Denver trades Nene to Wizards in three-team deal with Clippers

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When the lockout ended, Nene was maybe the most coveted free agent out there — a true big man who is a borderline All-Star theoretically entering his prime. Denver was able to keep him with a five-year, $67 million contract. However, he has spent a chunk of this season injured and not putting up his traditional numbers.

In a surprise just before the trade deadline Thursday, the Nuggets traded him and got back JaVale McGee, the very athletic Washington Wizards big man who is known equally for his big dunks and knuckleheaded plays. Maybe not all that equally.

Here is how the three-team deal that also includes the Clippers works out, as reported by CSNWashington.com:

Nuggets get: JaVale McGee, Ronny Turiaf

Wizards get: Nene, Brian Cook, second round pick.

Clippers get: Nick Young

I don’t like this for Denver. The injuries suffered by Nene this year had the Nuggets feeling buyer’s remorse on their new deal, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Still, Nene when healthy is one of the more solid big men in the league. JaVale McGee is a headcase, part of the reason the Wizards want to remake their roster. He also may be the most salvageable of Washington’s head cases — George Karl has a task ahead of him. That said, this will save the Nuggets a lot of money as McGee is on his rookie deal and is set to make $3.5 million next year.

For the Clippers, this is a good move. Nick Young is the kind of very athletic two guard that fills in where Chauncey Billups was before his injury. Young doesn’t bring a lot of defense to a team that needs it, but he does score (16.6 points per game) and he fits the Clippers style. He can learn to win with the rest of their young talent. (He’s also a Los Angeles kid that gets to come home.) If it doesn’t work out, well, he is a free agent after this season.

For the Warriors, it is a nice first step. They need to remake their locker room with some more professional personalities. Nene is that. It’s about the culture of the franchise first. Second, when healthy Nene is one of the better centers in the East and can be the inside to John Wall’s outside.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.