Knicks 2017 Odds: Joakim Noah may be Greatly Improved

joakim-noah-knicksIt’s safe to say that Joakim Noah’s first season with the New York Knicks didn’t go well. Noah played just 46 games in an injury plagued season, where he only averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

That said, it’s little surprise that many NBA fans have already written off the former defensive player of the year. But if head coach Jeff Hornacek’s recent comments are any indication, Noah could definitely surprise some people this year and improve New York’s odds of winning.

Noah has been Playing Great in Training Camp

The New York Post recently chronicled Noah’s performance in the Knicks’ training camp. And they noted how the 32-year-old looked really strong running up and down the floor, hitting the boards, and playing smothering defense like he once did for the Chicago Bulls.

Hornacek noticed and quickly pointed out how the former All-Star is playing great basketball.

joakim-noah-2“Coming off those injuries, literally, I’m shocked of how well he’s played just because I didn’t think he was gonna be ready this early,” said Hornacek. “I’m extremely happy with how he’s playing. He’s playing the right way.

“He sets great screens, he rolls hard, which opens up other things for guys if he doesn’t get it. He’s been finishing with driving layups. He’s been playing great.”

The coach also mentioned that Noah is hoping to erase the disappointment of last year with a strong campaign in the 2017-18 season. Noah wants to justify the $72 million contract that he signed in the 2016 off-season.

“He wants to come back and show everybody what kind of player he is and he’s worked hard to do that over the summer,” Hornacek explained. “I give him a lot of credit so far.”

Noah Must Serve Suspension First

New York can certainly use a healthy Noah to improve upon last year’s losing campaign. The only drawback is that the center must sit out the first 11 games of the season for performance-enhancing drugs.

He is, however, eligible to play in the preseason. This will help Hornacek sort out minutes at a center position that includes Willy Hernangomez and the newly acquired Enes Kanter.

It’ll also help to the get some much-needed court time because he hasn’t seen the floor since February 4, when shoulder and knee injuries sidelined him.

“We’re probably gonna keep him limited, but we want to get him in and taste playing again,” said Hornacek. “He was out the last part of the season, so we want to get him some time, definitely.”

Veteran Leadership

10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony has been the Knicks’ locker room leader for the past seven seasons. However, he was recently traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

joakim-noah-3This puts more emphasis on Noah, an 11-year veteran, providing a locker room presence. This is especially the case when considering how young the Knicks are.

“I just know that I have a lot of experience in this game, good and bad and I just want to use that to try and help some of these younger players,” Noah explained.

“When you go through what I went through and you have a lot of injuries and things like that, you just appreciate practice and competing and things like that. I’m just happy to be here.

“I want to compete. I know I have a suspension but I just want to be a good influence on the younger kids from now on.”

Knicks Odds in 2017-18

Here are our current futures on the New York Knicks for the upcoming season:

  • Knicks odds to win Eastern Conference: +20000
  • Knicks odds to win NBA Finals: +50000

It’s hard to have much faith in New York turning things around after a dismal 32-50 campaign.

Two of their top-3 scorers in Anthony (22.4 PPG) and Derrick Rose (18.0 PPG) are gone. But the Knicks did make some additions that could help them improve upon last season’s record.

They signed swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. this offseason. The former Atlanta Hawk averaged 14.5 points and shot 35.7% from the three-point line last season.

New York also brought in Michael Beasley on a veteran’s minimum contract. Beasley averaged 9.4 PPG on 53.2% shooting in just 16.7 minutes per game for Milwaukee last season.

Kanter and small forward Doug McDermott came over in the Anthony trade. Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for OKC last year. McDermott scored 9.0 PPG and shot 37.0% from the three-point line for the Thunder.

New York also returns some important players in Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, and Lance Thomas. Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in his second season, is already a borderline All-Star. And the Latvian big man only figures to get better.

Add in an improved Noah, and this team could exceed expectations. But what are the current expectations?

