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.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.