As soon as the Heat started struggling, all the way back in November of 2010, the ideas started coming in. “What if they traded Chris Bosh?” The ideas continued all the way through the Finals including a few insane people talking about how they need to trade LeBron James. Sorry, I don’t care how much of a headcase he is. He could dance half-naked on the training room table to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and he still wouldn’t be too much of a headcase to keep. But since they lost in the Finals, terrible end to the season that that was, only being better than every team in the East and all but one team in the West, including face-kicking both Boston and Chicago, the noise has been similarly loud.
The New York Daily News reports that Pat Riley’s been out in front to get this one quiet before it even becomes a question:
Not long after LeBron James’ Finals flameout, Miami president Pat Riley has sent word to other league execs: He’s not breaking up his Big Three.
via Raptors take a pass on landing Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni, opt for defensive-minded Dwane Casey.
What are you possibly going to get for any of the Big 3 that would in any way meet value? Even if you take the worst of the three, Chris Bosh, no one is going to trade for him after he’s been revealed as a guy you can’t put as your top guy, who lacks toughness and mental resolve? Meanwhile there’s simply no one you can put together to try and trade for James. He’s untouchable, as is Dwyane Wade. Lost in the overreaction, and let’s be honest, glee over the Heat’s demise is the fact that they were two games from winning the title. If the Heat’s defensive rotations are a bit better on a pair of Nowitzki layups, the parade would have been on South Beach. It wasn’t, and let’s credit the Mavs.
But unlike Dallas, who shot the moon in one of their few remaining seasons of contention, perhaps people should realize that the odds of the Heat winning the number of titles they predicted in that silly event last summer are the same. They just didn’t do it the first year. The NBA got the best of the brazen Miami Triad this year. Unfortunately, they have to deal with them next year, and for another four years after that. The only thing that is going to break up the Big 3 is the CBA. Then again, with as petty as the other NBA owners and front offices have been toward’s the Heat’s juvenile arrogance, some punitive measures built specifically to limit them wouldn’t surprise anyone.
We haven’t seen a back-to-back-to-back in the NBA since the lockout season, when the league tried to cram 66 games in after Christmas.
The Washington Wizards have one now.
The Utah at Washington game originally scheduled for Jan. 23, which was snowed out because of a major storm hitting the Eastern seaboard, has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Eastern at Verizon Center.
That makes the Wizards’ schedule:
Feb. 18: vs. Utah
Feb. 19: vs. Detroit
Feb. 20: at Miami
The Jazz have a back-to-back as well, facing Boston on the 19th.
When you talk about the most underrated players in the NBA, especially with the casual fan, Mike Conley is at the top of the list. The Grizzlies’ point guard has played at an All-Star level for a few seasons now but hasn’t gotten the recognition, in part because it’s Memphis and in part because the West is stacked with quality point guards.
The New York Knicks desperately need an upgrade at the point.
Which has led to the latest fantasy of seemingly every Knick fan (and talking head in the city) — the free agent Conley coming to New York this summer. When asked about it Friday before the Grizzlies and Knicks squared off, Conley didn’t kill the rumors (which in New York is like throwing gasoline on them). Here are his quotes, via Ian Begley of ESPN.
“I think everything will be on the table when that time comes,” Conley said Friday morning after the Grizzlies’ shootaround at Madison Square Garden. “I haven’t committed to anything…
“They’ve got talent, obviously,” he said. “I think [Kristaps] Porzingis surprised a lot of people. He’s going to be very, very good in this league. He already is pretty good. But he’s going to grow each year, and they already have one of the best small forward in Melo [Carmelo Anthony]. They’ve got a young team, so they’ve got a lot of room to improve.”
The smart money is on Conley staying in Memphis, the only NBA team he has ever played for. Conley was very active last summer in recruiting Marc Gasol to remain in Memphis, and has said it would be very difficult to leave him. Plus the Grizzlies can offer more money — one more guaranteed year plus larger raises.
The Knicks will need to lose some salary before July 1 just to offer Conley a max, which likely starts around $24 million (depends on the final salary cap number). What the Knicks can offer is a larger stage for his brand and the chance to bring that brand out of the shade of Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Conley — who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 assists per game, is shooting 35 percent from three, is good on the pick-and-roll, plus is one of the best defensive point guards in the game — will have plenty of other suitors as well. He’s one of the best players on the free agent market this summer.
Kevin Durant to the Warriors is having a moment, but even the most recent and most credible report linking the Thunder star to Golden State contained an important caveat:
Make no mistake: Durant isn’t close to gone in Oklahoma City – no decision, no leaning, sources said
Nobody has credibly reported Durant is leaning toward leaving the Thunder. The issue at hand is where Durant would go IF he leaves Oklahoma City.
Except one NBA general manager has gone a step further.
Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:
General managers know a lot of things we don’t, but like anyone, they can also be prone to repeating gossip and hearsay. Does this general manager have inside info, or is he just participating the echo chamber? Impossible to say, but the possibility of the former raises the level of intrigue.
Of course, the Warriors can’t be the leaders in the clubhouse, because they’re not in the clubhouse. Free agency doesn’t begin until July. Nobody has made their final pitch, not even the Thunder.
It’s fun to make bold predictions now, and this general manager has a chance of looking genius. But sometimes the desire for that designation causes people to get ahead of themselves.
Here was my gut feel on a report that the Clippers had talked to the Nuggets about trading Blake Griffin to Denver:
1. Nuggets calling Clippers about Griffin
2. Clippers saying they’re not interested
3. Nuggets leaking the fact that Griffin trade talks happened with the Clippers – technically true! – to excite their fan base and potential free agents considering whether or not to take Denver seriously
Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:
Woike is the more reliable source of information here. I believe that’s all this was.
The Clippers probably shouldn’t sell low on Griffin now. But if the Nuggets made a truly reasonable offer based on Griffin’s peak value – and I doubt they did – it also wouldn’t hurt to consider it.