Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6

Where is all the trade chatter?

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It’s 10 days until the NBA trade deadline, and usually right now the chatter among NBA teams about potential deals is ramping up to a huge wave fans everywhere just try to ride.

This season, it’s a ripple in a pond.

Mark Cuban said this is a pretty standard year. “Relative to other years in terms of trade talk, I don’t think it’s really any different,’’ he said. But it feels different, quieter. Sure, teams tend to wait until the last second, but there is usually a lot of chatter, a lot of rumors.

This season there is the big ‘Melodrama, and in the coming days we will finally have some answer to what is next for Carmelo Anthony. Frankly, that can’t come soon enough.

But after that… not much. Not exactly crickets as there are guys being shopped — Antawn Jamison, O.J. Mayo, Andre Miller — but there is not a lot of chatter.

Part of it is the usual “contending team looks to add key veteran” market is non-existent. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he was serious about making a move, but unless he wants to ship Andrew Bynum out he doesn’t have any assets a team is looking for (older players under big, long contracts are not attractive).

Orlando? Already made their big move. Boston? Maybe a small deal to provide depth with Marquis Daniels out, but nothing serious. Miami? They would love a big but have no trade assets anybody wants. Spurs? They’re doing just fine, thank you very much. Chicago? They’d love a two guard but it’s going to have to be a really good deal to make it happen.

Sean Deveney at The Sporting News taps into the other issue putting a damper on trade talks.

But what’s really strangling this year’s trade market is the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement, for which commissioner David Stern has put just about everything on the table — franchise player tags, a hard salary cap, a severe rollback in players’ salaries. What often happens at the deadline is one struggling team with a high-priced star deals that contract away for an expiring contract and either young players or draft picks. That sort of deal figures to be hard to come by in this environment.

Most front-office executives remain tight-lipped about the new CBA. But there’s no question it’s having an impact on how teams are viewing their trade possibilities. “It’s really not the time to be giving up draft picks, which are one of the few things that you can figure on as far as being valuable assets,” one general manager told Sporting News. “There’s a lot of risk in just not knowing how things will shake out. You never know, things could change in the next week, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of teams are looking to pull the trigger right now.”

And most GMs by their nature seem risk averse (you’d be that way two if everything you did at your job were second-guessed in public forums the way a GM’s choices are). So this year may be quieter. Or, maybe Cuban is right and we’re all wrong. Again.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.