Josh Smith

Winners and Losers from the Trade Deadline

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A good chunk of trades went down before the trade deadline, but it’s the deals that didn’t get made that loom large. Josh Smith is still an Atlanta Hawk, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are still Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard is still a Laker, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are still on the Jazz…you get the idea. Let’s look at the winners and losers from the trade deadline.

Winner: Milwaukee Bucks

Acquiring J.J. Redick from Orlando will help Milwaukee’s 24th ranked offensive efficiency and should lock up a playoff spot. That’s a pretty good deal considering Milwaukee didn’t have to part with any future draft picks. Acquiring Redick is a win-now move that has a slight chance of paying off later, especially if Monta Ellis opts out and Redick likes what he sees from Milwaukee these next few months.

Loser: J.J. Redick

Of course, Redick probably won’t like what he sees — primarily because he won’t see the ball. Redick has posted career highs in points per game and assists this season in an offense designed around him, but that won’t happen with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis chucking up shots all game. Going to a potential playoff team is a good thing, but there were so many other contenders (Chicago, Memphis, Denver) that likely could have boosted his value (and stats) much more.

Winner: Los Angeles Clippers

Sacrificing a good chunk of the future by trading Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan could have been disastrous. Simply by welcoming back Chauncey Billups and getting healthy, the Clippers improved as much as any of the contenders did at the deadline. Not making a panic trade was the right move.

Loser: Chicago Bulls

They didn’t improve, and they didn’t get under the tax. Accomplishing neither of those tasks is a pretty big failure — the Bulls couldn’t afford to do nothing in either regard.

Winner: New York Knicks

Freeing up a roster spot to sign Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract and getting a future second rounder for Ronnie Brewer was a nice move, so long as it doesn’t mean Amar’e Stoudemire finds his way into the starting lineup. Martin, a noted coach killer, can also cause some problems, but we’ll give this a tentative win.

Loser: Brooklyn Nets

Not surprisingly, no team bit on the Kris Humphries/MarShon Brooks package. For a team clearly in win-now mode, accomplishing nothing at the deadline to try and shorten the gap hurts. Humphries was signed to that big 2-year, $24 million dollar contract to match salaries for a big move, but now it just looks kind of silly.

Winner: Portland Trailblazers

Acquiring Eric Maynor from Oklahoma City for a trade exception and the rights to Giorgio Printezis is a smart buy-low move for Portland. Even if Maynor never fully recovers from his knee injuries, he’s still a much better backup point guard option than Ronnie Price, who has been absolutely brutal this year. It’s a low risk, high reward move.

Loser: Sacramento Kings

Giving up on a top-5 draft pick after 800 minutes just to save a few bucks is painfully shortsighted, but that’s the issue of having lame duck decision makers in the organization. Patrick Patterson is a nice player, but Thomas Robinson will likely make this trade look very stupid for a very long time.

Winners: Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt

Congrats, gentlemen. You were lucky enough to land a spot on the first lifeboat.

Losers: Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas

No one likes going from being a rotation player on a potential playoff team to a cellar dweller where the on-court product literally matters to no one.

Winner: Houston Rockets

They got the best asset in the trade in Robinson, a guy multiple teams apparently like. They also managed to shed salary off next year’s books, which could free up the money needed for Dwight Howard or another big free agent. It might not translate to the floor right away since Robinson is young and developing, but it’s an incredibly strong front office play.

Loser: Washington Wizards

It’s pretty hard to believe that the best assets Washington could get for Jordan Crawford was ancient center Jason Collins and out for the season guard Leandro Barbosa. Unless Crawford was awful in the locker room and was peer pressuring Bradley Beal into doing terrible things, it’s hard to commend the Wizards for this one.

Winner: Tobias Harris

Harris should get playing time on a young Orlando team that will be much more patient with him than Scott Skiles or Jim Boylan was. At just 20 years old, Harris has the potential to be a very solid rotation player in the future.

Losers: Josh McRoberts and Hakim Warrick

Agent: “Good news, you’ve been traded!”

Player: “That’s great! Ha — see ya suckers! I’m tired of being on this crappy team. So where am I headed?”

