Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls

2011 NBA Free Agency and Trade Current Events: This league is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s

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Let’s say you had a full day of work on Thursday, and then a dinner engagement with a friend, or your kid had a basketball game or something. Then on Friday you had another full day, and then a work Christmas party. This is the holiday season, everyone’s busy. Perhaps you’ve missed what’s gone on in the NBA. Being a fan, you’ve heard some things. “Wait, the Celtics traded for David West? I thought he was a free agent!” “What do you mean the Hawks signed Tracy McGrady? Why?”

To help catch you up and straighten all this out, here are 88 lines about 44 NBA things in the past two days. (Inspiration here.)

1. So the Lakers had a deal to send Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Pau Gasol to the Rockets, while the Rockets would send Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a pick to New Orleans, and New Orleans would send Los Angeles the best pure point guard in the league. Many people thought this was a fair deal for all involved, the same way many people thought seeing “Kangaroo Jack”  and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” in the theaters was a good idea.

2. Psych, the league blocked it! Citing “basketball reasons,” the league shorted out the trade, making pretty much everyone in the known universe angry.

3. Oh, and Dan Gilbert wrote the commish a letter after the deal was already blocked. Because when he writes letters the reaction is usually positive.

4. Meanwhile, the Magic went from “not taking trade calls” to “taking trade calls” to “possibly having a deal with New Jersey” to “possibly filing tampering charges against the Nets” to “not filing tampering charges against the Nets” to “giving Dwight Howard permission to talk to other teams” to “having their CEO deny they gave permission for Howard to talk to other teams” to “No, just kidding, we totally gave Dwight permission to other teams, including the Lakers, Mavericks, and Nets.” And miraculously none of these things were the decision the Magic made under the influence of alcohol this week.

5. The Celtics managed to pull-off a sign-and-trade for David West, which would be really awesome if for any reason Kevin Garnett were to magically transform into a point guard. West and Rondo will be excellent in the pick-and-pop, though.

6. Tyson Chandler announced on radio that he was signing with the Knicks, which means that the Knicks elected to bring in size and defensive toughness over hyper-super-duper-starness or offense. Millions of people have already fled to the bunkers, have you?

7. Thaddeus Young inked a new deal with the 76ers, so that he can enjoy the feel of pine beneath his bottom while they try and sort out the 1,800 combo-forward/combo-guards they have. The deal is actually a really good one both in value and bringing back Young.

8. The Celtics re-signed Glen Davis. Just kidding, they hate Glen Davis, they sign-and-traded him to Orlando for Brandon Bass, because you know the old saying, “You can never have enough undersized power forwards.”

9. Grant Hill elected to return to the Phoenix Suns on a one-year deal. I can’t tell you the reason, but it rhymes with “schmountain of scmouth.”

10. The Pistons re-signed Tayshaun Prince to a four-year deal. The reason is… wait, why did the Pistons re-sign Tayshaun Prince to a four-year deal?

11. The Clippers signed Caron Butler to a three-year, $24 million deal. If you’re searching for answers, perhaps looking at the big name on the logo might be a start.

12. The Kings signed Marcus Thornton to a four-year deal which everyone is going to argue about. It’s the perfect combination of “too much for a bench player” (if he comes off the bench) and “great value on a young rising star” (if he becomes a star).

13. The Suns signed Shannon Brown to a one-year deal. Turns out Alvin Gentry felt they had a need at “garbage-time dunker.”

14. Brandon Roy announced his medical retirement and the world cried. Headlines read “Typical day in Portland happens.”

15. Greg Oden’s not going to be ready for the start of the season and has suffered a “setback” in his career. I was confused since in general his entire career has been a setback, poor guy.

16. The Bucks signed Mike Dunleavy to a cheap deal which most people think is really great value. Considering their confusing efforts to both move to go younger and bring in sub-super veterans, this season’s shaping up a lot like the last one.

17. Marquis Daniels signed a one-year deal with the Celtics. That’s actually a nice story after they ditched him because he couldn’t play due to nearly breaking his neck for them.

