PBT’s trade deadline report card

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In the last few days, nearly 10 percent of the players in the NBA got traded. Think about that. Apparently the NBA GMs have been watching their baseball counterparts too much.

We won’t really know how all this will shake out for a few months, but what follows is our first impressions. And grades. We like to give things grades.

Atlanta Hawks (Out: Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans. In: Kirk Hinrich, Hilton Armstrong.) The Atlanta Hawks needed to upgrade at the point guard spot and Hinrich is an upgrade. He’s a better defender, a better decision maker, and can knock down the three almost as well as Bibby. This is a good trade for the Hawks from a talent perspective. They still don/t match up with Celtics/Heat/Bulls, but they got better. Grade: B

Boston Celtics (Out: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody. In: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, a first round pick [top 10 protected] from the Clippers, a 2nd round pick from the Cavaliers, and cash from the Kings.) We talked about this, Boston got worse now for the hopes of easing the transition after the big three leave. The question is how much worse and can Danny Ainge find any scraps out there bought out by other teams that can help? I don’t like messing with the core in the middle of the trade deadline. Grade C-

Charlotte Bobcats (Out: Gerald Wallace, Nazr Mohammed. In: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White and Morris Peterson.) This was all about saving money; Wallace was owed $21 million over the next two seasons. But in doing so the team got worse, they were 1.5 games out of the last playoff spot and they will now take a huge step back. Grade: D.

Chicago Bulls (Out: James Johnson. In: first round pick from Toronto.) Nice move all around. Johnson was out of the Bulls rotation but is starting in Toronto. He gets a chance, and the Bulls get a pick they could use. Grade: B

Cleveland Cavaliers (Out: Mo Williams, Jamario Moon. In: Baron Davis, first round pick.) Yes for this was all about the pick, and they were paying for that by taking on Davis. I get why you do it. But I think an unhappy, unmotivated Davis is a bigger drain on your organization than the Cavs realize. Grade: D

Denver Nuggets (Out: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups. In: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler, Kosta Koufos, first round pick) Their had was forced and at the end of the day they did fairly well under the circumstances. They will make a playoff push this year to at least get in, but they are in rebuilding mode now and need to make bold moves in the future. Grade B-

Golden State Warriors (Out: Brandan Wright, Dan Gadzuric. In: Troy Murphy.) Murphy is about to be bought out, this was about saving money. Which is nice in these recessionary times. Grade: C

Houston Rockets (Out: Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier. In: Goran Dragic, Hasheem Thabeet, first-round pick from Memphis.) Your big winner here could be Chase Budinger, who will get more minutes at the three with Battier gone. Budinger dropped 30 the other night and could really blossom now. Aside that, they get a pick to rebuild on and a quality point guard in Dragic and a pick. You would have thought Battier could have drawn more in, but it helps start the rebuilding and isn’t terrible. Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers (Out: Baron Davis, first round pick. In: Mo Williams, Jamario Moon.) Fantastic trade for the Clippers, just to get out from under the Baron Davis contract. Mo Williams can play and more importantly spread the floor with his three-point shooting. Grade: A-

Minnesota Timberwolves (Out: Corey Brewer. In: Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry.) It’s probably not going to make a big difference. Brewer was out of the rotation. Anthony Randolph will get some run and we’ll see if he can start to live up to that potential. Probably not, but no harm in the risk. Grade: B

New Jersey Nets (Out: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy, two first-round picks. In: Deron Williams, Brandan Wright, Dan Gadzuric.) They needed to get a big piece to start building around and they got a very good one. It didn’t come cheap, but they punked the Knicks a little in the process so it worked out well. Grade: A

New Orleans Hornets (Out: Marcus Thornton. In: Carl Landry.) The Hornets were looking for depth along the front line, they got it with a professional and hard working player. Good pick up. Grade: B+

