Tar Takes 2.18: Duke-UNC preview, will LeBron/Lakers make NBA playoffs?

On this week’s episode of Tar Takes, we spend most of our time breaking down the matchups when the North Carolina Tar Heels travel to Cameron Indoor to take on the Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday night.

After we break down everything in the tobacco road rivalry, we discuss if LeBron James and the Lakers will make the NBA playoffs.

Can anything be taken from UNC’s win over Wake Forest after tough loss to UVA? Tar Heels defeated Wake Forest by 38 points on Saturday.

Are you worried about UNC’s health heading into the Duke-UNC game on Wednesday? Cam Johnson and Nassir Little dealing with ankle injuries.

Do the Tar Heels have any chance to win on Wednesday against Duke in Cameron Indoor?

Barack Obama will be in attendance for Wednesday’s UNC-Duke game in Durham. Are we surprised?

Will LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers make the NBA playoffs?


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Tar Takes S2E7: LeBron + Lakers playoffs, Amari Cooper traded, UNC Basketball 3rd best ACC team?

On this week’s episode we discuss LeBron James and the Lakers, the latest trades in the NFL and the Tar Heel’s outlook for basketball season which is just right around the corner.

Tar Takes with Ryan Lipton and David Matlock is presented by The JR Report and Relevnt!

Lakers are off to a rough start, so you think they can still make the playoffs? If so what seed?

Thoughts on Big NFL trades and rumors: Amari Cooper to Cowboys, Apple to Saints, etc.

After a tough 40-37 loss to Syracuse, what should Tar Heel fans look for going forward as UNC football finishes out the season?

UNC ranked No. 8 in AP Poll Duke #4, Virginia: Are the Tar Heels the third best team in the ACC?

Zion Williamson scored 29 points and 6 rebounds in an exhibition game: Should UNC fans be worried about Zion’s performance?

Photo Credit:

LeBron James – Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Amari Cooper – Getty Images

Syracuse UNC – Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Theo Pinson – Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson – Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

2018 NBA Free Agency: What 5 teams improved, failed to do so?


Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Lonzo Ball (Photo via Getty Images)

The 2018 NBA Draft has passed, Free Agency is slowing down, and teams are scrambling to build their rosters for the upcoming season. The Lakers landed the big fish in LeBron James, but the Warriors continue to outshine the king with the signing of Boogie Cousins. The Thunder may have had the biggest upset in the NBA the past two seasons in signing for Paul George. Either way, nobody is catching the Warriors anytime soon.

Tar Takes is presented by The JR Report and the new app Relevnt!

2018 NBA Free Agency: What 5 teams improved, failed to do so?

For more Tar Takes click the links below!

Lakers’ Joel Berry, Nets’ Theo Pinson: Will former Tar Heels stick with new NBA teams?

2018 NBA Draft: Doncic-Young trade, Sexton to Cavs impact on LeBron, Suns’ future with Ayton

Kawhi Leonard: Will he help form a Los Angeles Lakers super team?

Should Raider Nation be worried about home-field advantage in Las Vegas?

Why the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate is too premature


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Lakers’ Joel Berry, Nets’ Theo Pinson: Will former Tar Heels stick with new NBA teams?

The article was originally posted on Relevnt! Check out the brand new app today!

In what was not a surprise to anyone on Tar Takes, former North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry and forward Theo Pinson went undrafted in the 2018 NBA draft.

Almost immediately after the draft, Theo Pinson signed with the Brooklyn Nets and Joel Berry signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Both guys, who have spent the past four years in Chapel Hill, will be moving to the bright lights of Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

But the question still remains, considering the fact they both ended up as undrafted rookies, can either one of them stick with their new NBA teams?

UNC G Joel Berry and F Theo Pinson (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Joel Berry

Out of the two, Berry might have the toughest path to being on an NBA roster come opening day for two reasons.

First, Berry is the worst of the two players from an NBA perspective. He has less room to grow athletically and is undersized for the position at just six-feet tall. The odds are against you if you are smaller and not a freak athlete.

Second, Berry is joining the Lakers. No one really knows what the team will exactly look like, but they are in the market for LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. So their roster is going to be a lot better than the Nets’, and Los Angeles has many solid young pieces, assuming they aren’t traded, in Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and more.

So it might be hard for Berry to break through on a roster that is looking to sign all-stars and has a young core of talent already in place.