18. Tracy McGrady signed with the Hawks. It’s going to be good for Tracy McGrady to teach Josh Smith how to bail on his team and demand a trade right, veteran presence and all.

19. Mario Chalmers re-signed with the Heat. It’s not known if the Heat used the “Little Brother We Pick On” exception or not.

20. The Suns traded Mikael Pietrus to the Raptors for a second-rounder. Five more Euro players and Bryan Colangelo has the whole set!

21. The Pacers signed Jeff Pendergraph to a one-year deal, which makes you think Josh McRoberts is probably on his way out. I am the only person who finds this interesting.

22. The Pistons bought out Rip Hamilton. So that was that “Woo-hoo!” you heard all across America, we just don’t know whether it was from Hamilton or Pistons fans, collectively.

23. The Mavs are closing in on Vince Carter. Take a second to imagine Rick Carlisle dealing with Vince Carter on the floor, it’ll brighten your day.

24. Oklahoma City re-signed DeQuan Cook. I got nothing, that’s a pretty good signing for them.

25. The Knicks are closing in on Mike Bibby. In a related story, the walls are closing in on Knicks fans.

26. The Magic amnestied Gilbert Arenas. That’s it, that’s the joke.

27. The Cavs haven’t amnestied Baron Davis yet, and it’s unclear if they will. He did not show up to camp overweight, so you can decide which of those statements is more surprising.

28. Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, Utah, New Jersey and Washington want Josh Howard. And that pretty much sums up this free agency period.

29. The Spurs amnestied Richard Jefferson, which was a bit of a shock. So one franchise is still sane.

30. The Pistons brought back Jonas Jerebko for $4 million a year, which is a steal. Detroit’s been kind of bipolar with the good decision/bad decision last couple of days.

31. Because of the Tyson Chandler signing, the Knicks may amnesty Chauncey Billups. He’s literally threatened teams that are lottery squads about making a bid on him, because he’s Mr. Super Fun Happy Guy.

32. The Suns signed Sebastian Telfair. So we can all get excited for his redemption story for the 800th time.

33. The Spurs signed T.J. Ford. Get your “Texas boy comes home” stories here.

34. The Raptors signed Jamal Magloire. That should solve all of their problems.

35. The Heat signed Eddy Curry. That joke’s gotten old.

36. Shane Battier signed with Miami on Twitter. This is actually a quality signing that helps them, it just makes everyone else sick, because, you know.

37. The Kings signed Chuck Hayes to go alongside DeMarcus Cousins. He may slap DeMarcus Cousins (read: he will slap DeMarcus Cousins).

38. Really quietly in the Tyson Chandler deal, the Mavericks picked up a $13 million trade exception. That sneaky Cuban, and by Cuban we mean Donnie Nelson.

39. Oh, hey, the Chris Paul trade? Back on the table.

40. Apparently the Rockets are going to throw in some more young pieces, like Patrick Patterson or Courtney Lee. So the Hornets might actually get the type of players they need versus the ones they were getting before when everyone thought it was such an awesome deal.

41. Everyone hates David Stern. You knew that already, but the veto thing has made people go bonkers, including one associate of mine referring to it as a “crime.”

42. The Pacers re-signed Jeff Foster. Odd.

43. Nene is reportedly getting offered a bajillion dollars from New Jersey, who is desperate after Caron Butler got away. That tells you a lot about the Nets.

44. Charlie Bell showed up drunk for his DUI hearing. Welcome back, NBA.

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.

Russell Westbrook on Zaza Pachulia: ‘I’m going to get his ass back’

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Russell Westbrook has spent a lot of time bagging on Kevin Durant since Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors.

In a move that can’t help but be seen as a response, Golden State center Zaza Pachulia laid out and stood over Westbrook last night.

Of course, the Oklahoma City guard didn’t see that as rightful comeuppance.

Westbrook:

I don’t know. He me kind of hard. But it’s alright. I’m going to get his ass back. Straight up.

I didn’t see that [Pachulia standing over him] until just now, but I don’t play that game. I’m going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don’t know when it’s going to be, but I don’t play that game.

