All posts by spencerzied

Possible Destinations for LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers

Free Agents: No significant free agents

Advantages:Cleveland is his city. If a star is willing to sign with Cleveland, he should consider staying.

Disadvantages:They are an old, terrible team with little cap space. LeBron has a bad relationship with ownership as well. He should leave immediately.

Los Angeles Lakers

Free Agents: Julius Randle, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brook Lopez

Advantages: They are a young, up and coming team. He could help young players develop; he should only go if another star joins him.

Disadvantages: Too young of a team, players haven’t fully developed, can’t legitimately compete for a championship for at least a couple years with this current core.

Houston Rockets

Free Agents: Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela (R)

Advantages: The combination of Chris Paul, James Harden and LeBron James has the potential to be lethal. With the shooting depth on the Rockets, they could legitimately contend with and beat the Golden State Warriors.

Disadvantages: May have to take a small pay cut, might take more time than expected to develop good chemistry.

Philadelphia Sixers

Free Agents: JJ Redick

Advantages: Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have superstar potential.

Disadvantages: Too young of a team, players haven’t fully developed, can’t legitimately compete for a championship for at least a couple years. Ben Simmons and LeBron play similarly and it would cause chemistry problems.

Boston Celtics

Free Agents: Nobody significant

Advantages: The combination of Brad Steven’s basketball knowledge combined with LeBron’s could be lethal and potentially resemble the dominance of a Brady- Belichick duo. LeBron would run the show.

Disadvantages: Acquiring LeBron would most likely mean Hayward, Brown, Kyrie or Tatum would be traded. This could lead to tension with a possible Kyrie-LeBron meet up if he isn’t moved, which would cause them to potentially lose their star PG in free agency. It doesn’t really make sense and it would be LeBron jumping on the bandwagon even though he beat them in 7 (without Kyrie or Hayward).

Golden State Warriors

Advantages: Would probably win 3-5 more NBA finals.

Disadvantages: His legacy will be tarnished.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Free Agents: Paul George, Carmelo Anthony

Advantages: Would have enough talent to defeat the Warriors, should only go if George re-signs.

Disadvantages: Chemistry might be problematic, Westbrook would not play second-fiddle to LeBron, would have to take a pay cut assuming George and Carmelo signed the max.

Milwaukee Bucks

Free Agents: Jabari Parker (R)

Advantages: Would be the missing piece, joining forces with Giannis would be dominant enough to threaten the Warriors

Disadvantages: Do not have enough shooting to compete with the Warriors, Giannis may not be able to reach his full potential due to being the second option.

New York Knicks

Free Agents: Nobody significant

Advantages: Would get to play alongside KP, which could potentially win the Eastern Conference.

Disadvantages: Poorly run organization, too young of a team for LeBron to see any success.

I believe that it would be in LeBron’s best interests to leave Cleveland and sign with the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Lakers. Either of those teams, with the right adjustments, could legitimately threaten the Golden State Warriors for an NBA title.

Where do you think the King will go?

Image via http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/news/lebron-james-nba-rumors-free-agency-lakers-news-2018-contract-cavs-paul-george/1p3xiwxeglwpk1erfc7fp2pw9v

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a sophomore at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

 

 

 

Kawhi Leonard’s Future in San Antonio

10506973.jpgAfter just nine games this season, Kawhi Leonard voluntarily sat out for the remainder of the Spurs regular season through the playoffs, as they were downed by the Golden State Warriors in five games.

With many questions surrounding Leonard’s future with the Spurs, there have been discussions around NBA circles about Leonard being on the move, as he has a player option on his contract for 2019. He also has an option for a 5-year $219 million super-max extension this offseason. Relations between Leonard and the Spurs have clearly soured.

