Dallas fell short in its quest for another elite superstar to go with Dwight Howard this summer, but in the interim they have put together a solid roster. One where most of the players come off the books after this season.
Elton Brand is the latest of those — Dallas won the biding process for the amnestied player for $2.1 million, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein.
This is the outcome Brand wanted, the chance to go to a good team that was still under the cap. Brand is on the back side of his career but he brings some value — he averaged 11 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Sixers last season and was fairly efficient (he had a PER of 18 this season, 18.5 last season). Sixers fans will be happy to tell you he doesn’t grab a lot of boards and he had some defensive matchup issues because he does not move well laterally. True. And that is glaring if you’re paying a guy $18 million, it’s less bothersome at $2.1 million.
Brand was amnestied by the 76ers to get his $18.2 million off their books. With the winning bid Dallas gets Brand’s services and pays the $2.1 million, Philly will pay the rest. Teams under the salary cap could bid on Brand
Brand will join Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman in a solid, veteran front line. Dallas also traded for Darren Collison to run the point.
Everyone just mentioned not named Dirk comes off the books after this season so the Mavs can make another run at major free agents to be next summer (potentially Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard, but there is a long way to go before we see who goes down the free agent path).
The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.
Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.
He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.
Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.
However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.
That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?
The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.
Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.
Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.
Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.
Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.
He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.
But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.
Except we now know he apparently likes karate.
Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.
If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN:
Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.
Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.