Nuggets plan to keep Felton

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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.

Bulls’ Denzel Valentine likely to miss entire season

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Bulls wing Denzel Valentine has had a rough go of it.

A lottery pick two years ago, battled ankle injuries during his rookie year and underwent ankle surgery after the season. He stayed mostly healthy last year, but his season still ended early for knee surgery. Then, over the summer, he got torched in the Drew League by Frank “Nitty” Session, who questioned how Valentine was in the NBA:

And now…

Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago:

Denzel Valentine was originally expected to miss one to two weeks after suffering a sprained ankle on the second day of training camp. One setback led to another, and on Monday the Bulls announced that the third year guard will undergo surgical reconstruction on that left ankle. He’ll miss four to six months, the team announced, effectively ending his season.

The long end of that timeline will keep Valentine sidelined the entire season. The short end would allow him to return late in the year, but with Chicago so dismal, there’s little incentive to rush him back.

Valentine is under contract next season, the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He might need to prove himself to make Nitty’s question still relevant.

Report: J.R. Smith and Cavaliers separating as they seek trade

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DETROIT – Yesterday – yesterday! – J.R. Smith explained why he didn’t leave the Cavaliers when, a few weeks ago, they pulled him from the rotation and gave him the offer to step away.

“I can’t do that to the city and the fans,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been backing me since I’ve been here. I feel like it’s been a new start since I came here. The way the fans embraced me, the way that I’ve embraced the city, my teammates, I can’t do that to them.”

But Smith also said Cleveland is tanking and reaffirmed his desire to be traded. That probably set wheels in motion.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

Smith – who’s guaranteed $18.59 million on a contract that will surely end after this season – carries negative trade value. The Cavs shouldn’t attach the sweetener necessary to dump him. They’re better off just paying him for now.

Because just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed, Smith’s contract could prove useful in a trade.

If Smith would reduce his guarantee with a buyout, let him go. But Smith probably shouldn’t do that without a new job lined up.

So, the stalemate continues.

If everyone is happier apart, all the better. Smith wasn’t making a difference on the court for a team he correctly identified as tanking.

Report: ‘At the direction of his attorney,’ 76ers G Markelle Fultz to stop playing and practicing, see specialist

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Markelle Fultz said his shooting problems were due to injury, and just a couple weeks ago, he insisted he was generally healthy.

But something is clearly amiss.

The 76ers guard finally appears to be acknowledging it.

David Aldridge of The Athletic:

Should we read into Brothers – usually identified as Fultz’s agent – being referred to as Fultz’s attorney? That sounds ominous.

There has been back-and-forth between Fultz’s and the 76ers about who deserves blame for his struggles.

J.R. Smith: Cavaliers are tanking

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J.R. Smith said he wants the Cavaliers to trade him.

But that was right after they told Smith he’d be shut down. He has been playing regularly lately.

Still, Smith isn’t pleased with Cleveland.

J.R. Smith, via Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:

“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it.

“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.

If that’s what the Cavaliers are doing, that’s smart. They need premier young talent, and a high draft pick is the best way to acquire it. Because they owe the Hawks a top-10-protected first-rounder, the Cavs need to tank hard rather taking half-measures.

But I also understand why Smith wants no part of it. He’s 33 years old, and he doesn’t have time to wait around for a rebuild. He wants to win now.

Smith should shame the Cavaliers for tanking. That should be a consequence of their plan, even if it’s the right one. He is a casualty of it. If he shames Cleveland into trading or buying him out, all the better.