On this week’s episode of the open floor podcast, Rohan and Chris somehow discuss baseball before diving into the latest Kevin Durant news. The duo react to the report of a KD-for-Jaylen Brown trade and wonder whether it makes sense for either side. They also discuss if the league needs to respond to player movement in the next CBA. They finish the show by reaching into the mailbag, answering questions about players who should’ve taken different shots, and guessing which 2022 playoff teams may not be so lucky next season.
The following transcript is an excerpt from The Crossover NBA podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.
Rohan Nadkarni: When you think of the teams that made the playoffs last year, who’s kind of in your danger zone? Who do you think might not make the playoffs next season?
Chris Herring: Well, so there’s two obvious ones, one in each conference. I think Brooklyn, as of right now, depending on what they do and how they look—are they getting off of both [Kevin] during and [Kyrie] Irving? You know, they barely made it last year with the partial availability of both of those guys. If [Ben] Simmons is kind of the one guy that stays—who knows maybe they get Jaylen Brown—Brooklyn is easy enough to point to. I think Utah is obviously easy enough to point to in the West.
Getting outside of the obvious picks, I’m kind of stunning myself by saying this. The team that I was highest on, maybe relative to everybody else last year, is the Bulls. But I think they look like a team that, if they replicate some of what happened last year—they were actually at a little bit of a risk of being in the play-in despite having been in first place for two-thirds of the season last year—I would be a little bit worried about. Like if you get another Lonzo [Ball] injury. Or if he’s not right to start the season. Their defensive stuff just matters too much. you know, [Zach] LaVine was not fully healthy last year, either. But I could see a situation in which they don’t make the playoffs.
I hate that I’m saying this, I could kind of see a situation in which Atlanta, if somebody like Dejounte Murray or Trae Young gets hurt, that could kind of unravel on them quickly. I picked them last year to kind of be the team that would have a big drop-off and that did end up happening. But I would say Chicago sooner. Atlanta did make it through the play-in and everything like that, but we’ll see. I don’t think they’re done with everything they’re gonna do, either, as far as it relates to John Collins and some other stuff.
For the West, this is the one that I really had to think about because, like, who do you pick? And I kept looking at Dallas. I don’t know, maybe, by looking at the Bulls and the Mavs, maybe I’m just … a little bit annoyed by a couple of teams that I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more happen in the offseason. Dallas did make the trade for Christian Wood. I’m interested to see how that goes. I could see it really wrecking their defense in some ways. It could make them really more explosive on offense. So we’ll see. But losing somebody like Jalen Brunson hurts them, certainly. I always am a little bit worried about teams that are really built around one guy. It puts a lot of pressure on Luka [Dončić] to not only be in shape, but to stay healthy. And now he’s going to have more creation responsibility than he did before. So I worry a lot about him, and obviously if I’m worried about him, I worry about that team.
So, those would be the four teams—Brooklyn, Chicago, Utah, Dallas—I’m most concerned about.
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Nadkarni: I’m gonna throw out one. I’m just gonna say it. People are gonna think I’m doing a bit. At some point we have to get a little bit nervous about the Miami Heat, who lost PJ Tucker, are trying to play the superstar game, and it’s a big risk, big reward. Maybe they end up with Durant or [Donovan] Mitchell, but I mean, if they get another Jimmy [Butler] injury … you know, Kyle Lowry played great last year when Jimmy and Bam [Adebayo] were hurt, but I think it could be hard to replicate that success. If they have bad injury luck again, I don’t know.
Herring: The one seed and you’re saying they might not make the playoffs.
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Nadkarni: I don’t know that they’ll miss the playoffs entirely. Spo’s too good of a coach to let them slip out, but they could be, I think, play-in territory. It’s possible.
The last two seasons Jimmy Butler has unfortunately missed a good chunk of time. They’ve been able to survive it. But at some point, sometimes that does catch up with you.
The West is right back to being a bloodbath. The Clippers, Lakers and Blazers finished ninth, 11th and 13th, respectively, last year. I think all three of those teams are going to be much better next season. And that includes the Lakers. As bad as they were, if LeBron and AD are healthy, they’re going to be a much different team. I think the Jazz, we can knock out for sure. The Pelicans are an interesting one, because they’re a better team than their record suggests. Zion [Williamson] is theoretically coming back, but how does he mix in with the group? I don’t know.
Another one who I’m worried about—I’m really making some bold picks today—how about the Memphis Grizzlies? Jaren Jackson Jr. is going to miss the start of the season. They just punt on De’Anthony Melton. ha [Morant] was hurt for much of last year, got hurt during the playoffs. It’s an interesting one. I mean, some of these teams are not gonna make it.
Herring: You said that my first instinct was like, wow. But then I keep forgetting Jaren Jackson is out for a long time. The offseason stuff is always weird, because you’re not watching them play without somebody. You see it, and you’re like it, OK, we’ll wait for ’em to get back. Four to six months is a while. And that didn’t even get announced until a month ago. I mean, it’s possible, man. We’ll see.
I guess that goes for most teams and I think that tells you when you’ve got a team that’s built around two or three stars as opposed to one or two, is that when you have one guy out—if Ja were to miss 25 games again, or whatever it was this past season, but Jaren Jackson is also missing … if you have both Ja and Jaren Jackson out for that long or longer, they probably aren’t gonna make the playoffs. It’s an interesting question.
Nadkarni: And I don’t think you’re gonna be able to afford big slides in the West next year. And another thing is if you get in the play-in, anything can happen in one game. I mean, I don’t know anyone who picked the Grizzlies to knock out the Warriors two seasons ago, right? Crazy things can happen, especially if your team is injured and your guys end up in the play-in. It’s not where you want to be.
So I’m definitely shooting from the hip, you know, throwing some heat checks with the teams I mentioned.
Herring: I like it.
Nadkarni: Yeah, let’s get a little spicy.
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