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NBA Fake Mailbag: August Edition

As we trudge through the doldrums of the NBA offseason, finding heavy and gripping news stories to report on is scarce. So I’ve decided to dig deep through my spam folder and find the junk mail that I usually wouldn’t waste my time on during the regular season. I could sense my faithful mailbag readers presence pining for the obscure NBA news that’s gone under the radar during the dog days of the offseason. So here’s the latest edition of the Fake Mailbag. Enjoy.

Q: Where does Jason Thompson rank among the all-time greatest Sixers?

(Julius, Phila)

JB: If you were caught off guard by the Sixers trading Jason Thompson only about a month after acquiring him in a deal with the Kings, I’m sorry to say but you’re a very naïve individual. Yes, the current Sixers roster is bereft of what some scouts would call “NBA talent.” And yes, Jason Thompson could’ve easily given Philadelphia a ton of minutes and good numbers if given the opportunity. But Sam Hinkie doesn’t operate his team like that. The Sixers are more content throwing young inexperienced players into the fire from the start.


Would playing Thompson 20-25 minutes a game over young developing guys really be beneficial to the Sixers’ future? Especially considering that Thompson would likely have been out the door once his contract was up, and he would’ve likely been used as trade bait at the deadline anyway. The Sixers want to find out what a rookie like Richaun Holmes can be, and what second-year European big man Furkan Aldemir can produce with regular minutes.

The trade with the Kings was always about Nik Stauskas, pick swaps and the first-round draft pick acquired by Hinkie. Names like Jason Thompson and Carl Landry are familiar and intriguing for most NBA franchises, just not any that are located in Philadelphia. Trading Thompson for Gerald Wallace is almost meaningless in a sense for the Sixers, so why would Hinkie go out of his way to get this deal done?

Beyond Wallace (who will more than likely never suit up for the team), the Sixers acquired a first-round pick swap with Golden State that can be exchanged with either Miami or Oklahoma City’s first-rounder this year (Sixers own rights to both). The trade also gives the Sixers a little more cap flexibility in 2016 (not like they needed the extra $3 million though).

Of course we all expect Golden State to be a force in the West once again and maybe even repeat as champs. So who cares about a pick swap, right? But guys get injured; believe it or not it’s happened before. If Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson get injured for an extended period of time, that draft pick has a chance of holding value for the Sixers.

There isn’t a ton of room for error in the Western Conference and 30 or 40 games without a star player could bring the Warriors from the 30th pick in the first round to possibly 10 spots higher. It’s not unfathomable people. Even if the Thunder/Heat finish with the best record in the league, and the Warriors finish with the second best. Swapping from 30 to 29 in the draft makes this trade worth it for Hinkie. Yes, he’s that depraved.

But yeah, I’ll go ahead and answer your original question now. So where does Thompson rank on the all-time Sixers list? He’s definitely above guys like Shawn Bradley and Keith Van Horn for sure. But right now he’s currently tied with the treasure trove of players that Hinkie has acquired over the past few seasons who’ve never actually suited up in a game for the team.

Just for fun here are some of the players on that list:

Hasheem Thabeet

Danny Granger

Andrei Kirilenko

Keith Bogans

Marquis Teague

Earl Clark

Travis Outlaw

Jorge Gutierrez

(Preemptively putting Carl Landry and Gerald Wallace on this list too)

Q: Did you hear that people keep saying I don’t like three-pointers? Because I really love them, like seriously they’re my favorite thing in the whole world. Do you believe me? You have to believe me. I swear I’m telling the truth!

(Flip, Minnesota)

JB: Listen Flip, I believe you. But I don’t know why you have to get all defensive about it. You’re a professional NBA head coach and you don’t have explain nothing to nobody. You have a very long track record of success in the league…um, maybe not so much lately. But being in the spotlight makes you a target, and people are going to try and take you down.

Let’s just forget the three-point stuff for a minute. You’ve probably done a bunch of other great things the last few years that we can look at and make people forget about this “you don’t like three-pointers” nonsense.

Like that time you traded a first-round pick for Thaddeus Young, and then subsequently traded Young at the deadline for the corpse of Kevin Garnett and his ever-so-valuable “veteran presence.”

