Bloomberg: Nikola founder Milton's fall reveals what his backers feared
Back in March, long before a short seller would raise questions about electric-truck company Nikola Corp. and hasten its founder’s exit, early investors in the company were expressing concerns of their own. Those investors, led by mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments, were worried that Trevor Milton, for all his brash visionary talk and Twitter braggadocio, lacked the ability that Elon Musk possesses to deliver these sorts of newfangled products to market. They lobbied successfully to remove him as CEO before the company’s June IPO and for Milton’s father to leave the board, according to people familiar with the matter. When the deal was done, Milton only held the title of chairman, the post he resigned this month. The back-room negotiations show that Milton’s past was a concern to investors months before General Motors Co. executives placed a bet on the company in a US$2 billion deal carved out after the IPO. They liked Milton’s vision and his ability to raise cash and felt the venture was safeguarded from his shortcomings in operations by his push upstairs, say people familiar with the matter. Nonetheless, the events that have unfolded since the short-seller report, with Nikola’s stock plunging amid a steady stream of negative headlines, have exposed just how high the risks still were. Now, it’s up to former GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, whose blank-check company VectoIQ took Nikola public via reverse merger in June, and Nikola CEO Mark Russell to stabilize the business and regain investor confidence. The plan with GM was to use Nikola’s hot stock and Milton’s ability to raise money to build a hydrogen-fueled trucking business with GM’s technology. “There is obviously someone on the diligence side who isn’t going to get a nice bonus this year,” said Reilly Brennan, founder of the venture capital fund Trucks Inc. “The best possible thing if you’re a shareholder is that Milton is no longer running the company and you have Girsky as chairman and GM providing technology.” The GM deal was originally scheduled to close Sept. 30, and the automaker has said it plans to carry through, but that timing may slip, say people familiar with the matter. BP Plc is still engaged with Nikola in talks to partner on a network of hydrogen fueling stations for fuel-cell trucks the company hopes to sell, but also is slowing the pace for a deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. BP and GM declined to comment. Milton’s tale reads like a Greek tragedy. The report by short seller Hindenburg Research accused Milton of overhyping Nikola’s technology and has prompted investigations by the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A cousin has accused him of a decades-ago sexual assault, which he denies. The company’s value peaked at US$30 billion and is now worth about US$7 billion. Girsky and GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra have both said publicly that they did plenty of due diligence. People familiar with the matter say that GM found out when scouting the deal that it had better batteries and fuel-cell technology but joined forces because Nikola had a working semi truck and access to capital markets. In addition, GM will get paid to build Nikola’s Badger pickup on existing assembly lines. Milton was so excited to get the Badger pickup program moving that he signed a deal that heavily favored GM, one of the people said. Nikola’s stock and GM’s US$2 billion stake are worth less than half what they were on Sept. 8, when the deal was announced. Milton’s own stake is worth US$1.7 billion, down from almost US$5 billion at one point. Milton said in a June interview with Bloomberg News that he grew up in modest surroundings in Layton, Utah. His family moved to Las Vegas when he was very young and he lost his mother to cancer shortly after moving back to Utah in the sixth grade. He wrote on Twitter he didn’t finish high school, earning an equivalency certification instead, and later dropped out of college. His Twitter account has since been deleted. He grew up in a tight-knit Mormon family, according to Aubrey Smith, his first cousin. She went on social media recently and accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 17. In a public account on Facebook and Twitter, and repeated in a phone interview, Smith said that Milton came onto her at the funeral of their grandfather. He took her shirt off without permission, Smith wrote, and then he touched her inappropriately before someone knocked at the door and she ran out. Milton denied the allegations through a spokesman. Smith said Milton raised money from family members to get his start. He founded and ran several businesses, including a home-security company that Milton claims he sold for US$1.5 million. Next, in 2009, he founded an e-commerce platform called Upillar.com, which Milton claims “pioneered the shopping cart online.” Then he got into clean propulsion but ended up embroiled in litigation with dHybrid Inc., which he founded in 2009. The company retrofitted diesel vehicles with natural-gas-burning turbines, claiming the dual system had greater efficiency. But a deal with Swift Transportation Co. in 2010 ended in court when Swift alleged dHybrid defaulted on a US$322,000 loan and that it retrofitted only half of the agreed vehicles. The case was dismissed in 2015. Milton later tried to sell dHybrid to a company called sPower in May 2012 but that, too, got mired in lawsuits after sPower backed out and accused Milton of exaggerating its technological capabilities. Amid the litigation, Milton started another company with a very similar name, dHybrid Systems, selling it in 2014 to Worthington Industries. During an interview with Bloomberg in June, Milton said that dHybrid Inc. was a success but conceded that, “we ended up closing that one down because of some litigation.” His next startup was Nikola, founding it in 2014 in Salt Lake City before moving to Phoenix. Emulating Musk, he took the name from the electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla, and the company was soon billed as the Tesla of Trucks. His plan was seen as potentially disrupting the entire transportation industry by making trucks that ran on batteries or hydrogen-fuel cells. He also planned to build a network of hydrogen filling stations. Friends and Family Milton had friends and family members working for Nikola despite resumes that didn’t match the job. His brother, Travis Milton, is director of hydrogen and infrastructure. His LinkedIn profile shows that most of his experience was being “self-employed” in Maui. The short seller, Hindenburg Research, said that Travis Milton poured concrete as a contractor. Milton’s father Bill was originally on the board but stepped down when VectoIQ took the company public. The company’s stock prospectus said that Nikola had awarded more than 3 million stock options “to recognize the superior performance and contribution of specific employees.” The list included Travis Milton and an uncle, Lance Milton, the document said, acknowledging that they are relatives. As Milton went public with Nikola’s technology, questions soon arose involving his claims about the company’s fuel-cell system. He bragged in an investor video in 2019 that the company had created “what other manufacturers said was impossible to design.” But while Nikola holds patents in fuel-cell and battery technology, most of its planned hardware was coming from German supplier Robert Bosch Gmbh. Nikola Demonstrations It became clear that Milton had gotten ahead of himself. A 2016 demonstration showed a truck that didn’t have a working hydrogen-fuel-cell system and was missing key parts, people familiar with the matter said in June. Milton said at the time that the parts were removed as a safety precaution. In July of this year, he recorded a video of the semi truck in which he ran alongside the vehicle as it coasted at low speeds in a parking lot. Aping Musk’s combative social-media persona, Milton took a shot at his detractors saying, “these damned trolls, I wonder if they are going to apologize to everyone for the lies they spread the tens of thousands of comments about how fake we are.” Girsky said in the webcast “Autoline This Week,” in which Bloomberg participated, that he has been in Nikola’s fuel-cell trucks and that they work. Still, when the GM deal was done, GM will be supplying all of the technology for every global market except Europe. Nikola’s pickup truck, called Badger, will use GM’s Ultium battery, and the semis will run on a fuel cell developed by GM and Honda Motor Co. Since Milton’s departure, Nikola has billed itself more as an integrator of other technologies into its Badger pickup and semi trucks. For GM’s part, the automaker is protected from any financial downside. GM got 11 per cent of the stock for no cash investment and gets paid for its technology. If Nikola fails, GM won’t lose a dime. Milton has remained silent and is out of the company. He unknowingly presaged his own downfall in the June interview with Bloomberg: “Part of becoming a better person in life is losing everything you have got and having nothing left.” https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/nikola-founder-milton-s-fall-reveals-what-his-backers-feared-1.1500376
Offseason Blueprint: The Detroit Pistons are an NBA basketball team. Hopefully, they can remind fans of that in the next few years.
The playoffs continue to rage on, but there are 26 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, watch the Conference Finals, and wait for next season to start. For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Detroit Pistons. step one: weave a new narrative Some teams are good, some teams are bad -- but almost all of them have a general direction. Are you a young team on the rise? Or a veteran team trying to squeeze out as many wins as possible? Right now, the Detroit Pistons are in a wonky grey area. They're missing an identity. When they tried to make the playoffs, they were fairly mediocre (records of 37-45, 39-43, 41-41). When injuries hit this past season, they plummeted down to 20-46. While that generally suggests a young and rebuilding team, the roster doesn't reflect that yet. Their marquee players are Blake Griffin (age 31) and Derrick Rose (age 31.) They also have a veteran coach in Dwane Casey who's more accustomed to competing than rebuilding. All in all, they feel like a confused, forgotten franchise. Fortunately, there's a new sheriff in town. The team hired a new GM in Troy Weaver, who had been Sam Presti's right-hand man in Oklahoma City. Weaver's been on the verge of a GM job for several years now, and his hire represents something of a coup for this embattled organization. Going forward, the franchise needs to hold the keys over to Weaver and allow him free reign to do whatever he wants. Back in OKC, he had experience with a variety of makeups: with a rebuilding team, with a contending team, with a rebuilding-wait-whoops-we're-accidentally-pretty-darn-good team. It's up to him to look at this roster and this payroll and determine the best path forward from here. step two: hold a garage sale for your old homeowner's property Presumably, Troy Weaver will treat this project as more of a teardown than a remodel. Mainstay center Andre Drummond is already out of the door, and the other veterans may join him on the bus out of Detroit. Unfortunately, that may be easier said than done. It makes a lot of sense to trade star PF Blake Griffin to a veteran team, but his injuries and his contract ($37M + $39M player option) would make that difficult from a logistical perspective. There's a chance that a desperate team may be willing to roll the dice on Griffin. Throughout his career, he's been one of the more misunderstood players in the league. People want to treat him as an athlete-dunker only, but he's actually a skilled ballhandler and passer. In his last healthy season in 2018-19, he averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists, and even showcased an improved three-point shot (36.2% on 7.0 attempts per game.) If healthy, he'd be a major difference maker to a team like Portland. Still, teams aren't going to give up major assets for Blake Griffin until he proves that he is healthy. From Detroit's perspective, it makes more sense to wait to trade him. They need him to come back, put up some good stats, and then float him in offers. Right now, you'd be trading Griffin for 20 cents on the dollar. In contrast, Derrick Rose's stock may be at a high. He put up good raw numbers this year (18.1 points, 5.6 assists), and he's on a reasonable $7.5M expiring contract. He'd be a positive addition to a playoff team, best served as a Sixth Man scorer. The Pistons and their fans like Rose (and he likes playing here), but it'd be irresponsible for them to not consider trade options. If they get any decent offers, they have to pull the trigger. If the offers are weak -- R2 picks or so -- then the team can keep him around as a veteran leader and placeholder starter. step three: don't let your breakout break out As bad as the Pistons were, they had a few bright spots. Derrick Rose played better than expected. Luke Kennard looks on track to be a rising starter. And, most surprising of all, rando Christian Wood broke out as a legitimate NBA player. As a starter, Wood averaged 21.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Wood is a springy, energetic player who also has an improving range (40% from three as a starter.) You can read a longer deep dive about Christian Wood here, but to sum it up. A) His production looks legitimate, as he's been putting up numbers in virtually every stop as a pro. But B) His breakout may be poorly timed for the Pistons, because he's slated for free agency and about to get more expensive. He's a 24 year old whose best days should be ahead of him. Based purely on his stats and scouting profile, you could talk yourself into a contract closing in on $15M a year for Wood. However, players with his "pedigree" (undrafted, limited sample size) rarely get that type of contract right away. To me, paying him somewhere in the range of 3 years, $36M would be a fair deal on both sides. There's too much uncertainty to justify much more of a commitment. Of course, the Pistons should know better than any of us whether to trust Wood. Prior to this year, he had a mixed reputation in terms of his basketball IQ and work habits. If Coach Casey can sign off on Wood's character, then the team can feel more comfortable with him as a building block. If there are still red flags, perhaps it's better not to get too attached. The Pistons have more cap room than most teams this offseason, so the money shouldn't be a major deterrent to this decision. It should be entirely about Wood as a person and a player. If you believe that he's the real deal, then you keep him around. step four: find your next field general Christian Wood is a solid young player -- Luke Kennard is a solid young player -- but these aren't franchise players. They're secondary scorers and members of a supporting cast. To truly advance to the promised land, the Detroit Pistons are going to need to find transcendent talent, somehow and some way. Unfortunately, the NBA Draft Lottery didn't help. The Pistons slipped down from the # 5 slot to the # 7 pick, making it unlikely that they'll land a future star. On the bright side, the "supply and demand" may be on their side. This draft class happens to be heavy with point guards. There's LaMelo Ball (the # 1 prospect on ESPN), Killian Hayes (the # 1 prospect on The Ringer), and Tyrese Haliburton (one of the safer picks in the class.) If any of them slip down to # 7, the Pistons should strongly consider them. It usually takes a point guard a year or two to find their footing, but they can sit behind Derrick Rose for a year and then get unleashed in 2021. From a personality standpoint, Rose isn't going to mentor and educate like Aristotle, but he's capable of soaking up 25 minutes and allowing the next PG some time to develop. If those top guards are not available (and they are unlikely to be), the Pistons may have to take some chances. One name I'm intrigued by is R.J. Hampton. On face value, that'd be a "reach." Like LaMelo Ball, Hampton was a top high school prospect who went off to play in the Australian league. Unlike Ball, his NBA stock suffered as a result. While Ball put up numbers (17-8-7), Hampton put up weak stats -- 8.8 points, 2.4 assists on 41-30-68 shooting splits. As a result, Ball is now locked into top 3 pick status, and Hampton is seeing his name ranked around the 10-20 range in mock drafts. However, I'd defend Hampton to some degree. We have to consider the context here. LaMelo Ball joined a struggling team called Illawarra. With Ball, the team went 3-9 (and finished 5-23.) When you're playing on a bad team like that, you can be the "star" and jack up as many shots as you want. In contrast, Hampton joined the New Zealand Breakers, a better team that relegated him to 20.6 minutes a night and a more limited role. His raw stats may not do him justice. No doubt, Hampton has a long way to go, especially as a shooter. At the same time, he's a big lead guard (6'4" with a 6'7" wingspan) who flashes a lot of explosive scoring ability when he's getting downhill to the hoop. He's also a smart kid and allegedly a good worker. There's some legitimate "star" potential here, even if it's a narrow bull's eye. Hampton doesn't have the same athleticism as Russell Westbrook (hardly anyone does) but maybe there's a parallel here. After all, Weaver and OKC selected Westbrook after he'd been a little under the radar after playing off the ball at UCLA. To be clear, I'm not urging Detroit to take R.J. Hampton at # 7. I'm not endorsing him as a future star like Westbrook. I don't know enough to do that; I don't sit around and splice up tape of New Zealand basketball. Still, the point is, the Pistons should be looking at upside players in that vein, knowing that they're going to need to hit a home run in the future. step five: keep one hand on the detonator The Detroit Pistons only have $68M committed on the books for next season, which means they could be players in free agency even if they re-sign Christian Wood. If the team decided to go "all in" in a desperate attempt to compete, then you could maybe talk yourself into retaining Blake Griffin, handing out a big contract for Fred VanVleet, and shooting for the playoffs. That may work. But to what end...? The 7th seed? The 8th seed? Is that the end goal here? More realistically, the team should (as discussed) try to get Blake Griffin back and fully healthy in order to showcase him for a trade. After that, they'd then dive into a full rebuild. Presuming that's going to be the ultimate destination, then the Pistons may as well get a jump on that with free agency. With their remaining cap space, they can take on a toxic asset that comes attached with future picks, or take some fliers on young and promising players. Among my favorite gamblers of this offseason may include PG Kris Dunn (CHI), SG Denzel Valentine (CHI), SF Josh Jackson (MEM), and C Harry Giles (SAC.) None of them should draw huge money offers, making them reasonable purchases and lottery tickets. If the Pistons end up blowing it up, then they should play their younger players over the course of the season. That should mean a lot of Sekou Doumbouya (entering Year 2) and even some Thon Maker (entering Year 42). If that means you only win 25-30 games, that's all right. It'll only help your odds for next year's lottery. I've mentioned this before with some potential tankers (CLE, CHA, etc), but next year's draft could be quite strong. The group is headlined by point forward Cade Cunningham (heading to Oklahoma State) and scoring swingman Jalen Green (heading to the G-League), but there are about 4-5 other players who have the potential to join the # 1 pick conversation in time. The Detroit Pistons aren't likely to be bad enough to get a top 3 pick on their own, but the flattened lottery odds make it possible for the 7th or 8th worst team to leapfrog into that territory. Of course, before Weaver and the Pistons officially press the detonator and go into full-blown rebuild/tank mode, they need to have a heart to heart with Coach Casey. He's 63 years old already, and entering the third year of a five-year deal. Is he going to embrace the rebuild? Is he going to be the scapegoat if they rack up losses? They need to get on the same page, out of fairness to Casey and out of fairness to this franchise. A reasonable solution would be to promise Casey that, if he does tank like a good soldier, he'll still be retained for next season. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will chrome. previous offseason blueprints ATL, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, IND, GS, LAC, MIL, MIN, NYK, POR, SA, SAC, UTA
I submitted my DNA sample to a famous website and I just found out that I have a 52 year old first cousin who lives in California.
