giant trades”
…I kind of compare it to where the Cavs were in 2014. The Cavs had stuff and they had space. They used the space on LeBron and they used the stuff for Kevin Love.”
Yes, Windhorst said this on a podcast, which turned into headlines, which aggregators turned into a bigger story and fans infer more hope.
Is it correct? Sure, the Knicks are indeed positioned to trade for multiple stars. Should you expect anything other than New York falling short of tremendous hype yet again? I’m not here to tell anyone Santa Claus isn’t real; I just wouldn’t expect true championship basketball to come down the chimney anytime soon.