“You want to look at all your options and make the best decision for your team,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. “This is a valuable asset that we can add to the group, whether it’s in trade or keep it and add a player.”
The Cavs are in a favorable position to make a deal. The team has more than $20 million in salary cap space, the No. 1 pick plus the No. 19, No. 31 and No. 33 picks, and a roster with young prospects that could be used in a deal.
The Cavaliers want to be a playoff team next year — even owner Dan Gilbert’s lucky charm son Nick Gilbert said so up on stage at the draft lottery. The likely No. 1 pick for them this draft would be Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel — a player who will not be back until Christmas with a torn ACL and is a couple of years away from really meaningful contributions anyway. He doesn’t really help you make the playoffs next year.
But for another team Noel can be a good fit — especially one already thinking about losing a lot of games next season and being high in next year’s lottery and draft where there will be franchise changers like Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle. Noel would fit nicely with them in a few years. But you’d have to give up a quality asset (likely a big man or a slashing forward) who could help the Cavaliers with their short-term goals.
It probably still will not happen. It’s not likely a GM is going to surrender much to get the top pick in this draft, so the trend will continue and the Cavaliers will take Noel and think long term (then use that cap space to get the players they want for next season).
But it’s something to watch. For the first time since it happened to Chris Webber was drafted by the Magic and traded that night to Golden State, the top pick in the draft could be on the move.
LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”
LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.
Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)
But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:
Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.
That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.
The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.
Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to the league:
Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.
But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.
Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.
Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)
Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.
The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.
It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.