Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts aren't perfect, but could be just what the Bucks need

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It’s been said that if given the right touches and opportunity, most NBA players can be transformed in 20-point scorers. Move such a claim within the limits of reason however (come on, is any team really going to give Jarron Collins 35 shots a night to hit that mark?), and the pool of players in the L with the ability to score big shrinks a bit. It’s obviously tough to get into the league without considerable scoring abilities, but to put up points against NBA defenders? It’s not easy, even for premier athletes that have been playing the game their whole lives.

At least that’s what the Milwaukee Bucks were banking on when they acquiring two scorers who offer little else: Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts.

It’s not that Milwaukee gave up all that much in their two trades on Wednesday; the price to attain CDR was a 2012 second rounder, and the Bucks only lost Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric in grabbing Maggette. That’s because both players come with their own risks, and Maggette in particular could prove to be far more trouble than he’s worth.

Milwaukee just traded for the right to pay Corey almost $31 million over the next three seasons. That’s how much this team wants to improve immediately, and that’s how much they value Corey’s scoring abilities. It’s probably not the right move in the long run, and it should be…interesting to see how Maggette fits into Scott Skiles’ defense.

The Bucks locked themselves into three years of a player with a rather singular focus, and rarely does that turn out well. Yet I still appreciate this move for what it does — and says — about the Bucks.

Spending money to acquire talent screams of win-now, but it’s more than that. After all, a commitment to win now is still a commitment to winning, and the Bucks reviewed their season, figured out their weaknesses, and traded for a player who can help to fix some of them. The Bucks had the eighth worst offense in the NBA last season, yet made the playoffs due to a late-season push and a terrific campaign by Andrew Bogut. Maggette will slide into the rotation in place of the outgoing John Salmons, and while they don’t have identical skill sets, Maggette can do much of what Salmons did, only better.

Maggette and Salmons’ offensive ratings last year were identical, and they’re comparably effective on long two-point jumpers, a staple of Skiles’ offense. Will Corey kill countless possessions throughout the season by putting his blinders on? Of course. But the Bucks know that, and are willing to still invest this much money in him because of what he can do (score in bunches, get to the line) and what their current roster can’t (umm, score in bunches, get to the line).

Douglas-Roberts is also a pretty interesting get for the Bucks, especially because of his clear need for discipline. Not to play psychiatrist from miles and miles away, but reports from New Jersey last season pointed to CDR’s mental and emotional immaturity as a reason for his benching and struggles. Sounds like a Scott Skiles project, to me.

At Memphis, CDR was a solid scorer, particularly from mid-range. He could do the same in the NBA with the right coach both backing him and challenging him. Skiles could be that guy, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Douglas-Roberts fill in for Jerry Stackhouse next season. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see him sulking on the bench for most of the year, so you never know. If Milwaukee can figure out the CDR riddle, they could have a fairly competent scorer on their hands whose game is tailor-made for Skiles’ offense, and if not? Well, they’re down a 2012 second round pick. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get by.

The logic behind these moves is obviously eclipsed by the result; if Maggette and CDR are failures, then the trades are too. If not, then they were intelligent low-risk, decent-reward moves by John Hammond. The Bucks are jumping to contending status, but they may have just gotten a bit better by correctly identifying their weaknesses and doing something revolutionary: acquiring players specifically to negate them.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.