The last time Derrick Favors stepped on a basketball court for the Utah Jazz, Santa Clause had yet to get in his sleigh, and Utah was on track to become a playoff team.
That was 16 games ago, before back problems flared up (for Favors, not Santa). Favors — who had been playing at a near All-Star level scoring 16.8 points and grabbing 6.8 rebounds a game — returns to the Jazz rotation on Monday night against Detroit.
Favors is expected to come off the bench and play limited minutes as he works his way back into shape.
The Jazz went 7-9 without him, also having to deal with injuries to Rudy Gobert and Alec Burks in that window. Utah is only one game back of Sacramento, the current eight seed in the West, and the Jazz are starting to get healthy. We’ll see if they can make a push back into the postseason picture.
Dwight Howard stepped on the court and gave it a shot, but the sprained ankle he suffered against Detroit last week is not all the way back yet.
So Howard is out for the third straight game, this time Monday night against the Pelicans.
The Rockets have won the last two games Howard sat out, including an impressive come-from-behind win against Dallas.
The Rockets are 4.2 points better per 100 possessions when Howard is on the court this season, he has been one of the most consistent defenders on the team. Something the Rockets need.
Without him has gone small with Corey Brewer starting, then using Clint Capela at the center spot off the bench. Also expect to see more Josh Smith.
Back in the summer of 2014 — an entirely different NBA economic world — the Boston Celtics locked up Avery Bradley to a four-year, $32 million that if anything was a little rich for the time and was a bet on Bradley’s development.
Today’s economic landscape around an NBA is very different — the leap of the salary cap by $20 million a year likely the next couple summers has changed the dynamics for anyone seeking a deal. Bradley looked at the market and became angry, so he changed agents, reports Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
Avery Bradley has changed agents from Mitchell Butler of the Rival Sports Group to Rob Pelinka, who also represents Kobe Bryant. Butler was able to procure the oft-injured Bradley a four-year, $32 million contract extension last summer, considered an above-market deal. Now Bradley is apparently unhappy with his contract, especially after seeing players such as Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton (five years, $70 million), Utah’s Gordon Hayward (four years, $61 million), and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson (five years, $82 million) cash in with lucrative extensions, making Bradley’s deal appear to be a bargain with the new television money increasing the salary cap this summer.
His deal is a bargain, now (in the warped world of professional sports salaries). So are the max deals of guys like DeMarcus Cousins and even Kevin Love — the new television money changes the dynamic of what is a good deal. What was overpaying in 2014 is a steal now — Bradley likely will be making about the mid-level exception (maybe a little less) the next couple years.
He is not the first player to be stunned by the money being thrown around and want a part of it.
Pelinka is a good agent, but he can’t do anything about Bradley’s situation now. Bradley signed a four-year, fully guaranteed deal. Bradley has two full seasons after this one left on his deal (and he doesn’t want to sign an extension, under the current CBA that leads to modest raises at most, which is not what Bradley wants). Patience is the only option.
Like it or not, Bradley is going to have to get by making $17 million over the next two seasons.
Stephen Curry is a Charlotte guy. That’s where he grew up, his dad is an old-school Hornets legend (and current color commentator). This is where Stephen used to hang around the NBA locker room and players.
Curry is a Carolina Panthers’ fan — he wore a Panthers’ jersey to practice Saturday — and is understandably pumped.
Don’t be shocked if Curry is at the Super Bowl to watch Cam Newton and his childhood team. The Warriors play the Saturday before the Superbowl at home (against Oklahoma City) then are off the day after the game. My guess is he’s got enough pull to get tickets.
Shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three, 90 percent from the free throw line.
In an NBA obsessed with efficiency, the 50-40-90 club is the gold standard. Only six players in NBA history have gotten there before this season: Steve Nash (four times), Larry Bird (twice), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant. That’s 10 times total in all of NBA history.
This season, both Durant and Stephen Curry are on pace to do it — the first time two players could do it in the same season.
Curry is on pace to make it this season: 51 percent shooting, 45.1 percent from three, 91.1 percent from the free throw line. Durant hit a little shooting slump that knocked him just off the pace as of right now: 50.7 percent shooting, 38.2 percent from three, 88.6 percent from the line. He’s gotten there before.
A couple other players — Kawhi Leonard and J.J. Redick — are not far off the pace either.
It’s just one more thing to keep an eye on as we grind through the dog days of the season and start focusing on the playoffs. Durant and Curry can make history.