New York Knicks (Out: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry. In: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams.) They wanted the second star, they got it in Carmelo Anthony. There are serious questions about fit, there are a lot of steps left for them, but the Knicks are going to be entertaining if nothing else from here on out. Grade B+

Oklahoma City Thunder (Out: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic. In: Kendrick Perkins, Nazr Mohammed.) This was a brilliant trade. Sure, a bit of a risk because Perkins is coming off an injury and could be a free agent, but the Thunder addressed their biggest need — a defensive presence in the paint — with one of the best in the game at it. They just got a whole lot better and the West playoffs just got a lot more interesting. Grade: A

Phoenix Suns (Out: Goran Dragic, first round pick. In: Aaron Brooks.) Does this make them that much better? Not a bad move but I still don’t see what the big picture plan is. Grade: C

Portland Trail Blazers (Out: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham. In: Gerald Wallace.) The Blazers did well with this one. They are taking on more long term salary but Wallace and Nicolas Batum give them fantastic defensive wing players. Man, if Brandon Roy were healthy this team would be scary. Grade A-

Sacramento Kings (Out: Carl Landry. In: Marcus Thornton, Marquis Daniels.) Landry is the kind of solid professional that fits better on a playoff team than the rebuilding Kings. Thornton showed a lot of promise as a rookie, but the return of Chris Paul and a change of role threw him off. We’ll see how he adjusts to playing with Tyreke Evans (when he returns) but it’s not a bad risk for the Kings. Daniels is not expected to play the rest of this season, that was a money thing. Grade: B

Toronto Raptors (Out: first round pick. In: James Johnson.) Really depends on how the shooter pans out. He started and scored nine against the Bulls, but did they really need to give up a first for him? This is a time-will-tell thing, but it’s good to see him get the chance. Grade C

Utah Jazz (Out: Deron Williams. In: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks.) The Jazz had a challenge with Williams. Owner Greg Miller said he saw what happened with LeBron, with Carmelo Anthony and he didn’t want that to happen with the Jazz and Deron. So they were insanely proactive. They got a decent amount back, you never get equal money for a superstar but they got some nice pieces. But the hardest piece to get is the superstar and they traded theirs away before they had to. Grade: D+

Washington Wizards (Out: Kirk Hinrich, Hilton Armstrong. In: Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans.) We like Jordan Crawford, he could be the kind of shooter that could develop into the kind of guy to go with John Wall. Mike Bibby will not be happy backing up Wall, being a veteran on a losing team, or much of anything else. The Wizards do save a little money. There was demand for Hinrich, could the Wizards have done better? Grade: C-

Rudy Gobert re-energized ahead of Jazz at Thunder

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Rudy Gobert didn’t hide his disappointment at not making the NBA All-Star Game for the first time despite averaging 15.2 points and 12.9 rebounds while leading the league in field-goal percentage.

But coming off the 10-day break, the Utah Jazz center says he’s re-energized heading into Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Just recharge, completely — mentally, physically,” Gobert said. “For me, I was able to get a little bit of sun and feel a lot better when I get back.

“The next two months, I feel like, will be a lot better.”

The Jazz, who have won 13 of their last 16 games, come out of the break sixth in the Western Conference but with one of the NBA’s easiest schedules down the stretch.

Utah plays just eight of its final 25 games against teams that are above .500.

One of those, though, is Friday night’s game in Oklahoma City, which sits third in the West after winning 11 of 13 before the break.

The Thunder, on the other hand, have one of the league’s most challenging schedules moving forward. Oklahoma City plays 17 of its remaining 25 games against teams above .500 including each of the first five out of the break.

The Thunder have won the first two meetings between the teams, including a 122-113 win on Dec. 10 in Oklahoma City.

An Oklahoma City win would clinch the season series for the Thunder after Utah eliminated Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs last season.

The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has a streak of 10 consecutive triple-doubles. During that stretch, he’s averaged 21.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 13.5 assists.

Utah is hopeful backup point guard Dante Exum, who has missed the last 17 games with a left ankle sprain, will be able to return against the Thunder.

