Where is all the trade chatter?

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It’s 10 days until the NBA trade deadline, and usually right now the chatter among NBA teams about potential deals is ramping up to a huge wave fans everywhere just try to ride.

This season, it’s a ripple in a pond.

Mark Cuban said this is a pretty standard year. “Relative to other years in terms of trade talk, I don’t think it’s really any different,’’ he said. But it feels different, quieter. Sure, teams tend to wait until the last second, but there is usually a lot of chatter, a lot of rumors.

This season there is the big ‘Melodrama, and in the coming days we will finally have some answer to what is next for Carmelo Anthony. Frankly, that can’t come soon enough.

But after that… not much. Not exactly crickets as there are guys being shopped — Antawn Jamison, O.J. Mayo, Andre Miller — but there is not a lot of chatter.

Part of it is the usual “contending team looks to add key veteran” market is non-existent. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he was serious about making a move, but unless he wants to ship Andrew Bynum out he doesn’t have any assets a team is looking for (older players under big, long contracts are not attractive).

Orlando? Already made their big move. Boston? Maybe a small deal to provide depth with Marquis Daniels out, but nothing serious. Miami? They would love a big but have no trade assets anybody wants. Spurs? They’re doing just fine, thank you very much. Chicago? They’d love a two guard but it’s going to have to be a really good deal to make it happen.

Sean Deveney at The Sporting News taps into the other issue putting a damper on trade talks.

But what’s really strangling this year’s trade market is the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement, for which commissioner David Stern has put just about everything on the table — franchise player tags, a hard salary cap, a severe rollback in players’ salaries. What often happens at the deadline is one struggling team with a high-priced star deals that contract away for an expiring contract and either young players or draft picks. That sort of deal figures to be hard to come by in this environment.

Most front-office executives remain tight-lipped about the new CBA. But there’s no question it’s having an impact on how teams are viewing their trade possibilities. “It’s really not the time to be giving up draft picks, which are one of the few things that you can figure on as far as being valuable assets,” one general manager told Sporting News. “There’s a lot of risk in just not knowing how things will shake out. You never know, things could change in the next week, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of teams are looking to pull the trigger right now.”

And most GMs by their nature seem risk averse (you’d be that way two if everything you did at your job were second-guessed in public forums the way a GM’s choices are). So this year may be quieter. Or, maybe Cuban is right and we’re all wrong. Again.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.

Watch Russell Westbrook drain two buzzer-beaters against Blazers

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The Portland Trail Blazers had to know it was not their night when Russell Westbrook knocked down a buzzer-beating step-back 3-pointer just before the half.

Westbrook wasn’t done, he had one more buzzer-beater in him at the end of the third.

Westbrook wasn’t the only guy in the building draining half-courters — for the second-straight game a Laker fan knocked down a half-court shot, this time to win $25,000.

It was a good night all around for the Lakers and their fans at home against the shorthanded Trail Blazers. They got 31 points from LeBron James, plus 27 points and 12 boards from Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves added in 22, and the Lakers took control in the third and cruised in for a needed win.