Spending so little time in the NBA after being drafted so high is rare. Unless Vesely – whose athleticism could never overcome his lack of skills – makes an unlikely NBA comeback, he’s on track to become just the seventh player drafted in the top six to spend three or fewer seasons in the NBA since the NBA-ABA merger.
The other six:
Flynn regressed in two seasons with the Timberwolves, who drafted him No. 6 in 2009, and then a third year in Houston and Portland. He might have left the NBA after three seasons regardless, but a hip injury did him no favors.
Drafted No. 3 by the Warriors in 1986, Washburn stunk for a season and a half in Golden State and a half season in Atlanta. Then, he was suspended for drugs, costing him his third season. A third failed drug test ultimately got him banned from the NBA for good.
The player drafted highest every out of Jacksonville University, Ray – chosen No. 5 in 1980 – lasted just three years with the Nuggets.
Assuming there are no later revelations to the contrary, Ray was the last top-six pick to exit the NBA as quickly as Vesely without injury or drugs playing a major factor. Just as the Wizards imagined in 2011, Vesely ultimately made history.
NBA’s Top 50 free agents: From LeBron James to Caron Butler and everyone in between
Free agency in the NBA comes up fast — the Finals end, it’s less than two weeks until the draft and then in less than a week free agency opens. It’s head spinning.
And it’s hard to keep track of who is out there as a free agent — so we at PBT are here to help.
Here is my list of the top 50 free agents on the market. Some of them — that guy at the top of the list or that guy in Dallas just a few spots below him — are not really going to test the open market, but they are free agents and on the list. Comb through it and see who your team should sign… then go look at the salary cap numbers and see if you can make it work.
1. LeBron James (used early termination option). Simply the single best player on the planet and whatever team is on is an instant contender. It has never been likely that he would leave Miami unless Wade and Bosh made a power grab, they didn’t (opting out as well) and now those three are just figuring out the numbers so Pat Riley has room to maneuver. LeBron is not taking meetings with other teams. That said, there is nobody like him in the game today and he is a free agent, so he has to top the list.
2. Carmelo Anthony (used early termination option). This is the one guy in our top four who is actually available. He can be had. Anthony can flat-out get buckets and with that he improves your team instantly. No, he doesn’t defend well. Yes, when he’s on offense the ball sticks sometimes. But the man is a versatile scorer — shoots the three, puts the ball on the floor and drives, draws fouls, hits contested looks, and rebounds. If you put him on a team with a good defensive center and a point guard who can keep him from dominating the ball, he can take you to the top.
3. Chris Bosh (used early termination option). His skill set is often undersold by people who don’t get the game or what Miami asked him to do. He is a shooter who can score inside and out (but prefers the jumper, and he hits the three). He plays a very high IQ game, understands spacing and system. He is one of the two or three best big men in the NBA defending the pick-and-roll. He willingly took a lesser role in Miami and is comfortable with it, which is why he’s not bolting. He will take less to stay, he is personally and professionally happy in Miami.
4. Dirk Nowitzki (unrestricted free agent). Just a pure scoring machine — smart and efficient. He hits threes, can score on the block and if he gets the ball at the elbow the defender is helpless. He’s getting older and his defense is slipping, but he’s still a top player in the league. He’s not leaving Dallas, the only question is how much he makes — last season he made $22.7 million and owner Mark Cuban said he will pay Nowitzki whatever he wants, but expect Dirk to take something closer to half last year’s salary, to help the team have room to chase a free agent.
5. Eric Bledsoe (restricted free agent). He came back from knee surgery last year and reminded everyone that he is incredibly athletic and can lift a team. He can score in transition, attacks the rim, looks like a top offensive weapon and is a dogged defender. Teams might be right to be concerned about his health. Suns GM Ryan McDonough has said they will match any offer — and remember he traded for Bledsoe, he’s not letting him go. If Bledsoe doesn’t get the max he will not be far off it.
6. Kyle Lowry (unrestricted free agent). An aggressive, attacking, driving player (and forceful defender), and after his agent laid it on the line for him Lowry’s off-the-court demeanor and issues improved last season. He is the best pure point guard in the class and a team can actually get him. That means a guy long underpaid in this league is about to get his due. The Raptors want to keep him but it’s going to come down to price, Lowry will have many suitors (and there are plenty of Heat rumors, depending on how much money they have).
7. Greg Monroe (restricted free agent). Potential future All-Star big man who has a versatile offensive game — he can score and make good decisions from the elbow, he finishes well from the post and runs the floor well. Stan Van Gundy would love to see how Monroe and Andre Drummond would grow together but Joe Dumars also left Josh Smith and his massive contract in the way. Monroe has been good not great so far in his career but he has some real fans around front offices that think the problems were how the Pistons used him, not Monroe himself. Don’t be shocked if he gets a max offer that the Pistons cannot match.
8. Chandler Parsons (restricted free agent). Incredibly athletic wing player who can hit the three and finish strong at the rim. He gets offensive spacing, his defense is a work in process but improving. The Rockets do not want to let him go, which is why they didn’t pick up his option (he could have played for them for less than $1 million but then been an unrestricted free agent next summer). He’s restricted and the Rockets will not turn their attention to him until after they go big game hunting, another team may step in with a big offer but the Rockets are very likely to match.
