Author: Kurt Helin

Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers

PBT Extra: Did anyone really win big in three-team Dion Waiters trade?


The NBA’s trade season got off to an interesting start with a three-team deal on Monday, which sent Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland, and the Knicks will get a lot of cap space.

So who did well? That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in the latest PBT Extra. I think the Cavaliers did fairly well, the Knicks got what they wanted, and the Thunder…. well, they didn’t really give up much on this roll of the dice on Waiters.

Report: Who might the Knicks try and trade next? Jose Calderon.

Toronto Raptors vs New York Knicks

Phil Jackson has waived the white flag.

It was pretty obvious before Monday night’s big three-team trade that the Knicks were in tanking mode — despite their string of losses they have been encouraging Carmelo Anthony to take time off to rest his sore knee. As much time as he wants. The rest of the season if he wants.

But Monday’s trade — sending out J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in a clear salary dump — made it obvious the Knicks are going to clear the decks of as much salary as they can while hoping to push their first round pick this season (which they still have the rights to) as far up the lottery scale as possible.

So who else could be next out the door in New York? Try Jose Calderon. That according to Ken Berger at

With the Knicks now owners of the worst record and perhaps worst roster in the league as Phil Jackson hits the reset button in New York, league sources say the next player on the move could be point guard Jose Calderon. But at age 33 with two years and more than $15 million left on his contract, that will be a difficult proposition. Calderon came to the Knicks in the trade that sent Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas….

The Knicks are expected to try to re-engage the Thunder in talks for point guard Reggie Jackson after being rebuffed in their efforts to land him in Monday night’s three-team deal, sources say. Jackson would fit into the $2.6 million trade exception New York received in the trade with Cleveland and Oklahoma City, but the Thunder have been steadfast in rebuffing trade offers for the point guard.

The Thunder think they have a legit shot at a title run this season — because they do. This team made the conference finals last season and played the Spurs at least even once Serge Ibaka was healthy. But to make that run again they need scoring beyond Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and that right now is Reggie Jackson. There is little chance the Thunder will decide to move Jackson now, bringing in Dion Waiters and going over the luxury tax line is a sign the Thunder are serious about a run. (They hope Waiters can be a big points contributor as well, but that remains to be seen.)

Calderon has struggled this season. He is shooting the three well, 42.5 percent, but is struggling to finish at the rim or knock down shots inside the arc, plus his assists are down and his turnovers are up. The question is how much of that is age and a natural decline, and how much of that is being on the Knicks with this roster. The challenge for the Knicks are a lot of the league’s best teams are set at point gourd and aren’t likely to take on the risk.

But Phil Jackson will try.

Tony Parker returns to Spurs’ starting lineup Tuesday vs. Pistons

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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As much as the Spurs are a team that seems to not skip a beat when guys are out due to injury or old age, the fact is some guys are harder to replace than others. For example, the Spurs clearly miss Kawhi Leonard, who should be back with the team in the next couple weeks after his hand injury.

Another guy they need back? Tony Parker. He is the focal point of their offense but has been out since Christmas (and played just four games since Dec. 5) due to a nagging hamstring injury.

And he will be back and starting on Tuesday against Detroit, reports Mike Monroe of the Express-News.

“Tonight’s the night,” Parker said after the team’s Tuesday morning shootaround. “It’s been very frustrating….

“It never happened to me before, that long, but it happened and I’m happy that, hopefully, it’s behind me,” Parker said.

The Spurs were 6-7 in the 13 games Parker has missed because of this injury, although to be fair Leonard and others have missed time in that stretch, too. In the 21 games he has played Parker has scored 16.2 points on 51.5 percent shooting plus dished out 5.2 assists a game, although the numbers don’t do justice to how he controls the offense and the game.

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The Spurs haven’t looked like the unbeatable, unstoppable force they were in the Finals this season, but a part of that certainly has been injuries. They haven’t had their core guys together and healthy for a sustained period.

Nobody around the league is writing the Spurs off, however. Their defense has been good and they are fully capable of getting healthy, going on a run, and come the playoffs being a legitimate title contender. If you don’t think they can, well, you haven’t been paying attention the past few years.

Report: Kawhi Leonard should return to Spurs in less than two weeks

Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio is 4-7 since Kawhi Leonard was sidelined due to a torn ligament in his hand.

This is a team that normally holds its own when guys like Tim Duncan or Tony Parker sit out, but because of his athleticism and defense Leonard is much harder for the Spurs to replace. They miss his perimeter defense, they miss his plays in transition, his 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds, they are simply just not the same team without him. He was the 2014 NBA Finals MVP for a reason.

But he’s starting basketball activities again and could return in less than two weeks, reports Adrian Wojnarowki of Yahoo Sports.

San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard will likely return within two weeks from a hand injury, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

Doctors have seen progress in the lessening of his inflammation, and the belief is he’ll regain full strength in the hand with no long-term limitations or issues, sources said.

The Spurs are 21-14 and the seven seed currently in the West. They are just 12-13 against teams in their own conference.

Yet good luck trying find someone around the league who thinks the Spurs will not be a serious threat come the playoffs. San Antonio has not looked the same this season, but everyone — from other front offices to media members — has written that franchise’s obituary before only to be proven wrong. Everybody saw the level they were playing at last NBA Finals and if the Spurs get back to that level I’m not sure anyone can beat them.

It may be a big “if” that they get back to that level of play, but getting Leonard back will be a huge step in the right direction.

Report: Cavaliers still active on trade market, trying to land defensive big man

Lavoy Allen, Timofey Mozgov

From the Cavaliers perspective, they think Monday’s trade was a big win. They have up a guy in Dion Waiters that did not fit what they do and did not mesh with the games of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. They got back a guy who should help their wing defense in Iman Shumpert (once he gets healthy), and they got a guy in J.R. Smith who (at least when engaged) should provide a better sixth man presence. They hope this (and getting some guys healthy) will spark a lagging offense.

But their work is far from done.

From the moment LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland the Cavaliers went into “win now” mode (no matter how the GM wants to spin the process). This roster is still not there, specifically the Cavaliers need size in the paint. The Cavs need a shot blocker. They are working on that but not getting far, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Mozgov is struggling in Denver yet, for all his flaws, he would be an upgrade for the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers have called pretty much everyone who might have a big man they would trade (the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan, the Celtics with Brandan Wright, and so on). So far, no one is interested.

But what exactly do the Cavaliers have on their roster to trade? Waiters was their big chip and it’s going to take something of quality to get a big man. It’s a supply and demand thing: Every team wants more size in the paint, so the teams willing to move a guy have options and can start a little bidding war.

The Cavaliers made a nice little move on Monday, but if they are going to live up to the “win now” mode there is a lot more work to do.