This is going to be a long read.....TL/DR at the bottom. Curious about my heritage, I submitted my DNA to two very reputable companies that asks you to basically spit into a little tube, secure it in a little zip lock bag and mail it out to them. I received my results about six weeks later and when I went to the actual website to check out my results, I clicked on a tab that gives you the option to see who else has submitted their DNA and how we are matched (genetically). I found that many relatives that I know were at the top of my lists (on the two sites). The way it works, is that the person whose DNA is closest to mine will appear at the top of the list as "potential" relatives. On both sites, I saw the name "John Doe" - name changed obv. - at the very top of my list. He was listed as a first cousin. I decided to check my inbox and saw that he had sent me a message weeks ago. (I rarely check those sites). He sent me a message stating that he saw that I was listed as his first cousin and if possible, could I contact him to see if I had any information about his birth father. He went on to explain that by this point, he had already connected with his birth mother's side of the family and they all accepted him and he is now considered part of their family. I decided to make the call. My cousin told me that he was born in California, put up for adoption and was raised in foster care until he was finally placed with a nice family. Since our genetic profile was so similar, he wanted to know if I could give him any information about his birth father. When he started asking questions, he told me that he was able to find his adoption paperwork from a Christian adoption agency. I thought, "hmmm, that's interesting. Maybe I can provide some insight about our side of the family." I wanted to help him as much as I could since I knew he was desperately trying to piece together any bit of information involving his father's side of the family. My mother (RIP) has three brothers. My oldest uncle is like a second father to me. He actually married my dad's sister so his three kids are my "double first cousins." We all grew up together as one big happy family. We shared all four grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. We live in Texas so NEVER did I think that he could possibly be the son of any of my mother's brothers. I was thinking that he was most likely the child of one my mother's many first cousins who lived in California then and continue to live there now. Then, he emailed me the adoption records. His biological mother had provided all of the information to the agency; thus leaving this as an open adoption situation. When I read the summary, his bio mom stated that the father didn't know about the baby and that he had already left California to return to his home state of Texas. I didn't think much of it until there it was in black and white, my uncle's name was listed as the biological father. I almost fell off my chair. He was 19 years old when he fathered my cousin. At the time, my uncle (and my mom) would go to California in the summers to work as migrants in the fields alongside my grandparents. At summer's end, both he and my mother would travel back to Texas to resume their studies at their respective universities. I sent him a picture of my mom and my uncle. I heard my cousin's wife let out a loud gasp. She told me that my cousin looked exactly like my uncle. Soon thereafter, my cousin and his wife started sending me pictures. I was gobsmacked. He looks more like my uncle than my first cousins that live here. He is basically my uncle's doppelganger. I was in shock. My uncle is like a second father to my brother and me. I don't think I would've been as shocked if my younger uncles had fathered this young man. They were wild in their younger years. But no, as it turns out, my "second father" has a son he never knew about. As it turns out, he (my uncle) has four beautiful grandkids, one of which (was a semi famous) football player at a Big Ten University. My uncle has two great grandchildren. A son, grandchildren and great grandchildren that he never knew about. My cousin had so many questions. He knew absolutely NOTHING about his paternal side of the family. In a matter of two hours, I provided a door into our lives. He and his wife were crying. I was crying. I felt a connection to him. His voice sounds like my uncle's. His sense of humor and his love for his family and tender heart remind me so much of my uncle. Now comes the hard part. I called my father to tell him about everything that I had just uncovered. My father isn't an asshole but he is a very private person who doesn't take to change well. As I gave him more information, he interrupted me and demanded that I CEASE communication with my cousin. He stated that I've lived 45 years without knowing him so why should I begin to even care now? He warned me that this could be a scam to extort money from our family. We are not rich. My father lives forty miles away and I asked him to drive to my house immediately because I was NOT going to go through this alone. When he arrived, he was still quite skeptical about the whole thing. Being a man with a Master's Degree and an IQ of (not sure what it is but it's high), he insisted that this could be a hoax. I told him, "even if this was some random man claiming to be my uncle's son, GENETICS AND DNA DON'T LIE." I had printed out all of the pictures my cousin sent me because I wanted my father to see them on paper; rather than scroll through my camera roll on my phone. Every time he tried to deny that this man wasn't my uncle's biological child, BAM, I'd place a picture of my cousin on the table for him to see. Still, stubbornly, he'd say, "he looks nothing like your uncle or your cousins." Then, BAM, two more pictures. His eyes widened, he looked uncomfortable and continued to deny that this man was related to us. Again, BAM....more pictures. After that, I presented my father with the adoption agency's summary. As he read it, I could see that he was trembling. Keep in mind, as I mentioned earlier, his sister is married to my uncle. Finally, he placed the pictures and the adoption papers to the side and looked me in the eyes. He said, "You are never to speak of this. You will cease all communication with this young man TODAY. Yes, I do know that he is genetically tied to you and your mother's side of the family but SO BE IT."He stayed quiet, most like processing everything and finally said, "If my sister finds out, SHE WILL DIE." (My aunt suffers from high blood pressure). I started crying, calling him a "cold and insensitive man." I asked him, "what would you do if you found out that there was a HUMAN BEING out there that could possibly be YOUR SON?" I told him that this occurred when my uncle was NINETEEN. Yes, he was engaged to be married to my aunt but nonetheless. He was a kid who made a mistake. My father replied, "It would devastate me." However, he reiterated that we will be taking this information to the GRAVE. I talked to my brother about it and he said the same thing (my brother is an asshole). I know that dropping a bomb like this would shake up my family to it's core. However, my heart breaks for my cousin. He wants to know so much about his dad. I'm 45 years old. I'm old enough to make my own fucking decisions. My father, as much as I love and respect him, is NOT going to dictate who I allow, and don't allow into my life. My father ended up telling my uncle. I couldn't stand not knowing what my uncle was thinking or feeling so I finally made the decision to call him. I asked him to please go into a room where we could have a private conversation. I didn't have to say a word before he began speaking. The first thing he said was, "Mi'jita, I had no idea about any of this. It was the 60's. We were hippies." I kind of chuckled at that but then he told me, "If this gets out, your aunt will kick me out of the house. I WILL LOSE EVERYTHING. My wife, my children, my grandchildren." As tears were streaming down my face, I promised him that I would, indeed, take this to the grave. I have to respect his wishes. This is not my story to tell. Since then, my cousin and I have been communicating on a daily basis. I told him that sadly, we may not have the "happy ending" that we were hoping for. He understood. I'm sure it hurt him but I assured him that I would always be there for him as an extension of the one side of his family that he knew NOTHING about before. He asked so many questions. It saddened me to think that our whole lives, we grew up in a loving, nurturing, and stable environment. The irony in this situation is that during this exact time, I had a first cousin who was entangled in the foster care system. I'm not knocking the system itself, but he did share some very sad stories from his past. I gave him our family's medical history. He shares many of my uncle's afflictions. He promised me that if his father decides to never reach out to him, he would leave it at that and not create chaos within our family. He is a kind, hard working family man. I feel such a strong connection to him but this is NOT about me or how I feel. I need to respect my uncle's wishes; however, I am not going to be cruel and cut my cousin out of my life. Our daily conversations have turned into daily texts now. In a perfect world, we'd invite my cousin, his wife, his kids and grandkids to come and meet us all. I'd love to be at the airport holding up signs welcoming him to our city (and metaphorically, family). I know that that's never going to happen. Edit: I realize that this is an "Advice" Subreddit and some have pointed out that I haven't asked for advice. I apologize for that. I feel like I'm drowning here and desperately need your advice. I've read through many replies who have offered a lot of advice and that's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for helping me. TL;DR: I submitted my DNA to two reputable companies. My results came in and as it turns out, I have a first cousin who lives states away who was fathered by my uncle 52 years ago. My family wants me to cease communication. I refuse to.
Source: https://www.bungie.net/en/News/Article/49527 On this day, six years ago, players all over the world began a grand adventure. Since then, over 167 million Guardians have joined our ranks and championed the Light for over 8.6 billion hours. During that time, this community has answered the call time and time again, raising over $8.5 million for Little Lights and worthy causes all over the world. So, when it comes to defending humanity, whether you’re in the 31% that smash, the 31% that love space magic, or the 38% that make cloaks look good, we’re humbled that you have chosen to make the Tower your home. And now, as we stand at the precipice of a new era, ready to step beyond the Light, we should at least have some cake first. So, let’s light the candles and celebrate with the friends we’ve made in this truly incredible community. From the Farm to the Moon, it’s been a wild ride and we’re incredibly proud to have you at our sides for all of it. Here’s to the future – happy birthday, Destiny. Keep reading for a few birthday surprises to help you join the celebration as well as a couple of updates on new ways to play our favorite game.
Destiny Birthday Cake
Infinite cake technology still eludes us, but Victoria Rosenthal is getting closer! Not one to slow down after knocking it out of the park with the official Destiny cookbook, she’s here to share her “Infinite Forest” Chocolate Cake with all of us. Find all the instructions you’ll need to transmat yours below. Image Linkimgur Difficulty: Hard Prep Time: 24 hours Cook Time: 2 hours Servings: 1 cake Dietary Notes: Dairy Cherry Filling Ingredients: ¾ pound cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted and cut in half 2 tbsp water 3 tbsp honey ¼ cup sugar Image Linkimgur
The night before, combine cherries, water, honey, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes (if using frozen cherries, simmer for about 45 minutes). Cook until the liquid has reduced by ¼. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Cake Ingredients: ¾ cup cocoa powder ⅓ cup cherry fruit spread ¾ cup hot water 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 ½ cups sugar 2 eggs, room temperature 1 tbsp vanilla extract ¾ cup sour cream Image Linkimgur Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together cocoa powder, cherry fruit spread, and hot water in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Image Linkimgur Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla extract. Add the cocoa powder mixture. Image Linkimgur Mix in half of the flour until it just comes together. Mix in the sour cream. Add the remainder of the flour and mix until fully combined. Image Linkimgur Spray two 9-inch baking pans with nonstick spray. Split the batter between the two pans and place in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove the cakes from the baking pans and allow to cool completely. Frosting Ingredients: 1 ½ cups butter, room temperature 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature ½ tbsp vanilla extract ¼ cup maraschino cherry liqueur 4 cups confectioners’ sugar Image Linkimgur Place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and mix together. Add the vanilla extract and maraschino cherry liqueur. Once mixed together, begin to slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until the frosting thickens. Additional Ingredients: Fresh cherries to top, optional Image Linkimgur To assemble the cake, make sure both cake layers are level. Place the bottom layer on a plate and top with a portion of the frosting. Add the cherry filling in the center, spreading it close to the edge but not completely. Cover the filling with additional frosting. Top with the other layer of cake. Top with the remaining frosting. Decorate with fresh cherries on top. Image Linkimgur Image Linkimgur
A new poster inspired by some of Destiny’s most beloved characters went live on the Bungie Store today (US/EU), but if you can’t wait for shipping to get it to you, here’s a glorious digital HD preview. Image Linkimgur
Starting on September 22, both Forsaken and Shadowkeep are coming to Xbox Game Pass! That makes this the perfect time to binge the story before it’s time to get your passport stamped and head off to Europa.
Beyond Light Stasis Deep Dives
Last week, we began unveiling details around the three new Stasis subclasses in Beyond Light. Starting with the Warlock Shadebinder, we followed that up with the Titan Behemoth. The final deep dive focusing on the Hunter Revenant went live yesterday. They're a fantastic read if we do say so ourselves and (much like a fireteam) function as three pieces of a whole. So, in case you missed any, you can find them here: Warlock Shadebinder Image Linkimgur Titan Behemoth Image Linkimgur Hunter Revenant [[[data-content-id='49519' data-template-type='Inline' ]] Now let’s blow out these candles, get our coats, and dance with the Darkness.