9. Lance Stephenson (unrestricted free agent). He is in alternating moments both brilliant and a nightmare. He can create shots for himself and others, he attacks on offense and can finish through contact. Very versatile defender. Then there’s the guy either blowing in LeBron’s ear or taking plays (and games) off, his aggressive style can become wild and reckless. How much are teams willing to bet on his maturity — how much are Larry Bird and the Pacers wiling to bet? Will another team that strikes out on their first big free agent targets go big with Stephenson as the fallback? One of the most interesting free agent scenarios to watch.
10. Dwyane Wade (used early termination option). For a stretch, he can still be Dwyane Wade — he will destroy you in space, can attack the rim and handle contact, he plays a smart game and he understands what the Heat will do on offense. Of the “big three” he is the least likely to leave Miami and Pat Riley made it clear one way or another they would take care of the face of the franchise.
11. Gordon Hayward (restricted free agent). A guy with a number of fans in front offices around the league for his well rounded game — the Suns reportedly may offer the max, but the Jazz would match. He is a good scorer (16 points a game) inside and out, creates shots, good defender, and is fairly efficient. He’s good at a lot of things, great at none of them. How much will another team offer him to be a guy who can fit in as a second/third option, how much will the Jazz match?
12. Luol Deng (unrestricted free agent). Really strong defender who is an underrated offensive weapon (as a third scoring option he will get you points as the roll man or cutting off the ball). I think being on a Bulls team without Derrick Rose then being buried with the Cavaliers may help a team get him at a good price. Could be a good grab for an established team (Miami, Houston, Dallas) or a team on the rise.
13. Marcin Gortat (unrestricted free agent). Very complete, well rounded game, capable of playing power ball inside, he has a steady midrange jumper. Good defender but not always timely with the help. Just solid. Washington sent a crew from the front office to Poland to pitch him before free agency starts, but he’s the kind of guy a team with a little cap space and a need up front could use. (Miami?)
14. Pau Gasol (unrestricted free agent). He’s getting a little older but it looked worse than it really was thanks to Mike D’Antoni’s system. He’s still a very polished scorer, either from the low post or the elbow, has a midrange shot, has good court vision and is a very good passing big man, plus he defends better than he gets credit for. Look for a good team to pick him up (he wants to contend) and look for him when used right to have a bounce-back season. Then Lakers fans ask, “Why didn’t he play like that for us?” D’Antoni.
15. Channing Frye (exercised player option). He is a classic stretch four — 55.5 percent of his shots were three pointers last season and he hit 37 percent of them, which is actually below his career average). Teams tend to do better when he is on the court. He opted out looking for a longer-term deal in Phoenix but teams looking at bigger name fours who strike out could come calling.
16. Isaiah Thomas (restricted free agent). Fans in Sacramento love the guy and with good reason — he is small but lightning quick, gets to the rim, and last season he averaged 20 points a game with a very efficient .574 true shooting percentage. He’s a score first point guard. His big issue is defense, not for lack of effort but his size has teams just shooting over the top of him. Sacramento’s front office seems torn on him, will be interesting to see if another team will try to poach him with a big offer.
17. Trevor Ariza (unrestricted free agent). He is a good defender who last year shot the ball well all over the court on his way to 14.4 points a game and a .590 true shooting percentage. But this is not the first time he had a really good year in a contract year, and last time he fell off a few steps the next season. Teams should be leery. Washington has made re-signing him a priority.
18. Avery Bradley (restricted free agent). He is a fantastic defender, someone you can throw at quick point guards and slow them down. You might look at him as a “3-and-D” guy as he hit 39.5 percent from three last season, but he needs to be on a team where someone else is creating the shots and he’s just knocking them down.
19. Paul Pierce (unrestricted free agent). He’s not your primary scoring option anymore but he’s still got this crafty ability to get off his shot and knock it down with a hand in his face, whether from three or the elbow. He’ll be 37, no long term deals are coming, but he can help a contender. Likely to re-sign in Brooklyn but the Clippers among others reportedly will make a pitch.
20. Boris Diaw (unrestricted free agent). As the Miami Heat can tell you, he’s a very versatile player that they found hard to defend because he’s both smart and unpredictable. He can shoot the three, drive the lane, and is a gifted passer. When focused as he has been in San Antonio he’s good, but put him in another situation such as Charlotte and he almost ate his way out of the league. It’d be a surprise if he signs with anyone other than the Spurs.
21. Andray Blatche (unrestricted free agent). He had a bounce back year in Brooklyn and that will get some teams to come calling. He scored 11 points a game with a pedestrian true shooting percentage of .532. Not a great defender. Look at his history and there are questions, but he deserves a raise from the $1.4 million he made last year and some team will give it to him, likely the Nets to keep him.
22. Nick Young (unrestricted free agent). Swaggy P is an unrepentant gunner who never met a shot he didn’t like, but will make more of them than he should. If a team is looking for a sixth-man to just come in and put up points he’s a fit, ask him to do more than that and they’ll regret it.
23. Shaun Livingston (unrestricted free agent). One of the best comeback stories in the NBA, he has developed into a rock-solid point guard. In Brooklyn last year Deron Williams could still make the high-end plays that Livingston can’t anymore, but Livingston was steadier and smoother with the offense. May not be able to go heavy minutes with him, but a solid addition to any roster.