Pachulia:

I can’t worry about those kind of comments. I’m part of the amazing team, amazing group. We have a great goal of winning a championship. So, I’m all in with my energy. One hundred percent, I’m all in. So we’re thinking about this team and staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and we’re ending up playing for the championship.

That’s what I’m thinking about. I’m not thinking about those kind of comments.

That team is not there. So, they might be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. OK, you can get me back. But again, it’s my 14th year. We all know what my game is, to play hard and not dirty, but to play hard. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn’t dirty at all. So, I’m not worried about this.

Pachulia continued, via Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

“Bring it on,” he said. “Bring it on.

“I’ll be there. I’ll be in OKC, too, so whenever he wants, my pleasure. My pleasure.”

And via Royce Young of ESPN:

Both Westbrook’s and Pachulia’s competitiveness and toughness are beyond reproach. These are not the type of players to back down.

What does Westbrook have in mind? I believe him when he says he doesn’t know. But I’m intrigued to find out.

As if the Warriors visit to Oklahoma City next month didn’t already have enough storylines.

Should he be an All-Star? Kemba Walker: ‘Not really, if you ask me’

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Kemba Walker is focused on Charlotte’s record. He isn’t very interested in the All-Star game right now.

Walker scored 23 points, and the Hornets stopped a five-game slide with a 107-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Walker went 4 for 8 from behind the arc against Portland and 8 for 14 from the field overall. But he said he doesn’t think he has done enough this year to make the All-Star game for the first time, citing the team’s 21-21 record.

“Not really, if you ask me,” Walker said. “Especially because of where my team is. But like I said, I really don’t care honestly.”

“We haven’t been doing a great job of winning consistently (so) the All-Star game is the last thing I’m going to think about right now.”

While Walker is brushing off talk about next month’s game in New Orleans, he is making a strong case for a spot on the Eastern Conference team. He is averaging 23 points and shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range this season.

 

Coach Steve Clifford said Walker is playing at an All-Star level, but doesn’t know if he will be selected.

“It’s not a question of whether or not he’s playing like an All-Star – he’s an All-Star-caliber guard, no question about it,” Clifford said. “The factors will be looking at the other point guards in the East. The East is loaded. Point guard is the best position in our league right now and also, a lot of other guys are playing on teams with better records than ours. It’s about winning.”

The Hornets snapped an eight-game streak of allowing at least 100 points.

Charlotte led 79-72 after three quarters but blew the game open in the fourth behind eight quick points from Frank Kaminsky. The reserve had all 11 of his points in the final quarter, including three 3-pointers.

Walker had a big first half, hitting 6 of 9 shots and three 3-pointers to help the Hornets build a 54-46 lead.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Made all 11 free throws, but shot 8 of 31 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Hornets: Bench outscored Portland’s reserves 44-22.

HIBBERT’S BIG NIGHT

Charlotte center Roy Hibbert played what Clifford called the best game of his season.

The 7-foot-2 Hibbert, who came in averaging 5.2 points per game, had a season-high 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting and provided two of the game’s biggest highlights.

He brought the crowd to its feet on a drop-step drive through the lane and an unexpected one-handed dunk over Meyers Leonard. A few minutes later, Hibbert threw a backdoor alley-oop pass intended for Kaminsky that inadvertently went in. Hibbert didn’t even crack a smile as he jogged back down court.

“That was a helluva pass, shot – I don’t know what it was,” Walker said with a laugh. “I’m just glad it went in.”

Hibbert, who has battled through knee issues this season, said he wasn’t trying to score, but glad it went in.

“That was a bad pass and a bad shot, that’s all I can say,” Hibbert said.

LOSING WAYS

Damian Lillard scored 21 points and C.J. McCollum had 18 for Portland, which has lost three straight and 16 of 22 since Dec. 5.

“As a group we have to let last year go,” Portland center Mason Plumlee said. “If it was the first 10 games of the season we could talk about building on last year. This is a new team, this is a new group and we aren’t playing how we did last year so it’s a new season, new challenges. We have to make the most of this group and this team, and the situation we are in.”

