If you’re going to blow up the team and rebuild — and it appears the Denver Nuggets hand has been forced in that regard — then you do it right. Go all the way down to the foundation. Spare nothing.
Which is to say, if the Denver Nuggets are trading Carmelo Anthony (and J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin) then what is the point of keeping Chauncey Billups?
Billups will turn 34 next season, which is not ideal for rebuilding but great for a team needing one more piece to make a run. Billups is still at the top of his game — he averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 assists per game last year, had a PER of 20.2 and a true shooting percentage of .601. Which is to say, your eyes don’t deceive you, he is still one of the top handful of point guards around. He’s a five-time All-Star (including last year) with a ring and a finals MVP award.
And he is an expiring contract, sort of. Billups is owed $13.2 million this season but his $14.2 million for next season is not guaranteed, so he can be bought out at a fair price. That will be attractive to teams who may not want to take on the long-term commitment or teams that want to win now and are willing to give up a young player for a playoff proven vet.
There has been no talk of trading Billups and he has not asked to be traded. Denver may want to keep him this season and buy him out next year for the cap savings themselves. This is all speculation.
But if they are looking for young players and picks, you’d have to think some team would pay handsomely for Billups. They have to consider moving him at the trade deadline pretty seriously.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.