24. Vince Carter (unrestricted free agent). The athleticism that made him legendary only shows in flashes now (and at age 37 those flashes become more infrequent) but he is a reliable, steady scorer and a smart, veteran player. Great fit in Dallas, which wants to retain him.
25. Rodney Stuckey (unrestricted free agent). He attacks the rim aggressively, has a decent midrange game, and is basically a volume scorer (he put up 13.9 points a game last season but with a below averaged true shooting percentage of .516). If you’re looking for a sixth man to bring points, toughness and energy off the bench he’s a good call.
26. Darren Collison (unrestricted free agent). A solid backup point guard who played well for the Clippers last season when Chris Paul was down for a stretch. He’s still quick, but picks his spots to use it. One of the better backup point guards on the market this summer and the Clippers have made keeping him a top priority.
27. Greivis Vasquez (restricted free agent). He’s a quality backup point guard — he’s got good size, is quicker than you think and a very adept passer. He has lateral quickness issues which really show on the defensive end. So long as you are using him as a backup he can be a quality addition to a team.
28. Josh McRoberts (unrestricted free agent). Works hard on every possession and if you don’t think he’s athletic you will end up in one of his poster dunks. He’s good at a lot of things — passing, being tough inside and can hit some threes. He’s not great at any one thing. He was key in Charlotte last season and they want him back but other teams will have interest.
29. Ray Allen (unrestricted fee agent). Still in great shape, still the consummate professional and still can knock down the corner three. But the fading athleticism has made doing things other than shooting (such as defending) difficult and he seems frustrated by that (speaking to him at the Finals I got that impression). Likely re-signs with Heat, maybe another contender, or retires.
30. Shawn Marion (unrestricted free agent). The days of “the Matrix” are gone but he still is solid with the ability to hit the three, drive inside and score (or post up smaller players) and he’s a decent defender. At age 36 it should be a short deal but he can help a team looking for forward depth. Dallas wants to retain him.
31. Anthony Morrow (unrestricted free agent). He shot 45.1 percent from three last season — he does that one thing very well (and not much else), but that one thing is important so he will get some nice checks coming his way.
32. Spencer Hawes (unrestricted free agent). A floor spacing big man who averaged 15.3 points a game and shot 41.6 percent from three last season. He is a good passer, can block a few shots and get you a few rebounds. Teams looking for a big to stretch out defenses could do a lot worse.
33. Chris Andersen (unrestricted free agent). He can rebound, block shots and is very mobile for a big man, but at age 36 the athleticism for his size that made him stand out (well, besides all the ink) is fading. How fast he fades determines his value. He wants more than the $1.4 million he was on the hook for last season.
34. Thabo Sefolosha (unrestricted free agent). A “3-and-D” guy who shot just 31.6 percent from three last season for OKC. He’s just 30, if you think the three point shot will return he’s a solid pickup, but if it has taken back off to Switzerland his usefulness is limited.
35. Glen Davis (unrestricted free agent). Big Baby salvaged himself somewhat after a disastrous end in Orlando by being the best Clipper big man off the bench come the playoffs (which meant he just had to be better than Ryan Hollins, Davis is still that). He’s an okay scorer, rebounder and defender, but can go through long unfocused stretches. After series of injuries not going to get a long term deal.
36. Danny Granger (unrestricted free agent). Like Big Baby had a bit of a resurgence with the Clippers last season but Doc Rivers leaned on him less come the playoffs. Not near the All-Star pre-knee surgeries guy, he can still be a solid part of the rotation on the wing.
37. Marvin Williams (unrestricted free agent). A guy with all the physical tools and a very laid-back, unaggressive, uninspired game. He can be part of a team’s rotation but they can’t lean on him for much.
38. Patty Mills (unrestricted free agent). He’s very quick and can get to the rim and get you points. He’s aggressive by nature, loves every shot he sees, but also is an adept passer. He’s played really well in the Spurs system this season, buyer beware if you try to put him in another one. Spurs want to keep him.
39. Jodie Meeks (unrestricted free agent). He’s a shooter but he does it efficiently — 74.2 percent of his shots were three pointers (hitting 40.1 percent) or at the rim. Had a .601 true shooting percentage last season. He was asked to score in Mike D’Antoni’s wide open system, how he fits in others is the question.
40. P.J. Tucker (unrestricted free agent). He was a tough, gritty, enforcer of a defensive player who shot 38.7 percent from three last season to provide a little value at the other end. Whether he can do that for a team other than the Suns remains to be seen.
41. Evan Turner (restricted free agent). His stock plummeted after how he played in Indiana — he put up raw numbers in Philly where he was asked to shoot but when forced to blend into the Pacers team concept he could not. What team is going to look to bring him in now?
42. Mario Chalmers (unrestricted free agent). He can hit the three, play a little defense and turn the ball over more than he should. Is used to teammates yelling at him. He’s not a bad point guard but Miami would love to upgrade the spot.
43. Xavier Henry (unrestricted free agent). He found a rhythm and a way to use his athleticism in Mike D’Antoni’s offense but there are questions about what he brings to something more structured. Needs to land on an up-tempo team.
