DA's Morning Tip
Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on DeAndre Jordan, the New Orleans Pelicans and more
David Aldridge answers reader questions.
Time for a guest D.J.? From Jason Maynard:
Do you think the Clippers will move DeAndre Jordan before year’s end?
That’s been a low-pilot buzz around the Association for a little while, Jason, and Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com put it out there Friday that the Cavs would be “willing” to move Tristan Thompson for Jordan. And, you hear that the Clippers have put feelers out to a handful of teams. It makes sense. DJ has this season at $22.6 million before his option year in 2018-19 at $24.1 million. If L.A. was to move Jordan, now would be the time. The Clippers clearly aren’t a contender any more, and losing Patrick Beverley for the season only accentuates it. So why not move Jordan? He would certainly bring back a good haul; he still is immensely disruptive on screen and rolls, and protects the rim so well, he more than pays for his contract even if he’s not a first option on offense (at least he’s shooting 60 percent from the line this season, way, way up from previous Hack-a-DJ campaigns). Any contender could use him.
Complicating matters, though, is that the Clippers are hard-capped this year, and cannot under league rules make any trade that puts them above the luxury tax apron for 2017-18 of $125.266 million after the trade. (Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus puts L.A.’s current team salary at $119.1 million.) That doesn’t mean the Clippers can’t make trades; they just can’t do deals that put them over the apron afterward.
A Thompson-Channing Frye combo for Jordan would work cap-wise, thought I’m sure the Clippers would also strongly ask about that unprotected Brooklyn first the Cavs have in their back pocket — and be rebuffed. The devil would be in whether L.A thought Thompson, still springy to be sure at 26, was enough of a centerpiece (no pun intended) to pull the trigger.
Milwaukee would certainly make sense in a potential Jordan deal, too. The Bucks still have John Henson and/or Thon Maker up front after dealing Greg Monroe to Phoenix for Eric Bledsoe, and could package either with a Tony Snell to facilitate a trade with Los Angeles. No doubt the Clippers would surely ask about 2017 Kia Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon as well. As long as the Bucks are certain Jabari Parker will return to the lineup sometime after the All-Star break, moving another young big as part of a package for Jordan wouldn’t be irresponsible. And can you imagine the defensive havoc that a Bledsoe-Giannis Antetokounmpo-Jordan triumvirate could wreak on the world?
The Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors would be longer shots. Maybe the Wizards could get involved if they were willing to talk about Kelly Oubre along with Marcin Gortat (the Machine, at 33, remains durable, having missed eight games total in the last four-plus seasons) and filler for Jordan — the filler almost certainly including a future first-round pick. But with three max players on the books it’s more likely the Wizards hoard their firsts in the foreseeable future to ensure a pipeline of young, cheap talent to add to their John Wall-Bradley Beal-Otto Porter core. Toronto doesn’t look to have the assets to get Jordan, unless the Clippers were committed to playing small ball with Serge Ibaka at center for the next few years, and that looks like what the Raptors are leaning toward doing with Ibaka now. But, coach Dwane Casey is always going to be defense first, and Jordan is still elite at that end.
All in for the 504. From Cory Morton:
Can the Pelicans get some love after the last two wins against OKC and the Spurs? The return of Rajon Rondo has made all the difference. This is the best New Orleans team in franchise history (talent wise for sure) — sorry Chris Paul/David West and and Baron Davis/Jamal Mashburn. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are best duo in the league period … so where’s the love? Cause we have these two MVP candidates (yeah, there numbers are legit), plus Rondo (8 assists a game since he’s back) and Jrue Holiday (who already scored 30 plus in a game this season).
That’s all I want for Christmas: some love for the Pels.
No one can doubt your Pelicans fervor, Cory, and they indeed had two great wins last week, so stick your chest out. Rondo’s numbers don’t jump off the screen, but he’s so heady, and his past experience with DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento makes him uniquely suited to recognize and deal with Boogie’s mercurial nature better than just about anyone. Also, Rondo keeps the Pelicans organized and stable. It’s a small sample size, but, no doubt, Rondo’s return has helped.
