Author: Kurt Helin

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns

Five guys most likely to be moved at trade deadline (but don’t be shocked if few are)


I think only two things feel certain at the trade deadline:

1) Somebody we didn’t expect will get moved (not likely a big name, but a solid player). It happens every year.

2) It’s going to be a bit of a slow deadline, and not all the guys on the list below will get moved. It’s possible none of them get moved. It is far more likely that none of them get moved than a majority of them.

But with less than 24 hours to go before the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline (the cutoff time is 3 ET), here are the five guys most being talked about around the league.

1) Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns. Last weekend the feeling around the league was that Phoenix would keep Dragic and trade Isaiah Thomas in an effort to balance their roster. Then Dragic’s agents went in told the Suns’ management that the free agent to be will not re-sign with them. That changed the game, the Suns need to move him or risk getting nothing in return — but it also set up another game altogether. Dragic wants to go to a big market where he will have freedom to create in the system — his agents gave the Suns a list that included the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat. However, if they are going to trade him all the Suns care about is getting as much back as possible, they have no concerns for where Dragic wants to go. The Lakers and Knicks don’t have assets anyone wants (no Lakers’ fans, nobody wants Jordan Hill and Steve Nash) while Miami’s offers have not wowed the Suns. Instead, Phoenix is talking in depth with the Celtics, Rockets, and Kings. Those three teams are willing to gamble that if they get Dragic in for half a season they can sell him on their cities and teams, then offer him a five-year contract (other teams will only be able to offer four) and that will be enough to retain him. The Suns could decide they don’t like any trade offers and just keep him and dare him to walk away from the extra contract year (we’re talking more than $20 million guaranteed). But more likely they trade him somewhere he didn’t want to be, which sets up another showdown.

2) Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets. No team may be more active at the deadline than the Nuggets, and no player is drawing more interest than Wilson Chandler. Teams that could use wing help have their eye on him, as he brings 14 points and 6 rebounds a game, plus quality defense. Portland may have the most attractive package: Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, and a future first round pick. The Clippers want to get in the dance and are toying with trading Jamal Crawford for a future first round pick, which would be flipped for Chandler (along with other players). That has not been near enough to move the needle on a deal so far for Denver, will they take the best offer at the deadline or just hold on to him?

3) Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder. He has wanted to run his own team for a while, and when OKC went out and got Dion Waiters to steal some of Jackson’s minutes the drive to get out of town grew stronger. Jackson’s agent has requested the player be traded. The Thunder likely want to make a deal, if they can shed a couple million they can get below the luxury tax line (and they should try to do so since they are close). The problem for OKC is everybody knows Jackson wants out, and they know he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, so why offer much of anything to get him now? The Thunder likely have to take far less than equal value to get a deal done, but they may well live with that.

4) Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets. With the Nuggets asking a lot to get in the Chandler sweepstakes, this may be the more likely solid wing player on the move. The Kings are the team most interested and aggressive right now, offering Nik Stauskas as the centerpiece, reports Ken Berger of

5) Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz. With Utah more and more seeing the Rudy Gobert/Derrick Favors combo as the front line of the future, Kanter is the odd big out — and he wants out, having his agent request a trade. Kanter will be a restricted free agent this summer, but that is not motivating the Jazz, who have requested a lot back in return for a deal (a quality young player and a pick). That said, there are several teams interested including the Bucks.

Why Spencer Haywood should be in Hall of Fame

Spencer Haywood

Once again Spencer Haywood is a finalist for the Hall of Fame.

If you want, you can make a strong statistical argument for why Haywood should be in the Hall of Fame. For his career, he was a 20 and 10 guy — 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. He was a five-time All-Star. He was the ABA’s MVP in 1970. He has an Olympic gold medal with Team USA. He has an NBA ring from 1980 with the Lakers. He was one of the best big men of his generation.

But that’s not the best reason.

Haywood was the guy who sued the NBA to allow players to leave college early to enter the league. It’s  a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided 7-2 with Haywood. He changed the game, paving the way for everyone, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to enter early.

The video above explains Haywood’s impact well.

Then put the man in the Hall of Fame already.

John Wall has matured, that gives Washington a chance

NBA All-Star Game 2015

NEW YORK — John Wall at age 14 was a mess, particularly off the court. As detailed in a must-read piece by Mike Wise at ESPN, Wall was a hot-head nicknamed “Crazy J” who was thrown out of one prominent basketball camp, a guy whose father was in prison for armed robbery then died while Wall was young, and whose brother remains in jail to this day. Wall could have easily gone down that same path.