44. Jerryd Bayless (unrestricted free agent). Another solid backup point guard out there on the market — he’s quick, can get inside and is a threat from three, knows how to run a team. Will have the occasional big numbers night. Makes a nice sixth man.
45. Ramon Sessions (unrestricted free agent). Add him to the list of quality reserve point guards out there. He can get to the rim and score, does know how to set up teammates and is solid at running the team. Seems like he’s been around forever but he’s just 28.
46. Steve Blake (unrestricted free agent). He worked hard to become decent at running Mike D’Antoni’s offense, got traded to Golden State and was a mess. He can shoot the three, can play off or with the ball, but needs a defined (and somewhat limited) role.
47. C.J. Miles (unrestricted free agent). He’s a good shooter (39.3 percent from three last season) and that’s a good reason to keep him in the rotation, coming off the bench to knock down shots. Not going to get much beyond that.
48. Mike Miller (unrestricted free agent). He was actually healthy last season and helped the Memphis Grizzlies space the floor, plus he plays a smart game and can make some good reads on defense. That said there is a long injury history so it’s a buyer beware signing.
49. Jordan Hill (unrestricted free agent). A pure hustle guy, his numbers indicated he should have played more for the Lakers but they had frustrations with him off the court that bled over. Can be a solid rotation big that the fans will love because he works hard every play.
50. Caron Butler (unrestricted free agent). He knocked down 44.1 percent of his threes in Oklahoma City, which got him minutes in front of the fading Sefolosha. He’s liked in the locker room, good in the community and brings a decent all-around offensive game but no defense to the table.
Guys who just miss the cut: Mike Scott, DeJuan Blair, Jordan Crawford, Greg Oden, Devin Harris, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Trevor Booker, E’Twaun Moore, Greg Stiemsma, Hedo Turkoglu, Jan Vesely, Jason Collins, Matt Bonner, Rashard Lewis, Rasual Butler, Udonis Haslem.
PBT And-1 Links: Roy Hibbert’s new bed is ginormous
Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points more than Pharrell Williams loves the Arby’s hat…
• Roy Hibbert got a new bed. He’s 7’2″ with a 7’9″ wingspan. That is one ginormous bed.
Got my new bed yesterday. 8 x 9 feet #JustRight #Goldilocks. What y’all think?
• LeBron James and Blake Griffin have been named the Eastern and Western conference players of the month for February. Hard to argue with those calls. James averaged 30.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists a game while shooting 57.5 percent. Griffin averaged 30 points and 10.7 rebounds a game last month.
It’s the one day on the NBA calendar you know is going to be like a roller coaster — rumors are going to fly, deals are going to appear close then fall apart, complete fabrications will fascinate a fan base who will then blame a GM for not making them reality, and in the end there will be a few trades. However, if you think your team trading for a big star is a lock to improve your team, you may want to think again.
Today may end up being light on actual deals getting done, but we will have everything going on here:
3:41 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The trade of the day snuck in at the wire — the Pacers have traded Danny Granger to the Sixers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Wow. Indiana is a title contender that just sent their sixth man away to gamble on Evan Turner in that role — like the gamble, but it is one. Granger is averaging 8.3 points a game in 22.5 minutes a night, with a true shooting percentage of 49.1 — not that impressive and he was getting paid $13 million. Turner is scoring at a higher pace in Philly, 17.4 points a game, but he was forced into that role because of that roster. That said, taking on that higher scoring load Turner has a higher true shooting percentage (50.4) and he may well be an upgrade for the Pacers in that role. The question is can he blend in with the Pacers culture and second unit. It’s a gamble.
3:20 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Los Angeles Clippers are sending Byron Mullens to the Philadelphia 76ers. Not sure what is coming back to the Clippers yet. Not exactly earth shattering but Mullens gives the Sixers a floor spacing big as they traded Spencer Hawes away. For the Clippers, this move and the Jamison move save them millions, they are just over the tax line by a couple hundred thousand. That said, their front line depth is now DeAndre Jordan/Blake Griffin, then Ryan Hollins, after that…. nobody. (Ramona Shelburne)
3:12 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: One trade that did slip in under the deadline — San Antonio sends Nando De Colo to the Toronto Raptors for Austin Daye. That’s an exchange of guys at the end of the bench, although De Colo could get limited run in Toronto. I’d dismiss this move for the Spurs, but the way trades work for them he probably starts playing like an All-Star. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
3:02 pm: There is no deal between the Clippers and Knicks. It was too much to fit together under the pressure of the deadline, and the Clippers just did not want the Felton salary. The Clippers did agree to send Antawn Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks at the deadline but that was not precursor deal. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
3:00 pm: THE DEADLINE HAS COME AND GONE. (Some deals submitted just before the deadline will trickle out in the coming hour.)
2:59 pm: Knicks/Clippers discussing Darren Collison, Willie Green and Matt Barnes for Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton. Right up to the deadline. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
2:57 pm: Jarrett Jack to Minnesota is dead, not gonna happen.
2:54 pm: The Denver Nuggets announce that JaVale McGee has had surgery on the stress fracture in his leg that has kept him out all season. This makes it official, no Pierre until next season.
