Shaq to have surgery, likely out until playoffs

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NBA_o'neal1_250.jpgUPDATE 10:57 am: According to Windhorst’s oracle-like twitter account, Shaq is out of surgery, and everything is fine. Except the part where he is out for eight weeks, but we knew that was coming.

3/1 8:28 am: Shaq had this to say on his twitter account Monday morning:

going into surgery today on my thumb, will be out for a min but when I return it is on, win da ring for da king! Luv my team, Cavs baby!

2/28 8:16 pm: The Cavaliers have announced that after seeing a specialist at the National Hand Institute (yes, that is a real place, I checked and everything), it has been determined that Shaquille O’Neal requires surgery on his severely sprained thumb, which will take place tomorrow.

Brian Windhorst, in typical Windhorst fashion, was the first on it via Twitter. The Cavs have not announced a timetable, but Windhorst cites that typical recovery time is 6-8 weeks, putting it squarely in the playoffs.

The question then, as Windhorst (again) notes, is his conditioning. Shaq’s not exactly known for his rigid diet and conditioning when he’s away from the game, and getting into playing shape is a rough gig mid-season, let alone the playoffs.

Just ask Jameer Nelson.

The Cavs have gotten Leon Powe back, and J.J. Hickson has come on remarkably strong. Throw in the acquisition of Antawn Jamison, which seems to improve every second he’s on the floor with the Cavs, and the Cavaliers will have no problem holding on to their six game lead in the East, barring an abject collapse combined with a Magic push of incredible proportions.

Shaq was brought in very specifically for a single purpose. Limit Dwight Howard in whatever way possible. As long as he’s back in time for a throwdown in the Eastern Conference Finals with the second-place Magic, this injury isn’t a mortal one to the Cavs’ title hopes.

Now all they have to do is get there, integrate Shaq back in after being off 6-8 weeks, and hope that’s enough to beat a Magic squad that has still seemed to provide matchup problems for them.

No problem.

PBT Extra: Rockets, with Chris Paul trade, show fearlessness in face of Warriors’ dominance

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The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.

Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.

Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.

PBT Extra: With Phil Jackson discarded, Knicks face next challenge

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The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?

Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?

Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.

Report: Kings to sign Bogdan Bogdanovic to three-year, $36 million contract

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The Kings have a decent crop of low-paid young players: Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson.

Soon, Sacramento will add a highly paid young player to the group: Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights the Kings acquired when trading down from No. 8 with the Suns in last year’s draft.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

Because Bogdanovic was drafted three years ago (No. 27 by Phoenix in 2014), the Kings can exceed the rookie scale to sign him.

Bogdanovic is a talented 24-year-old, but this deal removes much of the value usually tied to rookies on cost-controlled scale contracts. It’s hard to see Bogdanovic’s production exceeding his salary over the next four years.

Still, what else was Sacramento supposed to do with its cap space? Just getting Bogdanovic to jump from Europe might be worth it. The Kings already have more cap flexibility than they know what to do with – especially after letting Ben McLemore become an unrestricted free agent.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Sacramento took McLemore No. 7 in the 2013 draft then spent the next four years watching his value depreciate.

Teams will line up to take a flier on him. Will someone pay him as if he’ll pan out even a little? That question will drive his unrestricted free agency.

Report: In wake of Chris Paul trade, Clippers focus on re-signing Blake Griffin

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Chris Paul is on his way to Houston in an attempt to form a superteam to challenge Golden State.

Now what for the Clippers?

They have two options: One, tear it all the way down and rebuild.

The other: Re-sign Blake Griffin, run the offense through him and put his underrated passing skills to the test while surrounded by shooters.

The Clippers are opting for door No. 2, at least for now, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The fundamental question is: Does Griffin want to stay? The Clippers can offer more money and a larger contract, five -years starting just shy of $30 million a year. However, he will have good teams from the East calling. Miami is interested, and they have a strong point guard in Goran Dragic, a good wing defender in Justise Winslow, and a guy inside who can defend, rebound, and finish dunks in Hassan Whiteside. Plus, no state taxes on all that new money. Also, Boston (if they strike out with Gordon Hayward) and other teams will come calling. Griffin will have options.

If Griffin does stay, this could be interesting if the team is built right. Griffin is an underrated passer and playmaker — he averaged more than five assists per game last season, and that was with Chris Paul on the team. The Clippers would need to use him sort of like Denver uses Nikola Jokic, running the offense through him out high where he is a threat to score from with a midrange jumper, put the ball on the floor, or make a pass. Griffin would need to be surrounded by shooters and guys willing to work off the ball, such as J.J. Redick. Who is almost certainly gone.

If Griffin leaves, the Clippers don’t have much a choice and will have to start shopping DeAndre Jordan around and rebuilding the team (they got a fairly good haul for CP3 for that, considering the situation, Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell are good young players who can be part of a rotation). Then Los Angeles will have two rebuilding teams, and that always makes for a great rivalry.