Umm, ok that’s something. Probably not the best example though. Also apparently your Wolves had the worst record in the league last year and were dead last in opponents points per game (106.5), as well as dead last in opponents field goal percentage per game (48.7 percent).

Hey, so maybe you just had an off year. These things happen. It’s just crazy that anyone would think to question your judgment as an NBA head coach. Who cares if your team doesn’t shoot enough threes; its not a big deal. Keep starting Ricky Rubio at point guard, because I heard floor spacing is a myth anyway.

It always help to have some leeway with the current GM, and you definitely have that.

Q: Analytics are bull$#!%, am I right? So glad I fired Dean Oliver, and extended an offer to my buddy Peja. 

(Vlade, Sac-town)

JB: Vlade, I totally agree numbers are stupid. If you want to see how good a player is just watch him with your own two eyes. That’s a scouts best tool. I mean, if almost every team in every sport is using analytics, that’s got to be a trend on the downswing, right?

It’s like you’re the bizarro Billy Beane, and the Kings are playing reverse Moneyball. Instead of Billy starting the renaissance of analytics in baseball, you’re the only guys not using analytics in basketball. There has to be some competitive advantage in that, right? Once the Kings erase this nine-year playoff drought, owners will assuredly be begging their GMs to dismantle their analytics departments and just hire old players without experience as front office executives.

By the way I love that you’re bringing the band back together and trying to put Peja on your staff. Who needs the experience and long-tenured success of career NBA front office guys when you can hire your friends who actually played in the league and aren’t corrupted by previous business experience. In fact, I think you should call up Doug Christie and Mike Bibby and try and get them all on board.

Q: How am I supposed to buy asparagus water from Whole Foods on a daily basis only making the veteran’s minimum?

(Josh, Houstatlantavegas)

JB: Josh, I feel for you brother, but you can’t forget about the $5.4 million the Pistons are also paying you to not play for them.

I know you clarified your comment about saying your new Clippers contract “will be harder on me,” and that you meant signing a one-year deal will be harder on your family because of not having the security of a multi-year deal and constantly being on the move city-to-city. But to be real for a second here Josh, this is just a casualty of the NBA lifestyle.

There may not be a ton of downside to being a millionaire professional basketball player, but this I guess is just one example. I can’t even forgive the media for taking your statement out of context and assuming it was all about money and turning it into a Latrell Sprewell “I have to feed my family” rant.

Regardless of the amount of success you have with the Clippers this season, its hard to imagine any team going forward would be willing to give you a long-term deal you find acceptable.

Q: You don’t have to tell me playing Kobe at power forward is a genius move, because I already know. I’m so innovative, so please tell me how great a coach I am and this won’t backfire at all.

(Byron, LA)

JB: Yeah, Kobe playing power forward. I don’t know how every other coach he’s had missed that one. It’s crazy to think a 37-year-old, 6’6 guy, who has only played SG his entire career would JUST NOW be relegated to playing PF for the benefit of his team. Can’t believe Phil Jackson didn’t think of it first?

Byron, I’m sure everything will work out for you this year, because Kobe is totally that type of player to sacrifice minutes at SG in favor of someone like Nick Young or Louis Williams for the greater good of the team.

Q: Is it really true that the Knicks signed Sasha Vujacic? Also, that’s crazy.

(Kobe, LA)

JB: Since 2011, Sasha Vujacic has only played in two more NBA basketball games than I have, and if you weren’t aware, I’m not a professional basketball player. Why all of a sudden in the year 2015 is Vujacic a viable NBA commodity? What was the factor that every team was overlooking? Why is it now he’s good enough to take up a valuable roster spot over someone younger and with similar talents?

This move is costing the Knicks relatively nothing and Phil Jackson obviously has a history with Sasha, which can explain this basis of a deal. But to me it’s just dumbfounding. Clearly no one else around the league cared that Vujacic was back overseas, and his play in Europe surely wasn’t compelling anyone else in the NBA to take another shot at him.

I think it’s pretty safe to say Sasha doesn’t have a bright second chapter in the NBA and returning overseas is likely to happen sooner rather than later. But is it just me, or would the Knicks assuredly be better off just finding someone else to take to training camp instead? There are plenty of other sharpshooters to choose from who are younger and whose upside/potential has yet to be discovered. Then again, it’s the Knicks so who can really be surprised?

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