He was accused, rightly so, of quitting on the Spurs this season, and assuming he requests a trade, the Spurs will likely move him. It would be wise of them to move him if he is non-committal due to his value in the open market. If Leonard has lost interest in playing for the Spurs, they should not hesitate to trade him due to the fact that his injury leaves us uncertain of how he will return. Here are some possible trade scenarios that the San Antonio Spurs should consider:

Boston Celtics

Price: 2018 first rounder (via Lakers), Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum

The Spurs could begin to immediately rebuild while being able to win now. With LaMarcus Aldridge as their primary option, they will have a top pick to surround him with, as well as two young studs in Brown and Tatum. It would be very hard to trade Tatum, but for a guy as talented as Leonard, I think it’s worth it. The Celtics could legitimately be the favorites in the East with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Leonard and Al Horford at the helm.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Price: 2018 first rounder (via Cavaliers), Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle (sign & trade)

San Antonio would be put in a rebuilding position, as Ingram is still developing. The Lakers could bring in Leonard to potentially pair with a LeBron James/Paul George combination, along with the rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. This could be a very interesting dynamic, as this team could really challenge the frontrunners in the West for years to come.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Price: 2019 first rounder (via Kings), Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric

This core could also really help the Spurs rebuild. With Fultz somewhat out of place in Philly, he has proven that his potential is quite high. The Sixers would be the immediate favorites in the East if they paired Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, along with their shooters and 3 and D role players.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Price: 2018 first rounder (via Nets), Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr.

This deal is going to put the Spurs in a rebuilding position, as they would look to acquire talent for the future and develop Nance and Clarkson. This deal would most likely only be considered by Cleveland if James agrees to sign long term, which at this point, looks unlikely unless they can acquire a talent like George or DeMarcus Cousins.

 

New York Knicks

Price: 2018 first rounder, 2020 first rounder, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway, Jr.

This deal is highly unrealistic, but as a Knicks fan, I had to include it.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Price: 2018 first rounder, Eric Bledsoe, Jabari Parker

Putting Leonard next to Giannis Antetokounmpo could make for an impenetrable defense as well as an explosive full court offense. These two resemble each other in length and explosiveness and paired with Malcom Brogdon and Kris Middleton could make for a lethal threat to any team in the NBA.

 

Who is the best suitor for Kawhi Leonard?

I believe if he joins forces with the Philadelphia 76ers, they can be favorites to win it all in the next couple of years. The Boston Celtics have the most value to offer for Kawhi, and they would also be a good spot for him. However, I believe the best destination is Philly.

Deals are based on projected value Spurs would ask for.

Cap space was not considered in these trades, as some of them may need to be refined if they were to actually be considered. Additionally, the pieces that would also be sent with Kawhi were not addressed due to their relative insignificance for this particular article.

IMAGE VIA: https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/eight_most_likely_kawhi_leonard_trade_scenarios/s1_12680_26244548

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

 

 

 

Giants NFL Draft: What’s the move?

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After a 3-13 season, the Giants had struggles all over the field. Injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall, coupled with a poorly constructed offensive line caused the Giants to fall off the rails last season. The sheer incompetence of Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese is also to blame.

New general manager Dave Gettleman is looking to build this team back up to the top and has already started to implement changes. With the acquisition of Alec Ogletree, Gettleman is making it a point to have a good line backing core – something the Giants have lacked for years. By trading Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants freed up cap space and acquired a third-round pick, making it clear that they want no deadweight contracts on their roster. Better yet, he is also addressing the offensive line issues by signing Nate Soldier, a solid left tackle who can finally protect Eli Manning’s blindside.

Gettleman has done a solid job in free agency and with trades, but now comes the biggest test of all. With the number two overall pick in the draft, an aging quarterback, a still-rebuilding offensive line, very little running game and scarce cornerbacks, the Giants could make a lot of different moves. Here are some of the options:

Option #1: Take Saquon Barkley (scouting report below)

Saquon Barkley is one of the most talented guys in the draft, putting the world on notice last year at Penn State. His technique, speed and skill set parallel those of Todd Gurley and Zeke Elliot. However, many argue that running backs are easily replaceable and a “dime a dozen” as well. If they add him, they could have a potentially deadly offense with an OBJ and Barkley tandem. While this could prove unstoppable, the offensive line might not be able to bring that combo to its full potential.