Moreover, the Lakers are the heavy favorites to land LeBron at the moment, per CBS Sports. As we know, LeBron has always wanted control over the roster he joins and has favored veteran players who can shoot the basketball.

Berry is a rookie and shot just 34.4 percent from three-point range last season for the Tar Heels. And that three-point line was more than two-feet closer than it is in the NBA.

We will see what Berry can do for the Lakers in the 2018 NBA Summer League, but his chance to make the team come October does not look good.

Photo via Getty Images

Theo Pinson

Pinson, who was the lesser- valued player in college, might actually have the best chance to break through to an NBA roster.

In terms of Pinson’s basketball ability, it is much easier to envision a role for him unlike Berry. Pinson, who is 6-foot-6, can do it all but shoot. He is extremely athletic (dunk below), can pass (5.1 assists per game in 2017/18), can finish (10.3 points per game), and is an unquestioned leader.

While it is insane to think he will be the next Draymond Green, he has all the qualities to become a poor man’s Green. And I would assume many teams would jump on the possibility of having a player like Draymond.

Now, that doesn’t mean it will happen but it is easier to keep a player on your team if you have a clear vision of what they could become.

Furthermore, Brooklyn is among the worst teams in the league. So it is easier to make the team, and it is in no rush to find talent that can produce immediately. The Nets can take their time to develop Pinson because he could become a solid player if he learns to shoot decently.

Tar Heel fans, if you want to stay updated on Berry and Pinson’s efforts in the NBA, they can be watched during the NBA’s Summer League from July 2-17.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Tar Takes: Will Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard help form Lakers super team?


San Antonio Spurs F Kawhi Leonard: Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Kawhi Leonard has alerted the San Antonio Spurs that he wants out. He has vocalized that the Lakers would be a preferred destination. This makes potentially 3 perennial all-stars on the move this summer in LeBron, Paul George, and now Kawhi. Will these three link up in LA to form a new superteam? Or is LA not truly the likely destination for Kawhi.

Tar Takes is presented by The JR Report and the brand new app Relevnt!

Will Kawhi Leonard help form a Los Angeles Lakers super team?

For more Tar Takes click the links below!

Should Raider Nation be worried about home-field advantage in Las Vegas?

2018 NBA Finals Takeaways: LeBron’s hand injury and effort, pending free agency

Why the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate is too premature

Have the Golden State Warriors been lucky on their past 4 trips to the NBA Finals?

Is Chris Paul underappreciated/most unlucky player of all time?


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Top 5 rookies to watch during 2017 NBA regular season

Los Angeles Lakers G Lonzo Ball (Photo via Elsa/Getty Images)

Basketball season is still a little ways away, and yes, the NFL only just got started. But in 2017 it’s fair to say (and many have) that the NBA has succeeded in becoming a year-round sport.

NBA fans are tuned in constantly, and when we get news like the Kyrie Irving trade so late in the summer, it’s no wonder why. In this kind of climate, fans can’t wait for the 2017-18 season to start, so now would be a good time to cover one of the most perennially enjoyable subjects: the new rookies!

The 2017 draft was widely believed to be the best in many years, and that means we’re about to see one of the most hyped rookie classes in recent history take the court for the first time. Chances are, there will be some surprises – a few rookies who come out of nowhere (like 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon) and some who disappoint. But for now, as we prepare for the beginning of the season, here are a few names you’ll want to watch very closely.

Lonzo Ball – PG, Los Angeles Lakers

Everything about the Ball family is pretty ridiculous. Lonzo’s father LaVar has become a celebrity in his own right, largely by promoting his three talented children. He certainly helped propel Lonzo to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he recently unveiled a signature shoe for his youngest son, LaMelo, who’s still in high school (sort of). It’s a nonstop publicity cycle, and it’s distracting. Underneath it all, however, Lonzo Ball can play, and he proved as much during Summer League. He’ll be asked to take the reins of a Lakers team that’s trying to win, and it will be fun to watch. He’s an excellent facilitator who should make a young team more productive on offense.

