Role play: Opportunities available after busy NBA offseason
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Several NBA stars changed addresses during the offseason, creating opportunities for players to step into bigger roles on several rosters
On the move were All-Stars and Olympians Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul. And let’s not forget Gordon Hayward. With their exits, enter players like Myles Turner, Kristaps Porzingis, Zach LaVine and even a former league MVP in Derrick Rose.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey may have summed it up for the league when he was asked who will fill the void left by Hayward.
”The honest answer is we don’t know,” Lindsey said candidly. ”We’ve got to find out.”
With most NBA teams holding media day on Monday, here’s a look at some of the those who will get those opportunities:
In: Myles Turner
Out: Paul George
What to expect: The torch has been passed to Turner, the 2015 No. 11 overall pick. He averaged 14.5 points per game in 2016-17 and will be expected to carry even more of the offensive load as George takes his 23.7 points to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pacers also need to replace their best wing defender, a role that could be filled by Victor Oladipo, who they acquired from the Thunder in the trade for George.
In: Kristaps Porzingis
Out: Carmelo Anthony
What to expect: The future is now for Porzingis, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft. New York’s second-leading scorer last season (18.1 points) will be the centerpiece of the offense without Anthony. That move, along with the free-agent departure of Derrick Rose, opens up 34.1 shots per game. Newly acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. should also get more opportunities in his second stint in New York. Hardaway was the Knicks’ first-round pick in 2013 and averaged a career-high 14.5 points in 2016-17.
In: Derrick Rose (for now)
Out: Kyrie Irving
What to expect: Rose should have a different opportunity than first expected when he signed with the Cavaliers. He was supposed to back up Kyrie Irving, who was traded to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas in an All-Star swap. Rose could be counted on to start, at least early, depending on the status of Thomas’ hip injury. The former MVP probably couldn’t have picked a better spot to revive his career and now has his best shot yet at playing in the NBA Finals. Rose has been the butt of jokes recently, but still averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 assists last season.
In: Rodney Hood
Out: Gordon Hayward
What to expect: Utah will have numerous players contending for a bigger role in the offense after their top scorers – Gordon Hayward and George Hill – left in free agency with their combined 38.8 points per game. Hood, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson could all see an uptick in their offensive usage. ”How we play and how we, specifically, score are the more open-ended questions that we have to get our arms around,” Lindsey said. ”Hopefully, it will be a shift in what we do at those positions rather than a huge drop-off.” Hood has shown glimpses of offensive stardom with 25 games of 20-plus points the last two seasons.
In: Danilo Gallinari
Out: Chris Paul
What to expect: The Los Angeles Clippers will need someone to help out Blake Griffin after saying good-bye to Paul, a nine-time All-Star. They signed Serbian star point guard Milos Teodosic and added a cadre of Houston Rockets from the Paul deal. But the best opportunity to fill the void created by Paul’s departure may belong to former Denver Nugget Danilo Gallinari, who LA acquired in a trade after he averaged 18.2 points per game last season.
In: Zach LaVine
Out: Jimmy Butler
What to expect: A former lottery pick, LaVine, will have a chance to restart his career in Chicago after being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Butler. The comeback may take some time as he works his way back from a torn ACL suffered in February, but the former Slam Dunk champion will be a focal piece with the Bulls. He averaged a career-high 18.9 points before getting hurt last season. Kris Dunn, another former lottery pick, also arrived in Chicago in the deal for Butler.
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