2:46 pm: Lakers talking to Philadelphia about sending big man Chris Kaman east. For the Lakers this would be about saving cash, the Sixers have the cap room to take him on and if they can they want to get over the league minimum salary number. (Ramona Shelburne)
2:43 pm: With Iman Shumpert only having a sprain and likely to miss a couple weeks, the Clippers are reportedly taking one last look at a trade for him. The issue has been the Knicks want the Clippers to take Raymond Felton’s contract and Los Angeles has no interest. I don’t see how that has changed. (Marc Stein)
2:41 pm: No, there is not going to be a last-minute deal for Pau Gasol. The Lakers will keep him, they will have his Bird rights, but know that there is little chance he is back next season. (Ken Berger)
2:28 pm: At the last minute the Golden State Warriors are shopping Jordan Crawford. Getting Steve Blake allows the Warriors to do this. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
2:20 pm: The Los Angeles Clippers are going to stand pat at the trade deadline. (Dan Woike)
2:14 pm: The Lakers have held out that they want more than just cash savings for Jordan Hill, teams have been reluctant to do that (some have suggested the Lakers should send out a second round pick since the other team will save them $7 million is salary and taxes). With nothing happening it is starting to look like Hill may be a Laker after the deadline. (Ken Berger)
2:10 pm:TRADE FINALIZED: The Denver Nuggets will send Jordan Hamilton to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Arron Brooks. Good deal for both teams — Denver wanted a backup point guard behind Ty Lawson, they get one. Hamilton gives the Rockets an athletic wing off the bench. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
1:56 pm: Iman Shumpert’s MRI came back showing just a sprain, nothing that requires surgery. That means it is possible he ends up in a trade in the final hour before the trade deadline. (Ken Berger)
1:49 pm: Denver has come to terms to send Jordan Hamilton to Houston for Aaron Brooks. Nice pick up for the Rockets, who wanted a more athletic wing off the bench and really don’t need Brooks. Denver gets a solid backup for Ty Lawson, something they haven’t had since Andre Miller was banished to Siberia (or wherever Brian Shaw’s doghouse is). (Adrian Wojnarowski)
1:31 pm: Minnesota missed out on Andre Miller, so now they are talking to Cleveland about Jarrett Jack. (David Aldridge)
1:27 pm: If the Iman Shumpert MRI comes out negative and it is just a sprain he will be back in play for trades — and he may go to Oklahoma City for a first-round pick. Doc Rivers and the Clippers would still be interested but L.A. didn’t want to take on Raymond Felton’s contract and I doubt that changed. A first round pick will make Shumpert a part of the Thunder, if that report is accurate. (Chris Broussard)
1:23 pm: Among the massive amount of trades that died on the vine you can add the Kings/Cavs Jason Thompson-for-Jarrett Jack one. (Sam Amick)
1:03 pm: It appears the Tyler Zeller to the Clippers for Reggie Bullock trade is DOA. (Ken Berger)
12:53 pm: With their taking on Eric Maynor and picks, the Philadelphia 76ers now have five picks in the second round of this year’s draft. Plus multiple ones in future years. That, my friend, is leverage for future deals.
12:46 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Charlotte Bobcats acquire Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal from the Milwaukee Bucks for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. This move gives the Bobcats some quality backcourt depth that can help them hold on to one of the final playoff spots in the East. (Rick Bonnell)
12:40 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Washington Wizards have added some veteran depth to go with John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt. In a three team-trade the Wizards will get Andre Miller — who should be a good fit with them, a veteran they could use in the locker room — while as part of the deal Denver gets Jan Vesely, while the Sixers will land Eric Maynor from Washington plus two second-round picks belonging to Denver — both reportedly 2014 ones. I like this for the Sixers, depending on the picks and protections on them. For Denver Vesely is a nice gamble but those two picks make it seem expensive just to dump Miller. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
12:34 pm: Looks like we are close to another trade — Denver and Washington are “close” to a deal sending Andre Miller to the Wizards for Eric Maynor and Jan Vesely, although the Nuggets would quickly flip Maynor to a third team. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
12:29 pm: It’s not likely, but the trade idea of Caron Butler and Gary Neal to Charlotte for Ben Gordon and another contract is not yet dead. Neal to Charlotte looks like it will happen, adding in Butler complicates matters. (Gery Woelfel)
12:22 pm: The Detroit Pistons are trying to shop Josh Smith around, but they want value back not just expiring contracts. That should provide other GMs a much-needed laugh on a tense day. (Zach Lowe)
12:18 pm:Here is your Andre Miller update — it looks as if Washington and Minnesota are the only two teams left trying to land him with the Wizards in the lead (if it is Washington don’t expect Eric Maynor to be part of the package heading back to Denver). However, most executives think no deal will be made and the Nuggets will just buy Miller out and make him a free agent. (Sean Deveney)
11:45 am: Gary Neal was always likely to be dealt by the Bucks today and they are now close to making a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats. Not a lot of details yet, but that’s a solid pickup for Charlotte, which wants to solidify its spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs (their sweep of a home-and-home with Detroit this week certainly helped that). (Ken Berger)
• The Clippers have been hesitant to part with Reggie Bullock, but they need front line depth desperately so have had talks about sending him to Cleveland for Tyler Zeller. (Brian Windhorst)