Option #2: Take Sam Darnold/Josh Rosen/Josh Allen (scouting reports below)

Eli Manning is 38 years old and has only two years left, maximum. Many would argue that a QB needs to be taken. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen could learn under Manning for a year and then step in and be ready to win. However, many also argue that none of these three guys are the real deal. If a QB isn’t a sure-fire Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, should you spend the number two pick on them? You could end up with Alex Smith or Sam Bradford instead.

Option #3: Trade Down

The Colts traded their number three pick in exchange for the number six, 37, 49 and a 2019 second-rounder. That being said, the number two pick is worth more, and the Giants potential trade partners in the Cleveland Browns (4), Denver Broncos (5), Miami Dolphins (11), Buffalo Bills (12, 22) and even the Arizona Cardinals (15) could make a deal feasible. If the Colts traded down three spots to receive three additional picks, I’m sure the Giants could get solid value by trading down two or three spots with the Browns or Broncos. However, if the Giants trade down eight or nine picks with the Dolphins and Bills respectively, they could receive a king’s ransom, and may want to consider that due to the significant help they need on the offensive line, as well as the need for a QB (Lamar Jackson maybe) and cornerbacks.

Other Possible Options

The Giants can draft OG Quentin Nelson or DE Bradley Chubb as well. While these two players are exceptional talents, I don’t believe they should pass up on Barkley if they keep number two. That being said, I think if they trade down (depending on the team), they should end up selecting one of the two – preferably Nelson – to bolster the offensive line.

Conclusion

If the Giants decide to stand pat and keep the number two pick, they should draft Barkley. His talent is special and comes around very rarely. However, if they trade the number two pick, a likely trade partner would be the Buffalo Bills. They would most likely receive the number 12 and 22 picks, as well as a few second and or third round picks for the future. However, if they can court the Browns to agree to a trade, they could still get a hefty amount given the number of picks the Browns have at their disposal.

Opinion

I am a huge fan of Barkley and want the Giants to draft him. However, they need to trade the pick because they need to acquire more picks, which will help them solidify the multiple holes the team still has.

Full scouting report summary by @AdemiSmithScout

Sam Darnold: Darnold has all the physical tools to dominate at the NFL level as a pocket passer. However, below average decision-making ability and poor ball security hinder him. Poor OL and WR play hurt him and unfortunately caused him to develop some poor habits. Has the arm strength to make NFL throws and flashed upside with his accuracy. If his decision making, ball security, and touch are coached up he can be a franchise QB. A long-term pick who will require development and time before he shows his full potential.

Josh Allen: Extremely raw prospect with rare combination of size, athleticism, and arm strength. Is still learning how to use his arm and currently has below average accuracy. Lacks touch and the ability to hit receivers in stride. Played in very simple offense and habitually made ill advised throws to covered receivers. Very good athlete with the ability to outmuscle some DL and outrun some LB in space. Physical player with raw strength. Gets lost when inside the pocket and has no clue what pressure is around him. Long term investment

Josh Rosen: Pocket passer with potential to run any offense like a well-oiled machine. Strong mental processing skills with ability to diagnose defenses and quickly go through reads. Arm talent to float the ball in awkward areas and quickly squeeze through tight windows. Very fundamentally sound, with coachable low release. Natural pocket player stands tall and can sense the pressure. Concerns with inability to extend plays due to lack of mobility, which may result in excess of hits which is concerning considering injury history.

Saquon Barkley: Game changing RB who can become a consistent All-Pro. Rare athlete who can outrun, and outmaneuver any defender. Not a physical runner but can convert inside on short yardage situations. Vision to hit any hole with quickness to utilize cut back lanes. Very consistent ball security. Raw in the passing game but has the athleticism to terrorize LBs and DBs. Good pass blocker but needs to avoid dropping helmet to block.

What do you think the Giants should do?

