Who wins in four-team trade? Collison, Indiana and New Jersey big, but everyone really

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dcollison_dunk.jpgIt’s basketball — there is a winner and a loser. That’s the way it works.

Except the four-team trade that went down today every team can claim it won, at least something. But just like on Animal Farm where some animals are more equal than others, some trade winners are bigger than others.

Pacers: in Darren Collison, James Posey; out Troy Murphy

Indiana is maybe the biggest winner — as is Collison, who gets to go there. Jim O’Brien was trying to run an up-tempo offense with T.J. Ford running the show. It was ugly. The Pacers desperately needed someone quick who could handle the offense, and Collison is that guy. Collison is going to get the run he deserves (love him, wouldn’t start him over Chris Paul) in a system suited to his talents.

The Pacers take on James Posey, who will give them some solid play at the three. They give up Troy Murphy, which is a hit — the Pacers will run and may go small a lot, with Danny Granger playing a little four. The bulk of Murphy’s minutes will go to either Tyler Hansbrough or Josh McRoberts, whoever plays less bad. But the Pacers would have traded Murphy’s expiring deal for Collison in a heartbeat, so this is a win.

Nets: in Troy Murphy; out Courtney Lee

New Jersey also gets a big win.  Murphy is an upgrade over Derrick Favors at the four right now. Favors could be a loser in the deal if he takes this personally, the key is increasing his minutes as the year goes on and as he starts to get a feel for the NBA game. You don’t want to stunt his growth. But Murphy is in the last year of his deal, so you get to not rush the somewhat raw Favors then next year have $15.5 million in cap space (as the system currently stands, could be very different after the new CBA goes into place).

Another winner is Anthony Morrow, the shooting guard for New Jersey who doesn’t have to battle Courtney Lee for minutes. More Morrow is good for all basketball fans.

Houston: in Courtney Lee; out Trevor Ariza

Houston gets Lee, who they think may be a better fit for them than Trevor Ariza. Doesn’t really matter, Lee will be getting limited minutes behind Kevin Martin and have to earn his burn the hard way. But this works for the Rockets because they save a boatload of cash. Ariza is owed $20 million over the next three years, while Lee has one year left on his rookie deal at $1.35 million, plus a team option for the year after that.

This also helps a little with the logjam the Rockets had at the three. It’s Shane Battier’s job now, and he will get the bulk of the run.

Hornets: in Trevor Ariza; out James Posey, Darren Collison

The Hornets get Ariza, who is a good upgrade for them at the three, over what’s left of Peja. Ariza was not working as a first offensive option in Houston, but he’ll look good running alongside a real first option Chris Paul (providing Monty Williams lets them run as he should). They also get rid of the less desirable contract of James Posey.

Not sure that bringing in Ariza makes Paul say, “Man, no way I leave now,” but it shows the team is trying. But if it is not enough, if CP3 does bolt in two summers (or you have to trade him before he bolts), the Hornets have now traded away a very good replacement.

The question for the Hornets is this: Could they have gotten more for Collison? They essentially used Collison to upgrade the three some and save a little money. Collison was in demand, could they have gotten more? Probably.

But they can still claim a win.

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.