NBA power rankings

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lebron_allstar_game.jpgRanking all the NBA teams, whether they want it or not. The Cavaliers and Lakers are 1-2 now, which is who everybody thinks makes the finals if the playoffs start today. Sorry Dallas.

1. Cavaliers (43-11) Win streak is up to 13, home court throughout if the playoffs started today. And they want to make a major trade and shake up things because?

2. Lakers (41-13) Wins over Utah and San Antonio without Kobe or Andrew Bynum get them moved up the ladder. But will they keep playing defense like this when everybody is back?

3. Magic (36-18) They had a loss this week to Cleveland, but can you hold that against them? They are the other contender right now.

4. Jazz (32-19) It was nice of Deron Williams to get all his bonehead plays out of the way during the All-Star game as not to drag down Utah in real games.

5. Nuggets (35-18) The most obvious thing from the All-Star game — Carmelo Anthony wanted to be MVP. Nobody puts up 11 first quarter shots otherwise, but you got to hit the late ones to get it.

6. Thunder (30-21) Winners of six in a row, that will get you moved to number six.

7. Hawks (33-18) A West Coast road trip this week should be a good test. Watching Atlanta’s athletes run with Golden State should be one of the more entertaining games of the week.

8. Suns (31-22) Trade rumors swirling about off the court could distract them on the court, where good Dallas and Memphis teams await.

9. Raptors (29-23) They are 8-1 in their last nine, and Chris Bosh has fans in Chicago and Miami drooling with his recent play. Oh yea, Toronto fans, too.

10. Spurs (30-21) Lose to the Lakers without Kobe or Bynum, then turn around and beat Denver in Denver. The Spurs remain a roller coaster.

11. Celtics (32-18) Rumors are the Celtics want to trade Ray Allen for a young star shooter. Well, duh. I want to drive a Maserati, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

12. Bucks (24-27) Why is Brandon Jennings hair so fascinating? I should not spend this much time thinking about a man’s hair.

13. Mavericks (32-20) All the talk is about Butler, and he is an upgrade, but Haywood is the real steal of this trade.

14. Blazers (31-24) Turns out it’s hard to make a trade if you’re not willing to give anything good up in return.

15. Heat (26-27) Quality win against the Hawks on the road last week. Oh, and D-Wade guy looked pretty good Sunday. They should try to keep him, he may turn into something.

16. Bobcats (26-25) The Bobcats turn it around with a couple wins. Up this week, the opposite ends of the spectrum: New Jersey (Tuesday) then Cleveland (Friday).

17. Hornets (28-25) Darren Collison continues to impress, filling in for CP3. It’s tough to judge how good offensively a player is coming out of Ben Howland’s system at UCLA.

18. Sixers (20-32) Four wins in a row without Allen Iverson, with the Green/Holiday backcourt looking good. Yea, it’s going to be fun when AI returns.

19. Rockets (27-24) Lots of trade rumors, but what this team really needs is to get Yao Ming back, and looks like that won’t be until next season.

20. Bulls (25-26) Tyrus Thomas for sale! Get your Tyrus Thomas here!

21. Grizzlies (26-25) Everybody starts raving about what a nice roster Memphis has and how the team plays together, then the Griz go and drop four in a row. Great timing, guys.

22. Kings (18-24) Tyreke Evans is starting to really pull away as rookie of the year. Will Kevin Martin be there to see the rest of his season?

23. Knicks (19-32) Charles Barkley was right — there were a lot of Knicks represented All-Star weekend, despite the team’s record.

24. Warriors (14-37) They get an easy win because the Clippers come out and try to run with them. Foolish, foolish Clippers.

25. Timberwolves (13-30) Was it warmer in Minny than it was in Dallas All-Star Weekend?

26. Clippers (21-31) Every once in a while you hear from people how LeBron James should come to the Clippers. Those are the people you should drug test.

27. Pacers (18-34) How can a team that plays at such a fast pace be so boring to watch.

28. Wizards (17-33) On paper this team should get worse, but sometimes teams and players rise up after their stars are traded.

29. Pistons (18-33) Looking around for good news for the Detroit fans… still looking hold on…

30. Nets (4-48) If ever there was a team that should get extra ping-pong balls in the lottery…

Report: Wizards willing to discuss John Wall, Bradley Beal trades

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The Wizards are 5-11, have poor chemistry and are on track to pay the luxury tax.