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

The Most Underrated Player in the NBA

He has never been associated with the best of the best around the league, always being shoved aside for the highlight reels of Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving. The Houston Rockets’ tandem of Chris Paul and James Harden has taken the league by storm, garnering hype about a potential Western Conference Finals. Controversy in Washington over John Wall and his relationship with the Wizards has caused analysts to debate his importance to the team. How about the Isaiah Thomas trade train that has made headlines? In his 6th season in the NBA, this point guard has found himself in many conversations around NBA circles. He has been called underrated by some. Overrated by others. He has been snubbed from multiple All-Star Games. He didn’t play at Kentucky or Duke and doesn’t play in New York or Los Angeles. He has specifically said he doesn’t want to join a super team, and has never been problematic in his locker room, only inspiring. Now, he is putting the league on notice. The question is, what time is it?

Game Time?

Nope.

It’s Dame Time.

This season, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard has been a force to be reckoned with. He’s averaging just under 27 PPG, 6.5 APG and 4.5 RPG on 45% from the field, 37% from three and 91% from the stripe. He has had a 50-point game, two 40-point games and 18 30-point games this season. In the last four games Lillard has scored 35 (4 threes), 39 (6 threes) and 37 (8 threes) as part of the current 8-game win streak the Blazers find themselves on. The Portland Trail Blazers are 3rd in the west by a game and a half at this moment.

He has made 3 All-Star Games, won rookie of the year and is a 2-time All-NBA Team player in his career.

Lillard’s Accomplishments

Lillard has led the Blazers to the playoffs the last four seasons with their second-best player being C.J. McCollum, who has proven to be an All-Star-caliber talent. Jusuf Nurkic has proven to be their only other formidable talent and a legitimate (though not elite) starting center. Other than those two, the Blazers are filled with supplementary fringe role players. In the 2014-15 season, the Blazers lost to the Memphis Grizzles in the first round. The following season, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wes Mathews all left the team, and Lillard the only remaining starter. In the 2015-16 season, the Blazers not only made the playoffs, but they beat the L.A. Clippers in 6 games and advanced to the second round before losing to a 73-win Golden State Warriors team.

Compared to Other Elite Point Guards

Just to be clear, the modern-day point guard doesn’t necessarily reflect a “true point guard” like a Magic Johnson, Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo. The elite “point guards” in the NBA are really combo guards, other than Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball and other guys that have that style of passing first and running the offense as the primary focus.

Where does he stack up against the league’s best?

Steph Curry

Steph Curry is a two-time NBA MVP and a two-time NBA champion. However, his numbers this season are nearly identical and slightly better than Lillard’s (26.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.2 RPG, 92% FT, 49% FG). We also have to acknowledge the fact that when playing with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, it can make life a lot easier. That being said, let’s not ignore the fact that the Warriors would be in the same position if you swapped Lillard and Curry. We understand Curry’s limitless range as the greatest shooter of all time. But we cannot ignore the significantly better pieces Curry has around him. As a rational thinker, I’m going to say Curry is better than Lillard. However, the gap is not as wide as many may believe.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is averaging nearly a triple-double (25.3 PPG, 10.2 APG, 9.7 RPG) on the Oklahoma City Thunder. But despite acquiring All-Star forward Paul George and scoring machine Carmelo Anthony, the team sits at the 7th seed in the West, with significantly more talent than Portland. Westbrook has played with James Harden, Kevin Durant and Victor Oladipo throughout his career. Those players all left the Thunder (at different times) and were significantly better on their new respective teams. Harden transformed into an offensive superstar, Durant became more efficient and well-rounded, and Oladipo went from averaging 16 PPG and 44% shooting to 24 PPG and 48% shooting. Westbrook’s lack of selflessness (despite his high assist totals) shows that when the game is on the line, he usually comes up short. Lillard has played with far less talent, yet has advanced further in the playoffs than expected on multiple occasions.

Other than the fact that Westbrook jumps higher and gets a few more assists, why is he undisputedly better than Lillard?

