CBT Roundtable: Last minute college hoops deals for the NBA’s trade deadline

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Today is the NBA’s trade deadline, and it got me to thinking: What if trades were allowed in college basketball? Why kind of roster adjustments could be made that would benefit contenders? And no, Duke cannot send cash considerations to Whitney Young to get Jahlil Okafor for the stretch run.

We take a look at that in our latest CBT Roundtable:

Terrence Payne: Kentucky sends Dakari Johnson to Duke for Tyler Thornton

Kentucky has talent all over that roster, those blending all those pieces hasn’t gone smoothly so far. The guys on the perimeter have score-first mentalities, so adding an experienced guard like Tyler Thornton could help the Wildcats backcourt. He’s a battle-tested four-year player, who could run the offense, and as we’ve seen in the past make the big shots with the game on the line, providing leadership to a young UK team.

Though Johnson has seen more minutes since the New Year, Kentucky still has Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. Send the freshman 7-footer to Durham. Duke’s defense and rebounding has improved since the start of the season when that looked like a major concern. The frontline is still undersized and although Johnson may not be the ideal rim protector he’ll have enough size to clog the paint.

Rob Dauster: Oklahoma State sends Brian Williams to Kentucky for Alex Poythress

Kentucky has enough front court depth to support two top 25 teams. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Derek Willis and Marcus Lee, who are the fifth and sixth big men for the Wildcats, are better than the starting front line of half of the SEC. Oklahoma State? They had a thin front line before Michael Cobbins tore his achilles. Where the Pokes have a bit of depth is on the perimeter, and Brian Williams is probably the one guy that they can spare.

source: APWilliams is the prototype glue-guy for a wing player. He’s strong, he’s athletic, he defends and he’ll hit the glass. He can hit a 15-footer pretty consistently, and he’s not afraid to mix-it-up on either end. He’s exactly the type of wing that Kentucky needs to compliment scorers Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and James Young. Poythress isn’t a prototype shotblocker, but he’s an effort guy with more size than Williams that will give Travis Ford more lineup flexibility. He can go big, using Poythress alongside Le’Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy, or he can go small and play Poythress at the five. I think Poythress is a better option that Dakari Johnson at this point because he can get up and down the floor better, he’s a better defender and he can play on the perimeter, allowing Marcus Smart and Nash space to do work in the post.

Scott Phillips: Duke sends Andre Dawkins to Kansas for Jamari Traylor

I’m proposing a trade of Andre Dawkins from Duke for Jamari Traylor from Kansas — two 15-minute-a-game players that are of more vital importance to their new teams.

Kansas needs a shooter and at 47 percent beyond the arc, Dawkins gives them just that. As a senior, he’s a perfect shooter off-the-bench to give the Jayhawks an offensive boost with their slashers on the floor.

Duke gets the 6-foot-8 Traylor, an active and energetic presence that plays 15 minutes a game and shoots nearly 75 percent from the field while averaging 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds. Traylor would get minutes over Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee — and maybe even alongside one or the other with Parker at the three and Hood at the two — and provide Duke more of an active punch on the interior with Amile Jefferson.

Duke has Rasheed Sulaimon playing better and they have to hope Matt Jones shoots the ball better with the added minutes to replace Dawkins but with two McDonald’s All-Americans, you’d like to think they can get it done.

Kansas can replace Traylor’s minutes with Tarik Black and more of Landen Lucas, who has had some solid stretches.

Raphielle Johnson: Tennessee sends Jeronne Maymon to Baylor for Cory Jefferson

For Tennessee this is about increasing their level of athleticism in the post. With Maymon and Jarnell Stokes they currently have two players who are more the “bruiser” type, and that can be an issue at times against more mobile, athletic big men. To be fair to that tandem they’ve been better against athletic front courts this season, taking greater advantage of their physicality. But I’d like to guard against this being a problem and I think the mobile Jefferson would help, especially defensively. Jefferson’s a better shot blocker than Maymon, and his mobility makes him a solid defender in ball-screen situations.

And for Baylor, they need to get tougher inside. And Maymon, who’s dealt with injuries and is still a productive and competitive player, would supply that in a big way. Some may ask, “why not send Isaiah Austin to Tennessee instead?” No. Tennessee has numerous perimeter options, and the last thing they’d need is a big who spends as much of his time offensively on the wing (if not more) than in the post. So Jefferson for Maymon it is, and I think both programs would benefit from this deal.

Matt Giles: Providence will send LaDontae Henton to Arizona for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Arizona’s Brandon Ashley added a new element to his game to this past offseason. Before the forward was lost to a season-ending foot injury against Cal, Ashley had attempted 29 threes – an uptick from his three attempts a year ago; a small sample size, no doubt, but a significant one as the 38 percent he converted from deep helped space the halfcourt and prevented teams from sagging and closing driving lanes for Nick Johnson et al – it is not a coincidence that the Wildcats’ points per possession without Ashley on the court has shrunk to one PPP.

Enter Providence’s LaDontae Henton. The 6-foot-6 Henton has the classic old-man game: whether he is pulling up from mid-range or connecting from deep (35 percent in 2014), the left-handed Henton is tied with Bryce Cotton as the most offensively efficient Friar. The majority of his touches in ‘14 have come from the perimeter, and when Henton rolls and spots up following a pick, he is nearly automatic (1.3 PPP). A trade to Arizona would present Sean Miller with a long-range valve, a forward who causes a defensive imbalance because he can drift into a three-point make.

All the Wildcats would have to part with is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. PC coach Ed Cooley is in a bind: Tyler Harris has to play because he is a defensive mismatch, but the wing, per Value Add, is among the team’s worst defenders. Cooley would like to give extra minutes to Carson Desrosiers (the team’s best defender), but the ex-Wake Forest big shrinks the halfcourt. The Zona freshman not only makes nearly 50 percent of his twos, but he is a budding lock down defender, posting a 3.6 percent block rate. A move eastward would give Cooley a player who would boost the team’s defense without any detraction on the other side of the ball.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.