Fast Food Bulking and Cutting Strategies: My Approach As A Strongman/Powerlifter Over 20 Years
FAST FOOD/DINNING OUT STRATEGIES FOR BULKING AND CUTTING INTRODUCTION: WHO I AM AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Greetings Gainers, I have tried my best to make regular contributions toward the mission of this subreddit, but for those that do not know me, I am the internet’s MythicalStrength, and I have competed in powerlifting and strongman from weightclasses ranging from 181 to 265, but, in full disclosure, have only ever gotten my bodyweight up to 217lbs at 5’9. I have achieved success in getting strong on pressing and deadlifting And have managed to figure out how to get lean without ever having counted a calorie or macro I am also a native of San Diego, CA and, as such, something of a fast food aficionado. My city brought the world Jack in The Box (you’re welcome) and is adjacent to the founding homes of Taco Bell, Rubio’s Baja Grill, and the glory that is In n Out burger. I also grew up with access to the finest Mexican food in the world, and the San Diego classic of “carne asada fries”, which will change your world if done right. I bring all that up to say that eating fast food is a big part of my life, along with eating out in general, and I’ve found some strategies in the process that I find helpful when one is pursing getting bigger or learner. A lot of folks are making rookie mistakes when they go out to eat, and leaving gains on the table. Allow me to provide some tips. It should be noted that I’ve been a low-carber for a decade+ at this point, and my choices reflect that. You folks that like carbs already know what to do to get them at fast food places, but if you’re interested in an approach that focuses on fats and proteins, that’s what I can provide. GOOD BAD DECISIONS So let’s just get this out of the way: eating fast food isn’t good for you. That should be clear to just about anyone, but if someone never explained that to you: it’s not good for you. Some fast food choices are BETTER than others, but you gotta be at peace with the fact that, if you’re eating fast food, you’re already making a bad decision as far as health goes. Hence, the things I’m going to be recommending aren’t going to be the healthiest choices: they’re going to be the best choices you can make when pursuing getting bigger or getting leaner. WHY LOW CARB ANYWAY? Talking about “good bad decisions”: you can get quick carbs ANYWHERE if that’s what you’re after. They don’t require cooking or prep. Pop tarts are a classic staple, along with candy, and almost anything you can find in a gas station. Having someone make you carbs at a fast food place is really just a wasted opportunity cost. Protein tends to be a bit trickier. Sure, you can get beef jerky and bottled protein shakes, but cooked meat is just a treat (apologies to any vegan/vegetarian readers, but very little I write will apply to you), to say nothing of the benefits for gaining that come with a steady supply of protein and fat. As such, whenever I eat out, I’m trying to maximize protein intake. PARADIGM BREAKING: SIDES
WHEN BULKING: This is especially true as it relates to burger places, ala McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc: people are VERY used to getting French fries as a side whenever they eat a cheeseburger. I get it: French fries are yummy. HOWEVER, they’re just fried potatoes: carbs and fat, very little benefit for the gaining lifter looking to push protein levels stupidly high. Learn to embrace having ANOTHER burger as your side meal. When you get a Double Quarter Pounder at McDonalds, get a few McDoubles as a side. Whopper Jrs to go with your Whopper. Etc etc. Scout out the dollavalue menu and find the cheap non-breaded meat sandwich you can pair with your meal.
Wendy’s has some pretty legit sides these days too. Cup of chili is awesome. A baked potato is pretty solid too if you want some “cleaner” carbs.
WHEN CUTTING: Still ditching the fries: now we’re looking at salads. Pretty much everywhere does a side salad these days, and many will allow for the substitution. Go for that. If you’re eating out somewhere and you get 2 sides with a meal, see if you can get 2 salads or double up on veggies. Most places will be more than willing to give you extra veggies and save the potatoes for the bigger crowd.
PARADIGM BREAKING: BUNS, BREAD AND THE KNIFE AND FORK Bulking or cutting, I never eat the bread in a fast food burger (and rarely eat it at a sitdown place). There’s just so little nutritional value in it, and its wasting calories that could be better spent toward protein, fats, or a better carb source. Get used to eating burgers with a knife and fork. It’s like a small steak. I do the same thing with sub sandwiches: just eat the inside with a fork, like a salad. SPECIFIC LOCATIONS/STYLES MCDONALD’S
WHEN BULKING: When gaining weight, I love the double quarter pounder as my go to burger. Why? I know how much meat I’m eating! Pre-cooked weight, of course. Back when I was running Building the Monolith and had to eat 1.5lbs of ground beef a day, if I was in a pinch, it was pretty awesome to roll into a McDonald’s, get 2 of these and check off 1lb of ground beef from my daily requirement. And everything from McDonald’s goes down fast and smooth, so you can get in that pound of meat pretty easily.
WHEN CUTTING: Pre-COVID, McDonalds had some pretty awesome salads, especially so if you went with a grilled chicken breast vs crispy. Avoid dressing whenever possible, otherwise, go low-cal and use sparingly. Avoid all the bready stuff (crutons, tortilla strips, etc). These days, best bet is the grilled chicken sandwiches, no bread, knife and fork.
BURGER KING/WENDY’S/OTHER BURGER JOINTS:
WHEN BULKING: BK doesn’t have a claim to fame regarding burgers that weigh a specific amount, but you can still operate pretty similarly here. The double whopper is very substatantial, and comes with far more veggies than the Double Quarter pounder, so it’s healthier, right? Otherwise, the “Bacon King” sandwich is massive, covered in cheese, bacon and mayo. Because of that, I tend to only get 1 of those and then pair it with some whopper jrs or double hamburgers to get some extra protein and not quite as much fat.
And let that guide you for the other chains out there. Wendy’s has classic stacks vs Baconators. It’s all about the same. The sole exception is In n Out burger: they have a “protein style” burger, which is a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. Opt for that when possible, and then you don’t even need a knife and fork.
WHEN CUTTING: Same rules as McDonald’s: get one of their salads, or go with the chicken sandwich (unbreaded) with a knife and fork.
WHEN BULKING: Double meat/deluxe. Here’s a dirty secret about that: if you order a sandwich with more than 1 meat on it (like the club), if you ask for double meat, they’ll either ONLY double the meat of 1 (so only the turkey or the ham) OR they’ll charge you TWICE to double both meats. Know how you beat this?
Order the meatball sub. For one, meatballs are delicious, but in addition, when you double the meat, you go from 8 to 16 meatballs. It’s just absurd, and rarely even fits inside the bread of the sandwich, and it costs no different than doubling the meat of any other sandwich. Load it down with veggies and cheese and eat it with a knife and fork.
WHEN CUTTING: Get the egg white breakfast sandwich, put all the veggies you can stomach on it, and go without sauce.
FRIED CHICKEN PLACES (KFC/POPEYES/ETC) Skip the sides, no matter the goal. Pick the breading off, no matter the goal. If you’re bulking, allow yourself some dark meat pieces: if cutting, stick with the breasts. Portion control is about it here: eat more when bulking and less when cutting. BURRITO SHOPS (Q’Doba/Chipotle)
BULKING: Skip the wrap and the rice, go for beans (sometimes they’ll offer you double beans since you didn’t get rice: see if they’ll do that) and then get double meat. Wait until they give you the first serving of meat and THEN ask for double: this forces them to match the previous portions whereas, if you ask for double meat off the bat, they’ll give you 2 slim portions of meat. Sour cream and cheese contain a lot of calories, fats and some protein: well worth getting. Guacamole too for that matter.
Cutting: Skip those beans, go for chicken, load up on veggies and salsa, no sour cream, cheese or guac.
TACO BELL There is nothing redeeming here. It’s also my favorite fast food place. I like the nachos. But if I’m going to Taco Bell, I’m making a BAD bad decision here: this is purely for enjoyment. SIT DOWN DINNING There are so many places out there, that I’m just going to give some general rules.
BULKING: If they serve steak, get steak. Ribeyes are the fattiest cuts, but there really aren’t bad decisions here. Scout the sides: you’re most likely going to have to go with salads or veggies, but check the soup menu and see if chili is an option.
Otherwise, you know the drill here: lots of meat and veggies. It’s a great time to get a better quality burger and knife and fork it as well.
CUTTING: Chicken breasts with veggies OR salads are the rule of law here, BUT, be careful with salads: they can often be the most loaded thing on the menu! It should be simple: lettuce and veggies with some kind of meat. When they start throwing in tons of tortilla strips, creamy dressing, nuts, bacon, etc etc, it can add up quick. Get dressing on the side (or no dressing, even better). If in doubt, ask how things are prepared. Often a menu will say something like “shrimp”, only to turn out to be deep fried shrimp. The chicken salad is a breaded patty. Etc etc.
I know this may be basic to many of you more experienced folks, but for myself, this came about after a long time spent just sorta finding my way through eating. I’m hoping you find it helpful (and I’m particularly proud of that subway meatball sub trick). Feel free to ask any clarifying questions.
I made the mistake of being honest with my therapist...
So I've been in therapy for about 2 months now, at the request of my Aunt, and my wife. It has been helping somewhat, but I have been very cautious about opening up during my sessions because I've heard some horror stories about what ends up happening if you share too much. But I was/am in the middle of a bender, and I was feeling really down about a lot of stuff. And then he goes and hits me with this line about how I'm hindering my own progress by being so guarded, and he can help me feel better if I just make more of an effort to trust him. So stupid fucking me, I told him about the blood in my vomit last week, and the fact that I fucked up at work because I was drinking while I was teaching (online classes), and I've been through 3 handles of vodka, over the last 4 days. I told him about the horrible shit some of my family says about me because I choose not to speak to most of them and how my Father (FUCK him BTW) is still a respected upstanding member of the community, even though he molested me when I was a kid after my mom died, its just one of those deep dark family secrets that nobody talks about. I mentioned that I'm afraid that my wife doesn't love me like she used to because I drink so much, and she seems to be drifting further away from me. I'm generally a pleasant drunk, but it feels like my IQ drops through the fucking floor and I do things that don't make sense lol. We just had a daughter in July, and she is super protective of the baby and my Mother-in-law has been dropping hints about how my wife should just move back home with her. I don't know how I would react if my daughter wasn't in my life anymore, not sure I would care about anything or want to keep on living. Anyways, once I started talking about my stuff, I just kept going. It was bad, I was brutally honest about how depressed I feel most of the time, I broke down crying and the whole nine... And at the end of it, what this fucking guy responded with was, "I don't think I'm equipped to give you all the help you need, you need to check into an in-patient program". Then he sends me an email, and asks me to fill out the info while we're on the video call so that he can make sure I do it. I refused, and immediately tried to downplay the things I just told him. But what the actual fuck? I was honest and I opened up, and all he did was shit on me. I would almost certainly lose my wife and kid if checked into a program at this point thanks to my MIL, so that's not an option. But then he goes on to ask if I'm currently suicidal, and reminds me that he has my address and he "won't hesitate" to call for "help" if he thinks that I'm at risk. But the way he said it, felt like he was using it to threaten me into the in-patient program, not like he actually cared. I let him know that he was making me feel uncomfortable, and that I felt attacked. So after several minutes of trying to get him off my back, he eventually stopped pressing the issue. But holy fuck, that's what I get sharing my true feelings? I don't think I'll ever do any shit like that again. Welp, this is day 5. I'm getting down to the bottom of this handle, and its 6:45am. My regular liquor store opens in 15mins so I guess I'll call an uber to go buy a couple more handles. I'll probably buy breakfast too for my wife so its not as glaringly obvious. But she knows, and I know all I really want is the booze. Sorry for the long post. Be cautious of what you say to therapists! Chairs!