Markelle Fultz – PG, Philadelphia 76ers

Fultz is incredibly easy to overlook, for a number one pick, because of the aforementioned publicity cycle around Ball. Lest we forget, however, Fultz was a strong number one pick. In a loaded draft, he was slated pretty early as a likely top selection, and betting markets went as far as to label him a number one certainty. Fultz is a dynamic scoring guard who will have the ball in his hands as the Philadelphia 76ers finally look past “The Process” and start attempting to win games. Rumor has it passing forward Ben Simmons – another rookie, after missing his entire first season – will be handling some of the point guard duties. But Fultz will be on the floor a lot, and we’ll get to see if he measures up to his number one pick status.

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Jayson Tatum – SF, Boston Celtics

We know that the Boston Celtics reloaded in a big way this summer, signing Gordon Hayward and trading for Kyrie Irving. But we also know they have some pretty intriguing young pieces in their own system. Jaylen Brown was a good rookie last year, and now the team will work in former Duke star Jayson Tatum. Tatum is an offensive maestro who could wind up in the Rajon Rondo role of the next Celtics powerhouse – not in that he’s a point guard, but in that he’ll be the young piece working with a more experienced core. What will be interesting is to see if he spends some time at shooting guard, which may be Boston’s only weak position.

Dennis Smith, Jr. – PG, Dallas Mavericks

Dennis Smith, Jr. may have as much raw talent as any rookie in this class, even though he was picked ninth overall. He also may have about as big an opportunity as any of his classmates, as he’ll run the point for the Dallas Mavericks from day one. The Mavericks don’t make too many high profile draft decisions, and Smith may wind up being the most important player they’ve taken since Dirk Nowitzki. If his Summer League performance was any indication, he’s ready to go.

Terrance Ferguson – SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

The piece ends with a less heralded prospect who could make a major impact. Terrance Ferguson came to the NBA from Australia, and it’s already clear that his fellow rookies think highly of him. In a rookie survey, they ranked him as one of the best shooters and athletes in the class. Ferguson will likely start off playing behind Andre Roberson, but if he’s good enough to become the starting shooting guard, the Oklahoma City Thunder will add another major weapon to a core that already includes Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. If Ferguson is one of the better rookies, the Thunder may easily be the second-best team in the West.

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Why Thunder guard Russell Westbrook shouldn’t have signed extension

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (Photo via David J. Phillip/AP)

Ryan Lipton, host of the JR Report Podcast, discusses Russell Westbrook signing a new five-year $205 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Why the move makes sense but isn’t the best decision for Westbrook on and off the court.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Why Thunder G Russell Westbrook should bolt to LA

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is in no rush to sign his mega-max extension with Oklahoma and it is not without reason.

Westbrook is one of the most competitive players the NBA has ever seen and, without a doubt, he wants to do whatever he can to add an NBA championship to his résumé. However, it is unlikely OKC could ever bring the former Bruin to the promise land.

As such, it would be smart for Westbrook to not the sign the extension and look to become a free agent after the 2017-18 NBA season.

Here are The JR Report’s reasons why.

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Staples Center hosting a Los Angeles Laker game (Photo via Juan Berna)

Build Westbrook’s brand

Westbrook has yet to sign an extension that would bring him at least $200 million over five years, a contract that would be very tough to pass up. Nonetheless, a move out of OKC might hurt his NBA salary, but would not hurt his bank account.

In Oklahoma City, Westbrook would be able to bring in one of the highest salaries out of anyone in the league, however, greatness off the basketball court isn’t earned through salary but through endorsements and ownership of a brand.

It would be difficult for Westbrook to attain an elite status off the court while being in Oklahoma City since his current city holds the No. 45 biggest television market in the country compared to Los Angeles’ No. 2 rated market, per Station Index. 

If Westbrook took his talents to Los Angeles, he would be met by an incredible market with many opportunities for his flamboyant style and outspoken personality.

It is possible that Westbrook could be the face of a clothing company, build his own shoe brand and be the face of one of the most notable franchises in the world.

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January 18, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 121-100. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Winning is most important

To be mentioned among the all-time greats, one must win championships, except for a few exceptions including Charles Barkley.

Therefore, Westbrook’s easiest path to cementing himself in NBA history is by winning.

Los Angeles has plenty of cap room in the future to assemble a very talented team. The organization also has a young core that could offer impeccable depth in combination with the expected arrival of NBA superstars in the coming years.

The Lakers, currently, have forward Brandon Ingram, forward Julius Randle, guard Jordan Clarkson and guard Lonzo Ball.

