#IMHO: Free Agency moves, NBA summer memories, and a sad MUSCLEWATCH?

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Kelcey Wright Johnson weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Monday, November 9, 2020 9:38 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: IMHO

So Kelcey, we are in the end days of NBA off-season, at least I guess? Because from reports we heard late last week, it sure sounds as if the NBA is aiming to tip off around the end of December, which means the NBA Draft and free agency and all that business better happen pretty soon!

And speaking of free agency, there are a lot of interesting names on the list that might be available. From vets like Paul Millsap to Serge Ibaka to Danilo Galinari, to younger players like Fred Van Vleet and Josh Jackson.

Take a look at the list, Kelcey, and give me the name of a free agent you would target if you were a pretender trying to get over the hump and become a contender.


From: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Sent: Monday, November 9, 2020 10:19 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

Hey Lang,

I don’t think there’s any way I can look at that list and pick just one name for any given team, because the only player that has proven to be the *magic* player in the NBA is LeBron and he’s locked in with the Lakers for another two or three years.

But there are some names that stick out to me on that list: Anthony Davis (although, it sounds like he’s happy to be back in LA even if he’s an unrestricted free agent); I think De’Aaron Fox could be a good steal for a young team in need of a solid point guard (he’s currently in a club option year making just over $5 million a year); and the last name that jumps out to me is Hassan Whiteside (I really liked what he was able to do in Portland this season — ending the year averaging a double-double while shooting 62% from the field. There’s no ‘pretender’ team that doesn’t need a big, young presence in the paint).

Gordon Hayward is the highest paid free agent (in a player option year) making almost $32 million with Boston, but he’s been battling injury and his price tag is too high for that Celtics team. If I was a betting woman, I’d put my money on the idea of him not wearing green and white next year.

Some honorable mentions that I think deserve a shoutout if we’re talking free agency: Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant and Brandon Ingram.

Let me turn the tables on you and ask the same thing. Who, on that list, could be a game-changer for one of the teams who didn’t make it to the bubble?

De'Aaron Fox celebrates

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2020 9:46 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: RE: IMHO

In the right system, I think Paul Millsap can be a great player. He made an All-Star team with Atlanta a few years ago, and since coming to Denver’s he’s taken more of a supporting role, which is understandable given the roster they’ve put together. He might be a bit past his prime, but I think there could be value there if he was in the correct situation – like, if he was back in Atlanta, actually.

I think Gallinari could be an interesting pick up for a team as well. He’s had a series of unlucky injuries that have hampered his effectiveness over the years, but playing alongside CP3 last season in OKC, Gallo was terrific. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a team in need of a vet scorer try and sign him to a 2- or 3-year deal.

Oh, and If I’m Gordon Hayward, there’s no way I’m opting out of that contract. Considering how he’s struggled to stay on the court the last few seasons, and how teams will likely be conservative with payroll considering the pandemic, I don’t think there’s anything close to that amount of money waiting for Hayward out there. If I’m him I play it out, and then try and re-up with the Celts, for what will almost surely be a smaller amount.

Kelcey, we are technically in the NBA offseason, which usually means summer basketball. Which usually means incredible pick-up games at places like The Rucker in New York, or Drew League games in Los Angeles, or even Jamal Crawford’s games in Seattle, which have become pretty popular the last few years. I still remember the summer of 2003, when the EBC at the Rucker went crazy, and David Stern and President Bill Clinton showed up. One night Jay-Z’s team was supposed to play Fat Joe’s team, and the whole city was talking about it, and Shaq went on the radio and was talking trash… and then a blackout happened and the big game never happened.

But this year, we don’t get any of that. We don’t even really get a summer, or even a summer league. Do you have a favorite offseason basketball memory, either from a summer league or an NBA Summer League or even just a workout video that went viral.

Gordon Hayward reacts on the court

From: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2020 6:53 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

It’s so crazy to think we are in off-season when the Lakers JUST won the championship and we are now less than 8 weeks away from the beginning of next season! Woo!

I don’t have too many off-season memories, honestly, but one that sticks out to me is my very first Summer League game back in 2017. Nothing incredibly life-changing happened in the game, but it was Lonzo Ball’s first game as a Laker and all the buzz was surrounding him because his dad was courtside and he was debuting those Big Baller Brand shoes.

I remember he shot something horrible like 2-for-12, and only had five points and everyone was making fun of him and his weird-looking shot. But he sure shut everybody up when he came back and had a monster performance the next game and ended up winning Summer League MVP.

Also, I wasn’t at Summer League last year but I remember watching the earthquake happen in the middle of the Knicks vs. Pelicans game. That must have been a crazy experience—I’ve talked to a few people who were there and they all kind of said the same thing, “no one knew what was going on and everyone sort of panicked”.

As for viral off-season videos; every video I have ever seen of LeBron James working out just makes me feel bad about just running on my treadmill for 45 minutes—that man is a machine. And I also remember seeing a video of Derrick Rose a few years ago working out with his wife and toddler and that one just melted my heart.

We’re just weeks away from training camp and off-season is quickly coming to an end though. Out of all the players in the NBA, which do you think will come back a wee bit out of shape (because I know not everyone is working like a crazy robot like LeBron)?

Lonzo Ball wins the Summer League MVP

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2020 8:58 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: Re: IMHO

Umm, besides myself?

Honestly, I don’t think we are at risk of seeing someone show up 7 pounds overweight this year, if only because we literally just saw everyone. Usually dudes get done playing in April or May, and then they go “3-2-1, Cabo!” And then we see them again four month later, which is time enough for even an elite athlete to let his guard down a little.

But in this weird circumstance—2020, y’all—the bubble just burst a few weeks ago, so guys haven’t even really had time to get out of shape so they can get back into shape.

All of this made me just realize that this could be the worst MUSCLEWATCH of all-time. In this truncated offseason, I don’t know if any players will have had time to put on the vaunted 15 pounds of muscle. If someone shows up having added 15 pounds of muscle, it might even be suspicious to some.

But not to me. All we can do is dream, Kelcey.

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