Offseason Blueprint: it’s time for the young/Young Atlanta Hawks to leave the nest and take flight
The playoffs continue to rage on, but there are 26 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, have nightmares about getting blocked by Bam, and wait for next season to start. For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Atlanta Hawks. step one: grow up and play D, because you can’t be forever young Two summers ago, the Atlanta Hawks hired coach Lloyd Pierce on the basis of his defensive reputation. So far, that hasn't translated to the court. Last season, the Hawks ranked 27th in defensive rating. After a year in the system to improve their habits and chemistry, that ranking jumped all the way up to... 27th. What's wrong here? A few factors, of course. The one that gets the most attention and the most blame would be the deficiencies of Trae Young. His lack of length and athleticism will always be a problem, but it shouldn't be this bad. ESPN RPM ranks his defensive impact as a -6.2 per 100 possessions, which ranks 520th out of all 520 qualifiers in the NBA. According to that metric, his defense is even worse than Isaiah Thomas (at age 31.) Isaiah Thomas may be a helpful comparison though, because he does illustrate that one bad defender shouldn't be able to sink a team on his own. In IT's great season in Boston, his individual defense was poor, but the Celtics ranked in the top 5 in defense overall. Clearly, some teams are able to overcome liabilities like that. The Hawks may have to consider hiding Trae Young on defense like he's in the witness protection program. Other lead guards like Allen Iverson defended off the ball often, which is an approach that worked for his team defenses in Philadelphia and Denver. So what else is wrong here? The second major factor would be a matter of youth. Yes, we have a "Young" and a "young" problem here. Inexperienced players tend to be bad defensively, and the Hawks were one of the youngest teams in the league. Their top 5 players in minutes played (Young, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, John Collins) were all in their age-22 season or younger. There are some college rosters older than that starting five. That aspect should improve in time, especially because some of those young players like Hunter and Reddish project as good defenders. Although it may sound counterintuitive, another issue with the defense is the offense. The Hawks play fast (top 5 in the NBA in pace), and shoot a bunch of threes (top 10 in three point attempts.) The problem is: they don't make a lot of those threes. As a team, the Hawks shot 33.3% from three, dead last in the NBA. These issues naturally affect their defense. The Hawks are playing fast and missing threes, which tends to lead to transition baskets for their opponents before the Hawks can get back and get set. If the Hawks improve their offense, then their defense should improve by proxy. To do that, they may have to slow down their pace to some degree. Modern teams love to run and gun, but if you're not very good, you're only giving your opponents extra possessions to allow their talent to win out. The fourth potential issue is a matter of coaching. As mentioned, Lloyd Pierce had a good reputation as an assistant coming over to Atlanta, but we haven't seen that manifest so far. It's a tough job assignment coaching up a young team, but it's a talented group of players. If we don't see tangible improvement in Year 3, then I would presume it's time to fire Pierce and look for another answer. There are a lot of good coaches on the market right now, so Pierce needs to step up his game to avoid getting replaced. Rebuilding teams can afford to be patient, but they can't afford to give their coaches tenure. step two: use it before you lose it The 2020 free agent market is going to be quieter than an indoor mall during COVID quarantine. Hardly any teams have cap space... except for Atlanta. In fact, the Hawks have the most cap space in the entire NBA, committed to only $58M on the books for next year. This is going to be a bad free agent class, but that's okay. In a sense, the Hawks are like the best looking guy in a dive bar. There may be slim pickings, but at least he gets his pick of the litter. You don't want to throw your money away foolishly, but you don't want it to burn a hole in your pocket either. Eventually that cap space is going to dry up when you extend your young players, so this may be a great opportunity to "use it before you lose it." The first option should be to throw a big offer at restricted free agent Brandon Ingram. Ingram has great length for a wing player, and his scoring prowess would make for a -- wait, what was that? The Pelicans just matched my offer in mid sentence? Okay then, let's move on to our next options. I'd also consider making sizable offers to free agents Bogdan Bogdanovic and/or Jerami Grant. Bogdanovic is a skilled scorer who averaged 18-4-4 per 36 this past season, and has the potential to thrive as a secondary scorer or 6th man. At 27, he also fits the general timeline here. While Bogdanovic may not be the defensive stopper we're looking for, you can never have too many quality wings in today's NBA. Jerami Grant doesn't have the same shooting ability or skill set, but he's an energetic player and an impact defender. He's 26 now, and should retain his value for the next 3 years. Having Grant as a complementary starter or rotation player would help the team on and off the court; from what I understand, he's a hard worker and a team-first player. On the lower end, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to punch some lottery tickets and hope they pay off. Josh Jackson (former Suns bust) still has potential at age 23. Chicago SG/SF Denzel Valentine has an intriguing skill set. And fellow Bull Kris Dunn is one of the premier defenders at his position. Dunn would make for a great yin/yang backup to Trae Young. step three: have some faith in John the Baptist One of the reasons that the Atlanta Hawks' cap size will dwindle in the future is the potential extension for PF John Collins. A year or two ago, the team may have thought long and hard about whether or not to commit huge money to Collins. There were some indications that he was a "good stats / bad team" kind of player. He was a tweener who struggled on defense, and didn't stretch the floor reliably on offense. These days, it's harder to hate on Collins. The raw stats are as good as always (20-10 this year), but he's also playing a more desirable brand of basketball as well. He's worked to improve his range and shotmaking. His three-point shooting went up to 35% in year two, and swelled to 40% in year three. His FT% has also gone up each year, from 72% to 76% to 80%. You appreciate when a young player improves his game, as it indicates a lot more potential still in the tank (as he turns 23 next week.) Defense is becoming less of a concern for Collins as well. The trend towards smallball allows him to play about 50% of his minutes at center. In turn, that allows Coach Pierce some flexibility. Depending on the matchup, he can go with the traditional bigs like Clint Capela or Dewayne Dedmon, or he can play a smaller, more dynamic 5 in Collins. Collins will never be Kevin Garnett, but if he's at least average on defense, then he's a net positive player. Going forward, there's no immediate rush or urgency to extend Collins this offseason. The team will have matching rights next summer, so they can wait and see Collins "prove it" over a full regular season before committing to him. Still, if he's willing to sign a reasonable extension this offseason, the Hawks may be able to avoid the headache. Atlanta's a good situation for a young scorer like Collins, so the hope is that he'd be amenable to a reasonable deal that locks him up as part of this core. step four: remember you're playing the long game, not Tetris The Atlanta Hawks will have the # 6 pick in the draft, giving them the chance to add another young prospect to the team. We had been concerned about too much youth on this roster, but it's not worth giving up that pick for a veteran because we're not in "win now" mode yet. The team may as well keep collecting youngsters like they're pokemon. With that top pick, they should keep that mindset, and not fall victim to the desire to find the right "fit" (hence the Tetris analogy.) Best available player. That's a good philosophy when you're drafting in the top 10 regardless, but it applies to this team more than most. The team needs to get a lot better, but there are no glaring issues in terms of positions or rotations. Trae Young will have PG on lockdown. Kevin Huerter will have a role as a wing. Better still, Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter are the types of BIG wings that can fit across several positions. The frontcourt should be fine as well between John Collins and Clint Capela. Given that, almost any position would be fine for the Hawks to select. At PG, the top prospects (according to ESPN) are LaMelo Ball (N.Z.) and Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State). Both players would be fine picks for the team, because both have the size and length to guard 1s or 2s and can play alongside Trae Young in that regard. Offensively, LaMelo and Trae may fight for the ball, but both have dynamic scoring potential that would make a tag-team dangerous. Haliburton would be an even easier fit, as he's had experience playing off the ball. At SG/SF, the top prospect is Anthony Edwards (Georgia), who is likely to be off the board. I'm also a fan of Devin Vassell (Florida State), who projects as a good 3+D player that could soak up minutes at SG and SF for this team. He's one of the safer prospects in the class to me. I also like Deni Avdija (Israel), a ball moving forward with the size to play either SF or PF. The hardest debate may be whether to select a big man that falls to them, be it James Wiseman (Memphis) or Onyeka Okongwu (USC). After acquiring Clint Capela (and potentially ponying up for a John Collins extension), the team may not want to invest much more into the position. Still, I'd hold firm to my "best player available" idea. Wiseman and Okongwu have major potential as defenders, which has been a problem area as discussed. It could be worth bringing them in and seeing how they develop. If they turn out to be the real deal, then it's perfectly fine to trade Capela or even Collins after the fact. I'd have a harder time justifying the selection of two other top prospects: Killian Hayes (France) feels like too much of a pure point guard to me, and Obi Toppin feels like too much of a duplication to John Collins. Still, we've discussed 7 prospects that I've already given the "greenlight" to draft, which means at least 2 of those should be available when the Hawks are on the clock. step five: give the kids some big brothers We've harped a lot on the youth of this team already. Usually, that's seen as a positive. Rebuilding teams are supposed to be young, right? Sure. But there's some danger there of going overboard. If you're too young, and too inexperienced, then it's hard for the young pups to learn from those around them. It's hard to hold them accountable if there's no one else around to play their minutes. We can't have the blind leading the blind here. Oftentimes, teams try to solve this issue by adding older veteran mentors to the locker room. The Hawks found the MOST veteran of them all by adding Vince Carter (age 43.) In theory, that's exactly what we're talking about. Wise old sages like Carter can help the kids grow up and learn to be professionals. Still, I'm not sure that's enough. As respected as an old vet like Vince Carter may be, there's only so much influence he can have on a team if he's not playing. There's only so much influence he can have on a kid's habits if they're not in the same peer group. It's unlikely that 20-21 year olds are hanging out with guys in their mid to late 30s. They're in different stages in life, and probably have different interests and lifestyles. Given that, I believe there should be more of a priority placed on "big brother" teammates in addition to older mentors. What do I mean by big brothers? I mean veterans who have good work ethic and character, but aren't over the hill. Young vets (ages 25-27 or so) who can still contribute on the court, and can still act as friends and peers to the kids. True role models. Consider this: who influenced your behavior more in high school: Your teachers? Or your friends? We need friends / big brothers that will spend more time with our kids, and teach them through osmosis if not outright lectures. Consciously or not, the Memphis Grizzlies showed the value of this principle with their current season. They surrounded their rookies and sophomores with "big brother" vets like Tyus Jones (age 24) and Kyle Anderson (age 26.) Those guys happen to be high-IQ players and high-character teammates, but they're still young and good enough to play 20+ minutes a night. When you're checking all those boxes, you can influence the young players on your roster more effectively than the salty old dog who's basically an assistant coach. It's hard for me to give recommendations for "big brothers" because I don't know these players behind the scenes outside of public reputation, but the idea would be to add smart, hard-working veterans in that 25-27 age range. We want vets who play unselfishly on offense, and play hard and disciplined on defense. Even if they're not great, they can help instill good habits with the team, on and off the court. previous offseason blueprints CHA, CHI, CLE, IND, GS, MIL, MIN, NYK, POR, SA, SAC, UTA
The Strangest, Yet Most Common Criticism of the ST
So that Recent Daisy Ridley interview made me want to dust off an old thesis statement of sorts I’ve been saying since The Last Jedi was released. Not so much what she was saying but the reaction to it. I was going to include this in my post about why I wondered #ReleasetheEdwardsCut was never a thing but it didn’t seem right at the time. So Here Goes Nothing: This is an observation I began to notice about March 2018 or so, when the “””backlash””” for TLJ really began to take form and start getting ugly. A lot of signs went in different directions so it was hard to point to one exact thing. Then, just after Solo’s release Jeremy Jahns uploads that video, the really dumb one where he says TLJ promotes too much Social Justice or some crap like that and tried to justify everything by saying “I like the movie mother!” (because nothing says good movie like a painfully obvious allegory my neighbours ten year old could figure out in addition to watching Jennifer Lawrence have the shit beaten out of her. Also a Baby gets eaten, yeah.) and something he said in to really stuck with me. First he Says Star Wars is a cinematic universe (it isn’t) then says “Did anyone know what RJ was doing!?” And that was it right there, he managed to summarize what I've been observing these last few months but couldn't put into proper words. Star Wars Fans are mad that the ST is too Directo Artistic Driven then Franchise/ Design by Committee/ Business driven. It’s as if Jeremy was saying that he wants more studio control on these things and that directors should just follow orders and shut up. Now obviously he didn’t say those exact words I just typed but he sure as hell seemed to imply it. Now that seems like an oddly specific thing to say people are criticizing them for and I seriously doubt you will hear that exact phrase mentioned anywhere. But Think About it For a Moment.... How many times have you seen variations of these comments: “Rian Johnson should be on a tighter leash” “They should have had a stric plan for the ST from the start” “One person should have written/ directed the whole thing” “They should only do what the fans want” "Take a page from Marvel." Or some comment that eludes to the notion that Disney/ Lucasfilm should have stepped in more and not let the directors do as they were hired to do. What's funny to me is how "They should have had a plan" always translates to "I fucking hated The Last Jedi!!!!" Now that might seem like an odd way to look at it all but this isn't the first time Star Wars has been "criticized" like this. Look at the PT for example. In just about every review I’ve seen, both in print and YouTube, there’s always a moment where the reviewer says something along the lines of “Did no one tell George this was a bad idea?” or “Did no one challenge George on this?” This is RLM’s most common talking point. Or those claiming Lucas surrounded himself with yes-men who would do everything he wanted and that was it. Lucas did pay for the entire PT out of his own pocket mind you. He had an entire VFX company at his disposable to make any crazy thing he imagined. Who’s to tell him what he can and can’t do? Rick McCallum sure as hell wasn't going to. There is a certain "tragedy" for lack of a better word, when comparing Lucas in the 70s/80s to what he became in the 90s/00s. He ultimately became the very thing he rebelled against, the film producing machine where he could call the shots, order people to do as he wanted and no one could tell him otherwise. This is the entire thesis of The People Vs. George Lucas documentary. Very few directors working today occupy the same zeitgeist that Lucas once did. Abrams certainly doesn’t and neither does Johnson or Edwards or even Howard for that matter. How many can say they changed the medium of film with just one movie? I’d imagine anyone who wanted to seriously challenge Lucas would probably be fired on the spot for it. It would be like trying to challenge James Cameron or Steven Spielberg or David Fincher. You’d get about one inch before being kicked out of the door or in Cameron’s case, yelled out till your ears bled while your phone was nail gunned to a wall. You just couldn't do it. The situation the new films have found themselves in pretty much sets up that criticism though. George Lucas is gone, never coming back. He was THE BOSS and nothing was going to change that. Disney now owns Star Wars and will continue to own it until Kingdom Come. It has now crossed the rift from Filmmaker’s creative vision to Valuable franchise used for profit. Another IP to add to Disney's ever growing roster. So now with every new director they have to answer to Lucasfilm, to Disney, to the Mouse but they aren’t treated as servants but as guests. They aren’t ordered around, they aren’t told what they can and can’t do and they have all the resources imaginable at their disposal. A blank canvas and a $200 Million dollar cheque. For better TFA is very much JJ Abrams from start to finish. He loves his mystery boxes and stories about young women trying to find their place in the world and male supporting characters with father issues while ultimately being a pastiche of what he loves . If you seriously think TFA was made to be a remake of ANH (It really isn't) because Disney wanted it that way for a quick buck, welcome to your first JJ Abrams film. For worse, TROS is very JJ Abrams in the most frustrating way possible… but still very much a film made by him. Every decision made in TROS, good or bad(mainly bad), is something that has appeared in all his movies/ tv shows. You see the gear turning in his head with some of the more... questionable choices. Even behind the scenes, when things seem iffy is never feels like “The hand of the Mouse is stepping in.” It always feels like Abrams listening to feedback from his colleagues like Spielberg and DuVernay. Or in TROS's case, bad impulses.... TLJ is pure Rian Johnson from frame one up until the credits roll. TLJ is eerily similar to the Breaking Bad episode The Fly, the first episode he directed. An entirely character focused story that