Agent: “Um…well…

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

Ronnie Brewer has been awful this year for the Knicks (he’s shooting 36.6 percent from the field), but Brewer has been a useful defender in the past. Sam Presti essentially swapped third string point guard Eric Maynor for Ronnie Brewer, and Brewer could prove useful in offense/defense substitutions with Kevin Martin. In a very limited role, he could be useful.

Loser: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks ended up with nothing but a burned bridge for all this trouble (and Dahntay Jones, but whatever), and now they face the very real possibility of losing Josh Smith for nothing but cap room this offseason. You’d like to think that Milwaukee’s bevy of expiring contracts could have at least landed Atlanta a useful young prospect or future draft pick, but apparently Atlanta got cold feet. There are worse things than having a boat load of cap space, but Smith is too good of a player to just let walk away. Atlanta screwed this one up.

Winner: Anthony Morrow

One of the greatest shooters ever (I’m not exaggerating, look at the numbers) should get a chance at regular playing time again with the Dallas Mavericks. I’m irrationally excited about this.

Loser: Utah Jazz

How the Jazz didn’t trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap is absolutely baffling. They clearly have a logjam in the frontcourt with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter needing more playing time, and Jefferson and Millsap are both on expiring deals. Does Utah really think they’re a free agent destination? Do they really think they have a shot at a championship this year as is? What a waste.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

I have no real opinion on acquiring Warriors guard Charles Jenkins, but I’m listing them as a winner for allowing us weekly looks at Andrew Bynum’s hairstyles.

Loser: Boston Celtics

I’m as sentimental as the next guy, and I realize trading franchise legend Paul Pierce is not easy. Don’t the Celtics have to get on with it eventually, though? I suppose they could get really lucky if Miami suffers injuries, but every year they let Pierce and Garnett get a little older, their trade value goes down. Getting Jordan Crawford for nothing was a nice move, though, given the direction they chose.

Winner: Mr. and Mrs. Morris

Having twins in the NBA must be a hassle. You have to pick your favorite child on a nightly basis and rack of a lot of airplane miles. No more! Phoenix has always loved getting the other brother (Robin Lopez, Taylor Griffin), but putting Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris together makes everyone a winner, so long as Rockets GM Daryl Morey airballs on the second round pick they had to give up.

Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

I think everyone expected some Mitch Kupchak magic at the deadline, even if it was acquiring a useful, smaller piece. Nope. For better or worse, the Lakers are going to ride this season out. I’ll guess worse.

D’Angelo Russell says it’s not easy being patient, waiting his turn behind Kobe

D'Angelo Russell Kobe Bryant
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TORONTO — For the rest of this season, the Los Angeles Lakers are Kobe Bryant‘s team.

Some Lakers’ fans have questioned why Byron Scott is still the coach despite an 11-44 record, and in part it’s because he gives deference to Kobe other coaches might not. Scott was brought in to help sell the Lakers’ history during the final years of Kobe’s career, he has done that. He lets the veteran Kobe do things he will not allow anyone else on the team to do.

Meanwhile, the next generation of Lakers are trying to wait patiently for their turn.

But when asked All-Star Weekend about playing with Kobe (who often has the ball in his hands), Lakers’ rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell didn’t sound patient.

“Honestly, it’s hard,” Russell said of playing with Kobe. “It’s not easy. He’s a guy that’s earned every shot he’s taken, earned every minute he’s given, so you feel like being a rookie, but you feel like you’ve worked to be in his position so early but you’ve just got to be patient.”

There are a couple ways you can look at this.

You can see it as a rookie hungry for minutes, for touches, for the chance to learn by doing. You should like that he has that drive, that confidence that he wants the rock. Russell has had the ball in his hands probably since fourth grade, being bumped down the pecking order — even for Kobe — is an adjustment.

Or, you can see this as a rookie who is a bit full of himself, a bit overconfident, someone who turns the ball over too much and needs to earn those touches. This is more Scott’s thinking.

I’d say a guy that is overconfident as a rookie and wants the ball in his hands sooner rather than later sounds a lot like Kobe.

