The Timberwolves shot 30.5 percent on 3-pointers last season, dead last in the league. The difference between Minnesota and the 29th-place Magic was great than the difference between the third-best 3-point shooting team and the 21st-best 3-point shooting team.
Not only did the Timberwolves need someone capable of making shots from beyond the arc, they needed a shooting guard so point guard Luke Ridnour could stop masquerading as an off guard.
Enter Kevin Martin.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
I’m a little surprised Martin didn’t shop around for a better offer, but at least this deal will make him a starter after spending a season as Oklahoma City’s sixth man. Plus, if he waited to take the offer, it might not have remained available.
The Timberwolves will almost certainly have to renounce Andrei Kirilenko (who might make sense to the Spurs for the mid-level exception) to sign Martin. There’s no guarantee Minnesota would have done that if it had to wait for Martin.
Martin is 30, which would make him considerably less desirable to non-contending teams. Contenders might also worry about his underwhelming postseason. With this deal, Martin is locked in and longer has to worry about those issues. (He can’t sign until July 10, but these deals are all but official).
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio and now Chase Budinger and Martin give the Timberwolves have a promising lineup capable of making the playoffs next season – as long as they lock up restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic. Other players like Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour and Jose Barea could be quality backups or useful trade chips.
The Thunder, who lose Martin, are starting from a much higher point than Minnesota, but the loss of Martin stings. They’ll need another bench scorer, and perhaps they turn to Dorell Wright. He’d likely be a downgrade, but it’s a continuation of the process Oklahoma City began when trading James Harden for Martin – sacrificing production in the name of saving money.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.