Most importantly, the organization will have Ingram and Ball for just over $13 million in the 2018/19 season, per Spotrac. Consequently, the team will have plenty of flexibility to sign players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook with smart maneuvering.

Los Angles would probably have to part ways with Randle and center Brook Lopez, but it would be worth the price of acquiring George and Westbrook.

If they can find a clever way to get rid of Clarkson and Deng, maybe in a deal together, they could shed another $30 million in cap space to help go after another star, maybe LeBron James.

If James, George and Westbrook go to Los Angeles, which is completely possible, the Lakers would immediately become the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors in the West.

If the aforementioned trio could knock the Warriors off, then each of their legacies will skyrocket as they were able to topple what some believe to be the greatest NBA team ever.

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Photo via Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook, head home

Westbrook moving to Los Angeles makes too much sense. It makes sense on the court as he will infinitely improve his chances of winning an NBA title. The former Bruin will also be able to catapult his brand to new heights. Lastly, he will be heading home since he was born in Long Beach, California and played for the UCLA Bruins.

With those three reasons, it should not surprise anyone to see Westbrook in a Laker uniform come the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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Why Lakers should trade for Bulls’ Dwyane Wade

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a great position to ascend rather quickly among the NBA ranks as long as they make the proper moves from now until the beginning of the 2018 NBA regular season.

First and foremost, Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have been smart by making moves that have put them in a flexible spot for the future.

For example, Los Angeles has just under $54 million on the books for the 2018-19 season. The majority of it comes from Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson who are due $18 million and $12.5 million respectively, via Spotrac.

However, players like Brook Lopez ($22.6 M) and Corey Brewer ($7.5M) are not under contract and will free up over $30 million in cap space, just enough to bring in a max player like Paul George.

For reference, Gordon Hayward’s contract has an average salary just under $32 million, just two million more than the cap space freed up by Lopez and Brewer.

Whether or not they sign Lopez in the future will depend on what free agents they can entice to come to SoCal. However, they were smart as they have the maneuverability to do what they want. Personally, him coming back at a right price would be a great move to lock up the center position for the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, here is one step the Lakers can take now to improve their chances of becoming a contender in 2018.

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Photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

 

Package Deng and Clarkson

Obviously, the Deng contract is a major issue going forward as he is due close to $18 million per year over the next three seasons. An absurd number for a 32-year-old who scored just 7.6 points per game last season and just played in 56 games.

Unfortunately, no team, except maybe the New York Knicks, would take on Deng’s contract without getting something in return. Los Angeles will need to use Clarkson smartly.

A winning team could use Clarkson as a role player and a poor team could use him as a rebuilding piece, much like the Lakers, yet no winning team would want to take on Deng’s massive contract. Therefore, Los Angeles would need to ship him to a rebuilding team.

Essentially, the Lakers need to give up Deng and Clarkson for nothing in return. Then, the rebuilding team can take on a $18 million contract, for they have no one else good to pay and they got a future asset for taking on the contract.

With the aforementioned circumstances, it is hard to find a trade that works for Los Angeles and another team, but we worked hard to find a plausible trade offer that is a win-win for the two teams.

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Photo via Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

 

Dwyane Wade for Deng, Clarkson, 2020 first round pick

The first trade offer involves sending Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade to Los Angeles for Clarkson, Deng and the Lakers’ 2020 first round pick.

The trade works out since Wade’s salary is close to equaling Deng and Clarkson’s salary, per ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.

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Photo via Getty Images

 

How Los Angeles wins

At the moment, this trade would be a major win for Los Angeles. They would become better now, with Wade, and are better for the future since they shedded Deng’s $18 million contract. The only negative is that they would lose a nice piece in Clarkson, but getting rid of Deng far outweighs keeping Clarkson.

Wade is due $23.8 million in 2017, but he only has one year left on his contract so he doesn’t impact their future free agency plans.

Moreover, Wade will offer a veteran presence to nurture Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram.

The Lakers would also improve their ability to land LeBron James next year. Remember, James wants to play with his best friends again, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. If Wade is in Los Angeles, then it would increase the chances of being able to land LeBron.

In regards to the draft pick, Los Angeles should be a good team by 2020, so their draft pick will have much less value.

All in all, the trade would free the Lakers of horrible contracts, bring in a better player who can develop the young guys and improve their chances of landing the greatest basketball player in the world.