 

DeMarcus Cousins has spent All-Star Weekend playing defense on trade, George Karl rumors

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball during the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of NBA All-Star 2016 on February 13, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada. 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.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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TORONTO — DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star and he just wants to enjoy it. Hang out with other elite players, take part in the Skills Competition, have dinner at Sotto Sotto, play in the ASG itself, chill with friends. Chill being the operative word considering the weather.

But for parts of the weekend, he has had to play defense, swatting away attempts to get him to slam coach George Karl or talk trade rumors that have him leaving Sacramento. Mention his friend Isaiah Thomas making it to All-Star Game and you get the gregarious Cousins, but when the other topics come up you can feel his frustration, and hear it in his clipped answers.

“First of all, I can’t control the trade (rumors) and I can’t control if I’m traded or not…” Cousins said. “But I do want to be in Sacramento, and I know everybody in Sacramento knows that.”

Cousins isn’t getting traded. Teams may call the Kings, but they get shot down quickly (then those teams leak the rumor they called, making them look good to their fan base for trying). For one, the Kings have a franchise cornerstone piece under a reasonable contract, that’s not someone you trade unless forced to. Second, owner Vivek Ranadive loves him. Third, and this is key, the Kings open a new arena in downtown Sacramento next season — you don’t trade your best and most popular player, the face of your marketing program in the city, while you’re trying to sell luxury boxes and sponsorships in a new arena.

Cousins has also batted down questions attempting to get him to slam George Karl.

“I can go long term with any coach, but that’s not my decision….” Cousins said. “He’s a free, open-minded coach, he lets his players play. I think every player appreciates that.”

He was more direct with deserving new basketball Hall of Fame journalist David Aldridge of NBA.com in a video (and he’s laughing more and in more of a joking mood in the video than how this quote reads):

“I’m tired of it. Stop trying to make a story out of it, we’re fine. Our only goal this season is to make the playoffs. That’s it. All the other stuff, just stop, it’s not necessary.”

Undoubtedly there is some tension in and around the organization with Karl, although he will be around through the end of the season. However, the one thing that was clear with this team going back to Summer League — when the core guys bonded on a plane trip together to Las Vegas (and doing the other things one might do in Vegas) — the locker room is pretty solid.

“Throughout all this, the one thing that’s been good about the whole situation is the guys in the locker room stay together,” Cousins said. “There hasn’t been any separation.”

It seems Karl has never found a way to reach and inspire that group.

Ask Cousins about the rest of the season and you get some variation of “just stay positive.” He admits that’s not been easy after some tough losses of late, but it’s what they need to do to make a run.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the season, but just find a way to remain positive and get over the hump,” he said. 

That may be easier said than done.

But, at least, Cousins will get the chance to enjoy All-Star weekend.

Can we just relive that epic Dunk Contest one more time? Here’s the mixtape.

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TORONTO — Talking to NBA people, fans, and media around Toronto Sunday it seems every conversation starts with some version of “last night’s Dunk Contest was INSANE!

Because it was.

Andre Drummond threw down an impressive two-hand power slam with an assist from soccer playing Steve Nash. Will Barton‘s first dunk might have won him the contest in some weaker years. And we’re not even talking about them because of the eye-popping show that Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine put on.

Before we move on and talk trade rumors or actual All-Star Game, or whatever is coming next, can we just bask in the joy of that dunk contest one more time? The fine folks at NBA.com put together this mixtape version of the Dunk Contest, I’m passing it along.

Savor this people, it doesn’t get any better than what we witnessed Saturday night.

Michael Jordan to Klay Thompson: “Go ahead and break” Bulls’ 72-win record

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Washington Wizards at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NBA - 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Barring a major injury, it seems almost inevitable at this point that the Warriors will surpass the 1996 Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a season and vault themselves into the conversation of the greatest NBA teams in history. All year, members of that ’96 Bulls team have weighed in comparing the teams, but one guy who hasn’t given his thoughts publicly is Michael Jordan.

Apparently, during All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Jordan gave Klay Thompson his blessing for the Warriors to go for 73. Via CSN’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude:

Not that the Warriors need anybody’s permission to go after the record, obviously. But it had to be cool for Thompson to hear directly from Jordan that he respects what the Warriors are doing and wants them to break his own record. In all likelihood, they’ll do it.