This might call for extreme measures – like trading John Wall or Bradley Beal.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

As the Washington Wizards’ season spirals, the franchise has started to deliver teams an impression that every player on their roster — including All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal — is available to discuss in trade scenarios, league sources told ESPN.

Washington’s preference remains to reshape the team around Wall and Beal, but poor play among key teammates is limiting their trade value and paralyzing the Wizards’ efforts to make meaningful changes to a roster that no longer appears functional together, league sources said.

In other words: The Wizards are finally acting rationally. There’s no good-enough reason they should have refused to discuss Wall and Beal trades before. That doesn’t mean Washington should have traded Wall or Beal. They’re good players, and the inertia of NBA trades discussions would have made a trade unlikely. For the same reason, trading those stars now remains unlikely. But what was the advantage of not even considering trading those two? Maybe the Wizards would have gotten an offer so good, they would have taken it. There’s almost no downside to discussing trades, especially after setting a tone to players that trade talks are inevitable and not a reflection of a player’s importance to the franchise.

But, under Ernie Grunfeld, Washington has been far more reactionary to proactive. Considering dealing Wall or Beal now – when every Wizard’s trade value has sunk due to the team’s collective stink – is too typical of this stale regime.

Wall’s value is extremely low relative to his star status. His super-max extension kicks in next year and pays him $42,728,000 per season through age 32. That is a terrifyingly large contract for someone who already appears to be slowing down. Trading for Wall now could trigger a huge trade bonus that gives him a big raise this season, too.

Beal remains an elite trade chip. He’s just 25 and locked in the following two seasons at a reasonable $27,922,396 per year. But he hasn’t looked as sharp on the court this season, lowering his value.

Washington’s other planned top players – Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre – have also underwhelmed. Porter is on an unappealing max contract, and Oubre is headed toward restricted free agency next summer. There’s only moderate reason to trade for either now.

So, dealing Wall or Beal could be the Wizards’ way out of their jam.

Or a way into an even bigger jam.

Report: Warriors aren’t interested in Carmelo Anthony

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It’s unclear where Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony will finish the season this year. He won’t return to the Rockets, and nobody has stepped up to complete a deal with Daryl Morey for the aging superstar.

The most logical place for Anthony to land appears to be the Los Angeles Lakers, a team of former stars now lumped around LeBron James. But the Lakers haven’t seemed eager to do so, nor has anyone else.

Jokes around the league about where Anthony could go have been plenty, and one of the most popular refrains is that Carmelo should go to the Golden State Warriors to get his first ring. It’s a ridiculous supposition on its face, but after the Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins, it oddly doesn’t seem completely out of the question.

However, according to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, Golden State is not considering Carmelo.

Via The Undefeated:

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green believes there is an NBA team out there for his old USA Basketball teammate that will be a better fit. Anthony previously turned down the Miami Heat and also the Portland Trail Blazers twice, sources said. As for Green’s Warriors, a source said the two-time defending champs have no interest despite having a roster spot open.

“Of course, he can still play in this league,” Green said. “There is no doubt in my mind.

“He’s still Melo.”

I honestly don’t know where a good basketball fit for Carmelo is anymore, largely because of his attitude about himself. It’s not clear that Carmelo can be the type of player he used to be on offense, and defense is sort of out of the question. While he did take to shooting more 3-pointers with the Rockets this season, he needs to go into full Vince Carter mode in order to stay on an NBA floor. That seems unlikely moving forward.

All this leaves us with the same question: If Golden State isn’t interested in Anthony, who is?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Watch the Nets’ hype video for their Biggie Smalls-inspired ‘City’ jerseys

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Look, the NBA City jerseys are not good. Most of them are gray, which is the most boring trend in uniform design in any of the four major sports over the last decade or so.

A bunch more are just straight up ugly, or run on motifs that make sense contextually but don’t push the right buttons aesthetically.

But the Brooklyn Nets jerseys? Those are beautiful.

On Saturday the Nets debuted their City jerseys, inspired by Brooklyn native Biggie Smalls, and published an incredible hype video that featured several players and locations around the borough.

Via Twitter:

The coloring on the jersey is Coogi-inspired. Coogi is a fashion brand known for similar patterns, which Biggie was fond of wearing both in music videos and on stage.

What do you think? Is this Nets jersey the best City uniform?

Three Things to Know: After third straight loss Steve Kerr says Warriors now in “the real NBA”

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Each night in the NBA there is a lot of action, a lot to unpack. Which is why every weekday morning during the NBA season we bring you three things you need to know out of the night before, to keep you up on all the big happenings around the NBA.

