New GM Rob Hennigan’s plan in Orlando was pretty clear — trade Dwight Howard for prospects, get young and get cheap and free up cap space to start chasing free agents in 2014 (he might have pictured a high lottery pick in there too, but Jacque Vaughn has his team overachieving and playing hard). Hennigan’s plan is still intact.
That plan did not include Ryan Anderson — the NBA’s best stretch four was trying to find someone, anyone to pay him last summer.
It ended up being the Hornets but it was not going to be the Magic because they weren’t even trying to get him, Anderson told the Orlando Sentinel.
“Some people have the crazy idea that I wanted the trade and I wanted out of there, and that’s not necessarily how it went down,” Anderson said from Louisiana in a phone interview. “It’s a game, and I understand it and I am glad that I’m here. But I just want people to know that I wasn’t turning my back on the team or anything.
“The thing is,” he added, “Orlando didn’t even make a move at me. So it was a situation where every other team we spoke with thought that Orlando was going to match, and the only team that was willing to take that risk was New Orleans. It was just a real different situation.”
The Hornets signed Anderson to a four-year, $34 million contract ($8.5 million per season average). In trading him they got Gustavo Ayón.
What is strange about passing on Anderson is Hennigan then turned around and offered Jameer Nelson basically the same money, $8.6 million a year. The difference is it is a three-year deal and the Magic can buy out Nelson’s last year (for just $2 million) to free up cap space for the free agent chase in 2014.
But Anderson and his ability to score and space the floor likely would have been more attractive to free agents than Nelson.
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.