Impatience is not a virtue, but that ish is real. From Jordan Gehrung:
Here in Wisconsin, we are gratefully experiencing a warmer than usual end to fall. Please assure us that there is a corresponding warmth under Jason Kidd’s coaching seat. Any insight?
Fair criticism, Jordan, considering the expectations that the Bucks had going into the season. The Bucks still have to turn opponents over and get multiple stops for their long and lean and wildly athletic group to maximize their skills. Defensively, it’s not happening as the Bucks are 22nd in Defensive Rating (106.8). Yet Milwaukee leads the league in fewest fast-break points allowed per game, at just 6.7. So the Bucks’ defensive issues are coming where they should be at their best — when they’re set up and have everybody back. That’s on Kidd; he and assistant Sean Sweeney pride themselves on making Milwaukee impregnable at that end. It’s still hard for me, though, to see Kidd’s star dimming under the Bucks’ current ownership. He and his agent are just too tight and close with co-owner Marc Lasry to imagine Milwaukee souring on him.
I love this question, and it’s not just because the author is a proud graduate of The American University. From Chris Hill:
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about finding bargains. With that in mind, what’s the best bargain NBA team to watch right now? You’ve got $50, you can go to any city, which arena do you head to?
(e.g., Sacramento’s one of the worst teams in the league, but Cauley-Stein & De’Aaron Fox sure are fun to watch.)
You can find relatively inexpensive seats in just about every NBA arena, Chris. But because I don’t have two days to go over every price of every ticket of every team in the league, I am going to short circuit the process here and eliminate the biggest (and likely, most expensive) markets — New York and Chicago and Golden State and Philly, etc. With that caveat, I think I’d mosey up to Minneapolis and see what Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins were up to, Chris. They usually put out a very entertaining product. For $55 (I’ll carry you on the extra $5) on cheaptickets.com, I found a pretty decent upper level seat at Target Center for Tuesday night’s game between the Timberwolves and Wizards — not quite as compelling a matchup without John Wall on the floor, but still not bad.
(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)
1) James Harden (29 ppg, 5 rpg, 9.5 apg, .419 FG, .842 FT): At the quarter pole, he’s running away and hiding for MVP.
2) LeBron James (26 ppg, 8 rpg, 8.7 apg, .549 FG, .706 FT): From what I remember of the show, there is occasional singing, and the title character is an aardvark. This will be interesting plot development.
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo (25 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, .462 FG, .778 FT): Returned from a sore right knee to log 39 minutes in Salt Lake City Saturday night.
4) Kyrie Irving (31.3 ppg, 3 rpg, 4.5 apg, .595 FG, .852 FT): Love how my dude on the sideline report simply keeps telling his story while Irving puts Darren Collison in the spin cycle. That’s discipline!
5) Kevin Durant (21 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg, .471 FG, 1.000 FT): If there is a God, KD and Russ will keep this going until they’re old and gray, and may there be a camera present every single time.
BY THE NUMBERS
+57 — Plus-Minus score racked up by Houston’s Luc Mbah a Moute last Wednesday against the Nuggets, a record per basketball-reference.com’s database (which dates back to 2001) in a game the Rockets won by 30. Mbah a Moute played just 25 minutes and was 5 of 5 from the floor, including 3 of 3 on three-pointers, along with 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
25 — Rebounds needed by Charlotte’s Dwight Howard to break into the NBA’s top 20 all-time list in that category. Howard is 24 boards from tying the great Paul Silas (12,357) for 20th on the list. Currently third in the league in rebounding at 13.1 per game, Howard’s current average puts him within striking distance of catching not just Silas this season, but Dikembe Mutombo (currently 19th, with 12,359 career rebounds), Charles Barkley (18th, 12,546), Bob Pettit (17th, 12,849), Jerry Lucas (16th, 12,942), Buck Williams (15th, 13,017) — and, uh, Shaquille O’Neal (14th, 13,099).
13 — Consecutive wins, including their 4-0 first-round sweep in 2015, by the Warriors over the Pelicans following Golden State’s Durant-less victory in Oakland Saturday. New Orleans’ last win over the Warriors came on April 7, 2015.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) Nous saluons le retour, Monsieur Parker. Tu nous as manqué.
