When the Raptors traded James Johnson for a second-round pick in 2012 – one year after acquiring him for a first-round pick – there were somewhat-conflicting explanations for the trade.
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star emphasized the roster makeup:
“James is a tremendous athlete who has a toughness you love,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “With the abundance of wings we have, there would not have been enough minutes.”
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Suns emphasized Johnson’s relationship with Casey while acknowledging a crowded roster:
The Raptors and Johnson did not see eye-to-eye over his role and at one point last season Johnson was benched by Casey for a pair of games after an undisclosed indiscretion, though the coach insisted that was not the reason he was moved.
“We had our moments like you’re always going to do,” Casey said. “All the great athletes, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever, but we just had a glut of wings. James would not have been happy in that situation, competing for those minutes from the start.
The Raptors still have wing depth (though a little less after trading Steve Novak to the Jazz), and they still have Casey.
And, once again, they’ll have Johnson.
Doug Smith of The Toronto Star:
Johnson had a fairly strong season in Memphis before being arrested for domestic assault in June. He pleaded not guilty, but the charge – including nasty allegations of slapping and choking his wife – likely lowered his stock in free agency.
It’s possible Johnson contributes to the Raptors, who probably didn’t need to extend a large contract offer given the circumstances. First, he must address this important issue in his personal life.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.
Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.
His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.
Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.