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.
Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.
In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.
The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.
Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.
Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.
A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.
Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.
In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.
Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.
They’ll get their chance.
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:
The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.
The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.
This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.
At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.
What’s going on?
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).
But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.
Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.