CBS currently has New York ranked 28th out of 30 NBA teams. Obviously this doesn’t inspire much confidence. But on the other hand, the Knicks have nowhere to go but up.

Isaiah Thomas Out until All-Star Break? Derrick Rose Gains More Importance

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics recently completed a blockbuster trade, where Kyrie Irving is going to the Celtics, while Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, and a 2020 second-round pick go to the Cavs.

Some hailed this as a win for Cleveland because they got a lot after Irving demanded a trade. But the Cavaliers stalled before finalizing the deal due to Thomas’ hip injury.

Cleveland claims that the timetable for Thomas is longer than they expected. And according to The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd, the 5’8″ point guard may not be available until after the All-Star Break:

“No one is willing to put a timeline on when Thomas might return to the court. The fact he isn’t running yet certainly is not a good sign. One source with experience dealing with the type of hip problems Thomas is facing predicted it could be January or even the All-Star break before Thomas returns to game action. That doesn’t leave much time for a new player to establish chemistry and rhythm with a team trying to compete for a championship.”

Lloyd continued by stating that Isaiah Thomas wasn’t Cleveland’s main object because they’re unsure over LeBron James’ future with the team. Here’s more:

isaiah-thomas-celtics“Thomas was never the focal point of these negotiations from the Cavs’ perspective, one source with knowledge of the talks told The Athletic. From the start, the Cavs made clear to the Celtics that James’ uncertain status beyond this season left them prioritizing restocking the cupboards in the event he leaves again. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert remains fixated on James’ future, one source told The Athletic. Had he gotten James to commit beyond this season, this Irving trade might have looked drastically different.

“Instead, Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman focused on a future that might or might not include the best player in franchise history. Now they will have to explain to James why trading for a wounded and undersized point guard, a good wing defender in Jae Crowder, an unknown big man and a couple of draft picks makes them better positioned to compete for a championship this season than they were…”

Thomas Claims that He’s not “Damaged”

Thomas may not have been the focal point of the Irving trade, but he can certainly help the Cavs win now. After all, he averaged 28.9 points per game last season. But now he finds himself defending his ability to come back from this injury.

“I am not damaged,” Thomas told ESPN. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player.”

kyrie-irving-isaiah-thomasOdds are that Cleveland had a fair idea on the extent of Thomas’ injury, given that it occurred during the Conference Finals against them. Many believe that they used the injury as leverage after the deal was announced to get more from the Boston Celtics. That said, it’s not impossible to see Thomas coming back and being a strong player again.

“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” Thomas said. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”

The 28-year-old is in the final year of his current deal and wants to make over $100 million in the 2018 free agency period. He did everything to make this happen last year, leading the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals and making All-NBA second team.

But now he must prove that he can still be the same impactful player after injuring his hip.

“[A doctor] told me, ‘I have seen hips worse than yours with guys who played at a high level and had great careers,'” Thomas explained. “At the moment, yes, I am injured, but I have made progress from May.”

Derrick Rose should Play an Important Role

derrick-rose-clevelandWhen Derrick Rose signed with the Cavaliers in July, it was looked at as a marginal deal that would give Cleveland depth.

He was set to back up Irving, who is coming off another stellar All-Star campaign. Now, Rose will be stepping into a starting point guard role for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

It’s unclear how Rose will mesh with the Cavs’ offense because he’s more of a scorer and rim-finisher. Cleveland has mostly surrounded LeBron with three-point shooters who are good at playing off the ball.

Rose is neither of these things, especially a three-point shooter. He shot a career-low 21.7% from beyond the three-point line.

Nevertheless, the former league MVP averaged 18.0 points and shot 47% from the field last year for the New York Knicks. And he’s a more-than-adequate fill-in while Thomas sits for an uncertain amount of time.

What does Thomas do for the Cavs’ 2018 Odds?

isaiah-thomas-celticsOn paper, there’s not a great disparity between Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas. One could even make the argument that Thomas is better at rising to the challenge when considering Thomas’ fourth-quarter heroics.

