Author: Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

PBT Extra: Watch out for Cleveland, Oklahoma City when NBA resumes

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The high-flying dunks and high scoring of Russell Westbrook highlighting All-Star weekend are behind us, time to look ahead as the NBA season resumes Thursday and heads into the home stretch of the regular season.

First in this PBT Extra we hear from the players about the second half. Then Jenna Corrado and I discuss who to watch going forward.

I’ll have my eye on two teams we thought would be very good, struggled at the start of the season, but are finally healthy and putting it all together — the Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Report: Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried among many Nuggets available in trades

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors

Denver is a team in transition. What they are transitioning too is a question nobody around the league can answer, Denver appears a confused mess. But they are transitioning.

With that, basically their entire roster is available via trade — including quality players such as Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried. That is in addition to the often rumored Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler, who have been shopped for a while.

Zach Lowe of Grantland had his usual, fantastic breakdown of Denver approaching the trade deadline.

They’ve been seeking multiple first-round picks for both Wilson Chandler and Arron Afflalo, talking with obvious contender types like the Blazers and ambulance-chasing with banged-up playoff teams like the Wizards. Snagging two firsts for Timofey Mozgov emboldened the Denver front office to chase big returns, and the rest of the league is waiting for Denver to step back as the deadline approaches. Anyone could have JaVale McGee for a fruit basket.

The more interesting questions surround Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried. Denver isn’t shopping those guys, but Jusuf Nurkic is the only true untouchable on the roster, per several league sources who have dealt with the Nuggets. The sense around the league is that you could land Lawson or Faried with a Godfather offer. They are gettable. Boston and Denver have had exploratory talks about Lawson, per several sources.

Lawson isn’t inexpensive — he is owed $25.6 million total for two seasons after this one — but he provides production on the court. He is averaging 16.9 points and more than 10 assists a game, and especially in a more up-tempo system he could be a key part of a quality team.

It’s much harder to imagine Faried getting moved. Never say never, but four-year, $50 million extension kicks in next season, which is going to scare teams off. Faried brings energy through that points (15.4 a game) and rebounds (11 a game). But he’s not a guy you run the offense through, he’s best suited to be the third option on a team. Picture how he played so well for Team USA last summer because defenses had to focus on James Harden, Anthony Davis, and others — that opened up room for Faried to do his thing. That thing is valuable, but teams will balk at the price tag.

More likely is Denver taking back less than it is asking now to move Afflalo or Wilson. Those talks are still going on but are not yet heated, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Denver is the poster child for this coming trade deadline — they are talking to a lot of teams about a lot of different players, but they are not likely to get a deal done before the Feb. 19. Maybe they pull off a small deal, but it’s not going to be the big deals we used to see at the deadline.

Report: Amar’e Stoudemire leaning toward signing with Dallas

New York Knicks v Miami Heat

Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees may have robbed him of being the MVP-level player the Knicks thought they were getting (which is why the team bought his contract out), but he could still help out a contending team in limited minutes.

There were a lot of teams interested; rumors included Golden State, Dallas, San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

But it sounds like Stoudemire may have made up his mind.

Dallas needs depth up front. When Tyson Chandler steps off the court the Mavericks are 5.8 points per 100 possessions worse. When Chandler sat out with a sprained ankle before the All-Star break Dallas started and leaned on Greg Smith. Behind All-Star Dirk Nowitzki the Mavs have Charlie Villanueva.

That’s not striking fear into any teams in the West as the Mavericks head into the playoffs. Frankly, Stoudemire will not either, but he can be an upgrade.