examines who the characters are and what they ultimately want and their greatest fears. And just like TLJ it is still talked about to this day. Frigg, TLJ and Knives Out both have the same ending twist… The Last Jedi’s production however is where things get interesting. TLJ might just have the smoothest and cleanest production of any Star Wars film probably ever. The Story was set and locked before TFA was in theatres. No massive reshoots, no extreme rewrites, no behind the scenes meddling, no studio oversight, no on set drama, no crazy editing changes and finished under budget with months to spare. That doesn’t happen for like 99% of movies made today, blockbuster or not. The PT on the other hand, oh boy.... TPM got off reasonably well. Some bad weather that destroyed sets didn't send them back too much. Some like to point to everyones reaction to the Rough Cut being the ultimate sign that everyone working on TPM knew it was going to be awful. That's the thing though, it's a rough cut, that's the whole point. It doesn't matter how good or bad any movie is at the end of the day, rough cut screenings are brutal.... ATOC and ROTS on the other hand didn't even have a finished script until about a month into shooting. And most importantly Anakin's entire motivation to turn to the dark side was added after the fact during reshoots. Which were done in late 2004 mind you. No Comment. It was funny for a while when I’d glance at STC throughout 2018 to see where the narrative was going and the most common one for a good month was always some variation of “Did Disney mess with TLJ!?” Trying to prove that something must have gone horribly wrong during the making of the movie... except there wasn't. And I’ve seen this play out in real time with in-person conversations, but after realizing that not only is that not the case but they can’t point to any other of the “usual suspects” to say “this is why thing bad” their only option is to say “RJ Shouldn’t have been allowed to do that!!” If anyone is wondering why RJ is getting his own trilogy this is the reason. The dude gets shit done with no issue. Even the death of Carrie Fisher didn’t put a damper on anything(the amount of comments I’ve seen that said “why didn’t they kill of Leia” got comical). It’s what makes watching The Director and the Jedi such a fascinating experience because everyone is looking at everything going “Is this gonna work or no?” With Emphasis on Hamill the most. TFA’s production was kinda messy but manageable. News about TROS's production has been revealed throughout the year and most of it points to it being messy and chaotic. The making of Docs try to hide this by showing us happy faces, people passionate about what they are doing and saying “hey this is awesome!” Then there’s the horrible realization that we live in this shitty era of movies dictated by film franchises that we watch out of obligation and internet culture creating a massive hyperbolic bubble around everything. I remember a time whenever information about any film was released (franchise or not) and if it was revealed that there was some form of behind the scenes drama between director and studio or changes made that the director wasn't part of people got mad. But now whenever we hear that the response is almost always “Hey they probably saved the movie from being a disaster.” A Real Paradigm Shift. It’s just accepted that Franchise Films are the result of produce studio oversight and that’s ultimately a good thing(that’s not to say there aren’t examples where this hasn’t been the case but that’s a discussion for another day). Which Leads Us To... Marvel immediately comes to mind with regards to this. After 23 movies the MCU has gone through 15 directors. Those who left after one or two movies don’t have nice things to say about it and it’s easy to see why. It’s funny seeing some put the MCU on some pedestal for “How Franchises should be,” which I find head-scratching. The MCU might just be the most micro-managed film franchise of all time. The amount of times I’ve read some behind the scenes piece about how scenes were shot literally weeks before release or were in six months plus of reshoots after the fact is staggering or how directors get screwed over and told to take a knee. And that’s not even getting into the nitty gritty of it all like how they don’t allow directors to shoot their own action or characters being shifted roles because it would affect toy sales. They also sure as hell don’t plan everything out. The amount of times the MCU has retconned entire films out of existence or just pretended certain developments didn’t happen could be its own drinking game. Character development in thrown out the window for the sake of appearance. The writers of Endgame can’t seem to keep their answer straight as to where and when Captain America ended up when he wanted to spend his life with Peggy. If anything Marvel is really good at giving the impression that everything is a well maintained car while running on fumes. Compare the Avenger’s Home Base between movies and then tell me with a straight face “Marvel Pays attention to continuity.” As an aside, what exactly do Marvel and Star Wars have in common? Aside from being owned by Disney what do they have in common? Nothing..... The approach, risks taken, sense of awe, the types of stories of told. It's like comparing a nice tasty burger from that one restaurant in town to an all you can eat Buffet. Sure it's all food at the end day but theres a difference. There’s also the matter of the type of directors that Marvel has picked. They largely go for Indie or TV directors with very little experience making films this scale. They also don’t have a huge amount of clout to their name so they can’t make huge demands for what they want. Sure some have more of a style and clout to them but those are the exceptions that proves the rule. For every Ryan Coogler or James Gunn there's The Russo Brothers or Jon Watts. Star Wars on the other hand has actively sought out directors with experience in films this size and those who have their own style that is reflected in the ones they make. To summarize JJ Abrams is Diet-Spielberg while Rian Johnson is Quirky American Auteur. Gareth Edwards could be the next “mostly” poignant blockbuster director while Ron Howard is a seasoned Veteran. Star Wars could have easily have grabbed any number of pencil pusher directors and gave them ultra strict guidelines to follow and nothing else. Have them make movies that are nothing more than giant fan service reels aimed at getting all the fan dollars in the world. And I think that's what so many kind of expected we were getting from the get go and are confused and out right mad that isn't the case. To Quote u/friedAmobo "Disney and Lucasfilm, regardless of what some people may think, are not stupid - they know the best way to make money is to do what the fans want. That would mean Luke being the main character in TFA, the main trio reuniting, and other fan service moments that would make Rogue One blush. The fact that TFA\ ***isn’t*** *about any of that is telling. It means they had an idea for something different, and they made it."* "TLJ is even more condemning for the cash grab argument. Rian Johnson was the sole writer and director of the movie, and as we all know, the movie was very divisive. But how was that a cash grab, then? If Lucasfilm wanted to make tons of money, they could have a powerful Luke train Rey, and then have him beat the First Order on Crait with super Force powers. It’d have made an easy couple hundred million dollars more. The fact that they didn’t do that, but ended up going with a story that had the potential to be divisive is, again, telling." But…. then you have the complete 180 with the anthology films. Rogue One and Solo and reading into their production is mind boggling. For as much as TROS’s production seemed like a nightmare, the production of these two seemed like fighting Nightmare from Metroid: Fusion. No one wants to come clean with what the hell happened with Rogue One. What movie completely reshoots it’s final act with a little over 6 months before release(not saying it doesn’t happen just bare with me here)? Gareth Edwards is probably never going to talk about how he was basically fired from it and replaced with Tony Gilroy. You think it’s anyway surprising that he has nothing to do with this Cassian Disney+ series? Solo had its directors fired midway through production then reshot the entire movie with someone else. That Doesn't Happen…… I remember hearing that during the summer of 2017 and my coworkers and I just laughed our heads off at it. The notion of a Han Solo movie (without Harrison Ford) was such a ridiculous idea at the time and then this happened on top of it. There’s also the uncomfortable truth that no one wants to admit about the Anthology Films. They Aren’t About Anything. Not that they aren’t about “anything” in the literal sense, but more so in the “these films exist to shove Star Wars nostalgia in your face and nothing else.” They are set during the OT era for frigg sake and throw LORE and CANON junk at you to make up for their complete lack of emotional/ dramatic meaning(I say this as someone who enjoys Solo greatly). Because they are side stories you the viewer don’t have to worry about anything of major consequence happening in them that would affect the main narrative (Skywalker Saga in this case). They can do whatever they want and basically a safe bet for an audience. You don't have to worry abut your favourite characters being killed or doing things you don't agree with. It’s like a video game side quest where all you get is a shiny new item by the end of it that’s good for a while until you get something better an hour later. This might not seem like much but I think fans seriously underestimate the power that comes with these being a side story. The Mandalorian fits into this category as well and something that Hello Greedo has praised the show excessively for. Add on the fact that Disney/ Lucasfilm is going to keep making Star Wars content in the form of movies/ Live Action series/ animation until the ice caps melt and we all die. It's not out of the realm of possibility that something you've always "wanted" might one day happen. To quote my very good friend u/SorryNotSpartacus: “They also, very simply, are not the main saga, and I think people underestimate how much of a difference that makes to the fan audience that by and large seems to respond more positively to the anthology films. Most fans are used to reading or watching EU material.” I recall seeing multiple comments early 2018 “RJ should have been given an Anthology film(s) instead.” As if to say “That way he can do what he wants and I don’t have to worry about it,” or something to that affect. But there’s also the sad fact at the end of day that’s all Star Wars fans “Want.” They don’t want a story or anything meaningful but a shrine to their nostalgia, a two hour fan service reel or a big “thank you” for being fans. Fulfill their own expectations and make them feel nothing but superficial joy. Don't let them think or feel anything else in the process. To quote Frank Oz: “All the people who don’t like this ‘Jedi’ thing is just horse crap. It’s about expectations. The movie didn’t fill their expectations. But as Filmmakers, we’re not here to fill people’s expectations.” He’s talking about The Last Jedi if that wasn’t clear. You’d think this would be obvious but so many fans seem to think it’s the other way around that these things exists to validate them as fans and nothing else. Don’t believe me? Go to any Star Wars sub reddit and search “this but un-ironcally,” or just type any number of words followed be “fans.” The results might surprise you… or won’t. Better yet just Search Rogue One and look for the most upvoted post. It's why I take issue with that recent quote from Jon Favreau that's been floating around for the last few weeks. “We alway knew, and this was something I learned from over at Marvel and working with Kevin Feige, is you always want to keep core fans in mind, because they have been the ones that’ve been keeping the torch lit for many, many years, but there are also stories for young people and for new audiences. These are myths, and you always want to have an outstretched hand to people who might not have that background . And so you’re really telling two stories at once. You’re telling the story for the people who are fresh eyes, and you’re telling the story for the people who’ve been there with the property and with the stories and characters for many years, and make sure you’re honouring them as well.” Almost as if he's saying "Just shove enough fan-service onscreen, someone will recognize it and it will make up for our lack of story telling abilities." It's funny how he uses what he learned from Marvel as "collective wisdom" when he got screwed hard when trying to make Iron Man 2 a movie about Tony Stark dealing with his own death. Stop treating these very corporately controlled entities like they are your best friend, they are not and never will be. Even if you think you have, it's not real. You think this wouldn’t have to be said but it needs to: You as a fan do not own Star Wars. Buying all the stickers and Funko Pops doesn’t make you an owner no matter how you stretch it. You do not have a say on how these things go, you do not get to say what can and can’t happen, you are not the writer, you are not the director, you are not the person who wipes the table off after a meeting because same jack-hole split coffee all over it.You are the person who buys a ticket then bitches online about it. Then again there is always the obvious “fans have no fucking idea what the hell they even want anymore.” Not that I’m free from this, I sure as hell don’t know what I want. I could give some vague answer like “More Babu Frik” but even that seems too broad. I saw a really dumb tweet around February 2018 that showed two posters, The Last Jedi and Justice League and the tweeter said "Filmmakers of these franchises should be actively aware what fans want and go out of their way to ensure that." Naturally most of the replies were ridiculing the guy for his flawed logic. The most liked reply came from someone who said the following "This implies that Star Wars fans actually know what the hell they even want." Also Justice League failed because it didn't do what the fans want? Oi Vey....) None of this is to say anything you yourself have criticized any of the ST films isn’t valid to you or someone else. Unless you’re one of those people who thinks “They have a secret political agenda!” in which case please stop. For as much as I talked about the ST being filmmake director driven they are still very much films released by Disney for the sake of profit. It’s just as much an art form as it is a business. Just as much of a product as they are a piece of fiction. For as much as RJ and his cast and crew have talked about the freedom he was given, he's not going to kill off all the characters and have Rey become a film scholar and analyze the works of Zack Snyder. The ST films are not art house epics and never will be. Neither is the PT or OT for that matter. Lucas is a much better businessman than director. He knew damn well the PT was his ticket to make up losing half his fortune after his messy divorce. Keep things going so he can basically retire once ROTS was done. But that’s all I have to say on the matter. This was based entirely on observation and conversations with others. Also there is no JJ-cut of TROS. There is no version of The Rise of Skywalker in which all the past Jedi appear as ghosts and start doing all the kick flips imaginable that was cut because CHINA. It Doesn't Exist.
Undertaking a fairly large project here. The aim is to give each team a plausible trade, signing, and draft pick over the 2020 NBA offseason in order to boost each team's prospects in the upcoming 2020-2021 season. While I can't promise they all will be, I'll try and keep the trades as player-specific, rather than something like "Knicks trading up to draft Ball" or something like that. I will also try (no promises) to do the trade in conjunction with one another. So it would ideally be proposed as 3-moves to make together, not 3 separate moves to make. Again, no promises, and I'll clarify if I'm suggest one as an alternative, but that will be the aim if I can find a pattern I like. Also, some players listed in free agency signings do have player options, so we'll treat them all as possibilities to a certain degree. And also, just because your team's player is listed as a trade move for one team doesn't mean they are moving them, just that there either have been rumors they'd be available, or simply that the listed team would be interested in acquiring them.
Draft Pick: G/F Isaac Okoro, Auburn With plenty of promising scorers, the Hawks should target Okoro to add to their defensive capacity on the wing. Okoro is a very selfless player, and would fit well into a lineup with Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela, amongst other promising young players. While ultimately, the Hawks may actually be best suited packaging this pick in a trade, if they stick at #6 overall, Okoro sure would be a good addition for Atlanta. Signing: F JaMychal Green, Los Angeles Clippers The Hawks have a few players who can fill minutes behind John Collins at the 4, such as De'Andre Hunter. But adding a clear backup for Collins would round the depth a bit cleaner. Insert JaMychal Green, a quality shooter (39% last season), who still be able to keep the post clear for Clint Capela, will giving Atlanta an excellent depth addition should he decline his player option in LAC and seek out a new opportunity. Trade: G Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Oladipo would be interesting backcourt partner with Trae Young. In addition to being a high-caliber defender, Oladipo also has the ability to handle the ball when Young isn't on the court. While Indiana risks losing Oladipo down the road for nothing, shipping him off to the rising Hawks, who will be angling for a playoff run next season. Oladipo could be a big piece of that run, and perhaps even help them contend for more if returns to his All-Star form.
Draft Pick: F Patrick Williams, Florida State The Celtics have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, and selecting back at #13 overall means they'll really just be able to target the best player available. If Patrick Williams is available at 13 however, he should definitely be considered, as his versatility would help continue loading up the Celtics bench. And with Williams being a bit raw offensively, the Celtics can afford to take a chance on his upside and develop him under Brad Stevens further. Signing: F Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets A 6'6 sharpshooter, Harris would be a fun add to the Celtics rotation. It may take some small moves to create the space for him, but adding the career 3-point marksman would fit in well with the versatile athletes around him like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and help the second unit stretch the floor when he comes off the bench. Trade: C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers Turner seems like he has been connected to the Celtics for a little while now, and it makes plenty of sense. The Pacers will likely be looking for players who fit better around Domantas Sabonis, and that could give an opportunity for the Celtics to move for Turner. Turner would fit well in the Celtics lineup at the center position, where right now the Celtics have some quality role players, but no star. By adding Turner, the Celtics would have one of the best all-around starting 5's in the entire league (Kemba-Smart-Brown-Tatum-Turner).