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Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

 

How Chicago wins

The Chicago Bulls are not going to win any playoff series anytime soon after the departure of guard Jimmy Butler. Even with him, the odds would not be in their favor to win a playoff series.

As such, it is now rebuilding time for Chicago. They need to acquire as many draft picks as possible, gather young assets and cut salary cap.

In this deal, the organization would cut Wade’s $23.8 million and would acquire Clarkson who has three years left on his contract.

Deng’s contract is messy, but the Bulls are in the for the long haul. Deng would also be making a return to Chicago which would be a nice sight for the fans to see him retire as a Bull.

In addition, the Bulls would be bringing in a first round selection to help build for the future.

It is time for the organization to focus on winning and not worry about a relationship with Wade. Do what is best for the future.

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Photo via Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

 

Send it

The only way this deal doesn’t make sense is if the Bulls don’t want to part ways with their hometown hero Dwyane Wade. If they can get over that, then it would be a sound sports decision for both the Lakers and Chicago.

For Magic Johnson, the Lakers should be building through free agency by bringing marquee stars to Hollywood, not by drafting players.


*** All data and information on salary cap and contracts via Spotrac ***

LeBron James’ ‘The Decision’ costing him the 2017 NBA Finals

Photo via Tony Dejak/AP Photo

LeBron James’ The Decision is coming up on its seven-year anniversary. On July 8, 2010, James changed the landscape of the NBA. He went on to win two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat, but that decision to head to South Beach might cost him any realistic chance of winning the 2017 NBA Finals or any in the future.

Ever since his move, super teams have become the norm. Despite what people might say, the 2010-11 Heat team was the first super team of this era. The Boston Celtics team in 2008 doesn’t count because each player was well past their prime. In Miami, Bosh and James were entering their prime. Wade would have been in the same boat, but had some unfortunate injuries to quicken the aging process.

Since James’ move, we have seen the Los Angeles Lakers try to build a super team, but the only thing super about Dwight Howard and those Lakers was Howards’ Superman nickname.

The Lakers team did not work out, however, it was another team following in James’ footsteps and perpetuating the new precedent set by James.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Clippers set out to trade for New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul. To this point their super team has not worked, yet, it still maintained the new norm.

Durant warriors.jpg
Durant and the Golden State Warriors (Photo via Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images)

In 2016, Golden State blew their 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers en route to the city of Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years. This loss gave the Warriors an excuse to build a super team. The following offseason, they replaced forward Harrison Barnes with MVP forward Kevin Durant.

Thus, building what might go down as the greatest NBA team in history (pending the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Finals).

Currently, there are just two teams in the NBA who have any realistic shot of winning a title, maybe just one after watching the first two final games. Consequently, the NBA might possess four super teams in 2018 instead of the two this season.

Back of Isaiah Thomas Celtics.jpg
Isaiah Thomas’ Celtics will try to take James’ thrown in the east (Photo via Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Celtics are looking into acquiring Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward to reunite with his former college coach Brad Stevens. Jimmy Butler and even Paul George have been thrown around, for Boston knows it is imperative to sign another star to just have the smallest chance at piercing James’ thrown in the east.

In the west, the San Antonio Spurs are interested in Chris Paul. His addition would make the Spurs into another super team further toppling any dream of parity in the league.

It is unclear on whether those alleged rumors will become true, but it speaks to where the NBA is heading. The trend is to tank until a super team can be assembled. Thanks to The Decision, it is widely accepted.

This new era will stunt James from ever winning another title. The Warriors look like they will be playing in the finals until 2020 and seem to be much better than the Cleveland team now. If James tries to improve the roster, he could go after George to add talent, however, it is unclear how much that move would actually close the gap between the two teams.

In addition, other teams in the eastern conference are going to start building their own super teams. It is to be seen whether or not one could be built before father time beats James, even so, it is hard seeing James beating Golden State unless the drastic occurs.

The eastern conference is only going to get harder to make it thru with James aging, super teams on the come-up, and it just can’t be any worse than it is now.

James had an incredible run and legacy, but it seems The Decision that helped him finally win his first title is going to stop him from progressing his legacy. One can never say never, but another LeBron title seems unlikely at this point.

Guess the NBA gods can now call it even after James ditched Cleveland for the super team in South Beach.

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