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

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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.

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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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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