So what would 14-year-old Wall think of 24-year-old Wall, the All-Star Game starter voted in by fans?

“Very, very proud of him,” Wall said in an Adidas store in Manhattan where he was promoting his shoe line before heading to Madison Square to play last Sunday. “I mean, 14-year-old John Wall played basketball because he loved it, when I got outside of that I did whatever. Just to release my pain and hurt from losing my father and not having a father figure around. I was just doing anything; I didn’t have anyone who could tell me yes or no. I listened to my mother, but it’s not the same when your dad’s like ‘come here, I want to tell you something.’ It’s totally different.”

It wasn’t smooth or painless, but John Wall has grown up.

For a lot of fans that’s evident on the court. Wall is averaging, 17.4 points but more importantly leads the league with 10.1 assists a game. He also leads the league in assist percentage at 45.9 percent (the percentage of teammate field goals a player gets an assist on while he was on the court).

However, it’s on the defensive end where Wall is having a bigger impact for the Wizards. The Wizards are fifth in the NBA in defensive rating (giving up 1 point per possession) and Wall is key to that — Washington is 10.8 points per 100 possessions worse defensively when he is on the bench.

Wall admits he used to take plays off on that end, knowing he had to attack and lead the offense on the other. No longer. Wall said it started with improved conditioning so he could have the energy at both ends, it allowed him to be more aggressive. Then it just became about focus.

“I think just fighting over screens, you’ve got a lot of pick-and-rolls that teams run,” Wall said of what he’s doing better defensively this season. “And just being more locked in and focused, knowing that I’m the head of the snake on my team. So the better I start off the game, going the whole game playing defense, it gets my guys going.”

That commitment to conditioning is something that took shape last summer and is continuing in the season.

“A lot of stuff, changing my diet, and just being in better shape,” Wall said of what he’s done. “I have a chef now, so I’m eating healthier. Just making sure I’m staying with my workouts and staying stronger for the whole season. I think most of the time the second half of the season your legs start to get heavy, you start to lose muscle in your legs, all that factors in to what I’ve got to do to stay healthy.”

It is all part of a more mature Wall — the one the Wizards hoped they were drafting No. 1 back out of Kentucky back in 2010. The one that could be a foundational piece for a team.

“My first two years, me I was just excited to be in the NBA, going through the things,” Wall said. “I came in at 19. I think being injured taught me I need to do things so I’m not injured every year. And I think just maturing, growing up helped me out a lot.”

That maturing includes the people he keeps around him.

“I’ve just never been a person that likes yes people around me,” Wall said. “I want someone to be honest with me — if I’m doing something wrong I need somebody to be able to tell me ‘no’ and keep me out of trouble.

“In the past, you had a lot of people who was leeches, all they want to do is be like ‘yes, yes, yes’ as you’re taking them to shows and inviting them to events and paying for certain stuff. I don’t need you around for that.”

On the court, Wall puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with his speed, especially off an opponent miss, but his game has evolved into much more than that. Anyone that tells you he’s a shoot-first guard hasn’t watched him play in a couple years (and there still are talking heads saying that).

“They say I’m a shoot first point guard but I’m like how, I only take 12-13 shots a game?” Wall asked, although the answer is he takes 14 shots a game on average this season. “I think I lead all guards in double-doubles, so I was like ‘I don’t pass?’ That’s my job for my team; I key into passing first.”

NBA fans got it, which is why they voted him an All-Star starter for the first time this season.

“It was shocking to me when I first seen the (All-Star) ballots and I was one of the top guys in vote getting,” Wall admitted. “It was a surprise. I know I got some amazing fans, I just didn’t think my fans would vote me so high so quickly. I think my game and the way I developed during the season, they’re starting to see it.”

With all that notoriety comes opportunities, and Wall has a lot going on off the court now. He has his shoe deal and a lot of apparel with Adidas. He’s one of the guys that’s part of American Express’ new pivot campaign.

In the end, Wall’s personal success will be judged through the prism of how the Wizards do as a team. Wall knows if his team is one round and out in the playoffs this April he will take the brunt of the criticism. So what does he have to do for the Wizards to advance?

“My job is to just keep playing the way I am, and I got to play a little better,” Wall said. “When guys get injured a little bit, or we lose a couple close games, I have to do a better job of closing out games and getting those guys open shots.”

If he can do that come the playoffs — and if the Wizards are healthy and execute consistently — they are capable of pushing, if not beating, anybody in the East. The Wizards defense and Wall’s play on offense makes the Wizards a team that is a threat to be in the conference Finals.

And that would be another step in the maturation of John Wall.