Who wins in four-team trade? Collison, Indiana and New Jersey big, but everyone really

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dcollison_dunk.jpgIt’s basketball — there is a winner and a loser. That’s the way it works.

Except the four-team trade that went down today every team can claim it won, at least something. But just like on Animal Farm where some animals are more equal than others, some trade winners are bigger than others.

Pacers: in Darren Collison, James Posey; out Troy Murphy

Indiana is maybe the biggest winner — as is Collison, who gets to go there. Jim O’Brien was trying to run an up-tempo offense with T.J. Ford running the show. It was ugly. The Pacers desperately needed someone quick who could handle the offense, and Collison is that guy. Collison is going to get the run he deserves (love him, wouldn’t start him over Chris Paul) in a system suited to his talents.

The Pacers take on James Posey, who will give them some solid play at the three. They give up Troy Murphy, which is a hit — the Pacers will run and may go small a lot, with Danny Granger playing a little four. The bulk of Murphy’s minutes will go to either Tyler Hansbrough or Josh McRoberts, whoever plays less bad. But the Pacers would have traded Murphy’s expiring deal for Collison in a heartbeat, so this is a win.

Nets: in Troy Murphy; out Courtney Lee

New Jersey also gets a big win.  Murphy is an upgrade over Derrick Favors at the four right now. Favors could be a loser in the deal if he takes this personally, the key is increasing his minutes as the year goes on and as he starts to get a feel for the NBA game. You don’t want to stunt his growth. But Murphy is in the last year of his deal, so you get to not rush the somewhat raw Favors then next year have $15.5 million in cap space (as the system currently stands, could be very different after the new CBA goes into place).

Another winner is Anthony Morrow, the shooting guard for New Jersey who doesn’t have to battle Courtney Lee for minutes. More Morrow is good for all basketball fans.

Houston: in Courtney Lee; out Trevor Ariza

Houston gets Lee, who they think may be a better fit for them than Trevor Ariza. Doesn’t really matter, Lee will be getting limited minutes behind Kevin Martin and have to earn his burn the hard way. But this works for the Rockets because they save a boatload of cash. Ariza is owed $20 million over the next three years, while Lee has one year left on his rookie deal at $1.35 million, plus a team option for the year after that.

This also helps a little with the logjam the Rockets had at the three. It’s Shane Battier’s job now, and he will get the bulk of the run.

Hornets: in Trevor Ariza; out James Posey, Darren Collison

The Hornets get Ariza, who is a good upgrade for them at the three, over what’s left of Peja. Ariza was not working as a first offensive option in Houston, but he’ll look good running alongside a real first option Chris Paul (providing Monty Williams lets them run as he should). They also get rid of the less desirable contract of James Posey.

Not sure that bringing in Ariza makes Paul say, “Man, no way I leave now,” but it shows the team is trying. But if it is not enough, if CP3 does bolt in two summers (or you have to trade him before he bolts), the Hornets have now traded away a very good replacement.

The question for the Hornets is this: Could they have gotten more for Collison? They essentially used Collison to upgrade the three some and save a little money. Collison was in demand, could they have gotten more? Probably.

But they can still claim a win.

Nets hire Hawks’ Peterson as assistant general manager

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired Jeff Peterson as their assistant general manager.

Peterson replaces Trajan Langdon, who was hired as the New Orleans Pelicans’ GM.

Peterson spent seven seasons in the front office of the Atlanta Hawks, the last three as assistant general manager. He worked there with Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant to coach Mike Budenholzer.

Nets general manager Sean Marks says Saturday that Peterson is an “innovative basketball executive” whose “extensive scouting and front office experience” will be assets to a Nets team that lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Warriors open as big betting favorites to win NBA title over Raptors

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Kevin Durant is going to be out to start the series, with no exact timetable on his return.

The Toronto Raptors were very impressive — with Kawhi Leonard leading the way and a fantastic halfcourt defense — in eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks.

None of that changes the overall picture — the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals.

The Warriors are -320 to win the NBA title, the Raptors +260 at the Ceasars Palace sportsbook. What that means for non-gamblers is you have to bet $320 to win $100 on the Warriors, while a $100 bet on the Raptors wins $260.

The Warriors are also 1.5 point favorites to win Game 1 on the road without Durant and coming off a nine-day layoff where rust is to be expected.

Toronto won both regular season meetings between these teams, but both games also were before Christmas.

These lines are the respect the Warriors have earned with two straight titles, three in four years, and a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors are a dynasty led by Stephen Curry, the Raptors in their first finals, these betting lines were to be expected, and they will follow general public sentiment.

Charles Barkley, on the other hand, picks the Raptors in an upset. Do with that information what you will.

Giannis Antetokounmpo walked out on his postgame press conference

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Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to win, wants to make the NBA Finals. Badly. As in he could walk if the Bucks don’t do that in the next couple of years.

Antetokounmpo already showed he was willing to walk — he did so right out of his postgame press conference Saturday night after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Raptors.

Khris Middleton‘s “you just leaving me here” face is the best part of this video.

Chalk that up to frustration, on a couple of levels. The question is legitimate — how much this experience helps the Bucks grow and fuels their offseason will say a lot about where they are as a team in a year — but it’s also understandable that in the moment the Greek Freak doesn’t want to talk about it. Or, really, in that spot have the perspective to do the question justice. Middleton went on to say, “hopefully, we learn from this.”

The other part of this is that the reporter, Malika Andrews, wrote a story at ESPN about how Antetokounmpo making the Finals would play a big role in if he stays or not in Milwaukee past this contract. That is not the narrative Antetokounmpo wants out there about him, and sometimes this is how players deal with reporters who write things they don’t like.

Antetokounmpo is one of the league’s good guys, don’t expect this to become a trend.

Report: Making 2020 NBA Finals could swing whether Giannis Antetokounmpo signs super-max extension with Bucks

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The honeymoon between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks is over.

Milwaukee’s superb season ended tonight with a Game 6 loss to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. Already, attention is turning to the 2020 offseason, when Antetokounmpo can sign a five-year super-max extension that projects to be worth $250 million. If he doesn’t, the pressure will turn way up as he approaches unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Antetokounmpo is already applying some.

Malika Andrews of ESPN:

a source close to Antetokounmpo said that getting to the NBA Finals is not just an ambition, it could tip the scales as he weighs his contractual future.

And if they can reach the NBA Finals next season, the Bucks can improve their chances of signing Antetokounmpo to the supermax in the summer of 2020.

Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon will be free agents this summer. It’s unclear how much luxury tax Milwaukee is willing to pay.

This leak could be Antetokounmpo trying to convince the Bucks to pay to keep this team intact.

Would he actually leave Milwaukee? At every turn, he has praised the city and organization. But the Bucks have also been on an upward trajectory for years. As they get closer to the top, it becomes more difficult to maintain that positive momentum. They’re now entering a crucial season with the clear goal of a conference title. That doesn’t leave much room for error.

The Lakers are rumored to be plotting to get Antetokounmpo. If there are signs he’ll actually become available, many other teams will line up just for a chance to sign him. Antetokounmpo is a special player, a superstar at age 24.

He also needed this loss. Having never advanced past the first round before this year, he didn’t fully grasp the high level of play and intensity this deep into playoffs. He hadn’t felt the heartache of coming so close and falling short, a highly effective motivator. Raptors like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol had already faced these tests, and that had a lot to do with Toronto winning.

I have no doubt this experience will make Antetokounmpo even better.

Antetokounmpo wants to ensure the Bucks match his desire to win. If they do, he and Milwaukee will remain committed to each other. The honeymoon isn’t the end.

But this is when it gets real.