1. So you wrote about the NBA becoming the No Fun League with the new CBA. Will things be more active at the draft?
KB: I don't think anybody really knows what happens next with this. My guess is that there will be more activity, since you will be dealing with assets (i.e. draft picks) that have certainty. If you're offering the 14th pick in this draft as part of a trade, everyone knows how much that is worth -- as opposed to trading obtuse, protected future picks at the trade deadline. But I still don't think anyone will be rushing to take on future salary in trades at the draft. My best guess is the trades will be more draft-driven -- Team A wants player X, and trades with Team B to move up (or down) to get him. Like the NFL.
2. After all our complaints about giving out bad contracts, can we blame the GMs? I mean, teams wouldn't take Andrea Bargnani, Monta Ellis or Josh Smith, the latter two of whom will get huge contracts this summer.
KB: How are you so sure they'll be getting huge contracts this summer? I'm not so sure they will, speaking of Monta Ellis and Josh Smith. Monta is a very nice player who does what he does extremely well. But if I were him, I'd think long and hard about opting out of $11 million next season. With the recalibration of player value under the new rules, Monta may never make $11 million a year again in his career. As for Josh, he got crunched by a two-sided problem. On one hand, no teams were willing to give up substantial assets for a prospective free agent since they could simply sign him outright this summer. Now, fast forward to this summer: There will be teams with cap room, but only so many of them -- and only so many of them that will value him at or close to the max. He'll get a nice deal, don't get me wrong; he's not going to be scrounging for the taxpayer mid-level. But things have changed.
3. Why did the Bucks trade for J.J. Redick when they have two ball-handling guards who play heavy minutes?
KB: I thought the original intent was to acquire Redick to replace Ellis, who presumably was going to Atlanta. That didn't happen, and the Bucks traded for Redick anyway. Weird, I agree. But this way, the Bucks give themselves options this summer. If Ellis opts out, they already have a replacement on hand -- as long as Redick re-signs.
4. Should we keep an eye out for more major buyout candidates?
KB: I thought Jermaine O'Neal would be the biggest one, but he says he's staying in Phoenix. I don't know why he would do that; New York, Miami and Boston certainly would've been interested. Beyond that, I view Corey Maggette and Raja Bell as the most likely candidates. My suspicion is the Jazz kept Bell around in case his contract was needed to complete a trade, but since that didn't happen, they can let him go. But will they? There'd have to be some reluctance to let him help the Lakers knock the Jazz out of the playoffs, one would think.
5. What's the worst part about the trade deadline?
KB: That it exists. No, seriously, it's a couple of things: the velocity and the veracity of information. Info moves so fast, and everyone has equal access to the same platform -- Twitter -- where the information is being reported. But there's a distinction: The last hour of the deadline actually isn't that bad. You try to stay one step ahead, text the right people at the right time, anticipate deals, and when others break them first, you get caught up as fast as possible and move onto the next one. You're dealing with real information in real time, and it's a rush and a challenge to keep up.
The worst part -- the part where the veracity lags way behind the velocity -- is the 24-48 hours before the deadline. That's when vague, sometimes agenda-driven and in some cases loosely-sourced information is splattered all over the Internet. So when something comes out about a team's or a player's intentions, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions. Who is reporting it? Who might have self-interest in mind by peddling such info? Does it make sense? As in, does it make sense for the Warriors to trade a shooting guard they love, who is on a rookie contract, for a shooting guard with a bum knee who is owed $45 million over the next three seasons? Given that Golden State already is pushing up against the tax line, that didn't make sense to me. One GM I spoke with this week said it best: "If you stop at every barking dog, you'll never get the mail delivered." So you have to think these things through, evaluate the forces at work that resulted in the information being reported, decide if it makes sense, and proceed accordingly.
Of course, by the time you do all that, another dog is barking. At least I know if this reporting thing doesn't work out, I could get a job with the postal service.