But all of these arguments are a moot point when considering that Thomas is injured. Since he likely won’t play for months, Cleveland’s record will suffer.

When Thomas does return, it’ll take time to get him back to full speed. He’ll also need to mesh with his teammates on court so everybody is playing with good chemistry.

This may not happen in half a season. But Cleveland is still favored to win the East going into the 2018 campaign. The reason why is because LeBron is at the top of his game for the foreseeable future.

But as for if the Cavs are on pace to usurp the Golden State Warriors, nobody sees this happening any time soon. They were thoroughly handled by the Warriors in the NBA Finals and don’t look to be any better after the trade.

Celtics Odds: What does Kyrie Irving do for Boston Title Chances?

kyrie-isiah-thomas-celticsThe Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the biggest trade of the 2017 NBA offseason. Kyrie Irving is going to the Boston Celtics, while Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick are going to the Cavaliers.

The deal makes sense for both teams on paper. Crowder and Thomas help the Cavs compete for a championship in what may be LeBron’s final season in Cleveland. And Boston gets a taller point guard who’s somewhat better at defense – all while keeping their core assets.

Boston makes the biggest leap here from an immediate perspective. But is it enough to push the Celtics towards a title? Find out as we analyze the deal from Boston’s perspective. We’ll also cover how the trade affects the Cavaliers.

Boston Accomplishes 2 Things with Irving Trade

While the Celtics have a strong core, the one thing plaguing them is the lack of a true superstar. Thomas was the closest thing, averaging 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG. However, he’s constantly critiqued for being too small (5’8″) on the defensive end.

They also have Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart, who are all quite good. But Hayward is a fringe All-Star while the other three are on an even lower tier.

This all changes with Irving, though, who has the ability to take over games with his driving ability. He averaged 25.2 PPG last season while playing alongside fellow All-Stars LeBron James and Kevin Love. Irving has also been to the NBA Finals three straight times, which is invaluable for a group that just made the conference finals last year.

Another thing that the Celtics accomplish is avoiding handing Thomas a max deal. The All-Star point guard has been great on the scoring end.

But it was a necessity to keep shooting guard Avery Bradley (now with Pistons) around to cover up Thomas’ defensive deficiencies. That said, many analysts have questioned whether giving Thomas a 5-year max deal was a smart decision. Now they don’t have to worry about it any longer.

Ainge Pulls the Trigger

jaylen-brown-bostonFour years ago, the Brooklyn Nets gifted Boston with a package of first-round picks that had other teams salivating. But Ainge had been reluctant to unload the picks, even using one this season to trade down to the No. 3 selection.

The result is that the Celtics have accumulated young talent like Jaylen Brown and Duke forward Jayson Tatum. Many wondered when Ainge would finally use these picks and/or young talent to land a superstar.

The good news is that it only took a single Nets pick, a player they didn’t want to re-sign anyways, and Crowder. The latter is a valuable two-way player. However, Crowder became more expendable when Hayward was signed this offseason.

The Celtics have dramatically changed their roster since losing 4-1 to Cleveland in the conference finals. Now, only Brown, Horford, Smart, and Terry Rozier remain from last year’s team.

Overall, Boston is a Better Team

kyrie-vs-jeff-teagueIrving wasn’t cheap, After all, Boston had to give up Crowder, Thomas, and the Nets’ 2018 first pick. But this is a worthy risk when considering what Kyrie can do for their team.

What’s more is that they still have young talent in Rozier, Tatum, and Brown to build around for years to come. If they can re-sign Irving in 2019, then the 25-year-old point guard will also play a pivotal role in their future.

Can they dethrone Cleveland in the East?

It’s not a given. But we can be sure that Boston is much closer than they were last week. Furthermore, they also have the impressive combination of scoring and long-limbed athletes who can compete with the Golden State Warriors.

How does the Trade Impact Cleveland?

jae-crowder-celticsThis has been far from a dream offseason for the Cavs. They started the summer by parting ways with general manager David Griffin. Then came the bombshell that Irving had requested a trade to a handful of successful teams.