Draft Pick: G Josh Green, Arizona Finding players who can work alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will be key, and Green's defense and off-ball ability make him well suited to this role. Picking #19 overall will make it difficult to add an instant impact rotation, but Green would have a good chance to find minutes with his skill set. Signing: C Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns Should the Nets see themselves dishing out C Jarrett Allen in a blockbuster trade for a third star (see below), then a backup center becomes a big priority for the Nets. The solution here is Baynes, a hard-working center who had a career season shooting the ball. He'd fit nicely behind DeAndre Jordan. Trade: G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards If Beal is available, the Nets should be keen to add him to the mix. Able to offer the most enticing players to any blockbuster package (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen), the Nets could find their third star to pair with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant when the two return next season. Adding Beal to the mix would immediately vault the Nets all the way to Finals contenders, if the return of Durant and Irving themselves don't already accomplish that.
Draft Pick: PG LaMelo Ball, Australia If he's on the board at the #4 overall pick, the Bulls should be keen on bringing LaMelo in to the Windy City. Perhaps the Draft's best playmaker, he could fit well with scoring guards like Coby White and Zach LaVine, while operating a dangerous pick and pop with big guys like Markkanen. With the size and athleticism to match up well defensively, LaMelo's playmaking ability would help turn the Bulls into a legitimate playoff threat in 2020-2021. If LaMelo is off the board, the Bulls could go in several direction, perhaps even trading the pick if they find a suitable offer. Signing: C Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers The Bulls could use some depth in the frontcourt, and Leonard's range and 3-point ability make him a great player to add into a rotation that ranked in the bottom third of the league in their percentage from deep, and could potentially lose F Otto Porter if he opts out, one of their better marksmen. The question will likely be centered on how much money Leonard is aiming for, but if the numbers work, Leonard should be a serious target for Chicago. Trade: C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Embiid may or may not be available, there have been reports going both ways. But if the former Jayhawk is on the block after the 76ers quick exit from the playoffs, then Chicago should be very interested in acquiring him, even if means shipping out Wendell Carter and some other assets. With Markkanen capable of spacing the floor (34.5% shooter from deep), an Embiid addition would give Chicago two versatile bigs, given Embiid's proficiency from deep as well (34.8%). But most importantly, he'd be a scoring machine that would be the focal point of a fun, versatile Bulls roster that could push into playoff contention quickly with him leading the way.
Draft Pick: F Obi Toppin, Dayton With it almost assured that neither LaMelo Ball nor Anthony Edwards reaches Cleveland at #5, their hope should be in Toppin making his way past the Hornets and Bulls. A dynamic forward who excels in multiple facets of the game, he'd represent the best player available at this point in the draft, and an ideal addition for a talent-needy Cavaliers team. Whether replacing Kevin Love, or playing alongside him in looks, Toppin should stay in Ohio if at all possible. Signing: F Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat The Heat need cap space for upcoming extensions, so it's likely that Jones Jr, a versatile role player, will hit free agency. Cleveland is already reportedly interested, and it makes sense why. Providing quality defense on the wing, he's 23 years old, which fits Cleveland's rebuilding timeline, and should have time to round out and improve his offensive game (8.5 ppg, 28% from 3). The name of the game for the Cavs is to acquire talent, and Jones Jr. provides them with an intriguing piece with room to grow. Trade: Moving Kevin Love for Assets After landing a dynamic replacement for him, the Cavaliers are a team that doesn't necessarily have a specific player to target, but rather figure out what they could get for someone like Love, who shot 37% from deep last year. His salary could be problematic here, but even adding second round selections has proven useful for Cleveland (Kevin Porter Jr.).
Draft Pick: G Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky Maxey may not be a lethal shooter by any means, but his defense should make him a desired player for a Mavericks team that could use a defensive stopper to pair with Luka Doncic down the role. Maxey brings athleticism, ability to finish at the rim, and a decent mid-range game to the table, which should be enough, along with his defense, to make a desirable player for Mark Cuban's Mavericks. Signing: SF Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings Limited to what they can make happen with the Mid Level Exception or in a sign-and-trade, the Mavericks should get creative and add Bogdan Bogdanovic to the roster. The 27-year old wing would fit right at home with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, a high caliber shooter, especially on catch and shoot situations. If Sacramento doesn't believe they can fit Bogdanovic in with upcoming deals for Fox and Bagley, along with Hield potentially, landing some assets in a sign-and-trade would make sense. If no sign-and-trade, perhaps a 3&D wing like James Ennis (Orlando) could be an easier fit financially. Trade: PF Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic Whether Kristaps Porzingis fills more time at the four or the five, finding a way to pair him and Gordon together in a frontcourt would be fun to watch. Gordon's resurgence for the Magic this past season was a large reason they managed to make it into the playoffs. His defensive versatility and 3-point ability would make him an ideal third star to pair with Luka and Kristaps.
Draft Pick: F Jaden McDaniels, Washington The Nuggets were patient in bringing along Michael Porter Jr., who has stepped up big time during the Bubble. And with several Nuggets wings likely to depart in free agency (Millsap, Torrey Craig), adding a high potential piece like McDaniels to develop and even rotate in behind Grant and Porter Jr. would give Denver the opportunity to take a chance on someone like McDaniels. Signing: C Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons If Plumlee is in fact priced out of a return to Denver, finding a suitable replacement at center will be important. While Bol Bol could claim that spot, it's not a certainty, and thus, adding a three-level scorer at the 5 would be a wise insurance policy for the Nuggets. Trade: G Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans A high caliber veteran on a rebuilding roster, Holiday could be a great partner to pair with Jamal Murray in the backcourt. Less costly than someone like Bradley Beal, Holiday would be a much more realistic third star to bring in. A lineup with Holiday-Murray-Porter Jr.-Nokic and whoever else you want in that fifth spot seems deadly. With Gary Harris and plenty of other assets available, the Nuggets could offer an intriguing package for Holiday.
Draft Pick: G/F Devin Vassell, Florida State This may break from the mock drafts a bit, which usually have the Pistons adding a point guard. However, Vassell could be an interesting piece for Detroit to select, especially considering that the top point guard in the draft (LaMelo Ball) will not likely be available for Detroit at #7 overall. Instead, Detroit adds a long 3&D piece that could fit nicely in between Luke Kennard and Sekou Doumbouya long-term. And as for a point guard. . . Signing: PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors Reuniting Dwane Casey and VanVleet seems like an ideal pairing, especially the major need Detroit has at point guard. With Blake Griffin still a high caliber player when healthy, adding a win-now veteran like VanVleet could perhaps boost Detroit all the way to the playoffs next season if Griffin is playing. And at 26-years old, he's both an instant impact veteran as well as a possible long-term solution at the position. Trade:C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic The Pistons may have found themself something with C Christian Wood, who emerged as a quality option for them in the wake of the Drummond trade. However, Wood's emergence was a very small sample size, raising some questions over how much stock Detroit would put into it. Acquiring Bamba would give them another starting caliber option, who has proven himself as a decent player off the bench behind Vucevic if Wood does manage to build on his promising play.
Golden State Warriors:
Draft Pick: C James Wiseman, Memphis (kinda) Should the Warriors not move this pick, Wiseman makes more sense than LaMelo Ball in terms of fit and need. Though both have questions of maturity and consistency, Wiseman's size and length would offer the Warriors a weapon they haven't really had alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. If Wiseman can fit in the frontcourt with forward Draymond Green, and Golden State makes the pick, it should be Wiseman. Signing: PG D.J. Augustin, Orland Magic At 32-years old, Augustin likely won't command more than any of the exceptions that Golden State would be able to muster up. However, he still can make an impact, running the Warriors second unit when Curry and Thompson (both returning from injury) need a breather. A quality shooter as well (35%), Augustin to the Warriors makes plenty of sense as they attempt to return to their place at the top of the Western Conference. Trade: PF John Collins, Atlanta Hawks While the Warriors seem to be another team interested in acquiring All-Star G Bradley Beal, perhaps a move for John Collins would be more feasible. The beauty for Golden State is that they would likely be able to orchestrate this trade more along the lines of a pick swap than an outright deal using their #2 selection. If the Hawks are interested in pairing Trae Young and perhaps LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, this could the way to get there. Collins' 3-point shooting and athleticism would make him a quality fit in Golden State.
Draft Pick: - - - No Selection in Upcoming Draft - - - The Rockets could always try buying a second round pick to add someone like C Nick Richards (Kentucky) or F Paul Eboua (Italy), but for now, they do not possess a pick. Signing: C DeMarcus Cousins, Los Angeles Lakers The Rockets have found success operating without a center, but should look to find a big man or two who fits alongside Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Cousins' season was derailed by injuries, but his ability to stretch the floor as well as battle big men like Davis or Jokic in the West make him an appealing option for the Rockets. Trade: F/C Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers Likely dependent on whether or not they made the signing above, the Rockets could also choose to trade for a big man to help stretch the floor. A decorated veteran, Love has plenty of experience playing with ball-handling stars, and so long as he continues to shoot a good clip from deep and rebound the ball, he'd be an invaluable piece for Houston as they attempt to win a title.
Draft Pick: F Killian Tillie, Gonzaga The Pacers do not posses a first round pick this year, so finding a useful rotational piece at #44 overall will be the challenge here. For the Pacers, finding a clean backup for Sabonis would be a welcome add. Tillie is a floor-stretcher at the four, hitting over 40% from deep every season at Gonzaga. Mixing him into the second unit with Doug McDermott on the wing and Gaga Bitadze at center should give the Pacers the depth they need to make a run. Signing: G/F Kent Bazemore, Sacramento Kings Should the Pacers decide to move Victor Oladipo before he departs in 2021 free agency, then adding a wing like Bazemore should help fill in the depth after Jeremy Lamb steps into Oladipo's spot. Bazemore saw his 3-point percentage climb after moving to Sacramento (38%), and if he's able to continue hitting at a quality rate like that, he'd be a valuable two-way wing that would be helpful for a hopeful contender like the Pacers. Trade: G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards The Pacers have several very intriguing pieces that they could potentially move, notably G Victor Oladipo and C Myles Turner. Should they move Oladipo, perhaps using him as the centerpiece to a Bradley Beal piece would give Indiana a shot at the player who would most likely elevate their team beyond first-round playoff exits. Swapping Oladipo for Beal should be discussed if the Wizards find themselves willing to move Beal.
Los Angeles Clippers
Draft Pick: F/C Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State If JaMychal Green departs, finding another power forward would make sense for the Clippers to look for. Picking so late in the draft, #57 overall, limits their options in terms of finding an immediate contributor. Rather, targeting someone more developed like Wesson would be their best bet of finding a contributor, though they could easily opt for someone with more raw potential. Either way, Wesson's 3-point ability makes him an interesting option to develop into a rotational piece. Signing: F/C Marvin Williams, Milwaukee Bucks While the most likely signings for the Clippers will revolve around internal free agents, notably Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, they still will have a bit of room for a smaller addition like Williams. If Harrell does depart, the Clippers could use another big to add to the rotation, and Marvin Williams would be a quality small ball center option for any teams looking to contend for a title, like the Clippers. Trade:G J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans The Clippers have a very deep roster already, but Redick is exactly what you'd want to bring in to bolster your chances of winning it all. An elite, established marksmen, his shooting off the bench would be a big plus, and the defensive-minded Clippers already can compensate for him on that end of the floor. If they can make the money work, reuniting Redick and LAC would make sense as they chase a title.
Los Angeles Lakers
Draft Pick: G/F Desmond Bane, TCU Picking at #28 overall, the Lakers would be wise to target Bane here, as his crazy 3-point rate (43%) would make him an energizing option off of the bench. The Lakers have a handful of wings as well on expiring deals, and should they lose someone like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, bringing in Bane to boost their mediocre 3-point numbers could help LeBron win another title. Signing: C Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets The Lakers have had DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard all on the roster in 2019-2020. McGee has an option for 2021, so the Lakers could see some turnover at the center position if any of the aforementioned don't want to run it back with LeBron and AD. If they need a new center, Biyombo's defensive chops would make him a good fit as a backup or rotational center to help the Lakers win a title. Trade:PG Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons Ensuring that the Lakers can generate offense with their stars getting a breather is crucial for any contender. Derrick Rose may no longer be the star he was, but he's still a valuable piece off the bench, and would fit quite well leading the Lakers second unit, should Rajon Rondo decline his player option.
Draft Pick: C Jalen Smith, Maryland The Heat have found tons of success with Bam Adebayo at the five, but for a team as deep as Miami, bringing in a high potential big man like Jalen Smith could give them a fun piece to develop. A quality three point shooter already, ironing out his defensive inconsistencies would give the Heat a quality contributor with the #20 overall pick. Signing: F Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns With Adebayo more of a playmaking Energizer Bunny, bringing in another big who can play alongside Adebayo, or relieve him, would be wise. The Heat will likely focus on bringing back players from their current roster, which would likely take them out of the running for Danilo Gallinari, for example. Instead, Saric could provide the same style of play at a more affordable cost. And that's important because.... Trade: Nothing Big...for now Miami has a claim to one of the deepest rosters in the league. Their system works and they have the financial flexibility and assets to go big game hunting. With a poor free agency market this year though, the Heat should hold tight for another season and take a shot at a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and then pair him (or whoever) with one of the stacked free agents on the docket (Kawhi, LeBron, Beal, Gobert, Paul, etc). Adding DeMar DeRozan right now may be tempting, but don't do it, hold tight...for now.
Draft Pick: PG Devon Dotson, Kansas With multiple guards on expiring contracts, the Bucks should aim for a guard capable of providing them minutes in the Draft. An absolute blur, Dotson is one of the most physically impressive prospects in the Draft, though he'll need to work on deep range shooting before pairing up with Giannis. For now, he'd be a fun piece to add off the bench, able to push the ball in transition opportunities. Signing: F Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets With a physical freak like Giannis leading the charge, surrounding him with shooters is the best course of action, and Harris shoots incredibly well. The Bucks may need to get create to afford Harris, but if they can make the money work, they likely won't find anyone as impactful as Harris in their pursuit of an NBA title. Trade: F Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings Bjelica had a quality season for the Kings, and while they'd likely want to hang onto him, the Bucks should consider making a call and working something. A 6'10 big with fantastic floor stretching ability (42% from 3), he'd represent a significant upgrade from the older Ersan Ilyasova. All about adding shooters, and even relative upgrades should be considered if the Bucks can afford it.
