Intra-division trades are fairly rare. They happen when teams are desperate for a change, or have eyes for a player they can’t pass up, but otherwise, teams are generally reluctant to face the possible consequences of divisional dealings four times a year. It’s one thing to see one of your former players find prosperity elsewhere, and another thing entirely to have that prosperity rain down on you several times a season.
That’s what made the Bucks’ acquisition of John Salmons from the Bulls much more interesting than the players and salary relief involved. The early returns make Chicago look absolutely foolish, as Milwaukee has clearly supplanted them in the Central Division hierarchy. But the long-term picture could be far different, as the cap space opened up by trading Salmons could help the Bulls to swing a big-name free agent this summer. From Bob Wolfey of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Hammond was asked if in trading for Salmons he was helping set up the Chicago Bulls to land a top free agent, hence making life tougher for the Bucks in the division.
“We talked about it over and over and over again before we made the decision what to do with Chicago,” Hammond said. “That was a concern for us, but you know what? At the end of the day, we had to do what was going to be right for us. We needed a piece like John. He’s fit in for us. It’s been worthwhile for us. I’m not going to tell you it was not a concern. It’s still a concern. If Chicago can sign one of these major free agents, it’s going to be a concern for us and we will have to live with it.”
It’s hard to say that the Bucks made the wrong move. Milwaukee’s spectacular brand of defense has vaulted them up the Eastern Conference standings, and while they’re unlikely to jump into the cream of the conference crop anytime soon, Salmons is exactly the type of two-way player that has solidified their place as a playoff contender. The Bucks aren’t reaching for a title just yet, but their success is at least concrete.
Meanwhile, the Bulls only benefit from the possibility of improvement. If the cap space gained by ditching Salmons is never properly utilized, then it’s the Bulls who were had. It’s so difficult to evaluate trades on a one-year time frame because the outlook of each involved franchise is altered beyond that. So while the Bucks may be one of the teams of the moment, keep in mind that they may have facilitated the Bulls’ rise to prominence as a team of the future.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.