Let’s start this rumor report off with the red flags — this comes from long-time rumormonger Sam Smith of Bulls.com, who reports this without saying he got this from a source (thanks Pinstriped Post). Nobody else is reporting this. So please sprinkle liberally with salt.
That said, there is some logic to the idea.
The Magic want some front court help and the Memphis Grizzlies have Zach Randolph in the last year of a deal, and Smith says the Magic are want to talk trade.
The logic is the Magic need some front court help since shipping out Marcin Gortat, and Randolph is an offensive and rebounding machine. For Memphis, they have both Randolph and Marc Gasol coming up as free agents this summer and it will be hard to pay both without paying a luxury tax (or whatever spending punishments will be in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement). This way the Grizzlies could get some talent back rather than just letting Randolph walk at the season’s end.
That’s about where it stops making sense.
For one, Randolph is a defensive liability that would drive Stan Van Gundy crazy. Or, crazier. But since the last round of trades defense has been the bigger problem and inconsistency for the Magic and this trade would not address that in the least. It would make the Magic defense worse.
Next, Randolph will make $17.7 million this season. Smith said the trade would involve “players and picks.” The Magic could do this trade straight up if Memphis would take on Gilbert Arenas, but the Grizzlies are trying to shed some salary, not take on three seasons after this one.
Maybe Jason Richardson and his $14.4 million expiring deal could be the core of a deal. But how does that make the Grizzlies better? Depends on what else can be thrown in. Memphis is in the fight for one of the final playoff seeds in the West (and the playoff game money that would bring in), if they are going to virtually abandon that by trading Randolph you have to give them some quality pieces back. Orlando wants to win a title so they are not giving up a lot of quality.
This seems like a real stretch. But you can see enough logic to make you think the sides would talk it through.
Take that Stephen Curry.
Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.
If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.
Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.
Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.
We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.
This was expected. It still sucks to hear.
Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.
Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.
San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.
In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.
Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.
Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.
Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.
That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as
Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.
Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.
He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.