We could pretty much put Kevin Durant or LeBron James on this list anytime they play, they are the two best players walking the planet right now. It would get boring to list them every night, so we look around. But sometimes we just need to acknowledge in this space these guys are special. Oh, and you can’t stop Goran Dragic… or at least the Nets couldn’t.
Third Star: Kevin Durant(24 points, 10 rebounds)
This was a very business-like night for Durant. He took 17 shots, was knocking down threes, grabbing boards and just generally being efficient. His accomplishments this season — he’s on pace to shoot 50 percent from the floor overall, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line. He is having one amazing season.
Second Star: Goran Dragic(31 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds)
The Suns had a chance in this one because of Dragic, who was setting guys up and making plays for three quarters, then put up 11 points in the fourth in the quarter when he and Deron Williams were driving their teams toward the finish. Williams came out on top but Dragic showed why he’s the highest paid player on the Suns roster ($7.5 million this season and the next two at that same rate).
First Star: LeBron James (32 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists)
No Dwyane Wade, so he was going to have to take on more of the offense. After a slow few minutes he realized he was playing the Bobcats and just took over the game doing whatever he wanted, running the pick and roll with Chris Andersen or just throwing down dunks. The Bobcats were largely helpless against him. LeBron would have had a triple double except he was getting some rest for the final 8 minutes of a Heat blowout. One man can’t win a basketball game, but this was as close to that as you’re going to get for a stretch.
Lakers’ Jose Calderon out 2-4 weeks with hamstring strain
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers guard Jose Calderon will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a strained right hamstring.
The Lakers announced their latest injury problem Monday before hosting Utah in their 11th game in 18 days.
The Lakers also recalled rookie center Ivica Zubac from their D-League affiliate.
Calderon is averaging 4.7 points and 2.6 assists in his first season with the Lakers. The veteran Spanish point guard became a starter last month when D'Angelo Russell was sidelined with a sore left knee.
Calderon, Russell and Nick Young are all out for the Lakers (10-12). They have been among the NBA’s pleasant surprises, but injuries and a brutal schedule are conspiring against them.
There has been speculation around the league that now that the Dallas Mavericks are struggling, there will be a sell-off. Harrison Barnes is a future lynchpin, Dirk Nowitzki isn’t going anywhere, but there are a lot of players that are more win-now than the place the Mavericks seem to be, so those guys could get moved for future assets.
As the February trade deadline draws near, the Boston Celtics are expected to take a close look at adding a defensive-minded, rebounding big man with Dallas’ Andrew Bogut likely to emerge as a target.
The former No. 1 overall pick is the final year of a three-year, $36 million contract he signed with the Golden State Warriors in 2014. He is due to make $11.027 million in this, the last season of the contract.
Dallas (4-15) has the worst record in the NBA and are likely to continue building for a post-Dirk Nowitzki with a high lottery pick in June’s NBA draft. Adding another first-round pick from Boston would benefit a squad that has to increase its quality depth going forward. Having another first-round pick can only enhance their roster.
Sources tell ESPN that Mavs have no immediate intention to shop C Andrew Bogut, as their focus, for now, is trying to salvage their season. However, Mavs management recognizes that Bogut has significant value in the trade market as a proven championship-caliber complementary piece in a contract year and could become motivated to move him if and when it becomes clear that the Mavs have no hope of making the playoffs this season. Several league sources said the Mavs should be able to get a first-round pick from a contender for Bogut.
Let’s be honest: Dallas isn’t making the playoffs. They can make their worst-in-the-West record look a little better — six of their next eight games are at home, at some point they will get Dirk Nowitzki back — but they are not climbing over six teams and making up the 11 games they are below .500 just to get in the mix for the potential eight seed.
Which means expect them to be looking for deals as the deadline nears, and Andrew Bogut may well get moved. But we’re going to get past Christmas before that talk starts to gain real traction.
PBT Podcast: Breaking down Eastern Conference standings with Dan Feldman
One-quarter of the way into the NBA season, we know a few things about the Eastern Conference.
As expected, the Cavaliers are the team to beat. Toronto has established itself as a clear second in line, but Boston is third and finally getting healthy. After that there are a lot of questions about who are playoff teams and who is going to slide. Will the Knicks hold on? Will Atlanta bounce back? Will the Bulls regress?
Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it all down in this latest PBT podcast.
Give the Brooklyn Nets front office credit, they tried. GM Sean Marks is being very creative trying to rebuild a team after his predecessor Billy King — on the orders of ownership — burned all future assets in hopes of having a good team to open the new Barclay’s center.
The Nets went after Houston big man Donatas Motiejunas with a creative four-year, $37 million offer sheet. It didn’t work, the Rockets matched, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by others.
Houston has matched Brooklyn's offer sheet and retained Donatas Motiejunas, league sources tell @TheVertical.
To make room on the roster, the Rockets have waived Bobby Brown.
The match expected. The offer sheet was constructed so that if Motiejunas’ ongoing back issues are severe the Rockets can pay him $5 million for this season and be done — a move that is not likely. If they keep him past Jan. 10 of this season, they owe him another $3.5 million. There is a March deadline to pick up the $9 million for next season. More importantly, the last two years of this contract are not guaranteed, meaning there isn’t a lot of risk for the Rockets and the contract is very tradable. Which could happen next summer (because of how late in the year the deal was signed he cannot be traded this season).
There’s also a chance this signing just works out — on paper, Motiejunas is a good fit in the Mike D’Antoni system. He’s a big man who seasons ago he shot 36.8 percent from three — he can space the floor on James Harden drives, and in transition he could run to the arc or post up smaller defenders inside on a cross match. There’s a lot of potential there, he’s going to get some run.