Block Party. From Jelani Scott:
In the midst of all this excitement, most people have decided that, although they got younger and more athletic, the Cavaliers have gotten deeper without really addressing their biggest issue: rim protection.
Who do you see the Cavs grabbing on the buyout market to address this issue, or do you think they'd be fine without? I think Brandan Wright could've been that dude for them, but the Houston Rockets are amassing an arsenal to wage war against the Warriors with after reportedly adding Wright and Joe Johnson.
Didn’t seem to be a problem Sunday in Boston, Jelani. If the new Cavs use their length and quickness out front, most people will never get to the front of the rim. Neither Boston nor Toronto pounds the ball into the paint, though Kyrie Irving is the only guy for whom no one in the game has an answer for keeping out of the paint.
At a loss for words. From Simcha Heisler:
I’ve been thinking for some time as how to ask a question about the Clippers, but then realized I don’t have any clue where they are heading. It seemed like they were going to a full rebuild, but now they kept a lot of valuable trade assets who won’t necessarily re-sign with them. Does the Clippers’ front office see something in this team that we don’t or are they just back to the Clippers that we all “loved” from the pre-Blake Griffin days?
Let’s rewind. The only real trade assets the Clippers had going into the deadline -- and by “real,” I mean guys you wouldn’t have to attach another player and/or Draft pick to be enticing to other teams -- were DeAndre Jordan, Avery Bradley and Lou Williams. They weren’t going to move Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, Austin Rivers or Milos Teodosic.
Cleveland had interest in Jordan, of course, but the Cavs wound up going in another direction Thursday, one we all saw. The Wizards tried, too, but wouldn’t bite unless Jordan opted in for 2018-19 at $24.1 million -- and weren’t willing to discuss Kelly Oubre.
OKC tried for Bradley, but couldn’t make a deal. (I’m told the Avery Bradley-Danny Green talk before the deadline was overblown, but can’t help but think we haven’t heard the last of AB to SA. He seems a natural for the Spurs’ system at both ends, and one wonders what his value on the open market will really be in July at the easiest position to fill/replace on a team.) And the Clips opted to give Williams an extension at a very reasonable price ($8 million season per through 2021) when it became clear they wouldn’t be able to pry a first from anyone for him.
In any event, L.A. was not motivated to have a fire sale; the Clippers think they have to be competitive next season in order to be able to attract free agents in the summer of ’19. (It is Los Angeles; you can’t just put a G League product on the floor at those ticket and suite prices.) You may think their plan is wrong, but I don’t think moving Jordan and/or Bradley just for the sake of moving them wouldn’t have made a lot of sense, either.
Don’t Play it Again, Sam. From Howard Bealick:
My question to you is: Sam Presti always gets credit for many of his moves, but in reality he let Hall of Famers Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant get away and most recently traded Enes Kanter for Carmelo Anthony, which has benefitted the Knicks more than OKC. Why is this never mentioned by any analysts?
Did I miss the news conference where Westbrook signed with the Lakers? I’m pretty sure he’s still appearing nightly at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. If you meant to say “Harden,” as in James Harden … well, hey, Presti and the franchise can be criticized for it.
I’m not sure Harden would have ever become what he’s become in Houston had he stayed in OKC, though. So the alternative would have been to trade either Westbrook or Durant, or maybe both of them, to let Harden flourish with the ball in his hands. And, when your owner says he’s not paying luxury tax, as Clay Bennett was unwilling to do at the time, there’s not much you can do to keep your superstars.
If Westbrook or Durant had been a free agent then, the Thunder may have had to move them, too. And: the Harden trade, as unpalatable as it may still be to many, netted OKC the first-round pick that became Steven Adams. That the Thunder still employ Westbrook, and will through 2022, is no small feat. And that only happened, I’m fairly certain, because Presti and his front office were able to get Paul George and Anthony. Kanter’s doing in New York what he always does -- score. He’s a very good offensive talent. I think OKC is nonetheless happy with its end of the deal, and with its GM.
Send your questions, comments and … I am thisclose to snapping if you don’t get me my Milk Bone like I asked to email@example.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!
(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)
1) James Harden (33 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.8 apg, .446 FG, .889 FT): So, why did Harden initially refuse the ride from CP3 and his insurance agent -- especially since his fellow passenger, his teammate, Trevor Ariza, so immediately asked Paul for help? I don’t know. Something’s fishy there.
2) Kevin Durant (22.3 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.7 apg, .528 FG, .957 FT): Very cool gesture.
3) LeBron James (27 ppg, 10 rpg, 12.3 apg, .544 FG, .650 FT): There was a thing that James did with his face Sunday, where the cheekbones rose and his eyebrows arched, as if he was pleased about something. It was called a … smile?
4) Kyrie Irving (21 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3 apg, .476 FG, .900 FT): Returned from a quad injury that kept him out three games and sure looked like himself again in Boston’s overtime win in Washington Thursday. Not so good Sunday against his old mates.
5) DeMar DeRozan (16 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.3 apg, .486 FG, 1.000 FT): Posted just his third game under double figures (eight points) this season in the Raptors’ runaway over New York.
