(Non)Disposable Assets. From Tim Karcz:
It seems all eyes were on the Celtics and what they would do. Barring a free-agent upgrade to come, they didn't move the needle for this year's playoffs while the Raptors did. But do you agree Danny Ainge still has leverage going into the summer where the Bulls and Indiana situations won't be any better and Butler and George will be even closer to the end of their contracts? And a lot of leverage riding on where the Nets pick lands, with 1-2 seemingly significantly more than 3-4? Those two teams would be dying to draft a potential franchise point guard.
IMHO, Tim, Boston still has the hammer. All those first-round picks under the Celtics’ control through 2019 mean that, at worst, the Celtics will always be in a position a) to add young talent, which b) is on their rookie deals for several years. Doesn’t mean that all, or even most, of those picks will pan out, but Boston will have many more chances to fail than anyone else in the league. The summer also tends to give clarity to everyone. By then, you know exactly where everyone’s Draft pick position is -- and, subsequently, if you can get the guy you really want with your pick.
But, if the 2017 Brooklyn pick does wind up being No. 1 overall, I can’t see Boston trading it. Everyone I’ve spoken with that’s spoken with the Celtics comes away with the impression that Danny Ainge really wants to be in this Draft, and if he has number one he’ll assured of getting the guy he wants. A George/Butler trade will also hinge on whether the Celtics are really all in for Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin in free agency. If they get one of those stars in addition to an impact rookie, my guess is they probably wouldn’t pull the trigger on a deal for either George or Butler. Though I can’t dismiss the possibility that Ainge has even more ambitious plans than even that.
Half measures do not fly in the Windy City. You know what does? Kites. From Fiyaz Khan:
As a diehard Bulls fan, I'm pretty close to done with these clowns.
From ownership, to GarPax, to Hoiberg.
Not to mention the outright disrespect of their best player and perennial all star Jimmy Buckets. I get jimmy is NOT elite in the sphere of LeBron James or Kevin Durant -- but he's certainly a No. 1 player on a contender. Then you go and trade your most consistent defender and front court player for next to nothing.
Help me understand this or tell me it's okay to ditch the team I've been rooting for my whole life.
There aren’t many outside the Bulls’ front office who understand the moves made at the deadline. It’s not that they traded Gibson; he’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and wasn’t likely to re-sign there. But giving up so soon on McDermott -- for whom you gave up two first-round picks to get on Draft night in 2014 -- was very surprising. Maybe the Bulls thought they were unlikely to pick high enough in 2017 to get one of the elite point guard prospects in the Draft, and thus were willing to take a long look at Cameron Payne as a lead guard the rest of this season and next.
To me, you go all in on rebuilding or you add a piece for the stretch drive. If you’re going to trade two of your top rotation guys, you might as well move Butler, too, and take it down to the foundation, selling the hope of multiple first-round picks in 2017 and/or 2018 while you look at the Paynes and Portises and Valentines that are already on the roster. Bulls people told ABC/ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, as he reported on ABC’s pregame show Saturday night, that they “didn’t want to be Philadelphia” and take their franchise all the way down to the studs for multiple years. Okay, that’s a fair position. But it’s very, very difficult to balance contending and rebuilding at the same time.
The Price of Being Boogie. From Meghan Pedroncelli:
I thought your article with 56 thoughts on the DeMarcus Cousins trade was an article full of good thoughts and insights coming from different points of view that many others aren't making. I just had one comment to make. Near the end you mention that the Kings, if they wanted to trade Cousins, should have waited till the summer and possibly have played in the playoffs against the Warriors to increase Cousins value on the market. Here is where I challenge you. That is very much the best case scenario. Another much less optimistic, and in my mind just as viable, option is that the Kings don't find their way to the playoffs, and in addition Cousins continues to rack of suspensions and ends the season with say, 20 technical fouls (which is not out of the realm of possibility considering he is already at 17 [as of this writing]) and that is with 3 (pretty sure that's the right number) being rescinded).
That means he goes into the summer with the most technicals since the 16-technical limit was implemented, at least 3 suspensions from those technicals and his team at roughly 35 wins (current trajectory) and no playoff berth. In my mind that would lead to a lower trade value because it would confirm what so many believe in that while he is an amazing talent, he is an overly emotional player that has yet to grow up on or off the court. AND the Kings would end up with a worse deal then they got.
Just thought I would share that point of view.
That was certainly a possibility as well, Meghan. I guess I’d say that scenario wouldn’t necessarily change what most people around the league already think of Cousins -- immensely talented, but immensely temperamental as well. But in the summer, with a more firm grasp of what the cap/tax will be for 2017-18, and knowing exactly what picks you have (or don’t have) in the Draft, you know what your assets are. And most teams have had a chance to decompress and soberly evaluate their strengths and weaknesses; they’ve gone to the playoffs -- or missed them -- and since most teams end up disappointed one way or another with their seasons, there are usually more teams willing to make moves to improve their rosters. Hence, waiting. And I just can’t believe that had the Kings waited until June or July, they wouldn’t have gotten a better offer than the one they accepted in February.
