Carmelo Anthony’s move to the Big Apple may be taking up all the headline real estate, but Raymond Felton’s departure is also quite notable. He was neither a star nor a New York establishment, but like former-Knicks, now-Nuggets Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, Felton is a quality player and a legitimate starter.
However, the Anthony deal puts Felton in a decidedly less favorable situation. Not only does he lose his status as one of New York’s favorite basketball sons, but the Nuggets have no remaining players on-par with Felton’s former teammate Amar’e Stoudemire, and may not even have a starting job available for him. All signs point to Ty Lawson taking over Chauncey Billups’ role as Denver’s starting point guard, which puts an overqualified Felton into some kind of super-sub role. There’s nothing wrong with the Nuggets being deep at point guard; there are certainly far bigger problems in the NBA than having two starting-caliber players slotted at the same position. However, given the Nuggets’ need to actively rebuild, having that much talent at point guard isn’t necessarily the best way to establish a foundation for the team’s future.
That’s why — despite reports indicating that the Nuggets intend to hang on to Felton — another move seems imminent. It makes sense, and as followers of the game, we all crave order; every point guard should fall to a team in need of one, and every rebuilding team should liquidate all non-essential talent for assets. It’s just not that simple.
Masai Ujiri has some kind of plan in place here, and whether it works out or not, it apparently involves keeping Felton for the time being. It seems likely that the Nuggets will trade Felton before his contract expires, but for now Ujiri is content to sit on Felton’s trade value and call it a day. Considering the ways a new collective bargaining agreement could limit how teams go about upgrading their rosters, keeping Felton could be a wise move. It’s tough to evaluate this decision without knowing exactly how the structure of the CBA will look a few months from now, but it’s a low-risk proposition that could end up paying off handsomely for Denver.
So sorry Atlanta, Houston, or any other team that could use Felton’s services. You’ll have to wait.
Just in case you hadn’t had enough fun with the latest surge of Carmelo Anthony trade rumors (that may or may not be exactly the same in status as the rumors which circulated some six months ago), here’s a fun bit: Anthony apparently has no knowledge at all of the reported meeting he’s supposed to have with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Anthony continued, as reported by the Associated Press:
Anthony says: “If I was to meet with that guy (Prokhorov) to be honest I really don’t know what I would say.”
Terrific. If Anthony’s just being facetious, it’s not appreciated; we’re all ready for this plot line to be over. It’s run its course, worn out its welcome, and given aneurysms to many of those tracing all of the rumors by choice or by trade.
If he’s not, then the possibility of Anthony becoming a Net is considerably less slim than most current reports would have you believe. The possibility may still be on the table, but talks between teams aren’t enough, and haven’t been enough throughout this entire process. No deal gets done without Anthony’s approval, unless the Nuggets have a radical change of heart and try to salvage what’s left of Anthony’s trade value at the trade deadline buzzer.
For what it’s worth, Ken Berger of CBS Sports has a flurry of Anthony quotes from today’s All-Star media availability on his Twitter feed, which serve to create a more complete picture of Anthony’s current circumstance. However, don’t mistake that for any advance in the state of trade negotiations. Most of Anthony’s comments merely flesh out what we already know: he doesn’t know where he’s going, he hasn’t agreed to any kind of extension with any team, and he’d like to have a legitimate offer to mull over.
Jon Scheyer was never a surefire NBA player to begin with, a point made crystal clear when he went undrafted last summer. That said, Scheyer still seemed like an interesting prospect, even if he’s fairly limited in terms of athleticism. As a tall combo guard who can initiate offense and his outside shots consistently, Scheyer has definite offensive utility. The only question is if that utility can outweigh the other limitations in his game, particularly those on the defensive end.
The Miami Heat were interested enough to include Scheyer on their Vegas Summer League team, but only had a brief look; Scheyer sustained an injury to his right eye just two games into Miami’s Summer League schedule, and was forced to leave the team. Then the Los Angeles Clippers brought in Scheyer for training camp, but apparently saw no reason to offer him a contract.
After some time away from the NBA scene, Scheyer will try to earn a spot in the L through different means. According to a release from the team, Scheyer has been acquired by the Houston Rockets affiliated Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Vipers — who have had Mustafa Shakur and Ish Smith run the point for them this season, among others — are in need of some guard depth, and Scheyer’s ability to play either guard position will no doubt help to supplement the RGV backcourt.
You may have forgotten, but the Clippers have had a starting-level center in their back pocket all along. Chris Kaman has played just eight games this season for Los Angeles, but the once quasi-All-Star is apparently ready for his first NBA action since December 5th. Here’s what Kaman had to say on Twitter:
I will be getting back on the court tonight with limited minutes but it will feel good to play.
Works for me, and it should work for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan is a fascinating player, but Kaman — when healthy and in-rhythm, which we won’t see until after the All-Star break at the very earliest — is a far more reliable center option. If L.A.’s short-term performance was of any consequence, then Kaman’s return would mean a great deal.
However, the Clippers have dropped in stock since Eric Gordon injured the wrist on his shooting hand, and any microscopic chance they once had at securing a playoff berth has dissipated. This year’s Clippers, with or without Kaman, are a lottery team. Thus, Kaman’s return is less about improving the Clippers’ interior and more about increasing the value of a trade chip. As our own Kurt Helin noted several weeks ago, Kaman has become a tradable commodity, and in their continued rebuilding efforts the Clippers would very much like to cash in on Kaman’s value.
The trade deadline inches closer and closer, and Kaman’s return coincides with L.A.’s last game before the All-Star break, a convenient time for general managers to engage in all kinds of trade discussions. I’m not sure how willing teams will be to take on the $12.7 million Kaman is owed next season (in that way, his situation parallels that of Antawn Jamison in Cleveland; both are interesting players for a contender to potentially acquire, but with a hefty price that extends beyond this season and into the new CBA), but competent centers who can provide interior scoring aren’t exactly stocked in convenience store aisles.
Kaman is undoubtedly a useful player, but teams will have to think long and hard about whether acquiring him is worth the potential price.
There was a time when the stability of the Miami Heat’s center rotation was a matter of national importance. That time has faded as the Heat themselves have weathered through some growing pains as a team, but there’s still quite a bit riding on Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Joel Anthony, and Erick Dampier.
Notably not included in that group is Miami second round pick Dexter Pittman, a center prospect who has spent most of his season in the D-League. Pittman spent some time at the end of the Heat bench in case of emergency, but more often he was logging minutes for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. That kind of stint is exactly what Pittman needs at this stage in his career; development is clearly important for Pittman, but just as crucial is getting him up to NBA speed. That path starts in the D-League since regular minutes on the big league club aren’t in the cards.
However, Pittman’s hopes of becoming an NBA regular have suffered a bit of a setback. After sustaining an injury to his right knee, Pittman was forced to undergo surgery and will miss five to six weeks of game action, according to the Associated Press. As far as implications go, this injury isn’t exactly far-reaching; Pittman wasn’t likely to play at all for Miami this season, and the timetable for his recovery doesn’t make this injury a substantial setback. However, for a second round pick already facing an uphill battle for NBA permanence, injuries like these are nonetheless inconvenient to say the least.