Heat clear out Carlos Arroyo to make way for Mike Bibby. Is that an upgrade?

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To bring Mike Bibby in, somebody had to go.

So adios Carlos Arroyo. Thanks for your services.

Arroyo was bought out by the Heat, sent packing to make room for Bibby, who is expected to sign with the Heat on Wednesday when he clears waivers. Bibby sacrificed his $6.2 million salary next season to be bought out by the Wizards and get to a contender.

Bibby for Arroyo. Is that an upgrade?

Well, it is if Bibby plays. Arroyo has appeared in just two of the Heat’s last seven games, for a total of 21 minutes.

In the Heat offense the point guard doesn’t do a lot of ball handling, most of that goes to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The point guard is mostly a spot up shooter. Particularly from three.

Overall Bibby both have been very good three point shooters this season — Bibby 44.1 percent, Arroyo 43.8 percent. But in spot-up threes Arroyo is shooting 46.3 percent to Bibby’s 44.3 percent, according to Synergy Sports. All this says is that both are really knocking down the long all this season.

Step inside the arc through and Bibby is shooting just 37 percent on long two pointers (longer than 16 feet) while Arroyo is hitting 48 percent. Neither of them get to the rim much at all (but Bibby finishes better when he gets there once every other game or so). Also, if asked to be the pick and roll ball handler Arroyo is more effective, scoring 90 points for every 100 possessions in that role, compared to 69 for Bibby.

Bibby is better in transition this season, shooting 54.2 percent in that case to 48.3 percent for Arroyo, and Bibby is a much better three point shooter in transition.

On defense, Bibby’s reputation is terrible, which pretty much matches up with the eyeball test. But over at ESPN’s Heat Index blog the very smart Tom Haberstroh says Bibby is not that bad a defender, noting that the Hawks were a decent defensive team with Bibby playing big minutes.

• This season, the Hawks were better defensively with Bibby on the floor than when he sat on the bench. The Hawks allowed 105.4 points per 100 possessions with him and 106.6 points with him riding pine.

• He grades out as an “average” defender this season according to data from Synergy Sports. The grade spectrum for a given player is as follows: “poor,” “below average,” “average,” “good,” “very good” and “excellent” depending on how many points he allows on every play he directly defends.

That the Hawks were better with Bibby on the floor than off could speak to Bibby being a better defender than we thought. Or it could speak to Jeff Teague (the Hawks backup point) being an even bigger disappointment than we thought.

Also on Synergy, Arroyo does a little bit better in holding down the pick-and-roll ball handler than scoring, and seems to stick better with spot up guys at the arc better (Arroyo hold spot up three shooters to 8 fewer percentage points).

All of this really points to is that Bibby is not some massive talent upgrade over Arroyo at this point in his career. Most guys bought out and picked up on waivers are not — they are on waivers for a reason.

But if Bibby can get on the court and just be what he was in Atlanta, that is still more than the Heat have been getting out of Arroyo.

Gregg Popovich on Fox News pundit attacking LeBron James: “Unbelievable”

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Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham launched an attack at Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the NBA star voiced his opinion on Donald Trump. LeBron had done so many times before, alongside other notable NBA personalities like Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr.

This instance of LeBron speaking up apparently struck Ingraham in some type of way, enough to invoke a shot at James’ intelligence and speaking mannerisms in thinly-veiled comments. Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble” which sparked the ire of many around the league. LeBron responded in kind, and most considered Ingraham’s racially-tinged tirade to be par for the course from that particular outlet.

Ingraham, who failed to do basic research on LeBron’s background, community leadership, and charitable contributions, also drew criticism from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Speaking before San Antonio’s game against the Cavaliers, Popovich told a crowd that Ingraham’s comments said more about her than about LeBron, and that he was happy the game had such a positive role model for young fans in James.

Via Twitter:

Shoutout to Popovich for continuing to be a voice from such a prominent position within sports and pop culture. Guys like him and LeBron haven’t exhausted themselves even though the discussion about what they say is undoubtedly tiring.

Jimmy Butler has surgery on right meniscus, no timetable for return

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The playoff picture in the Western Conference became much more opaque after Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury earlier in the week.