(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)
1) Russell Westbrook (29 ppg, 14.5 rpg, 14 apg, .383 FG, .905 FT): Posted his 29th triple double of the season in Sunday’s win over New Orleans.
2) James Harden (18.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 12 apg, .375 FG, .813 FT): An MVP candidate who is suddenly in need of an agent will be as hot a free agent among player reps as Blake Griffin is this summer among teams.
3) LeBron James (18 ppg, 13 rpg, 15 apg, .636 FG, .667 FT): I would assume DWill and (probably) Bogut meet with 23’s satisfaction.
4) Kawhi Leonard (23 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.5 apg, .471 FG, .750 FT): Via Spurs: in 324 games between 2011 and 2016, Leonard had 26 games with 25 or more points. This season, in 53 games, he has 27 games with 25 or more.
5) Kevin Durant (25 ppg, 15 rpg, 7 apg, .533 FG, .833 FT): Missed his first game of the season (bruised left hand) in the Warriors’ win over the Nets Saturday.
BY THE NUMBERS
2024 -- Year the Clippers’ lease at Staples Center expires. But Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is making no secret of the fact that he wants his own arena for his team, and is looking at options, including the new Rams stadium/entertainment complex in Inglewood, where the Lakers played at The Forum before Staples was built.
15,708 -- Career points for Rip Hamilton, whose No. 32 jersey was retired Sunday night by the Pistons before Detroit played Boston. His was the 11th number in franchise history to be retired, joining Chauncey Billups (1), Coach Chuck Daly (2), Ben Wallace (3), Joe Dumars (4), Dennis Rodman (10), Isiah Thomas (11), Vinnie Johnson (15), Bob Lanier (16), Dave Bing (21) and Bill Laimbeer (40).
36 -- Years that now-former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had spent with the organization, since going to the Lakers as a player in 1981, playing five seasons before retiring in 1986 and then spending the next three-plus decades as a member of the team’s front office. People get fired; it’s part of the business, and Kupchak had a great run. But he was a quiet voice in a league where a lot of people in his position can’t wait to tell you how smart they are, and how they never make any mistakes. Even though Mitch rarely said anything noteworthy about the inner workings of LakerLand, you’d still rather talk to him than a lot of other guys in other front offices.
I’M FEELIN’ ...
1) Now that’s how you end the Oscars! With total confusion and befuddlement. But I’m glad to see “Moonlight” get Best Picture, even if on a mulligan. And props to Jordan Horowitz, the producer for “LaLa Land,” which was initially, and mistakenly, announced as the award winner, for immediately correcting the mistake with grace and force.
2) No one knows if the Pelicans’ new “Fire and Ice” duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis will work long term. It’s just good to see the Pelicans getting some time in the spotlight, with a chance to become more relevant in the NBA firmament.
3) Here come the defenses, jumping the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter after the All-Star break. It was expected, and we saw how the Celtics can counteract it Sunday in Detroit, when Jaylen Brown knocked down a three in the last minute to hold off the Pistons.
4) We see you, Kelsey Plum! Congratulations on an amazing, historic achievement.
NOT FEELIN’ ...
1) I laughed at the JaVale McGee Shaqtin’s, too. But JaVale has a right to go back at the Big Fella, and his teammates have the right to defend him, and we should all probably just stop putting each other’s names in our mouths going forward.
2) Tough but right call in Philly, shutting Ben Simmons down for the season. Absolutely no reason to rush him back before he’s completely healed.
3) Omri Casspi was more than a throw-in for the Pelicans in the DeMarcus Cousins deal, and someone smart with playoff aspirations would scarf him up immediately after he was waived by the Pelicans on Friday. The bizarre turn came after Casspi broke his thumb in his New Orleans debut Thursday, an injury that will keep him out four to six weeks. The Pels wanted to sign guard Reggie Williams, and in order to do that they had to cut Casspi.
4) RIP, Bill Paxton,a solid actor with numerous star turns in films like “Twister,” “Apollo 13” and “Tombstone.” Always did a good day’s work in every role.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
-- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA), Monday, 12:57 am, as news was breaking that the Pels had acquired DeMarcus Cousins from the Kings. Well played.
THEY SAID IT
“I kind of was on the ropes, just like you guys were, on what was about to happen. It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, thought I would have been in the loop a little more.”
-- Paul George, to local reporters on Thursday after the trade deadline, not sounding thrilled that his name was prominently featured in potential trade talks with Boston. Then again, George didn’t exactly leap at the idea of signing that $200-plus million designated player exception with Indiana that he could be eligible for in 2018 when asked about his future during an interview with ESPN earlier in the week.
“We like what we have, we like our position. We like our future a lot. We’re very excited about where we are on a long-term basis. We’re happy with our direction.”
-- Celtics GM Danny Ainge, explaining to local reporters why Boston opted to not make a trade for either Paul George or Jimmy Butler by including many of the team’s future assets in proposed deals.
“I’ve had lunches, dinner and wine everyday until I can’t wait to get out of here. I need to go dry out, both food and alcohol-wise.”
-- Gregg Popovich, detailing his itinerary during the Spurs’ quite unusual five days off during the season in Los Angeles last week.
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