Given the trade request, it was clear that Irving wanted to be elsewhere. But it wasn’t clear until now what value they could get from a player with only two years left on his contract.

In the end, things worked out pretty well for Cleveland because they got players that can help them complete now in Thomas and Crowder. Plus they received what figures to be a lottery pick in next summer’s draft.

The Cavs may opt not to sign Thomas to a max deal in the offseason. But Crowder is on a very team-friendly deal for the next three years. And they can either use the pick to build for the future, or trade it for a better chance to win now.

Yet another plus is that they’ll save lots of money in luxury tax payments after dealing Irving’s max contract. Additionally, Cleveland has some flexibility to put together a team, which is something that they just didn’t have entering the offseason as a capped-out franchise.

Does Cleveland Win the East in 2018?

Thomas certainly doesn’t help Cleveland’s defensive efforts. After all, he’s already one of the league’s worst defenders at his position. And he doesn’t figure to get any better coming off a surgically repaired hip.

isaiah-thomas-celticsBut Thomas offers plenty from an offensive perspective. He had a true shooting percentage of .625 and is better than anybody at getting to the free throw line.

He should pair well on offense with James, Love, and J.R. Smith. Thomas also shoots the three well (37.9%), which is important when playing with an excellent passer like James.

Crowder is one of the best values in the league for his contract size. He’s due $6.8 million this year, $7.3 million next season, and $7.8 million in the 2019-20 campaign. This is a major bargain when considering that Crowder is a good scorer (13.9 PPG), shooter (39.9% from three), and defender.

The last part is important because Cleveland needs another strong wing defender besides James. Moreover, he could cover Durant while James slides over to Draymond Green and conserves energy against the Warriors.

Many wonder if James will leave Cleveland in free agency after this season. If that happens, at least the Cavs have Brooklyn’s pick and a 2016 first-rounder in Zizic to accelerate their rebuild.

Cavs Odds: Derrick Rose may Sign with Cleveland

derrick-rose-cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers need more talent to contend with the Golden State Warriors. And point guard Derrick Rose needs somewhere to play as the offseason winds down. This makes both sides a good fit for each other.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Rose and Cleveland are “in serious talks” to agree on a 1-year contract.

Rose is one the top unrestricted free agents this summer. And if he signs a deal with Cleveland, he’d play backup point guard behind All-Star Kyrie Irving.

The Cavs have already signed Jose Calderon, who averaged 3.4 points and 2.1 assists for the LA Lakers and Atlanta Hawks last season. Calderon is presumed to be Cleveland’s backup, however, he’d play third-string if Rose signs.

But will Rose sign? If so, how does he change the Cavs 2018 championship odds?

We’ll answer these questions below and also discuss how Rose fits into this team.

How can Rose Help the Cavaliers?

rose-knicks-free-agent-2017Derrick Rose is a three-time All-Star who won the league MVP award in 2010. But multiple knee injuries have hampered Rose since the 2011 MVP campaign, when he averaged 25.0 points and 7.7 assists.

Nevertheless, he’s still a productive player who averaged 18.0 PPG, 4.4 APG, and shot 47.1% for the New York Knicks last season.

Number aside, it’s hard to figure out how Rose fits into Cleveland’s plans. Starter LeBron James often plays with the bench unit and handles the ball. The backup point guard has usually been a good shooter who’s comfortable coming off screens.

Rose, on the other hand, is one of the league’s worst point guards at outside shooting. He hit just 21.7% of his three-point attempts last season and is a career 29.8% shooter from beyond the arc.

Obviously the Cavs’ past bench formula won’t work with Rose. But what he can do is run the offense by himself when James and Irving sit.

derrick-rose-clevelandOne of Cleveland’s biggest problems has been supplying offense whenever either Irving or James rest. And Rose could take care of this problem.

If he can score 18 points and get to the rim for the dysfunctional Knicks, he should have no trouble doing well against reserve point guards.

As for the way Cleveland normally likes to use their bench, Calderon could still have a role.

