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With training camps in the NBA set to open next month, it’s time to play truth or fiction on some of the hottest takes.
Many were ready to crown the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers with their additions of Anthony Davis, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The New Orleans Pelicans were winners as well after landing Zion Williamson with the first overall pick and getting so much back for AD.
Others, like the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets, lost significant pieces in Kevin Durant and Kemba Walker, sparking some spicy takes as well.
Which claims are legit?
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
With the Wizards coming off a 32-50 season and franchise point guard John Wall likely to miss the entire 2019-20 campaign with an Achilles injury, All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal will continue to dominate trade chatter.
The problem? The Wizards want to build around the 26-year-old, not trade him with two years left on his contract.
General manager Tommy Sheppard said the following, per ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski: “We need to show him that we are about building this the right way, that we aren’t going to have character-deficient guys around him. We are going to surround him with guys he wants to play with. He saw that right away in free agency with us bringing back Thomas Bryant.”
The Wizards have “no plans to engage in trade talks,” even if Beal rejects a three-year, $111 million max contract extension.
While it’s admirable to want to build around Beal, it’s not a realistic option. After trading Otto Porter Jr. for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, the Wizards let both new players walk in free agency this past summer. They also shipped off starting power forward Markieff Morris to the New Orleans Pelicans for reserve wing Wesley Johnson in a salary-saving move.
Even in a weak East, the Wizards won’t make the playoffs, no matter what kind of numbers Beal puts up.
His trade value will never be higher than it is right now. The Wizards could completely reboot their franchise with trade offers from teams like the Pelicans or Denver Nuggets.
Verdict: Buy trading Beal and starting the rebuild
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After just missing the playoffs last season with a 39-43 record, can the Hornets really sink to the bottom of the NBA just by losing one player?
This isn’t downplaying Kemba Walker’s impact, of course. The All-NBA point guard led the Hornets with 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game, and a team-high 31.5 percent of all plays ended with Walker when he was in the game.
Charlotte will get some of that offense and playmaking back with the addition of former Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier, who signed a three-year, $56.7 million deal. The Hornets also selected Kentucky forward PJ Washington 12th overall in the draft.
Despite those additions, the Hornets can absolutely still be the NBA’s worst team.
Remember, Charlotte also saw shooting guard Jeremy Lamb sign with the Indiana Pacers, and Walker and Lamb ranked first and second on the Hornets in scoring and win shares (combined 40.9 points and 12.7 WS). Meanwhile, backup point guard Tony Parker retired, and Frank Kaminsky signed with the Phoenix Suns.
Even adding Rozier (14.2 points, 4.6 assists, 38.7 percent shooting per 36 minutes last season) won’t be enough to put Charlotte in the playoff picture again.
While FiveThiryEight‘s CARMELO predictions put the Hornets above the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers, both the Knicks (RJ Barrett, added depth and overall talent) and Cavs (Darius Garland, healthy Kevin Love) make strong cases for passing Charlotte in the standings.
Unless Miles Bridges and Malik Monk make huge leaps, it’s hard to envision the Hornets finishing anywhere but the bottom.
Verdict: Buy, although the Cavs and Knicks should challenge
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After reaching the past five NBA Finals and winning three of them, the Warriors dynasty appears to be on life support after losing Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook this offseason. Klay Thompson will also miss most of the 2019-20 season recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Finals.
This, combined with an even better Western Conference, may mean the end of Golden State’s reign, though Thompson doesn’t agree, per ESPN’s Cari Champion:
“I think that’s a little premature to say there’s no more dynasty. I mean, we still have Stephen Curry, a two-time MVP. Draymond Green