Draft Pick: SG Anthony Edwards, Georgia This is a fairly easy one, as the Timberwolves hold the top pick and will have their choice of player here. The most likely, and most logical, is Edwards, who would pair with D'Angelo Russell in a high upside backcourt in Minnesota. While not an elite shooter, Edwards finds plenty of ways to score, and should continue to do so in the NBA, as Russell and Karl Anthony Towns take up the most attention from opponents. Signing: F/C Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers The Timberwolves could give themselves a defensive boost by bringing in Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. Whether playing the four or five, Harrell would give the Timberwolves a high intensity option that can play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns or relieving him when he's off the floor. Trade: G/F Josh Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers If the 76ers do enter a fire-sale, the Timberwolves should put in a call for two-way wing Josh Richardson. Still only 26-years old, Richardson has plenty of upside for a relatively young team like the Timberwolves. Adding him to the mix would give them another capable weapon around their stars.
New Orleans Pelicans
Draft Pick: F Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt A 3-point marksman to fill in on the wings would be the exactly the type of player to put around a playmaker like Zion Williamson. Nesmith's large wingspan (6'10) would be an asset as he develops into a top two-way wing, and doing so in New Orleans would be an excellent move for the Pelicans to pursue with the #13 overall selection. Signing: PG Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets If the Pelicans look to accumulate assets by moving Lonzo Ball or Jrue Holiday, than bringing a quality shooting point guard makes a lot of sense. Rivers shot 36% on 4 attempts per game in Houston, and showed the ability to play with more ball-dominant players in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, which would suit him well in a lineup featuring Zion Williamson. And at 28 years old, Rivers still has plenty of good years left in him as the Pelicans work towards contending status. Trade: Whatever Assets They Can Get From Redick or Holiday The Pelicans don't bring a specific target to mind, but rather as a team who should aim to accumulate assets. Gathering picks or promising young players would position them well to make a move for a bigger superstar down the road, one who, paired with Zion Williamson, would propel them into championship contention. And with both Redick and Jrue Holiday in town, the Pelicans have some intriguing pieces to dangle for teams looking to win now.
New York Knicks
Draft Pick: PG Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State Unless the Knicks trade up to acquire PG LaMelo Ball (which they are reportedly looking at), the Knicks should feel comfortable picking the best guard on the board at #8 overall, as there are several quality options. Haliburton, however, is the ideal target here, as he's a high IQ player with a good 3-point shot and excellent defense, he would fit Thibodeau's style pretty well, and presents less of a risk than Cole Anthony or Killian Hayes for example. Signing: F Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder With Mitchell Robinson not a shooting threat in the slightest, the Knicks should target someone who can stretch the floor from the four position. The best name available there is OKC's Danilo Gallinari, who nearly went to the Heat, but now is a free agent. Whoever the Knicks end up with at point guard will be well-aided by the floor stretching capacity of Gallinari, a 40% shooter the past two seasons. Trade: PG Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder Another name out of OKC, the Knicks should feel no issues drafting a point guard and trading for Chris Paul. First and foremost, the Knicks need to rebuild a winning culture, and bringing in Paul and Tom Thibodeau are good first steps towards that end. Likewise, even if the Knicks do select a point guard in the draft, Paul has shown himself quite adept at sharing the floor with other ball-handlers, like he did in Houston with James Harden, and as he did this past year in OKC with Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Dennis Schroeder. A great leader, player and mentor, Paul would help the Knicks build the right environment to end their playoff drought.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft Pick: C Isaiah Stewart, Washington If the Thunder move Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari walks, they could be in for a rebuild. Stewart may be raw and underdeveloped offensively, but at 19-years old, he has time to develop his offensive game. Meanwhile, his wingspan, strength and motor give him major upside as a defensive stopper in the post. With Nerlens Noel potentially departing OKC, there could even be minutes for Stewart to step into as a rookie and get his feet wet. Signing: F Otto Porter, Chicago Bulls The Thunder could possibly be losing their best shooter (Gallinari) and their best defender (Roberson). Finding someone who can provide a little bit of both could work for them, with Porter shooting 38% last year in Chicago. An easy fit in between OKC's high powered guard duo and center Steven Adams, Porter could serve as either a reinforcement for another playoff run, or a piece with some long-term upside. Trade: F Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings If the Thunder aren't able to retain Danilo Gallinari, perhaps bringing in Bjelica could give them a similar styled replacement. As mentioned already, Bjelica is a floor stretching forward (42% clip) that would put another dangerous shooter around Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous Alexander.
Draft Pick: G Theo Maledon, France The Magic need someone to boost their struggling offense, and Maledon's craftiness as a ball-handler and off-ball shooting ability (37% from deep) should peak the Magic's interest. While Markelle Fultz has rebuilt himself into a potential long-term point guard, Maledon should seamlessly fit in next to him, and even provide minutes backing him up when Fultz heads to the bench. Signing: G Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks If Evan Fournier opts in, the Magic won't have the money to add bigger names, but Matthews would fit in well after finding a role as a rotational two-way guard. And even if the Magic do see Fournier depart elsewhere, Matthews' veteran experience could help their young core figure things out. Trade: G/F Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets If the Nets have interest in bringing in Aaron Gordon to add to the Irving-Durant duo, the Magic should be intent on getting Caris LeVert shipped to them as part of the deal. Only 26 years old, Levert averaged 19 points per game while fueling a KD-less Nets team to the playoffs. A young core of Fultz, Levert, Isaac, and Bamba is a group that you can build around.
Draft Pick: G Cassius Stanley, Duke The 76ers could use guards and shooting, and with limited financial flexibility, may need to find it in the NBA Draft. Thus, Stanley to Philly, where his elite athleticism and quality range (36%), would be a welcome addition to the 76ers. If he's still on the board at #21 overall, Stanley would make plenty of sense for the 76ers. Signing: PG Goran Dragic, Miami Heat The 76ers management has said they intend to keep Simmons and Embiid together, but if they don't keep that intention, bringing in Dragic to run the offense could be the move to make. Still productive for the Heat at 33-years old, Dragic would likely pair with Embiid better than Simmons did, as indicated by his shooting ability (37%). Trade: PG Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder Breaking the mold here, should the 76ers decide to move Simmons, but not bring in Dragic, perhaps a bigger move would solve the question better. While the Knicks are the one most often linked to a move for Paul, the 76ers may want to consider adding the veteran PG to the mix, especially if they decide to breakup the Simmons-Embiid duo, and ship Ben Simmons out. Paul's veteran experience and versatile game should make him a much better sidekick for Embiid than Simmons managed to be.
Draft Pick: PG Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama The Suns needs someone in the backcourt, preferably someone who can work with Devin Booker, and run the offense when he's off the floor. That someone could be Lewis Jr., who averaged 19 points per game at Alabama and was able to knock down over 36% of his threes over two seasons. Finding a quality playmaker to carry the load could give them the breakthrough they need. Sigining: F Moe Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers Current starting wing Mikal Bridges was a solid compliment to Booker and Ayton this past season, but adding some more depth, especially a defensive geared piece, would give the Suns some switchy wings who can help them slow opponents down in the playoffs next year. Harkless will be a fairly cheap way of doing so. Trade: F Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls Putting Markkanen in an offense led by Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton could give him the space he needs to regain some of the production he had earlier in Chicago. Able to shoot off the pick-and-pop, Markkanen won't need to crowd in on Ayton to be an effective piece to the Suns offense.
Portland Trail Blazers
Draft Pick: F Saddiq Bey, Villanova With two picks in the first round (16 and 29), the Blazers will have the flexibility to fill multiple needs with the most talented players on the board. For that first selection, Bey would be a quality addition, giving the Blazers wing defense and reliable shooting. A second team unit featuring Trent, Little and Bey would be very versatile. Then, with that second first rounder, targeting a big man like Jalen Smith would be a quality Draft for the Blazers. Signing: C Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets With Hassan Whiteside hitting free agency, it's likely the Blazers could find themselves in need of a backup center if Whiteside is unwilling to accept a role as a backup. Thus, Mason Plumlee could be an option, as a veteran big with a quality motor who has been a serviceable option for Denver. Plumlee may not fill up the stat sheet, but in Game 6 of the Playoffs, made a direct impact for Denver with a handful of offensive rebounds and high energy. That kind of team player who work well for the Blazers rotation. Trade: PG Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers have a quality starting lineup with Lillard-McCollum-Ariza-Collins/Melo-Nurkic. What they still could use is a backup point guard to help generate some points when Lillard takes a breather. Perhaps swinging a deal to bring in Patty Mills to an actual contender would be a good match. Mills currently backups Dejounte Murray in San Antonio, but his quality production and veteran leadership could be a boost for the Blazers.
Draft Pick: G/F Devin Vassell, Florida State With De'Aaron Fox running the point, the Kings need to surround him with shooters like Vassell. A 6'10 wingspan and 42% clip from deep, Vassell would be an ideal fit on the wing, and could help the Kings make the push into the playoffs by bolstering their offense and defense. Signing: F Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets If Grant opts out of his deal in Denver, he'd give the Kings a two-way option at the 3 or 4, an excellent depth addition to add in rotation with Jabari Parker, Bjelica, and Harrison Barnes. And of course, important to note when playing with De'Aaron Fox, Grant has a quality shot from deep, hitting 39% for the Nuggets this season. Trade: F Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers If the Kings are moving G Buddy Hield, then perhaps he could interest the Lakers, who would likely want to acquire a more high profile guard to compliment LeBron and Davis. Thus, a move for Kuzma could be in play, as he'd give the Kings a versatile wing to pair with Harrison Barnes. Kuzma would also compromise a promising young trio along with De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III.
San Antonio Spurs
Draft Pick: F Deni Avdija, Israel If there's any team that should be angling to move up should Avdija slide, the Spurs would likely be one of them. An excellent distributing big wing, capable of giving the Spurs minutes at the 4, Avdija seems like a tailor made fit for a Gregg Popovich offensive system. Between his schematic fit and his upside, he'd be the ideal player for the Spurs to come away with on Draft day. Signing: F/C Bobby Portis, New York Knicks Portis has plenty of upside if he can get straightened out, and if anyone is going to get the most out of Portis and teach him to play in a system, it's Gregg Popovich. If he succeeds, the Spurs find themselves with an offensive forward who can score in multiple ways, or even another trade piece if they want to sell high. Either way, taking a gamble on Portis could pay off for a program needing a new direction. Trade: As Many Picks as They Can Get The Spurs run is over for now. They did well to bring in some fun pieces in the Kawhi trade, but the Spurs need to enter a rebuild or risk an extended play in no man's land. Selling on DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Patrick Mills, and Marco Belinelli should be the aim. Get picks, get promising young players, and set yourself up to rebuild quickly. If one of these guys can even help you move up and select Avdija, do it.
Draft Pick: F Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State An athletic forward with a good build, Woodard could be a steal if Toronto is able to land him at #29 overall. After taking a major leap in between his freshman year and sophomore year, Woodard developed an outside shot (43%). For a team that may not be able to retain Serge Ibaka, finding another big to provide some range on the outside would give them a quality replacement. Signing: PG Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets Should Toronto be unable to retain Fred VanVleet, finding a guard capable of picking up minutes at point guard and shooting guard would serve them well. Rivers may not the same caliber of VanVleet, but can provide the versatility needed, along with a quality enough shot from deep (36% in 2019-2020). Trade: SG Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons Thinking outside the box here, if the Raptors aren't comfortable paying VanVleet the rate it'd take to retain him, perhaps a sign-and-trade for a team like Detroit could send them back something useful, rather than letting VanVleet walk entirely. A sharp shooting guard (40% over his career, Kennard could fit well in Toronto, either as a long-term solution, or a piece to flip as part of a package at the deadline for a bigger star post-Kawhi.
Draft Pick: C Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia A unicorn big-man, Pokusevski is a mobile center with fantastic height (7'0) and the ability to knock down shots beyond the arc (32% shooter). While he'll need to get bigger (only 205 lbs and lanky), he's still very young and should be able to develop into a starting caliber player down the road. And selecting at #23 overall, that's really what you're looking for. Signing: G Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons While the main signing priorities for Utah will be re-signing Jordan Clarkson and extending Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz could also look to add another guard into the rotation, and Galloway's versatility and shooting make him an easy player to fit into any rotation. Trade: PG Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks The Jazz would have some quality offers if they did move C Rudy Gobert. But assuming they keep Gobert, the Jazz target someone to give their second unit a boost, especially as an aging Mike Conley drops off from the All-Star player he was. Smith looked much better earlier in his career, averaging around 15 points per game through his first three seasons. If he can recapture that, he could even play his way into the direct replacement for Conley.
Draft Pick: F Isaac Okoro, Auburn This one makes more sense than a lot of these other picks, in my opinion. The Wizards are horrendous on the defensive end, and Okoro is the best wing defender in this year's Draft. Being able to lock up opposing team's top scorer will allow Beal and Wall to go to work on the offensive end, lightening their load a good deal. Signing: F Moe Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers Bringing in one defensive minded rookie won't solve the defensive woes of the Wizards. With not a ton of cap flexibility, the Wizards should aim for someone relatively cheap, who can fill a clear role, and help develop young players like Rui Hachimura. That someone would likely be Moe Harkless. Trade: The Biggest Haul They Can Get for Beal I know the Wizards have said they want to see what Beal and Wall can do next season, rather than moving Beal now. But I personally think that's a mistake, and that cashing in on Beal, and getting a jump start on the rebuild is the way to go. The Wall-Beal duo didn't accomplish anything before Wall tore his Achilles, and the longer they wait, the more likely they get screwed over. If they can land two of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Jarrett Allen from the Nets, I think that would be the best package, but the aim is less so a specific target than just hoard what they can get. Anyways, this took a little while to put together, so I hope you don't totally hate it. Let me know if you agree, disagree, think someone would fit better!
[OC] CASH ME OUTSIDE: Which future free agents have the most to gain or lose if basketball resumes in the Orlando bubble ?
