This is the digital version of The Bounce.
If you want it sooner, start each day with The Bounce delivered to your inbox. Sign up here.
Karl-Anthony Towns will say literally anything on your podcast.
Which teams are in denial?
With news of the Wizards and Bradley Beal considering a trade should Washington rebuild, I wondered how many NBA teams could use a reset. Washington could potentially lose Beal, Kristaps Porziņģis and Kyle Kuzma by doing so, for example. Kuzma and Porziņģis are expected to decline their player options for long-term deals. By dealing Beal, the Wizards would have no reason to re-sign Porziņģis for big money or Kuzma for anything close to his expectations (possibly $25 million plus per season).
Let’s examine the five teams that should consider hitting the reset button:
- Washington: If new chief executive Michael Winger is there to change things, following the status quo roster probably won’t do it. The Wizards have missed the playoffs four times in the past five seasons and have not advanced past the second round since 1979. Yes, Washington’s last deep playoff run came just months before the NBA added the 3-point line. The Wizards should move Beal for big pieces and try a sign-and-trade with Porziņģis and Kuzma for a win-win before they lose-lose.
- Portland: Blazers fans are tired of Damian Lillard rumors, but there’s no reason to believe this relatively new front office can put a contending roster around him. Maybe its strength is drafting and they could get a ton of draft picks for him. Targeting Siakam or a secondary guy isn’t going to cut it. Build on Shaedon Sharpe’s rookie success, get a future star at No. 3 and move Dame for all the assets you can get.
- Chicago: The Bulls might already want to move Zach LaVine for cents on the dollar. DeMar DeRozan is almost 34. You probably don’t want to pay Nikola Vučević big money this summer. And Lonzo Ball won’t be back for a long time. Just cut your losses and rebuild.
- Minnesota: The Wolves don’t need a complete rebuild, but their culture didn’t seem nearly as tight as the one we saw last season. Anthony Edwards is a star and they need to build the right roster around him. Maybe that includes Rudy Gobert. Maybe that includes Karl-Anthony Towns. But it probably doesn’t work with both parts.
- Toronto: The Raptors thought about unloading the guard at the trade deadline and didn’t. They likely lose Fred VanVleet. Maybe it’s time to move Pascal Siakam and someone not named Scottie Barnes. Start building around Barnes and try a quick turnaround.
Let’s tag Shams!
The latest from Shams
Beal’s market is heating up
As the free play dominoes begin to take shape, the Bradley Beal situation we’ve been reporting on for the past few days continues to evolve.
After our initial report that Beal and the Wizards have a mutual understanding that they would work to find the star guard a trade to a contender if the organization decides on a full reset, Sam Amick and I reported Thursday that the Kings have been among the teams to have trade talks with the Wizards involving Beal, according to league sources.
It is believed that Beal would consider Sacramento given his no-trade clause. But right now there doesn’t seem to be a clear path for the two sides.
The Knicks have also been thinking about Beal for longer than just this week. As our Fred Katz reported Thursday, New York’s front office has already let the necessary people know that the team would be interested in the former All-NBA guard should he become available.
Those two teams join the Heat and Bucks as teams expected to compete for Beal’s services.
Of course, many of the possibilities could also depend on other moves and situations around the league, including what happens with Lillard and the Blazers. Whatever happens, we’ll have it covered for you here every step of the way.
Back to you, Zach.
Now that the dust has settled and the Nuggets’ parade has paraded, it’s time to hand out the Bouncies for the entire playoffs.
Most Valuable Player: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets. He did nothing but set playoff records en route to going 16-4 against Denver and winning his first title. This could not be more obvious.
Other: Jamal Murray, Nuggets
Oops My Bad: This goes for how my regular MVP poll fared in the playoffs. Giannis Antetokounmpo was injured and eliminated in the first round as the East’s top seed. Joel Embiid had 15 points on 18 shots with his season on the line. Jayson Tatum scored 14 points at home against elimination. And Domantas Sabonis was shut down by Kevon Looney. But hey, Jokić was good!
Runner-up: Joe Mazzulla, Celtics (second in my Coach of the Year poll)
Biggest scam, team: Bucks. They were so bad against Miami that Mike Budenholzer was fired two years after winning the title. You can’t be dominated by a No. 8 seed.
Other: No. 2 seed Celtics to go down 3-0force a Game 7 at home and get swept by a No. 8 seed.
Biggest scam, player: James Harden, 76ers. He scored 42 points in Game 4 against Boston. He totaled 39 points on 35 shots in games 5-7. And he may leave freely!
Second: Julius Randle, Knicks
Make a movie from this moment: Initially, Jokić sourly celebrated winning the title. I need it to be weird. Maybe we should have had Wes Anderson film the parade yesterday – just Nikola out on the sidelines watching his teammates.
Runner-up: Rom-com based on Shakira and Jimmy Butler following each other on Instagram.
Truest Champion: Lakers. Did you see how they competed and defended after the trade deadline? And they reached the conference finals! I’m just kidding, Denver. You are the true champs! I just wanted to fuel Michael Malone for next season.
Does he hear himself?
Patrick Beverley has a podcast if you didn’t know. He recently wore Karl-Anthony Towns and his former teammate gave him all the relatable soundbites you could possibly dream of. Here are some crazy things Towns said:
- Towns was surprised that the Nuggets knew the Wolves’ game and threw the ball to spots with an open player “just randomly right there.” Um… yes, Karl. It’s called scouting and practice. Don’t you scout and practice?
Fun fact: Minnesota’s net rating this postseason dropped 13.5 with Towns on the court.
- He suggested the Wolves’ first-round exit in 2022 was more special than Denver’s title because Minnesota’s roster had a month before training camp and the Nuggets have been together for years. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this stuff works!
Fun fact: The Wolves rank 25th in winning percentage (.435) since drafting Towns in 2015. Denver is seventh over that span in that category and playoff wins (37).
- Towns said when his career is over, people will say he changed the game. Minnesota has three first-round exits during its stint.
Fun fact: Towns’ career average and shooting percentage both drop by about five points from the regular season to the playoffs.
Hear a wild claim from my Point of Contention co-hosts that Victor Wembanyama is overrated. I reacted.
Don’t miss the latest mock draft from Sam Vecenie! Pick #2 might surprise you. Or maybe not.
Here are your top 2023 power forward free agents via John Hollinger.
How Jokić is viewed by his teammates, from Mike Singer.
Kevin Pelton with a good look at how Jokić ended up as the 41st pick.
(Top photo: (David Berding/Getty Images)