Again, he wouldn’t play many minutes with both Rose and Irving on the team. But he could be the off-the-ball point guard Cleveland needs when LeBron runs the bench offense. Calderon is a career 40.9% three-point shooter, which would help.

What does Rose have Left?

Derrick Rose may be 28 years old, but he’s an old 28.

After being selected No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2008, he played extremely well from then until his MVP season in 2011. The Bulls were also great, finishing first in the Eastern Conference standings in 2011 and 2012.

derrick-rose-2017-knicks-resignBut Rose tore his ACL for the first time in the opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Since then, he’s had other knee injuries that have robbed him of his signature explosiveness.

Rose did prove he has something left with the Knicks, though, playing 64 games and recording his best scoring average since 2012.

It was his most effective offensive season of the past five years. He also shot his highest field goal percentage since then too.

And Cleveland isn’t asking Rose to be their superstar. They just need somebody to help the offense when James, Irving, and/or Kevin Love are sitting.

Rose’s Impact on Cavs 2017/18 Odds

derrick-rose-carmeloCurrently, we have Cleveland’s odds of winning the 2018 NBA championship at +350. For comparison, we had them in the +200s throughout much of last offseason after they won the 2016 title.

But the Cavs looked outclassed by the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. And it’s clear that they need help because the Warriors (-220 odds) are bringing back their entire core.

Rose doesn’t suddenly swing the odds in Cleveland’s favor. But what he does do is give them a better chance. Assuming Rose signs, the Cavs’ true odds swing to the low +300s or high +200s.

Will Rose Take a Low Contract?

One big roadblock is that Cleveland doesn’t have any cap space. The highest contract they can offer Rose is the remaining $2.5 million of their taxpayer mid-level exception.

He made $21.5 million playing for the Knicks last year. Perhaps he’ll take far less money for the opportunity to compete for a championship.

According to ESPN, they’re only offering him a $2.1 million veteran minimum. As reported by Chris Haynes, Rose “just wants to play ball” and will be looking closely at the Cavs’ and other team’s culture.

Cleveland did have a good team culture, one that includes three straight NBA Finals trips. But a dark cloud hangs over the Cavs with all the reports on James eyeing the LA Lakers in 2019.

Rose also Interested in LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls

Lakers Nation reports that Rose is intrigued with the prospect of signing with LA or Chicago. Of these two, he’s mostly interested in the Lakers:

“The Lakers and Cavs are the favorites to land Rose and each offers something completely different,” writes Lakers Nation’s Corey Hansford. “The Cavaliers would give Rose the opportunity to win a championship as they’ve made the NBA Finals three straight seasons and will again be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference this year.”

The big draw to either LA or Chicago is that they can both offer Rose more money. Chicago offers the added benefit of being Rose’s former team and hometown.

However, the drawback is that both teams are in rebuilding situations. And Rose would lose far more games with either team than with the Cavs.

Given that Rose is expected to make a decision this weekend, we should know very soon what he decides.

LeBron James 2018 Superteam: Cousins, George, Wall in LA

lebron-james-demarcus-cousinsMost NBA offseason talk has revolved around a guy who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2018. Nevertheless, LeBron James’ next move has become a big topic of discussion.

The media believes the LA Lakers are favored to land James. Much of this has to do with his Brentwood mansion, and the opportunities he’d reap while living in the world’s entertainment capital.

But there’s one big problem: the Lakers aren’t very good right now.

The young LA squad is coming off a 26-56 campaign, which doesn’t exactly fit in with LeBron’s goal of chasing Michael Jordan’s ghost (and rings).

This means that if LeBron bolts Cleveland for the West Coast, he’ll need some firepower to help win. Let’s cover rumors that this firepower could come in the form of Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, and John Wall.

Three Players on the Move?

paul-george-lebron-jamesPaul George has been surrounded with talk of going to LA ever since he announced his intentions months ago. George’s desire to go back home forced Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard to make a desperation trade with Oklahoma City just to recoup something.