BY THE NUMBERS
$3.6 -- Billion Estimated value of the Knicks in Forbes’ annual valuations of NBA teams. It’s the third year in a row New York has been ranked the highest-valued team in the league by Forbes, which also said that for the first time, all 30 teams are worth at least $1 billion. The magazine lists eight teams -- the Knicks, Lakers ($3.3 billion), Golden State ($3.1), Chicago ($2.6), Boston ($2.5), Brooklyn ($2.3), Houston ($2.2) and the Clippers ($2.15) -- at more than $2 billion.
302 -- Games for Golden State’s Steve Kerr to reach 250 career victories, the fastest ever to that mark of any coach in league history. Kerr’s current win percentage of .828 is currently tops among all coaches with 300 or more games under their belt; he’s ahead of Phil Jackson’s .704 (1155-485), Billy Cunningham’s .698 (454-156) and Gregg Popovich’s .692 (1185-528).
393 -- Career playoff games, per Turner’s great researcher Kevin Cottrell, Jr., that the Cavaliers traded away on Thursday in their three deals that sent Dwyane Wade (172 postseason appearances), Iman Shumpert (71), Channing Frye (49), Derrick Rose (41), Jae Crowder (35) and Isaiah Thomas (25) out of town. The Cavs took back 94 playoff games’ worth of experience -- and George Hill has 83 of those, with Rodney Hood having the other 11; Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr., have yet to play in a postseason game.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) The Truth, up in the rafters where he belongs. Congratulations. I still have Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Pierce on the Celtics’ Mount Rushmore. Could be wrong. But I doubt it.
2) Utah is doing damage to folks. Winners of nine straight, the Jazz has gotten right back in the playoff race in the Western Conference. Rudy Gobert is back and dominating. And it says here (again) that Jae Crowder is going to play much, much better in the 801 than he did in Cleveland.
3) Great fun working with former Cavs’ GM David Griffin during our trade deadline shows Thursday on NBA TV. Griff’s knowledge about the Cavs and LeBron was deep and emotive and made our coverage second to none, I think, and he was great on the cap and the Lakers and everything else. Delighted he’s on our team.
4) Once again, knowing full well that the Olympics are a complete financial boondoggle that often ruins the host city, if not country, for years economically, and that the pursuit of Olympic gold has led to abuses ranging from doping to the monstrous life of USA Gymnastics “physician” Larry Nassar (not to mention dictators and other strongmen using the Games for their own, awful purposes), I was still mesmerized by the opening ceremonies of the Winter Games in PyeongChang Friday. I know it’s a show and a hype and it’s not real, and it won’t bring North and South Korea together. It was still beautiful. Drones forming the Olympic Rings, over synchronized skiiers … dude.
5) When you’re 85 and have no more (bleeps) to give.
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) Condolences to Rick Adelman and his wife Mary Kay on the death of their son R.J., a former Rockets assistant coach who was killed after being struck by a minivan while crossing a street in Houston Feb. 2. R.J. Adelman worked for the then Seattle SuperSonics, Kings and Timberwolves as well during his career. RIP.
2) Godspeed and good luck to Dan Gilbert’s son, Nick,reportedly set to undergo brain surgery this week as he continues to battle neurofibromatosis, a disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissues.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
UPDATE: This is the entire Cavs roster pic.twitter.com/eMz45QrERq— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) February 8, 2018
-- Eric Stangel (@EricStangel), former executive producer and head writer for the David Letterman Show, Thursday, 1:51 p.m., at the height of the Cavs’ radical makeover of their team.
THEY SAID IT
“Frankly no one with two brain cells to rub together would want Goran Dragic on their team over Ben.”
-- Tim Watts, an Australian parliamentarian, during a session of his legislative body last Wednesday, decrying the selection of Miami’s Dragic by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to replace the injured Kevin Love on Team LeBron instead of Ben Simmons, an Australian native.
“There have been some limitations for some time and he's getting through it. Again, there's a long recovery. It's taken probably longer than anyone had hoped or imagined. But again, he's making progress and headway and I fully anticipate that he'll be out there doing what he does so well, which is scoring the basketball and creating for with others and impacting our team in a positive way, hopefully in the near future.”
--76ers General Manager Bryan Colangelo, detailing the painfully slow recovery of top overall pick Markelle Fultz from his shoulder injury http://www.phillyvoice.com/bryan-colangelo-offers-more-questions-answers-markelle-fultz-presser/, in what is an increasingly strange situation for all concerned.
“The one thing I will say about Mr. James: He is the master at using the media to get whatever story he wants out there. He’s perfected the art of the social-media game. I think that those things were probably leaked by them, by Mr. James and his camp. I don’t see a universe where that happens.”
-- Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk, during a radio appearance last week on Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game, expressing skepticism about a potential LeBron James move to Golden State next offseason, following an ESPN report that James would be open to listening to a pitch from the Warriors. Schlenk spent five seasons as the Warriors’ assistant GM, and was in Golden State’s organization for 12 years overall, before taking the GM job in Atlanta last year.
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