Reports out of Minnesota was that Butler had suffered a right meniscus injury, ducking what many had feared was an ACL tear. According to the team, Butler had successful surgery on his right meniscus this weekend.

As of Sunday morning they did not have a timetable for his return.

Via Twitter:

Minnesota currently stands third in the West but they will have a hard time fending off the rest of the playoff hopeful teams below them without their star player.

For his part, Butler is hoping he will be back in time for the playoffs. Early reports were that the team was thinking his recovery had a 4-to-6 week timeline, but again nothing has been set. Meniscus recovery times vary greatly depending on the issue at hand and the procedure done, neither of which we have details on at this time.

The Timberwolves have the 15th most difficult strength of schedule ahead of them according to Tankathon.com, with games against major Western Conference opponents ahead of them as well as bottom-dwellers like the Memphis Grizzlies.

Minnesota has been a good story all season long. No doubt many will bring up Tom Thibodeau’s workload once again with Butler injured, something compounded by Butler apparently requesting to rest during the 2018 All-Star Game.

Wolves fans have been waiting a long time for this. They don’t deserve this kind of punishment at this late a date, but the Basketball Gods are cruel and unceasingly unforgiving.

Isaiah Thomas on Cavaliers trade to Lakers: “They were in panic mode”

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It seems Isaiah Thomas is a thorn in the side of many in the NBA these days. The Los Angeles Lakers point guard reportedly was the source of some locker room conflict while he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, although it appears that Dwyane Wade was the first to lead the charge against Kevin Love in the infamous player rap session.

Thomas is now a member of the Lakers after being part of the worst section of the season in Cleveland. The Cavaliers, with their revamped roster, have just one loss since the trade deadline. LeBron James & Co. have moved on, and Thomas appears set for free agency this summer and yet another team.

A move for the Cavaliers seemed inevitable, even if the return for Kyrie Irving from Boston — conveyed through consequent trades — was less than ideal. Meanwhile Thomas, who didn’t appear to enjoy his time in Ohio, has now said that he was surprised Dan Gilbert’s team bailed on him so quickly.

Via ESPN:

“I didn’t think they would pull the trigger that fast, 15 games,” Thomas told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview that will air March 11. “But again, it’s a business. And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing — a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house.”

Thomas went on to say that he didn’t think he had enough time to find a rhythm not only coming back from a hip injury but on a new team in a new system. Thomas also mentioned that he harbored no ill feelings toward the Cavaliers.

We’ll see if that’s the case when the Lakers take on Cleveland on March 11 in LA.

Coach Tyronn Lue says not to expect LeBron James to have “rest” games

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LeBron James has not missed one Cleveland Cavaliers game this season. At age 33 in his 15th NBA season, LeBron is fourth in the league in total minutes played, third in the league in minutes per game at 37, and is top 10 in the NBA in usage rate.

Don’t expect that to change.

LeBron doesn’t want to take games off — he even dominated the All-Star Game — and do you really think Lue is going to force him to sit while the Cavaliers try to adapt to a radical roster shakeup at the trade deadline? From Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

“I just think being the leader of this team, I don’t think he thinks he can take games off, because, you know, guys being hurt and going through a rough patch, and now new guys coming in,” Lue said before the Cavs’ 112-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “So, I think he’s trying to lead and lead by example … I think we still got to be smart about the situation, but [the training staff] say he feels good.”

LeBron said this last month and things have not changed.

“I told you I want to play every game,” James said. “If my health continues as it is right now, then that’s what it is.”

While “load management” is a buzzword around the NBA — one ignored in Minnesota — LeBron has responded to his increased workload with an MVP level season. LeBron is averaging 26.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game, is shooting 35.9 percent from three, and has the highest value over replacement player in the league. (His less energized play in January likely cost him any real shot at his fifth MVP.) With the league emphasizing not resting players — particularly in nationally televised games, which the Cavaliers have a lot of — LeBron is not getting much if any rest. He wants to play in a full 82.

The only concern is will he wear down. LeBron is going to have to dominate in the playoffs for the Cavaliers to come out of the East. How much gas will LeBron have in the tank come May? There’s a reason Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, and a lot of other elite coaches give players a night off. That’s not going to happen with LeBron, at least not likely in a meaningful way.

Consider it something to file away and remember if the Cavaliers and LeBron look a step slower in the postseason.