Back in 2016, young Danielle Bregoli appeared in a Dr. Phil segment eloquently titled: "I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime." She made the most of it, and even gained fame for her instant catchphrase "cash me outside". Usually, that's where a viral moment ends. However, Bregoli (now known as Bhad Bhabie) has actually parlayed that one moment into a legitimate career. She's a rapper signed by Atlantic Records, and her videos have millions and millions of views. We see this happen often in sports and in basketball specifically. The national media and even front offices start paying more attention to high-profile televised games -- the NCAA tournament, the NBA playoffs, etc. If a player can make the most out of their time in the spotlight, then they can parlay that into huge success themselves. College players who have big tournaments shoot up draft boards. NBA players who have good playoff performances can drive up their prices in free agency. We've seen it time and time again, from Austin Croshere, to Jerome James, to Ian Mahinmi. The continuation of the NBA season (barring a Kyrie Irving led rebellion) means that some players are going to get their time in the spotlight again. That's hugely important for players who are about to reach free agency. Now, there are a lot of big name free agents that are going to cash in regardless. Anthony Davis has a player option; I suspect he'll do all right. Similarly, there are veteran players like Danilo Gallinari or Joe Harris who are more "known commodities." We've seen plenty of them, and we understand their skill sets and values. Their prices are somewhat fixed (aside from concerns about a COVID-infected cap.) Alternatively, there are a group of future free agents that have more volatile stock. They have a lot to gain -- but they have a lot to lose. This is their moment. This is their last impression. They're heading into the Orlando bubble to do business, with the hope that teams will cash them outside.
READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UP
C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio If you just glanced at the raw stats, you might not understand why anyone would fuss about Jakob Poeltl. He averages 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Ho hum. He's only started a grand total of 38 games in his four-year career so far. Yawn. He's a true center who can't shoot threes? Yikes, go back to 1973. Can we move on to free agents who actually matter? Not so fast, my friend. Jakob Poeltl is a lot more interesting than those numbers suggest. He may be a 7-foot true center from Austria, but he's hardly a stereotypical "stiff." He's more nimble than you'd expect, and shows good defensive instincts inside. Overall, he's a smart player with a natural feel for the game. Those skills are born out in the advanced stats, which LOVE Poeltl's impact. Over the course of his career (4-year sample size here), teams with Poeltl on the court have scored 126 points per 100 possessions, and only allowed 107 per 100 possessions. That's the type of difference (+19) that ranks up with the elite in the NBA. Now, we have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. On/off figures rely heavily on your teammates, and Poeltl's had the good fortune of being on some great bench units in Toronto and now San Antonio. Still, you'd have to guess that he's contributing to those units in a major way. Fortunately for teams and for Poeltl, we don't have to "guess" much more. LaMarcus Aldridge (who had been playing 95% of his minutes at center) is out for the season, clearing a huge pathway for Poeltl to play 25-30 minutes a game and prove his worth. Or not. This is exactly the type of volatility we're looking for in this exercise. upside/downside: If the season had ended prematurely, the Spurs could have effectively "hidden" Jakob Poeltl and retained him for a modest price. As a restricted free agent, his value may have been depressed even more. He may have returned on his qualifying offer ($5M) or signed a team-friendly extension in the neighborhood of $6-8M a year. However, if he has a monster bubble-bracket showing, then teams are going to look at him as a potential starter and pay him accordingly. Gone are the days when Ian Mahinmi or Timo Mozgov would get $15M a season, but $10-12M isn't unrealistic. Heck, Mason (the good one) and Miles (the bad one) Plumlee both got more than that. PG Shabazz Napier, Washington Shabazz Napier knows all about shining under the spotlight. He helped UConn pull off an upset NCAA title, and consequently boosted his draft stock. LeBron James even publicly praised him as his "favorite player in the draft." The Miami Heat then acquired Napier (perhaps as a way to keep the King happy?) However, James left in free agency that summer anyway, and the Heat never seemed too invested in Napier after that. He'd be in Orlando the next year, and Portland the following year. Napier's kept bouncing around since then. In fact, he's already been traded SIX times in his young career. In his journey around the league, Napier has been up or down. Sometimes he flashes and makes you think he could be a high-end backup or even a low-end stopgap starter. Other times, he disappears or shoots poorly, and you start using his name as a trade filler contract. This bubble in Orlando may represent Napier's best chance at latching on to a role and a landing a decent contract. At the moment, he's soaking up minutes for the Washington Wizards, who have lost John Wall to an Achilles injury and have lost Isaiah Thomas to awful defense-itis. In their wake, Napier and veteran Ish Smith are platooning at PG, and both trying to show their competence. If Napier can take advantage of these 25-30 minutes he's getting, then he will go a long way to securing his future in the league. upside/downside: If Shabazz Napier can outplay Ish Smith and hold the fort well at PG, then teams may start viewing him, as mentioned, as a high-end backup/low-end starter. That may not sound like any great shakes, but that's a lucrative role. Ish Smith himself makes $6M a year -- D.J. Augustin makes $7M. Those figures would represent a major pay raise for Napier, who's never made as much as $2.5M in any season so far. On the other hand, if he flops and the Wizards fold, then he'll be back to looking at 3rd PG spots and fighting to stay in the league.
BREAKOUT STARS WHO CAN'T AFFORD TO BREAK DOWN
PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Fred VanVleet had to work hard to convince NBA teams to buy into him. That's bound to happen any time you're an undrafted player who looks like he should be selling pretzels at a game at not playing point guard. But finally, after several years of proving himself, Fred VanVleet put himself in prime position to cash in this summer (or whenever free agency actually happens.) He carried over his great Finals performance to this regular season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists. He can shoot -- he can defend. Hell, he can even defend across positions despite his limited height thanks to his strength and his basketball IQ. In fact, basketball-reference listed VanVleet at SG for 54% of his minutes this season. Presumably, FVV will be a lead guard going forward, but that versatility only adds to his value. You can make an argument that he offers similar value to a player like Malcolm Brogdon, who got over $20M in salary in Indiana. What's the "volatility" here? Why can't we lock in VanVleet for a fat contract yet? Well, VanVleet needs to finish the job, essentially. We all remember how great he played in the Finals, but we tend to forget how badly he played in the playoffs prior to that. In their seven game war against Philadelphia, VanVleet shot a combined 3-24 from the field (12.9%) and averaged 2.0 points per game. Perhaps he was distracted by issues at home, but he was also rattled by the Sixers' length. He can't have that happen again, or else it'd leave a sour taste in the mouth of the NBA front offices, and scare them from trusting him as a surefire starter going forward. upside/downside: If Fred VanVleet plays well (the same level as he's played throughout the year), then he's looking at a healthy deal. He's 26 right now, so he may land a 4-year deal in excess of $60M ($15M per year). But if he struggles in the playoffs, then that may go down to something like 3 years, $40M ($13M per year) as teams view him as more of a fringe starter instead. C Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers will enter the bubble with genuine and realistic title aspirations. They're loaded from top to bottom, and as deep as any team in the field. That said, they may be too deep for their own good. In some ways, it still feels like two teams fused together like the Man with Two Heads. On one shoulder, there's the "old Clippers" from last year -- the plucky overachievers fueled by the chemistry of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. On the other shoulder, the "new Clippers" -- the would-be Super Team featuring two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Because the Clippers have been coasting through the regular season and load managing their stars, they haven't gotten the chance to lock in rotations and nail down their final form as a cohesive group yet. That's especially apparent in terms of the PF/C spot. Like last year, the team starts young center Ivica Zubac, but then cedes major minutes and a bigger role to Harrell off the bench. However, they've also brought in PF Marcus Morris, fresh off a strong half-season for the Knicks. There are contenders here, but no clear plan. When push comes to shove, is the team going to play a traditional lineup with a PF and a C? And if so, which center will close out games? And if the team needs to adjust and go to a "smallball" approach against a team like Houston, who will that lone big be -- Harrell or Marcus Morris? For Harrell, winning that role will be important as a matter of pride, but also important as a matter of market value. He'll be an unrestricted free agent (as will Marcus Morris). But unlike Morris, Harrell hasn't gotten a huge contract in the NBA yet. This summer was supposed to be his year to cash in. However, if Doc Rivers and the Clippers don't feel like he can hang on D at the end of games, then that will give his stock a big hit. upside/downside: If you're a free agent coming off a championship team, you're bound to get paid (and likely overpaid.) Of course, to benefit from that ring, you'd have to be seen as a key member of that team. As a result, Harrell needs to lock down the closing minutes at center. If that happens, then he's in line for a big contract in the range of $15M per year. However, the nightmare scenario for him would be if he gets played off the court due to his defense; if that happens, then he'll be seen as a niche role player and his contract will likely go down to the $10-12M range.
LAST CHANCE FOR A BIG CONTRACT
SF Jae Crowder, Miami Veteran Jae Crowder is a great addition to any contending team. He's a strong, dogged defender. He can hit threes. In a world that craves 3+D players, he fits the bill to a T. At least, that's his reputation. In reality, Crowder has never reached the heights that he did back in Boston (a familiar trend among former Celtics, it appears.) The most obvious issue is the inconsistent shooting. He had never been seen as a shooter originally, but he worked on that aspect of his game. In 2016-17, Crowder hit on 39.8% of his three-point attempts. The presumption is that he'd finally clicked into another gear, and could only get better from there. He became a valuable trade piece (and ended up going to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving deal.) More and more, it's starting to look like that one season was an outlier. Crowder's three-point percentage has fallen back down to Earth, registering 32%, 33%, and 32% over the next three seasons. His defense also may have been overrated. At 6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan, he has only average size for a SF and only registered an average impact in terms of advanced stats. He's bounced around lately, from Cleveland to Utah to Memphis and now to Miami. Interestingly enough, Crowder got off to a hot start in Miami, and may have started to resurrect his stock. The Heat had been playing him more as a smallball four (basketball reference listed him at PF for 60% of his minutes), and he looked rejuvenated by that change. He hit on 39.3% of his threes (13 game sample size) and also looked better defensively as well. The question now is... can that continue? Miami will be healthier coming back from the break, and may not envision heavy minutes for Crowder in this playoffs. Are they going to rely on him? Or bury him? TBD. These next few months will be crucial for Crowder's stock as he heads into unrestricted free agency. upside/downside: If Jae Crowder can continue to play well as a smallball PF (and also soak up minutes at SF), then it'd give credence to the idea that he's a legitimate starter. And as a result, he'd be looking at salaries in the $10M+ range. However, there's also a lot of potential downside here. If his shooting stumbles again, it's difficult to imagine smart teams viewing him as anything more than a depth player at this stage (29, turning 30 in July.) He may have trouble matching his current salary of $7.5M. C Derrick Favors, New Orleans We're trying to focus on players with "volatile" stock and some unknown elements to their game. I'm not sure that describes New Orleans big man Derrick Favors right now. After some very high expectations as the # 3 pick, he appears to have settled into a known commodity right now at age 28. He's never going to be an All-Star, but he's developed into a capable starter (9.2 points, 9.9 rebounds this year) who is particularly sturdy on the defensive end. So what's the lingering question here? For Favors, it's more about a matter about whether he's a long-term "fit" with this New Orleans team. After rotating between PF and C in Utah, Favors has been locked in as a true center with the Pelicans, playing 100% of his minutes as a 5. That certainly feels like his best position moving forward. But the question is... do the Pelicans need a center? They just invested the # 8 overall pick in Jaxson Hayes, a naturally springy 7-footer. Moreover, there's still the lingering question about whether Zion Williamson may be best served as a smallball center himself. Between the two, there may not be loads of minutes at the 5 in New Orleans. Realistically, the team could retain Favors on a 1 or 2 year deal and utilize him as a placeholder until Hayes fills out and develops into a viable starter. At the same time, Favors is likely looking for a longer-term deal than that; this may be his last big contract. The Pelicans haven't had their full roster together all season, so they still need to work out their rotations. Will coach Alvin Gentry want to lock Favors in at the 5 (with Zion Williamson at the 4)? If push comes to shove, will Favors be squeezed out? Those decisions may go a long way to determining his free agency future. upside/downside: As mentioned, Derrick Favors' "value" may be more locked into place than his peers on the list. He's likely worth around a 3 year, $40M contract ($13.3M per year.) But for him, the question will be where that money will come from. A lot of the playoff teams that could use him (say Boston, for instance) don't have the cap space to offer those prices. If he wants to get bowled over with money, it'll likely come from a young team with cap room (like an Atlanta or Charlotte). But for them to justify paying big money to a big man, he'll have to keep playing heavy minutes and keep putting up solid numbers.
THE COMPLETE WILD CARD
SG Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Remember him? There are younger fans out there (the babies and toddlers among us) who may not even recall the extreme strengths of weaknesses of Andre Roberson. It's not an exaggeration to say that, at his peak, Andre Roberson was the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Armed with length (6'11" wingspan), nimble feet, and a tenacious style of play, he could slow down anyone from 1-4. In 2017-18, ESPN's real plus minus metric graded his defensive impact as a +4.3 per 100 possessions, second best in the league behind Rudy Gobert. Alas, Roberson only checked one box on the 3+D prototype. He's a career 25.7% shooter from beyond the arc, and a particularly ugly 46.7% at the free throw line. That free throw percentage even dipped as low as 31.6% in that 2017-18 season. So why do I keep citing the 2017-18 season? Because that's the last time we actually saw Andre Roberson play. He ruptured a patellar tendon, then had setbacks in rehab. All in all, he missed the entire 2018-19 season, and he's missed the entire 2019-20 season so far as well. Allegedly, Roberson is ready to come back now. If that's true, that would be a huge boon to his stock as he approaches unrestricted free agency. If any team is going to pay Roberson, they want to see that he's healthy and that he can keep up his defensive impact. And hey, if his shooting form looks like it's improved, then that'd be a major bonus. The mystery is likely to continue though, because we're not sure if Roberson is healthy, and we're not sure if he'd actually play even if he is healthy. Oklahoma City has found a good rhythm right now, and has had success combining their guards in lineups together. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can serviceably guard SGs and SFs, then there's not a huge need for Roberson in the starting lineup. At the same time, the wing depth is still pretty thin, so a healthy Roberson could help on the margins. upside/downside: It's difficult to imagine Billy Donovan throwing Andre Roberson out there for 20+ minutes a night after such a long layoff. Given that, the most likely scenario is that we see faint glimpses of Roberson this season, which forces him to take a modest one-year "prove it" deal in 2020-21 to rehab his stock. However, IF Oklahoma City finds itself struggling to contain a player like James Harden in the playoffs, then you'd figure they'd break the glass in case of emergency and call in Roberson. If Roberson can prove that he's back to his old stopper ways, then he's a valuable piece for a team. He'll never get HUGE money if his shooting continues to suck, but he can be a $8-10M role player. And if he ever learns to shoot at a modest clip (even 33% from three) then his stock will balloon.
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