• Indiana has tested the trade market for Danny Granger but you were always going to have to blow them away with a deal because: 1) They liked the idea of the cap space they get with him leaving at the end of the season (or re-signing for much less); 2) He’s proven to be a good sixth man and they will need his offense come the playoffs. The Pacers haven’t found any deals for Granger they like and will probably keep him. (Brian Windhorst)
11:21 am: REPORTED TRADE: The Sacramento Kings will acquire Roger Mason Jr. from the Miami Heat, then are going to turn around and waived the little-used veteran. This really is just teams shifting around a few dollars — it is virtually a straight cash deal. Technically the Kings will send a protected second round pick back to the Heat, but it will be so heavily protected that Miami will never really see it. Miami is doing this to clear out a roster space so when players get bought out after the deadline they can sign them. The Kings are doing it for the straight cash money. (Ken Berger)
11:17 am: The Cavaliers are finding it hard to find anyone to dance with who wants Luol Deng — Detroit and Minnesota are lukewarm and the Suns are not willing to give Cleveland a first-round pick to rent him for 30 games. Nobody is going to give up much for a guy who wants to test free agency this summer. (Ken Berger)
• Speaking of Cleveland, it appears that Jarrett Jack still will be a Cavalier after the trade deadline. That’s good for their playoff hopes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
11:07 am: The New Orleans Pelicans are shopping around D-League star Pierre Jackson. If they don’t find a deal he will go overseas to play for Fenerbahce in Turkey the rest of the season (and make more money). There should be interest in him around the league, however. (Marc Stein)
10:52 am: While the fact that Luol Deng refuses to sign an extension complicates matters considerably (he wisely for his sake wants to test the free agent market), the Wizards, Mavericks and Pistons are all reportedly still talking to Cleveland about a deal for him. However, any deal appears unlikely. (Marc Stein)
10:44 am: New Orleans is backing away from the Lakers and Jordan Hill. That leaves the Nets and Hawks still in the mix, with the Nets the frontrunner. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
COMPLETED TRADE: The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to move Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Earl Clark and Henry Sims (both expiring contracts) and two second round draft picks. Not a bad haul for Philly. The Sixers had been holding out for first round picks but have lowered their standards at the deadline to get a deal done and did pretty well. Cleveland, winners of six in a row, have upgraded their front line with trades when you look at Hawes and Luol Deng, but I still don’t see much of a master plan there.
• The Sacramento Kings are shopping Jimmer Fredette hard, looking for a 2014 second round pick. His stock has fallen that far, but he might be worth a gamble at that price. (Adrian Wojnarowski)
• Lakers are talking with three teams who have a disabled player exception — Pelicans, Nets, Hawks — about Jordan Hill. Lakers trying to get one of them to throw in a second round pick to get the deal done, teams are hesitant. (Marc Stein)
• Denver still talking to teams about Andre Miller, who is deep in coach Brian Shaw’s dog house. Minnesota and Washington appear the frontrunners. (Sam Amick)
• For those of you thinking Kevin Love is going to get moved today, you can give up on that dream.
Rumors of Love telling me he's opting out & wants 2 b traded r false. Last convo I had w/ him was him telling me how bad my sports coat was.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is one traditionally well-celebrated in the NBA. Today features a 10-game slate, and we’ll provide live updates, highlights and recaps here as the day goes on.
1:15 a.m. ET Tuesday: Pacers 102, Warriors 94 (FINAL): The second half of this game felt like a playoff game, down to the fired up crowd (got to love the people at Oracle) and the referees letting them play. The problem for Golden State was they were never able to dig out of the first quarter hole — behind Paul George’s 14 that quarter (23 for the game) the Pacers shot 64 percent for the quarter and led by 14 when it was done. Against a team that defends like the Pacers, that’s a huge hole. Indiana did a great job of chasing Stephen Curry off the three-point line — he was 3-of-11 from deep and that includes George Hill doing a great job on him late in the game. Indiana has won five in a row and looks every bit the team Miami should fear. Golden State got a taste of what it’s going to take to contend.
12:31 a.m. ET Tuesday: Pacers-Warriors: Golden State knocked down a few threes, Stephen Curry woke up the Bay Area crowd, combine that with a 9-of-23 shooting streak from the Pacers and we have a game. Golden State is just up by 8 entering the fourth quarter — this is going to be a ball game. The referees are letting them play, letting it get physical, and we will see how Golden State handles that.
\11:20 p.m. ET: Pacers-Warriors: Golden State is never out of a game with their ability to make a run with the three ball, but they are going to have to do it over the contested arms of Indiana Pacers’ defenders and it is not going well for them so far tonight. Indiana is up 16 and shooting 52 percent on the game. If you let Indiana shoot better than 5o percent and just try to outscore them against that defense, you lose. Stephen Curry started the game 2-of-7 from the floor.
10:52 p.m. ET: Bulls 102, Lakers 100 (OT FINAL): Two teams that have had their seasons derailed by injuries played an entertaining and competitive game that required overtime to be decided. The Bulls probably should have won in regulation, but thanks no doubt to the league publicly reprimanding officials after non-calls with games on the line, Joakim Noah was whistled for a foul on Nick Young with four seconds remaining that sent Young to the line for three free throw attempts to tie it. Near the end of the overtime session, Young once again came through with a baseline jumper that tied it, and the Lakers were just 0.9 seconds away from heading to a second overtime period. But they couldn’t defend a simple baseline out of bounds play, and Manny Harris (recently signed from the D-League) horribly misplayed Taj Gibson, who sealed Harris and was able to get free for the game-winning layup as time expired.