“I think when he’s playing well, he can have a big impact for us and having him back soon is going to help us a lot,” Gobert said.

The Thunder could have forward Markieff Morris available for the first time. Morris signed with Oklahoma City over the All-Star break after being waived by New Orleans following his trade from Washington on Feb. 7.

Morris was averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Wizards this season before suffering a neck injury in late December that has kept him out since. Morris was cleared to play two weeks ago.

“We got a big piece in Markieff that we’re excited for, and we’re going to be ready for the second half after this break,” Oklahoma City’s Paul George said.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, “We’ll see,” when asked Thursday if Morris would play against the Jazz.

The Thunder also figure to have both starting forward Jerami Grant and backup point guard Dennis Schroder back after each missed the last two games before the break, Grant with an ankle injury and Schroder after the birth of his child.

Friday’s game is the start of a back-to-back for both teams, with the Jazz hosting Dallas on Saturday and Oklahoma City hosting Sacramento.

 

Raptors fans welcome DeMar DeRozan back with loud, standing ovation

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DeMar DeRozan was the greatest Raptor ever. He was an All-Star, he presided over the best seasons in franchise history, and he’s the one guy who re-signed and stood up for a city that has an inferiority complex around its basketball team.

Toronto fans understood the trade that brought Kawhi Leonard to the team — it’s an upgrade on the court — but their love for DeRozan is real.

They showed that on Friday night when DeRozan returned to Toronto for the first time as a member of the Spurs — he got a raucous ovation upon his introduction.

Early in the game he gave them a taste of what he did for them for years, getting the and-1 bucket on the drive.

Marcus Smart hits halfcourt shot at practice, celebrates with a back flip

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The celebration is more impressive than the shot.

After a tough loss to Milwaukee on Thursday, the Celtics traveled to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Saturday. Friday they had a practice in the Northwestern University facility.

It’s there Marcus Smart drains a halfcourt shot. Impressive. But not nearly as impressive as the backflip celebration.

I did not know Smart had that in him.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer reportedly tells organization he still wants playoff push

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When the Clippers traded their best player — Tobias Harris — right before the trade deadline, it was a move generally seen as throwing in the towel on this season’s playoffs, but it was applauded around the league because of the haul it brought back to L.A. It set the Clippers up with one max cap slot this summer and a reasonable path to a second one, plus the Clippers landed rookie shooting guard Landry Shamet, Philadelphia’s 2020 first-round pick (lottery protected) and the Miami Heat’s 2021 first-round pick unprotected.

Except then the Clippers not long after traded for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green — boosting the roster’s depth in needed spots. Not a move a team looking to fall out of the playoffs makes.

That’s because owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t want them to fall out of the playoffs, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Sources say Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has let it be known throughout the organization that he wants to keep making this playoff push. Never mind that such an accomplishment would cost them their first-round pick this season.

The coach and players should never be told to lose games, they need to go all-out every time they are on the court. That goes to the culture of an organization. If a decision is made to focus on the future, then it’s about roster decisions at the GM level. That is what the Clippers did, and there is nothing wrong — or even strange — about the owner telling them to push and try to make the playoffs.

Either way, it works for Los Angeles.

Make the playoffs as the eight seed and the Clippers are likely just the first-round appetizer for the Warriors as they chase a three-peat, but it shows potential free agents the role players on the team have grit and just need a star and leader. Their young stars would gain a little playoff experience. While the Clippers would lose this year’s first-round pick, giving up a late teens pick in what is considered a down draft (especially after No. 1) is not that painful a loss. It’s one less asset to throw in a potential trade (Anthony Davis anyone?), but it’s not devastating.

Miss the playoffs and they get a late-lottery pick and things go as expected.

Make or miss the playoffs, the Clippers are focused on July 1 and landing a couple of free agents, with Kawhi Leonard at the top of the list (and a lot of sources around the league think that’s where they are headed).