1) Warriors drop third straight game on road trip and Steve Kerr is blunt: “This is the real NBA…. We’ve been in this dream. So now we’re faced with real adversity.” This is not serious illness the Warriors have come down with, it’s just a little fall cold. Come April, when the chance to threepeat is on the line, the Warriors will be the Warriors again. Don’t doubt that.

But right now, the Warriors are scuffling.

Stephen Curry is out with a strained groin. Draymond Green is out with an injured toe. In his last five quarters of play, Kevin Durant has shot 9-of-32 (28.1 percent) and he picked up a technical Sunday chirping at officials, he just is off his game and seems to be unfocused (insert your speculation about the Green situation here). In his last two games Klay Thompson is shooting 40 percent. On Saturday night both had chances at potential game winners and missed good looks. On Sunday in San Antonio, neither even got the chance as the Spurs handled the Warriors without much trouble 104-92.

With that, the Warriors went 0-3 on a road trip for the first time with Steve Kerr as coach, and they are 2-5 in their last seven. In those seven games, the Warriors are allowing 112.7 points per 100 possessions, the second worst defense in the league during that stretch. On the other end of the floor, the ball is sticking on offense.

“I’ve had a dream run for four-and-a-half years,” Kerr said. “We’ve had such a charmed existence the last four seasons. So, yeah, of course, this is the toughest stretch we’ve been in. This is the real NBA. We haven’t been in the real NBA the last few years. We’ve been in this dream. So now we’re faced with real adversity. We’ve got to get out of it ourselves.”

How do they change this around? Get healthy — Curry was playing back closer to his MVP level before the groin injury, just putting him back in the lineup will spark the offense and the team. Green’s return will help the defense. Durant and Thompson will find their shot at some point. Beyond that, the Warriors just need to get out of their own heads. While everyone around the NBA can talk about how they are on a cakewalk to a title, the reality is they are going to have to work for it. There are good teams in their way.

That said, we aren’t even to Thanksgiving yet. If the NBA season is a marathon, we are just 5.1 miles into it. It is far too early to think the Warriors are in any real trouble, or more unlikely, that they are going to make a trade and break things up (ownership said that is not happening).  The Warriors will be the Warriors again when it matters. Right now, they are facing some adversity, and that’s probably good for them looking ahead towards the playoffs (better to be tested than not).

2) When LeBron James is good, the Lakers are good. Sunday he dropped 51 on the Heat and the Lakers looked dangerous again. Last Wednesday night on national television, LeBron James had one of those “just reminding you I’m the best player on the planet” games dropping 44 on the Timberwolves, and the Lakers looked the best they have all season in a win. Saturday night, LeBron had a pedestrian 22 and did not dominate the game the same way, and the Lakers lost to the Orlando Magic.

Sunday LeBron was back to his dominant ways, dropping 51 on his old team in Miami, getting Los Angeles another win.

Looking at the splits, two things happen in the Lakers’ wins. First, he is a more efficient shooter. For example, he shoots 32.5 percent from three in Laker losses, but 44.6 percent in victories. Or, his true shooting percentage jumps from a good 58 in losses to an insane 64.8 in wins. The second big change is his defense, and the team defense, is more dialed in for Laker wins. LeBron’s defensive rating is 115.6 in losses, and is 101.8 percent in wins.

It’s not just LeBron that has keyed the Lakers’ improved play of late, much of that comes from better team defense overall. But he is the catalyst of the offense, and when LeBron dials it up the Lakers dangerous.

3) He’s no Jennifer Hudson — Heat’s Josh Richardson ejected for throwing his shoe into crowd. When Jennifer Hudson throws a shoe — her shoe, someone else’s shoe, any shoe she can find — on The Voice, it’s a sign of respect. A compliment.

That is not how it came off when Josh Richardson threw his shoe into the crowd Sunday. Richardson — who is having a breakout season in Miami — was frustrated. Very frustrated with the foul calls (he felt he didn’t get one on a dunk attempt, then with his shoe off he fouled LeBron), with the team not winning, with a knot in his shoelace that would not come out, and with Erik Spoelstra subbing him out to get the shoe fixed and to calm down. So Richardson launched his shoe into the crowd.

That’s an automatic ejection. Richardson can break out the checkbook, too, a $25k fine is coming.

But if he wants, Richardson can just tell the league office he was offering LeBron a compliment by throwing his Nikes into the crowd. Not going to work, but he can try.