TURNOVERS

Charlotte turned 16 Portland turnovers into 21 points.

“We had some turnovers and they took advantage of every little thing,” Lillard said. “It seemed like they were getting what they wanted. They played a comfortable game and we didn’t make them very uncomfortable.”

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Travel to face the improving Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

Hornets: Back home on Friday night to host another high-scoring team in the Toronto Raptors.

Three Things We Learned Wednesday: Kevin Durant saves his best games for Thunder

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 18:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors dribbles past Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at ORACLE Arena on January 18, 2017 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Here are the big takeaways from a busy night around the NBA:

1) Kevin Durant saves his best games for Russell Westbrook, Thunder. Prior to Wednesday night, Kevin Durant’s highest-scoring game this season was 39 points, something he broke out the first time his new Warriors team faced his old Thunder squad. Then Wednesday Durant an incredibly efficient 40 points on 16 shots — again against the Thunder. Just in case there wasn’t enough salt rubbed in that OKC wound (Golden State won the game 121-100).

Whatever you think of his choice, Durant’s team is way better than Westbrook’s, which is both expected and why KD made the move — he is closer to a ring now. (If you say that winning rings is the ultimate defining factor in a player’s legacy then rip his moves to make it easier to get said ring, you’re a hypocrite.) Part of the gap between the sides is obviously what Durant brings to the Golden State offense — and how efficiently he’s been doing it this season, with a true shooting percentage of 65.9, his career best (for some perspective, the league average is around 52). But also he’s been bringing it on the defensive end this season, particularly of late, having a strong game against LeBron James Monday then doing well when switched onto Westbrook a couple of times in this game. Durant would be having an MVP-level season most years, but Westbrook and James Harden change the equation this time around.

Westbrook himself had a triple-double (that’s 21 this season) in the loss… actually, it was a quadruple-double when you throw in the 10 turnovers. Westbrook wasn’t efficient, hitting 8-of-23 from the field, and when he isn’t this team struggles to win, they rely on him that much. Of course, that’s not the play everyone is talking about — rather, it’s Zaza Pachulia with the hard foul, and then taunting Westbrook by standing over him.

When Westbrook saw that, he promised to “get his ass back.” These teams meet again Feb. 11 — when Durant returns to Oklahoma City for the first time in a Warriors’ uniform.

Bonus thing we saw: Russell Westbrook had the travel of the year.
Even in the NBA, this is a travel — and a funny one.



2) The Sixers beat the Raptors and have now won 7-of-9.
When this run of wins from the Sixers started, it was easy to say “they are just beating other weak teams.” Then they beat the Bucks. Wednesday night they beat the Raptors. Brett Brown has settled on a 10-man rotation, found lineups he likes with Joel Embiid starting (surrounded by shooters) and Nerlens Noel relieving him off the bench. Plus, the Sixers are finding their defensive identity. It’s coming together.

Still, this is all about Embiid — the Sixers are outscoring teams by 3.5 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court this season. He had 26 points — including 12-of-14 from the free throw line — plus nine rebounds against Toronto. The man is a force. The only question the next couple of weeks is will he be an All-Star?


3) Rudy Gay is out for the season, which changes West playoff chase and trade picture.
This is bad news for the Kings, and it is worse news for Rudy Gay himself — trying to drive out of the right corner Wednesday night, Gay tore his left Achilles tendon (something the team announced, although it needs to be confirmed by an MRI Thursday).

Gay is done for this season and likely the start of the next one.

In the short term, that is a blow to the Kings’ playoff chances. Technically they are just 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers, but the Kings have been outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions this season when Gay is off the court. This isn’t the same team without him. Gay has scored 18.7 points per game, which was second-best on the team, and now that role falls to Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi (once Casspi returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks). Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, meaning don’t be surprised if Sacramento tries to add a scorer at the trade deadline.

It also changes the trade deadline. Gay was clear he wanted out of Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone on the trade block. Teams were calling about him, including the Thunder (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted what the team might do). Now obviously that is off the table, and the question becomes will Gay even opt out?