He’s not. You could make the argument that he is though.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving has made a fantastic transition to Boston, as he was traded from Cleveland at the beginning of the season. He had an issue playing with LeBron James and wanted to be the star on his own team. Although Boston has a promising future and Irving has had a great season, his numbers don’t quite match up to Lillard’s as he is averaging 24.8 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.7 RPG. Irving is certainly a superstar, but who’s to say he is a better player than Lillard? Has he led a team on his own to the playoffs? The Cavs saw no playoff success in Kyrie’s first three seasons before James returned. Lillard didn’t have a problem getting to the postseason in his second season.

Other than the fact that Kyrie has one of the nastiest handles in the NBA, why is he undisputedly better than Lillard?

He’s not. You could make the argument that he is though.

John Wall

John Wall has been a hot topic of conversation inside the Wizards locker room. Teammates have complained about him on and off the record, and the Wizards seem to play better as a team when he is off the court. Playing alongside Bradley Beal, a player similar to C.J. McCollum, as well as legitimate starters such as Otto Porter, Markeiff Morris and Marcin Gortat, the Wizards have repeatedly come up short when it counts most. Wall has been injured for about half the season, yet his numbers don’t even come close to Lillard’s. There should not even be a discussion about who is better between the two players.

Other than the fact that he runs faster, why is Wall undisputedly better than Lillard?

He is not. No argument would be sufficient that Wall is better.

Chris Paul

Since joining James Harden in Houston, the Rockets have looked like a real threat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. Chris Paul is one of the few true point guards left in the NBA. While he is a better true point guard than Lillard, he is not a better overall player. He’s older and more savvy, yet he’s never advanced past the second round in the playoffs. There’s something to be said about that.

If you want to say he’s a better player, you should make sure not to confuse “point guard” and “player.”

Lillard has started to become recognized around the league, and now it’s time for people to give him some respect. Dame isn’t your average good starting point guard like Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley. He isn’t an ordinary star. He is a superstar. Lillard said it himself when asked where he ranks himself among guards in the NBA, and there is nothing that any of them can do that he can’t.

Recognize greatness. Put some respect on the 0.  

Image via https://freddieof.deviantart.com/art/Damian-Lillard-png-PNG-back-jersey-689033503

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Should the Knicks Trade for Kemba Walker?

Last week, the Charlotte Hornets said they would be willing to trade their starting point guard, Kemba Walker. The Knicks are in need of a point guard and are still trying to figure out if they are a win-now or a rebuilding team. One might ask, should the Knicks trade for Kemba Walker?

Absolutely. Here’s why:

Although Kemba Walker is a star point guard, he’s in a league with a lot of star guards and does not get the recognition he deserves. He averages about 22 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal per game. The Charlotte Hornets reportedly want an all-star caliber player in return. Unfortunately, the Knicks cannot provide that. Therefore, they would need to take on a bad contract or give up a draft pick to acquire Walker. While those two scenarios do not sound appealing given the state the Knicks are in, they should consider giving up a future pick. They do not use draft picks well anyway, so what’s the point of having them? Just ask Dennis Smith Jr., Malik Monk or Donovan Mitchell.

The Knicks should explore dealing Frank Ntilikina, Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn. The Hornets would certainly want Ntilikina and possibly one of the two centers. However, they would want a draft pick, due to the fact that the Knicks would not want to take on a bad contract since they already have to pay Joakim Noah $54 million for 3 more years. The Knicks should offer Courtney Lee in an attempt to hold onto a draft pick. However, if the Hornets do not budge, they should give in.

The Knicks should focus on winning now, rather than tanking. A team with Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Walker could certainly make the playoffs and attract free agents, independent of James Dolan’s negative effect on free agents.

They have not had an elite starting point guard since…well, it’s been a while. Having Walker as a second option could allow Porzingis to speed up his development, play a 2-man game, and lower his shot count. A real point guard could significantly help the Knicks in a guard driven league, and they should absolutely consider trading for the 6-year man out of UCONN.

Do you want to see Walker on the Knicks?