10:43 p.m. ET: Rockets 126, Trail Blazers 113 (FINAL): Portland’s leaky defense finally faced a flood not even its league-best offense could offset. Led by LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points and 20 rebounds), the Trail Blazers scored enough to win most nights. They just couldn’t stop the Rockets. Portland hasn’t allowed so many points in a game since 2007, and that’s why its win streak is over at five games. It’s no secret the Trail Blazers defense has been lacking. Of the NBA’s top eight teams – the group commonly accepted as true title contenders – only Portland (20th) ranks outside the top 11 in points allowed per possession. The Rockets, led tonight by Chandler Parsons (31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists), boast one of the NBA’s top offenses. But if the Trail Blazers want to win a playoff series or two in this stacked Western Conference, they must defend better. That starts on the defensive glass, where no Portland player besides Aldridge grabbed more than two defensive rebounds. Better contesting shots on the perimeter – Houston made 16-of-33 3-pointers (48.5 percent) – would be a good second step. — Dan Feldman
9:21 p.m. ET: Rockets – Blazers: One of the day’s best matchups record-wise has turned into a laugher at halftime. The Rockets have hung 71 points on the Blazers through the game’s first 24 minutes and lead by 15 at the Break. Chandler Parsons leads all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, Dwight Howard has 15 points and seven rebounds, and Omri Casspi has 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes off the bench. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the way for Portland with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but unless the Blazers can find a way to get some stops it’s not going to matter. It’s worth noting that Houston put together a similar first half performance against the Thunder the other night, before crashing to a record-low performance in the second.
9:12 p.m. ET: Lakers – Bulls: Thanks to 17 first half points from Nick Young, the Lakers lead 52-49 at intermission. Joakim Noah has 11 points and 10 rebounds at halftime for the Bulls, but everyone else on Chicago’s side is shooting an extremely low percentage, which led to L.A. erasing all of an early eight-point Bulls lead.
8:13 p.m. ET: Hawks 121, Heat 114 (FINAL): Though LeBron James had 30 points and six assists, Miami has lost four of six. Monday, defense was the main culprit. The Heat’s defense, still above average, has been at its worst since the Big Three came together. The 121 points allowed to Atlanta, which were led by Paul Millsap’s 26, weren’t even the most Miami has allowed this season. The Heat yielded 123 points to the Warriors earlier this month. I certainly expect Miami to get it together by the playoffs, but a chance at home-court advantage in the East is slipping away. The Heat now trail the Pacers by four games, and though that doesn’t seem insurmountable, Indiana is on pace to lose fewer than eight more games the rest of the season. – Dan Feldman
The Heat may have lost, but had at least one possession that was textbook as far as their defense leading to easy points in transition.
7:50 p.m. ET: Pelicans 95, Grizzlies 92 (FINAL): Anthony Davis had 27 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks – becoming the youngest player by nearly two years to hit those totals since at least 1985. He shot 2-for-11 in the first half, but he still made a noticeable defensive impact. In the second half, he got it going on offense, shooting 7-for-11, and his defense didn’t slip. He’s growing into a superstar right in front of our eyes, helping New Orleans end its nine-game losing streak and snap Memphis’ five-game winning streak. – Dan Feldman
6:19 p.m. ET: Nets 103, Knicks 80 (FINAL): The Nets improved to 7-1 in 2014 with an easy win over a Knicks team that didn’t look like it belonged on the same court for much of the afternoon. It was essentially over at halftime, when Joe Johnson had already scored 20 points and Brooklyn showcased what has become its signature during this recent successful stretch — exceptional ball movement and solid team defense. It could have been a bigger margin, too, considering the Nets were just 3-of-10 shooting corner threes, and almost all of the attempts were wide-open looks.
Deron Williams returned after a five-game injury-forced absence, and finished with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting, to go along with three assists in 27 minutes of action off the bench. Williams said afterward that the reserve role was his idea, and that he didn’t want to disrupt the team’s solid starting lineup.
The last time these two teams met, New York crushed an injury-ravaged Nets team in Brooklyn back in early December. Today, it was the Nets’ turn to bring the destruction.
“Simple payback,” Andray Blatche said afterward. “They came into our place and embarrassed us, and we wanted to come back and return the favor.”
4:42 p.m. ET: Wizards 107, 76ers 99 (FINAL): This wasn’t Washington’s most-polished performance, but its centers – Marcin Gortat (19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points, seven rebounds and a block) – dominated in a combined 46 minutes. Sometimes, out-muscling an opponent is enough. Both teams will probably take this result. The Wizards boost their playoff position, and Philadelphia continues tanking. Plus, Michael Carter-Williams (31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals) bolstered his Rookie of the Year case. — Dan Feldman
4:38 p.m. ET: Clippers 112, Pistons 103 (FINAL): DeAndre Jordan dunked four times in the game’s opening minutes, kick-starting a riveting matchup – between Jordan and Blake Griffin for who could dunk most. Jordan held onto his early lead, besting Griffin seven to five. Los Angeles led by 20 before the Pistons made a late comeback, but this one was all about the Clippers. Whether it was Griffin’s 25 points, Jordan’s 21 rebounds or Jamal Crawford’s 26 points on 13 shots off the bench, Los Angeles had all sorts of contributions that masked the absence of Chris Paul. — Dan Feldman
4:34 p.m. ET: Heat – Hawks: Dwyane Wade told reporters he will not play in today’s game in Atlanta, which isn’t really a surprise with Miami playing a back-to-back in Boston the very next night. The Heat have been cautious with Wade all season long in terms of back-to-back sets, and Erik Spoelstra has said more than once that Wade will be essentially a game-time decision for the remainder of the regular season.