The Thunder gave up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to land George for one year. The hope is that Oklahoma City plays well enough to convince him to stay. But there’s no guarantee that he and Russell Westbrook’s games will mesh.

Then we have Cousins, who was traded from one bad situation (Sacramento Kings) to another (New Orleans Pelicans). The good news is that Cousins pairs with do-it-all forward Anthony Davis. The bad news is that New Orleans gutted their already limited core to bring Boogie in.

Finally, we have Wall, who’s an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Wall and the Washington Wizards could take another step forward after finishing 49-33 last season. But if they don’t improve this season or next, will Wall re-sign in his late 20s?

Bill Simmons Weighs in on LeBron’s Potential Superteam

john-wall-lebron-jamesThe famed Bill Simmons discussed all of this on his latest podcast, and he may be the first one to put the LeBron-George-Cousins-Wall quartet in LA.

“What if I told you that 12 months from now, LeBron James, Paul George, John Wall, and Boogie Cousins will all be on the Los Angeles Lakers together?” Simmons pondered. “Conspiracy Bill has some things that he doesn’t like about what’s going on. I think the LeBron James–L.A., he hasn’t come out and denied it.

“Everyone’s talking about it in the league, it became public last month. He knows they’re talking about it and hasn’t said anything. Hasn’t said, ‘This is ridiculous. I’m so tired of hearing this. I want to finish my career in Cleveland.’”

Simmons continued connecting the dots by bringing up how Wall is represented by LeBron’s sports agency.

“So, John Wall, represented by Klutch, Rich Paul, LeBron’s buddy. LeBron, it’s pretty clear he either owns Klutch or funded it or has a stake in it,” said Simmons.

“You could have John Wall and LeBron. Paul George is going to the Lakers anyway. I mean, that’s not even a secret anymore. It’s just like, they might as well start selling his jersey. And I always thought John Wall and Boogie are a team.”

Likelihood of these Stars Ending Up in LA

lebron-james-lakersSimmons has been an expert on the NBA for years. So when he floats the idea that Cousins, George, LeBron, and Wall will team up in Los Angeles, it doesn’t sound so crazy.

This is definitely something that would benefit James in his quest to win more championships. After all, he’ll be 33 next summer and will eventually start declining in play. And with the Golden State Warriors constructed to win for the next few seasons, Cleveland’s currently roster doesn’t look capable of winning any more titles.

Of course, there are huge roadblocks in this scenario too. First off, the Lakers just drafted Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall. And the idea is that he’ll be their point guard of the future.

This isn’t to say that they wouldn’t also take Wall too. But will LA really pay Wall’s asking price since they already having a talented point guard?

There’s also Brandon Ingram to think about. Drafted second overall last season, the 19-year-old is considered a key part of the rebuild. But his development could be hindered by an overloaded superteam.

For fun, let’s just say that LA does get this team together. How will they pay Boogie, George, James, and Wall? Will they be able to afford a bench, or even a fifth starter, in this scenario?

In reality, nobody truly knows what LeBron or any of the other future free agents will do in 2018 and beyond. We think there’s a decent chance he does go to LA and draws other big-name players.

As Simmons pointed out, George is likely to be one of these players. But the jury is out on whether Cousins and Wall will be there too.

Lakers Odds 2018

As it now stands, the Lakers don’t have LeBron or any other stars we’ve discussed. What they do have is another young team that probably won’t offer any serious contention for a playoff spot.

This being said, it’s little surprise that we have the Lakers odds of winning the championship at +10,000.

The Lakers figure to improve with a healthy Ingram, the addition of Ball, and the free-agent signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Nevertheless, this unit is too young to contend in the muddled West. But that could quickly change next summer if LA gets one or more superstars.

Clippers Odds: What does Danilo Gallinari do for LA in 2018?

The L.A. Clippers traded away their franchise point guard Chris Paul. But they won’t be left empty-handed after acquiring former Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari in a three-team deal.

The Clippers gave 37-year-old guard Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone, and their 2018 first-round draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks. Gallinari and the Nuggets’ 2019 draft pick go to LA via Denver.

