It’s hard to resist the trade deadline’s appeal, whether you’re a lottery team looking to shed salary or a contender looking for that one final piece. After all, teams can always improve, and the deadline represents every team’s final chance to do so through external means this season. Chemistry, momentum, and internal development are tricky things to peg, but trading for a big-time scorer, a defensive presence, or even a solid glue guy? Those are very tangible assets that just about anyone can wrap their head around. Having that actual, distinct infusion of basketball talent gives troubled teams a new lease on life, as rotations, lineups, and team effectiveness can be drastically altered by a late-season move.
But despite all of the hoopla going into the deadline, the Orlando Magic appear content. From the Orlando Sentinel:
With the NBA trade deadline looming, Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith was asked the $82-million question (the team’s estimated payroll) after Tuesday’s practice: Are you good enough to win the championship with the team you have? “I think we have enough talent to win a title,” Smith told the Sentinel. “We have enough people here to go back [to the Finals].”…Smith realizes the deadline stirs interest and fans size up their team against moves made by a fellow contender. “Everybody always looks at the deadline like it’s a big deal, but for
me, we’ve been working toward it for a long time. We made our changes
in the offseason,” Smith said.
From Smith to head coach Stan Van Gundy to the players themselves, everyone appears to be on the same page. It makes sense; though the Magic have had a weirdly inconsistent season, they still have the second best record in the East and some incredibly depth on paper. Things just haven’t clicked mentally for this team at times, and though Orlando has rebounded nicely from some of their early struggles, this Magic team is not as prolific on defense as last season’s incarnation.
Which makes Smith’s approach perfect. The Magic don’t need another good defender to return their team D to highest heights. They just need more time to figure things out, work the rotations, and peg down and execute exactly what Van Gundy wants. There were so many new acquisitions in the off-season that there was bound to be a fall-off in some area, but the Magic are right to stay the course with their already impressive roster.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.