Winderman: The “Take my Turkoglu, please” trade deadline

12 Comments

The shame of the NBA trading deadline is that it does not follow the post-Christmas “Boxing Day” tradition of Canada and other countries, where you spend the day after sorting out the junk from the actual gifts.

In the NBA, it remains an all-in-one process, which is why, in this space over the past few days, you’ve read entries of, essentially, two(or more)-for-one packages that have been floated by potential deadline sellers.

Basically, the process has become a joke, a Henny Youngman-type joke, as in, “Take my Turkoglu, please.” (Kids, if you don’t get it, ask your parents or anyone who has vacationed in the Catskills.)

This is where the NBA, with its impending more-punitive luxury tax, has delivered us.

It is why some of the Dwight Howard speculation regarding deals that match up for Howard’s $18 million salary is wrong. The starting price in matching salaries is closer to $29 million, because you had better be prepared to take on Hedo Turkoglu’s salary, as well.

Ditto for Andrew Bogut reportedly coming on the market, but only if Stephen Jackson rides out of town on a sidecar.

Or the Wizards’ current plus-one offer of JaVale McGee with Andray Blatche along for that ride.

Until now, the term “trade kicker” when it came to a move was the added salary percentage a player would get if dealt. Now it actually embodies, well, an actual body.

For a team like Orlando, it’s almost mandatory, because even if you remove Howard’s $19.5 million 2012-13 salary from their payroll, the Magic only would drop to $48 million against the cap, hardly room for a replacement. Take away Turkoglu’s $12 million for 2012-13 as well, and at least there is wiggle room for some type of post-Dwight replacement part.

The two (or more)-for-one sales are not unique only to the Magic, Bucks and Wizards. Virtually every team that lived large under the less-punitive tax of the previous collective-bargaining agreement now is left with at least one salary skeleton in its closet, in each case a player underperforming a contract that extends beyond this season.

Among the plus-ones who could find themselves along for the ride at Thursday’s NBA trading deadline (with their 2012-13 salaries):

Atlanta’s Marvin Williams ($8.3 million).
Charlotte’s DeSagana Diop ($7.3 million).
Denver’s Chris Andersen ($4.5 million).
Los Angeles Clippers’ Ryan Gomes ($4 million).
Los Angeles Lakers’ Luke Walton ($5.8 million).
Minnesota’s Darko Milicic ($5.2 million).
New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar ($4.3 million).
New Orleans’ Jarrett Jack ($5.4 million).
Phoenix’s Hakim Warrick ($4 million).
Sacramento’s Francisco Garcia ($6.1 million).
Utah’s Raja Bell ($3.5 million).

Remember, though, a player acquired in a trade cannot later be subjected to the “amnesty” provision. So a team acquiring such a player, provided it has not already utilized the one-time provision, could not then simply discard the “plus-one” player via amnesty.

No, he (or at least his salary-cap burden) becomes theirs to keep.

Much like “Boxing Day,” there could be plenty left curbside this coming Friday.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
5 Comments

The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.

Luka Doncic named EuroLeague MVP at age 19

1 Comment

Luka Doncic, the likely top two pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has led his Real Madrid team to the EuroLeague finals at age 19.

Now he has been named the youngest player ever win the EuroLeague MVP.

For those unfamiliar, EuroLeague is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer — the very best club teams from around the continent face off against each other. On this biggest of European stages, Doncic has been a force. He is a gifted passer with great court vision. He can take his man off the dribble. He can hit threes. And he knows how to be a floor general and run a game. Did we mention he’s just 19?

Doncic said before the start of EuroLeague that he hasn’t decided what he is going to do about coming to the NBA or going back to Real Madrid. Don’t buy it. This is like asking a major college basketball star right before the NCAA Tournament if he is coming back to “State U” next year, they don’t want to say “no” right before the tourney so they give a non-committal answer. Same here. He’s not leaving millions on the table, he’ll be in the NBA next season.

And he’ll bee good.

Playoff losses wearing on LeBron James: ‘I lose sleep’

Getty Images
5 Comments

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost one game before reaching the NBA Finals. The season before that, two. The season before that also two. In Miami before that, the last couple of years they went to the Finals the Heat lost three and four games before reaching the Finals.

This year, the Cavaliers have lost five games already and find themselves down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics heading into Game 3 Saturday night in Cleveland.

The losses do weigh on LeBron, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I mean, I lose sleep,” James said after shootaround Saturday morning. “I mean, at the end of the day, when you lose any game in the postseason, [you lose sleep], so it’s never comfort. Playoffs is never comfort. There’s nothing about the playoffs that’s comfortable until you either win it all or you lose and go into the summer.

“So, for me, it’s always [a] day-to-day grind to figure out ways that you can be better.”

Cleveland has a lot to figure out to win the next two games because if they don’t and go down 3-1 in this series, it’s hard to envision how LeBron can drag this roster back to the Finals (what would be his eighth straight trip).

Offensively Cleveland has to get consistent play from guys other than LeBron (and to a lesser extent, Kevin Love) — J.R. Smith has been awful and needs to find a rhythm at home, George Hill needs to make some plays, Kyle Korver needs to get open and knock down some looks, and some help from the bench is needed.

But that’s not even the end of the floor that is the Cavs real problem. Defensively the Cavaliers recognition and communication has been dreadful, and the passing and player movement of the Celtics has carved them up. Cleveland has outscored teams and not defended all that well for a long time now — that’s how they made the Finals a season ago — but it’s not enough now. The offense and LeBron can’t carry them all the way.

We’ll see after Game 3 if LeBron is going to be able to get any sleep Saturday night.

Bulls’ Paul Zipser has surgery to repair broken left foot

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls forward Paul Zipser has had surgery to repair a broken left foot.

The team said Friday the operation was performed in his native Germany. The Bulls gave no timetable for his recovery.

Zipser averaged 4.0 points in 54 appearances before sitting out the final nine games last season.