In addition to moving the 6’10” forward to their team, the Clippers have signed him to a three-year, $65-million deal. The sign-and-trade is crucial because Gallinari’s original contract wouldn’t fit under the salary cap.

danilo-gallinari-clippersThe Hawks were needed so that LA could dump Crawford’s salary there; Atlanta later bought out Crawford because both sides wanted to part right away. Atlanta also sent All-Star forward Paul Millsap to the Nuggets because the Hawks are undergoing a full rebuild.

As for the Clippers, we have their odds of winning the 2018 NBA Championship at +7500. This is a far cry from the days when Chris Paul-led teams often came in with lofty championship expectations.

Will Gallinari have a bigger impact than our odds suggest? Let’s discuss this by covering the Italian pro’s impact on LA along with how he’ll fit in.

Clippers could Have the NBA’s Top Front Line

When the Clippers had Paul, Crawford, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Redick, the one thing they were always missing was a really good small forward. It’s a shame that Crawford, Paul, and Redick (76ers) had to go before LA finally got this in Gallinari.

The 8-year veteran had one of his best NBA seasons last year, averaging 18.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.1 APG. He also shot a respectable 38.9% from beyond the three-point line.

gallinari-blake-griffinGallinari is the perfect compliment to Griffin and Jordan, neither of who shoots three-pointers. Jordan is just a finish-at-the-rim guy, while Griffin has a nice mid-range and post-up game.

But Gallinari brings a different dimension to this front line, one that includes driving and deep-shooting abilities.

The biggest issue for him will be staying healthy. He hasn’t played more than 71 games in the last six seasons. Last year he appeared in 63 games, which is his average.

Assuming Gallinari suits up enough for LA, they project to have one of the NBA’s top front lines – if not THE best. The only front line that compares across all three spots is Cleveland’s, which features C Tristan Thompson, PF Kevin Love, and SF LeBron James.

Can Gallinari Log Heavy Minutes at Small Forward?

As just mentioned, the Clippers could have the league’s top front line. But the drawback is that they won’t have the versatility to play Gallinari at both forward spots, which he’s used to doing.

Griffin and Jordan only know power forward and center, respectively. This could pose a problem when Gallinari has to guard faster forwards because he’s on the backside of his career and not getting any quicker.

Doc Rivers will have some work to do with juggling lineups that include the Jordan-Gallinari-Griffin trio. In order to put Gallinari in power-forward situations, one option includes bringing Wesley Johnson or Sam Dekker off the bench to play small forward when Griffin needs a breather.

Clippers Lose Everything at Guard Spots, but Gain Something Back

Moving away from Gallinari for a moment, LA will certainly miss their top three guards in Redick, Paul, and Crawford. But it’s not like they came out of the Paul trade without anything.

patrick-beverley-spurs-game-6Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams – both coming over from Houston – are currently slated to start at point guard and shooting guard, respectively.

Beverly is one of the league’s best defensive guards, and he can also score (9.5 PPG) and shoot (38% three-point). Williams is a volume scorer (17.5 PPG) who’s one of the league’s best at drawing fouls (5.4 free throws per game).

Neither of these players will replace Paul, Crawford, or Redick. But they’re good enough to fill in while the front court (potentially) works their magic.

Outlook on 2017-18 LA Clippers

Gallinari has played for some bad Nuggets teams over the years. So nobody is more excited about joining a winning team than him.

Few are expecting the 2017-18 version of the Clippers to be better than the team last year, which finished fourth in the West with a 51-31 mark. But most expect this squad to be in line for a playoff spot.

On paper, this is our top 4 in the West right now:

  1. Golden State
  2. San Antonio
  3. Houston
  4. Oklahoma City

After this, we think the Western Conference is wide open. And LA could very well compete with the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 5 seed.

But for now, the mission will simply be getting Gallinari, Griffin, and Jordan to gel in the front court. Once this happens, the dominoes will fall for the Clippers.