2) Congrats on the statue, Chuckster! “Skinny Chuck” will live forever.
3) Not only have I never seen anything like this in 30 years of covering basketball, I’ve never seen anything remotely close to this in 30 years of covering basketball. I can’t fathom how you’d even attack a three-man defense, since it’s not something you’d even conceive as a possibility. Kudos to both Minnesota and Alabama for not making a mockery of the game.
4) Haven’t laughed this loud in a long, long time.
5) The Inaugural Craig Sager Memorial Basketball Tournament at Dacula High School in Georgia last week was a great on-court success, with 32 teams taking part. Craig’s children, Craig, Jr., and Kacy, worked ridiculous hours over the last eight months with Dacula’s head basketball coach, Dr. Russ Triaga, in pulling the event off, with no corporate sponsors or big wheels underwriting the cost. So they still could use your assistance in retiring the costs associated with the tournament. If you loved watching Craig over the years, or you’re a player that Craig interviewed postgame, or you just like reading this column every week, or you’re anyone who can help, hit the Go Fund Me page and ensure that the Sager Kids and Coach Triaga can put this together again next year
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) RIP, Steve “Snapper” Jones, a great player for the Blazers and a great broadcaster with NBC when the Peacock had the national NBA contract. Listening to Snapper go back and forth with Bill Walton while Marv sat, bemused, at their patter was outstanding television. And Steve was just as gracious and good a person. My condolences to his family and friends.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 26, 2017
2) If this is not the end for Derrick Rose, one sees the end just around the corner. Rose will never be MVP Rose again, but he cannot seem to shake the melancholy that has enveloped him the last few years, as injuries have denied him the chance even to be a good, contributing player. And that is not someone a contending team can count on.
3) My Summer League travels were always limited to Vegas, but everyone who ever went to the Orlando Summer League praised its intimacy and lack of glitz — the anti-Vegas, if you will. It was a tournament for hard-core hoops people (no tickets sold, no fans) associated with the league and its teams. The Magic, which had run the Orlando League since 2002, decided to end the tournament, as the Vegas League gobbled up all but a handful of teams (a record 24 NBA teams took part last July). It was a good run.
4) Yeah, I’m pretty sure that, while plenty strong, Kirk doesn’t have the lateral quickness to stay in front of Russ, much less hit him upside the head.
5) Beyond sad, and, like this young man’s father, I have little doubt that this is going to end badly.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
When you lose by 50 in the NBA, that's not about coaching or talent. That's a complete lack of physical and mental effort. #Bulls
— Tim S. Grover (@ATTACKATHLETICS) November 25, 2017
— Athletic trainer Tim Grover (@ATTACKATHLETICS), Saturday, 10:27 a.m., after the Warriors eviscerated Chicago Friday night — but by “just” 49 — 143-94. As Grover trained the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade over the years, we’ll take his word for understanding what it takes to be the best.
THEY SAID IT
“When it comes down to it, if we got to square up, I’m 7-2, I’m a big dude, so I don’t think you want to try me. And I’m African, too.”
— Joel Embiid, to ESPN’s Michael Smith and Jemele Hill on The 6 last week, on his trash talking and the potential ramifications of same as he continues to yak to opponents.
“We’re both grown men, and we understand this is a business and a job. There’s no hard feelings for one another. They made the decision, we didn’t. We’re just going to have to deal with it.”
— Bulls guard Kris Dunn, to local reporters, on whether he’d spoken to former starter Jerian Grant after Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg decided to bench Grant in favor of Dunn, part of the trade package the Bulls received last June for Jimmy Butler.
“I wanted to see how cash considerations was doing over there.”
— Warriors rookie forward Jordan Bell, on his pregame money sign he flashed while being introduced before Friday’s tilt with the Bulls, the team that traded him on Draft night to Golden State for $3.5 million — or, as it was officially stated post-trade, “cash considerations.” Bell, inserted in the starting lineup by the incredibly devious Steve Kerr, had himself a good old time during the Warriors’ dismantling of the hapless Bulls, with seven points, six rebounds, six blocks and four assists in 26 minutes.
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