Al Jefferson traded to Jazz for picks. Minnesota's self destruction continues.

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nba_jefferson1_250.jpgAl Jefferson is not perfect, but the man had two 20-10 years, is 25, and gave Minnesota 17 and 9 last year trying to come back from a knee surgery he should be past this season.

Minnesota’s telegraphing of trading him was so bad Utah was able to get him for two first round pick, in a deal expected to be finalized later today according to Marc Spears at Yahoo. Utah had been considered the frontrunner so this is not a surprise.

And it’s a great pick up for Utah — they essentially traded Carlos Boozer for Al Jefferson this summer. Jefferson is half the price, scores and rebounds close to as much (Boozer is a more efficient shooter) and if you compare career PER they are very close. Neither of them plays great defense. Basically, Utah doesn’t take a step back at the four.

Minnesota wants to build around Kevin Love down low and the Jefferson/Love pairing did not work well. So if they want to move Jefferson, I get that.

But they so telegraphed what they were doing that every team in the league lowballed them on offers. Guys that can be 20-10 guys and are 25 do not get dumped out in a salary clearance for a couple picks (one of which, belonging to Memphis, is lottery protected).

Minnesota’s frontcourt now is Darko Milicic, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley coming off the bench. Not to worry though, they have plenty of point guards to make up for it.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.