Image via http://www.phillymag.com/news/2017/01/13/sixers-vs-hornets-preview-2/

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

The State of the Land  

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in deep trouble. They have struggled mightily this season, as their shot at coming out of the East is dwindling by the game. Defensively, they are not equipped to beat the Golden State Warriors in a potential finals series at this moment in time. With the trade deadline approaching, they need to make a move. Badly. Here are some ideas for what they can do:

Option 1: Fill the holes

Trade: Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder, Nets 2018 1st rd pick, Cavs 2019 1st rd pick

Receive: Lou Williams, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Johnson

This would give the Cavaliers a legitimate rim protector in Jordan, as well as an elite scorer in the backcourt. Tristan Thompson is a serious liability offensively and is not worth nearly half of his $82 million. I.T. and Lou in the backcourt would allow the Cavs to spread the floor, while Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan would pair well in the frontcourt. The Cavs need to go all in this trade deadline and do whatever they can to salvage their dying season and decrease the odds of losing LeBron James or Isaiah Thomas in the offseason.

 

Option 2: Swing for the fences

Trade: Tristan Thompson, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Jeff Green, Nets 2018 1st rd pick

Receive: DeMarcus Cousins, Omer Asik

Getting DeMarcus Cousins would exponentially increase the Cavaliers chances of beating the Warriors. Cousins’ offensive versatility and presence down low could expose the Warriors weakness of good rim protection. If they could slow the game down, Kevin Love and Cousins could go to town down low and make the Warriors lives much more difficult. This move is high risk, due to the fact that Cousins is on an expiring contract and could elect to leave at the end of the offseason.

 

Option 3: Go basic

Any trade involving Tristan Thompson and/or Kevin Love.

 

Option 4: Bite the bullet

Don’t make a move at the deadline. This would be a catastrophic mistake by Cleveland, most likely ending in LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas leaving in the offseason. This would leave the Cavaliers with an overpaid Tristan Thompson, an old, broken down Kevin Love, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder as their core. An old, star-less team that would hit the lottery soon after. If the Cavaliers are smart, they’ll continue to make LeBron James happy. A ring this season would almost definitely lead to James re-signing with Cleveland. If he leaves, the runs at a title will come to an end for the Cavs, as the Celtics, Raptors, Bucks, and Sixers will run the Eastern Conference.

What do you think Cleveland should do? Make a deal? Stand pat? 

Image via http://www.sportressofblogitude.com

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

What is Holding the NBA Back?

That damn salary cap.

What is it?

The salary cap is essentially a budget for teams, with a floor and a ceiling on what they can spend. Last season, it was set at about $94 million, and the luxury tax limit was about $113 million. This season, the cap is at about $99 million with the same luxury tax limit. The reason the luxury tax is in place is to allow teams to go above the cap limit if they’re resigning their own players. Thus, a player could sign for five years instead of four if they choose to remain with their respective team when they enter free agency.

The NBA salary cap is not a hard cap; it is a soft cap. This means that there are many regulations within the cap, such as max contracts, mid-level exceptions, trade exceptions, restricted free agents and veteran’s minimum contracts. All of these elements contribute to the salary cap. But do we need one?

Why do we have a salary cap?

The main reason the cap is in place is to prevent teams from becoming too dominant—to avoid a situation where a team signs all the best players. Another idea behind the salary cap is that it can breed competition among all 32 teams; that each year, all 32 teams will have an equal shot at winning a championship. However, we know that is far from how it actually works.

Is the salary cap useful?

The idea of even competition among all, or most, teams is clearly a farce. Take a look at the 2008 Celtics, where they signed Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Or the 2011 Miami Heat, where LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade. Or, more recently, look at the 2016 Golden State Warriors, when Kevin Durant joined a powerhouse built by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. A salary cap is very easy to work around, as these three examples over the last 10 years have demonstrated.

Let’s look at the competition element of the salary cap. Has this helped teams like the Orlando Magic, the Sacramento Kings or the Phoenix Suns? Despite the cap, they continue to suffer in part because they are small market teams, which indirectly encourages tanking since the idea of “stacking” is hard to emulate if your team is not in a big market like New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

What are the problems?