4:26 p.m. ET: Bobcats 100, Raptors 95 (FINAL): This score would have been a bit of a surprise anyway, considering that the Raptors had largely been playing much better and the Bobcats even with the win are still seven games under .500 on the season. But it’s even more of a shock considering that Toronto no-showed for the early part of this one, and trailed by as many as 30 before staging a furious comeback that fell just short.
Kyle Lowry was the one who sparked the Raptors, scoring 14 fourth quarter points and having a chance to tie it at the free throw line with under 25 seconds remaining. He missed the chance to complete the three-point play, however, and the Bobcats finished the game by hitting seven free throws to seal it. Ramon Sessions finished with 23 points on just 10 shots for Charlotte, and Al Jefferson had a monster game with 22 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots.
4:18 p.m. ET: Wizards – Sixers: Here’s Jan Vesely with a violent rejection of a shot attempt from Michael Carter-Williams. Wizards cruising late, however, up 100-88 with 3:51 to play.
3:58 p.m. ET: Nets – Knicks: Brooklyn leads 52-38 at the half, behind 20 points from Joe Johnson, who has been killing teams early over his last several games. The key for the Nets has been ball movement, which has created wide open looks that the team has been able to convert at a clip of 51.2 percent. Carmelo Anthony is leading the way for New York with 15 points, but the Knicks as a team are shooting just 33.3 percent and have committed 11 first-half turnovers.
3:40 p.m. ET: Mavericks 102, Cavaliers 97 (FINAL): This was a game that Dallas led by as many as 24 points, but the Cavaliers managed to come all the way back to have a chance to tie with 2.8 seconds remaining. But Mike Brown isn’t exactly known for his ability to draw up anything remotely competent offensively, and the Cavs couldn’t even inbound the ball to get the tying shot off, and were whistled for the rare five-second call that sealed it.
Kyrie Irving finished with 26 points (albeit on 27 shots), and Anderson Varejao ended up with a game-high 21 rebounds in the losing effort. Monta Ellis had nine points in the final period for Dallas, but missed two critical free throws that gave Cleveland the final opportunity to tie, which was ultimately squandered.
3:14 p.m. ET: Clippers – Pistons: L.A. is firmly in control, leading 103-85 with 6:52 to play. We told you earlier about the dunking of DeAndre Jordan, and apparently the trend continued as the game went on. [Hat tip to our friends at Basketball Insiders]
3:06 p.m. ET:Wizards – Sixers: Michael Carter-Williams is feasting for Philly, even as the Wizards maintain a 57-47 lead with 1:45 to play in the first half.
#wizards are like a bowl of Get-right soup for Michael Carter Williams. MCW has 19 pts on 8-12 FGs after going 6-29 FGs in previous 2 games
3:01 p.m. ET:Knicks – Nets: Brooklyn got Deron Williams back after a five-game absence, but went with its same starting lineup and brought him off the bench. The Knicks started small (much to their fans’ delight) with Pablo Prigioni similarly returning today from injury. Joe Johnson has been lighting teams up in first quarters lately, and today has been no different — he has 10 points early, and the Nets lead the Knicks 21-12 with 3:24 remaining in the opening period.
Shaun Livingston had a nice block that led to a transition slam in the game’s opening minutes.
2:52 p.m. ET: Raptors – Bobcats: Toronto was coming off of a disappointing home loss to the Lakers on Sunday, and were looking to bounce back against a Bobcats team that just lost Kemba Walker for the next two weeks or so with a sprained ankle. So, naturally, Charlotte is up by 18 with 4:39 to play in the first half. Al Jefferson has 12 points early for the Bobcats.
Wizards – Sixers: Washington is up nine on the Sixers early in the second quarter, behind 10 points from John Wall, and seven apiece from trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, and Bradley Beal.
2:04 p.m. ET: Here’s the league’s Dream Big spot to get us started, featuring Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat.
Jordan Brand has specially-designed kicks that their athletes (including Blake Griffin and Ray Allen) will be wearing to celebrate the holiday, as well as Black History Month which begins in February.
Mavericks – Cavaliers: Dallas is all over Cleveland late in the second quarter, leading 51-33 with 2:27 to play in the first half. Shawn Marion has 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting to lead the way for the Mavs, while the Cavaliers are shooting just 34.3 percent.
Clippers – Pistons: The Clippers are also up double-digits midway through the second, thanks to shooting almost 68 percent as a team behind a combined 15-of-18 shooting from Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Jamal Crawford. It’s 51-41 L.A. with 4:16 remaining in the first half. It’s been a bit of a dunk-fest early, which included this reverse finish from Jordan on an alley-oop pass from beyond half-court.