Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like you loved the Beyonce halftime show.
• Set your DVRs: JaVale McGee should return to the Nuggets rotation Tuesday. That’s bad news if your name is Timofey Mozgov, but good news if you’re looking for something to put in your next blooper reel.
• Brandon Jennings has changed agents to sign with Jeff Shwartz. What’s that mean? Jennings is a restricted free agent next summer and the man wants to get paid. As Ken Berger points out at CBSSports.com, Shwartz’s pattern is to get players in bigger markets where they have more endorsement opportunities. Not ideal for the Bucks (although they can match any offer Jennings gets next summer.
• Would Kevin Garnett actually let the Celtics trade him?
• A Detroit columnist complaining about how many Kobe Bryant fans were at the Palace Sunday. It’s like that in almost every arena Kobe or LeBron James play in, truth be told.
• Deron Williams’ new $15.8 million New York penthouse is… well, you get what you pay for.
• Since talk of a potential move to Seattle started, the Kings have really struggled on the court.
• Jeremy Lin tweaked his ankle in practice Monday and is now a game-time decision for Tuesday.
• Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out Monday with a concussion and may not play Wednesday either. He needs to be cleared by a league neurologist before he can get back on the court.
• It may be late for most of you, but if you read one bit of Rudy Gay trade analysis it should be this one from Tom Ziller at SBN. Fantastic stuff.
• In the wake of a lot of Super Bowl betting, not to mention a major match fixing scandal in the international soccer world, there’s a great story in the New Yorker asking if we as America need to reconsider our national ban on sports gambling. It’s not a simple debate.
• Some interesting statistical milestones to watch in the NBA as we head into the second half of the season.
The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.
But that young Lakers core also has its moments.
Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.
After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.
What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.
Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).
That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.
Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.
The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).
Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.
Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.
It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.
Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.
Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.
That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.
According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.
Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).
With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.