The soft cap in and of itself is a problem. At a minimum, the NBA should move to a hard cap, and eliminate max contracts, mid-level exceptions, restricted free agents and veteran’s minimum. A hard cap makes more sense and is far less restrictive for those who believe the idea of a salary cap is a good idea.

Pop the Top 

Due to the spike in the salary cap from the new TV deals the NBA has signed, lowly players are getting far too much money. Andre Roberson signed a 3-year, $30 million contract. His career stats are 5 points and 4 rebounds per game. John Leuer signed a 4-year, $42 million contract. His career stats are 7 points and 4 rebounds per game. Other examples of bad contracts due to the spike in cap are Brandon Knight (3 years, $44 million), Joakim Noah (4 years, $73 million), Allen Crabbe (4 years, $75 million), Chandler Parsons (4 years, $94 million) and Timofey Mozgov (4 years, $64 million) to name just a few.

Most of these guys aren’t great. Even though the rising cap means more money for everyone, the max contract still prevents superstars from earning the amount they are truly worth. LeBron James is getting paid $31 million this season, which makes him the highest paid NBA player on a per-year basis. However, is he really worth just over $30 million per year? Some would say his worth is $50 million, or even $100 million per season. From a business standpoint, LeBron James might be worth $500 million, based on the ticket sales he generates as well as the league-wide attention he brings to the Cavaliers.

Another example is Kevin Durant. Although many can (and should) argue that his move to the Warriors was “spineless” or “weak,” he had every right to do it. But, as the second-best player in the NBA, many of his fans feel he should make more than $30 million per year. The idea that as a team’s salary cap rises, the more “star-level” players they can sign is true. At the same time, it also means that the “fringe-level” players get significant pay raises, canceling out the idea of a super team.

End Tanking

Getting rid of salary caps would also help end tanking. Teams like the Sacramento Kings would be more willing to try and sign a superstar in free agency—and if they have a higher bid, they could grab him with no restrictions.

The cap has a lot of indirect effects on tanking, which doesn’t really work. The best example of this is the Philadelphia Sixers. They have “trusted the process” and have come out with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz. Okafor was a bust, Noel was ineffective, and we have yet to see how Fultz plays out. Saric has some potential, Embiid is a great talent but hasn’t proven he can stay healthy, and Simmons also has a lot of potential. And, after five years of being dreadful, the Sixers stand at 15-18 and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Teams that have miserably failed at tanking and got zero to two franchise players are the Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.

Of course, the salary cap is one of the many reasons why teams tank. Eliminating it is, therefore, necessary to strengthen teams.

Promote Free Competition 

People say they don’t like super teams. But think about it: would you rather have 4-8 super teams and 4-8 lousy teams, or have it like it is now, where the Golden State Warriors are the heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals for the next 3-5 years, with very little competition, unless another super team formed, which will be challenging due to cap restrictions.

Comparison to the MLB

If teams want to spend, let them—it works in the MLB where they have no salary cap. The idea of the competition aspect of keeping teams all on a level playing field with a cap does not work in practice. While baseball has more random variables than basketball which determine the outcome of the game, not having a salary cap really hasn’t hurt the MLB’s competitive nature. The last five MLB World Series winners are as follows: Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. No repeats.

Clayton Kershaw is on a 7-year contract for $215 million. Miguel Cabrera is on an 8-year contract for $248 million. Albert Pujols is on a 10-year contract for $240 million. The list goes on and on. Think the contracts are too long? That’s the organization’s problem, not the MLB’s, as they correctly assess. If your team wants to invest long-term in a player, that’s their prerogative. Monitoring teams’ spending is somewhat pointless. If management only cares about profits and shows an unwillingness to spend money to win, then the fans should take that upon themselves to protest management and demand results.

Scrap the Cap

The MLB does not have a cap, accountants don’t have a max contract, investment bankers don’t have a mid-level exception, and lawyers don’t have a veteran’s minimum. Sports is just like any other entity and should be treated as such. The idea of socialist-type structure in sports sounds good in theory, yet in practice does not work and only brings unnecessary obstacles.