The Cavaliers and Celtics meet for the fourth time tomorrow, but you have to ask yourself if this meeting can tell us much. Usually when two title contenders meet in April, there’s high drama and questions to be answered. But given what we’ve seen this season, the result would have to be extreme to bear any fruit in this instance.
We’ve not only seen the Cavs run away from the Celtics twice, making them look every bit the aging, worn-out team their critics claim they are, but we’ve seen the Celtics fall regularly to other teams, most recently the Rockets.
If the Celtics win, would you really think them more capable of ousting the Cavs in the playoffs if they were to meet? With the Cavs having essentially locked up homecourt through the playoffs, they have very little play for, and are still without the services of Shaquille O’Neal. The Celtics on the other hand were on a bit of a reclamation run before losses to OKC and Houston sent them back reeling.
If the Cavaliers win tomorrow, it will simply be a validation of everything we’ve already assumed, that they are the pre-eminent team in the East, and the Celtics are simply not in a position to compete this season.
A Celtics win, at best teaches that they’re capable of putting together a viable threat still. But it won’t erase the struggles they’ve had this season, or any shining light to guide the way to the Finals.
That said, I wouldn’t expect this to be any less of a battle. Neither team likes one another and the Celtics desperately needs to re-establish some measure of legitimacy.
And the Cavs are loath to relinquish the throne.
Magic Johnson has a statue outside Staples Center.
He’s now also in control of the product inside it — Magic is head of the Lakers’ basketball operations after Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were let go on Tuesday. The shakeup was expected, although the timing caught the league off guard.
It also raises questions about how the Lakers’ front office will now operate with Magic and former agent Rob Pelinka in charge, and what direction do they want to take a team with a quality young core?
Mark Medina, the Laker insider and beat reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News joins me to break down all the questions around the Lakers moves, from why now to what next. He has some great insight into where the Lakers are headed.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.
The moves you see teams make at the NBA trade deadline are the best indicator of what they think their chances are come the playoffs. Do they stand pat and decide to wait a year, or are they aggressive going for win-now moves?
Based on that, the Rockets think they can make a deep run this season. They have already traded for Lou Williams from the Lakers, who should thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s system and add scoring punch to the bench.
But the Rockets may not be not done, they have been talking to the Cavaliers about Iman Shumpert, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
LeBron has been asking for depth at the point guard spot, Beverley would be a great fit for them. He could shoot the three and score, plus he defends very well.
He’d be a great fit for a lot of teams, which is why the Cavaliers are not the only team with their eyes on Beverley, reports Calvin Watkins who covers the Rockets for ESPN.
According to a source, several teams have expressed interest in Rockets guard Patrick Beverley. Chicago, New York and Cleveland are the main suitors. Rockets front office and coaches value what Beverley brings to the team and that’s being noticed by others. Beverley, according to a source, has a desire to remain with the Rockets.
The Rockets have played have played much better defense since Beverley returned from injury, and they should be hesitant to move him. Watkins tweeted this:
How much of that is a bluff trying to drive up the price and how much of that is serious remains to be seen. The Rockets like Beverley and don’t want to move him, but there is a price for everyone in the league and if some team comes in over the top the Rockets have to listen.
I just don’t think Shumpert is far enough over that top.
Let this be a reminder: If you are 6’11” with impressive athleticism, you are going to get second (and third, and fourth, and…) chances in the NBA.
Larry Sanders has been out of the NBA for a couple of seasons after a mutual parting of the ways with the Bucks, a buyout of his contract that let him get away from basketball. He had personal demons to deal with and checked himself into a hospital program for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
He’s said now he wants to make a comeback, and the Cavaliers are going to at least take a look, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.
A solo workout implies this is not going to lead to him being signed soon, it’s just more of a progress check. Sanders reportedly has looked in some previous settings like a guy who has been out of the league for a couple of years.
Sanders averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks a game, which led to him getting a big extension with the Bucks (and that’s the Sanders teams hope to see in workouts). Sanders wrote later he struggled with the pressure and how to cope with it after signing that deal, which led to things such as a nightclub brawl left him with an injured thumb in need of surgery, being charged with animal cruelty, and being suspended a couple of times by the league for marijuana use.
Hopefully, Sanders has found the balance he sought in his life. He’s trying to turn that into a return to the NBA.
As teams return from the All-Star break, the Denver Nuggets are holding on to the eighth seed in the West. They have an underperforming Trail Blazers team two games back, and a Pelicans team two-and-a-half back that just added DeMarcus Cousins.
Which leads to the question, how eager will Denver be to move players that can help them hold on to the eight seed? There have been trade rumors around veteran forward Wilson Chandler for a couple of seasons, but will they move him at the deadline?
At least a couple of teams are interested, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports in a video about trades (video below).
“Watch both of those teams with Denver’s Wilson Chandler. Oklahoma City had been very much in pursuit of Rudy Gay before his season-ending injury. They’d love to get a four-man, a versatile forward, as would the Clippers. Both teams think that kind of player maybe gets them over the hump in a first-round series.”
The Thunder simply need more playmakers and guys who can score around Russell Westbrook. Chandler can do that, he’s averaging 15.6 points a game playing 30 minutes a night in Denver, he has to be respected from three, can score inside, and overall he’s a slightly above-average (or above replacement level, if you will) NBA forward who can play the three or the four.
For the Clippers, he could slide right into the three, which has long been a weak spot in their rotations.
Of course, the real question is what does Denver want in return? And this is where it gets tricky because the Nuggets want to win and Chandler is part of that, so the price has gone up for him in Denver’s estimation. Neither the Clippers or Thunder have obvious players that they would be willing to move that the Thunder likely want, and would either team give up a future first rounder for Chandler?
This trade may well not happen, but it’s something to watch.