— You ask, we (try to) answer.
A. Honestly, those who are not yet in.
The most significant NBA activity in July are the summer leagues held in Orlando and Las Vegas, where long-shot candidates get the opportunity to play in front of scouts from every team. Those leagues already have been canceled.
Last year, the Las Vegas summer league opened the door for Gary Neal with the Spurs, Pooh Jeter with the Kings and several others who otherwise might not have been afforded a tryout.
Now that showcase has been lost, although a brief lockout could still afford a second chance at some camps.
The early stages of a lockout also hurt players taken during the latter stages of the draft, players who often use summer league to decide whether there is legitimate opportunity to make an NBA roster or whether to take an overseas deal. It is more likely that late second-rounders will now head directly to Europe without any domestic competition at the pro level.
A. While we're not going to go as far as to designate Johnson as the poster child for the lockout, the fact that he received the largest contract during last summer's free-agency period, ahead of even LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, speaks volumes.
It is why the players have told the owners to first get their own houses in order.
The Hawks basically claimed that they could not afford to allow Johnson to leave and the presence of such a maximum ceiling forced them into the contract offer.
A change of ownership is not going to alleviate that burden, but speaks volumes about how bad contracts can change the landscape.
In the end, these labor negotiations come down to the owners trying to enact rules that save them from themselves.
Beyond that, the fact that Hawks ownership has been so muddled for so long speaks to commissioner David Stern allowing the wrong parties to sit at his table in the first place.
There are major ownership issues in the NBA, and only when those get settled can the NBA truly get back on solid footing.
A. The typical case of a college player whose skill set does not necessarily translate into an NBA career. Put it this way, in their own draft guide, the best the NBA could offer for Howard under the "strengths" section of his biography was, "Hard-working power forward with a good motor and good conditioning."
Of course, we all know that "hard working" and "good motor" are code for Greek League or D-League.
Howard spent the final days of June attending a Suns free-agent camp, already linked to a potential European contract.
A. Because that's often the best approach with a player at the end of the first round. The Bulls, in fact, already have proven prescient with the waiting game considering the payoff provided by Omer Asik.
While Nikola Mirotic is under contract to Real Madrid through 2015, he could provide the Bulls with future flexibility should they opt to get out from Carlos Boozer's contract or perhaps put Taj Gibson into play in a trade. Basically, they have created a fallback position.
Considering the success the Spurs have had with their draft-and-stash approach over the years, it is difficult to doubt the possibilities.
A. Well, with Nene opting out, we're not sure who is going to be providing the cash. But it is doubtful he opted out of $11.6 million for next season without clear insight into the landscape.
Considering the Trail Blazers have guaranteed Greg Oden $8.8 million for next season, and considering Nene is actually ambulatory, he figures to be well-placed in a league desperate for centers.
Still, the Nuggets are not exactly in a position where they can afford to lose him. Should Bird Rights be retained in the next collective-bargaining agreement, and with Stern talking about making it more advantageous for players to remain with their current teams (to reduce LeBron- and Chris Bosh-like defections), the Nuggets just might wind up being the ones paying, just over a far longer term than his one-year option.
A. Collecting as many combo forwards as possible, under the old carnival rule that if you collect enough small prizes you can upgrade to a super prize.
David Kahn does not have as much a team as a roster at this point. More to the point, he has possibilities.
While he already has thinned his rotation at point guard with the move of Jonny Flynn to the Rockets, something clearly has to be done up front, what with the presence of Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Kevin Love.
The question now is whether Kahn will be able to deal from a position of strength, or whether eventual trade partners will try to alleviate some of the Wolves' glut with deals that offer only pennies on the dollar, as the Rockets did for Flynn.
A. I'd keep an eye on the Jazz, who not only added Derrick Favors in last season's Deron Williams trade, but then took Enes Kanter at the top of the draft. That not only leaves Utah with Kanter and Favors, but also with Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur and Paul Millsap.
Something clearly has to give there. While Okur and Jefferson might not be exactly what the Warriors need, their price could be right, particularly with Utah in sell mode. The question is whether the Jazz would want to make such a move within their own conference, considering they, themselves, would be fighting for one of the West's final playoff berths.
A. Honestly, the Heat just picked a bad time to have a really bad week. While the matchup with Dallas had plenty to do with it, the blown lead in Game 2 of the NBA finals against the Mavericks made the series as much mental as physical. It was a challenge LeBron clearly wasn't, at that moment, up to.
Yet for all the ensuing Heat "failure" talk, LeBron and Wade did emerge as Eastern Conference champions and come within two wins of a title. Based on the post-finals reaction, it's as if they lost in the first or second rounds.
A. What I said was the Heat got LeBron playing at 25 percent of his ability in the finals and that even if he was just at 50 percent, the Heat would have had enough.
Again, I will put it this way, having nothing to do with the press: If you asked all 30 NBA general managers which player they would take right now to start a team, LeBron still would be at the top of that list, certainly way ahead of Dirk Nowitzki. Some might say Dwight Howard. I doubt any would take reigning MVP Derrick Rose over LeBron.
And those are the ultimate experts.