Winners and Losers from the Trade Deadline

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A good chunk of trades went down before the trade deadline, but it’s the deals that didn’t get made that loom large. Josh Smith is still an Atlanta Hawk, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are still Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard is still a Laker, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are still on the Jazz…you get the idea. Let’s look at the winners and losers from the trade deadline.

Winner: Milwaukee Bucks

Acquiring J.J. Redick from Orlando will help Milwaukee’s 24th ranked offensive efficiency and should lock up a playoff spot. That’s a pretty good deal considering Milwaukee didn’t have to part with any future draft picks. Acquiring Redick is a win-now move that has a slight chance of paying off later, especially if Monta Ellis opts out and Redick likes what he sees from Milwaukee these next few months.

Loser: J.J. Redick

Of course, Redick probably won’t like what he sees — primarily because he won’t see the ball. Redick has posted career highs in points per game and assists this season in an offense designed around him, but that won’t happen with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis chucking up shots all game. Going to a potential playoff team is a good thing, but there were so many other contenders (Chicago, Memphis, Denver) that likely could have boosted his value (and stats) much more.

Winner: Los Angeles Clippers

Sacrificing a good chunk of the future by trading Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan could have been disastrous. Simply by welcoming back Chauncey Billups and getting healthy, the Clippers improved as much as any of the contenders did at the deadline. Not making a panic trade was the right move.

Loser: Chicago Bulls

They didn’t improve, and they didn’t get under the tax. Accomplishing neither of those tasks is a pretty big failure — the Bulls couldn’t afford to do nothing in either regard.

Winner: New York Knicks

Freeing up a roster spot to sign Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract and getting a future second rounder for Ronnie Brewer was a nice move, so long as it doesn’t mean Amar’e Stoudemire finds his way into the starting lineup. Martin, a noted coach killer, can also cause some problems, but we’ll give this a tentative win.

Loser: Brooklyn Nets

Not surprisingly, no team bit on the Kris Humphries/MarShon Brooks package. For a team clearly in win-now mode, accomplishing nothing at the deadline to try and shorten the gap hurts. Humphries was signed to that big 2-year, $24 million dollar contract to match salaries for a big move, but now it just looks kind of silly.

Winner: Portland Trailblazers

Acquiring Eric Maynor from Oklahoma City for a trade exception and the rights to Giorgio Printezis is a smart buy-low move for Portland. Even if Maynor never fully recovers from his knee injuries, he’s still a much better backup point guard option than Ronnie Price, who has been absolutely brutal this year. It’s a low risk, high reward move.

Loser: Sacramento Kings

Giving up on a top-5 draft pick after 800 minutes just to save a few bucks is painfully shortsighted, but that’s the issue of having lame duck decision makers in the organization. Patrick Patterson is a nice player, but Thomas Robinson will likely make this trade look very stupid for a very long time.

Winners: Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt

Congrats, gentlemen. You were lucky enough to land a spot on the first lifeboat.

Losers: Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas

No one likes going from being a rotation player on a potential playoff team to a cellar dweller where the on-court product literally matters to no one.

Winner: Houston Rockets

They got the best asset in the trade in Robinson, a guy multiple teams apparently like. They also managed to shed salary off next year’s books, which could free up the money needed for Dwight Howard or another big free agent. It might not translate to the floor right away since Robinson is young and developing, but it’s an incredibly strong front office play.

Loser: Washington Wizards

It’s pretty hard to believe that the best assets Washington could get for Jordan Crawford was ancient center Jason Collins and out for the season guard Leandro Barbosa. Unless Crawford was awful in the locker room and was peer pressuring Bradley Beal into doing terrible things, it’s hard to commend the Wizards for this one.

Winner: Tobias Harris

Harris should get playing time on a young Orlando team that will be much more patient with him than Scott Skiles or Jim Boylan was. At just 20 years old, Harris has the potential to be a very solid rotation player in the future.

Losers: Josh McRoberts and Hakim Warrick

Agent: “Good news, you’ve been traded!”

Player: “That’s great! Ha — see ya suckers! I’m tired of being on this crappy team. So where am I headed?”

Agent: “Um…well…

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

Ronnie Brewer has been awful this year for the Knicks (he’s shooting 36.6 percent from the field), but Brewer has been a useful defender in the past. Sam Presti essentially swapped third string point guard Eric Maynor for Ronnie Brewer, and Brewer could prove useful in offense/defense substitutions with Kevin Martin. In a very limited role, he could be useful.

Loser: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks ended up with nothing but a burned bridge for all this trouble (and Dahntay Jones, but whatever), and now they face the very real possibility of losing Josh Smith for nothing but cap room this offseason. You’d like to think that Milwaukee’s bevy of expiring contracts could have at least landed Atlanta a useful young prospect or future draft pick, but apparently Atlanta got cold feet. There are worse things than having a boat load of cap space, but Smith is too good of a player to just let walk away. Atlanta screwed this one up.

Winner: Anthony Morrow

One of the greatest shooters ever (I’m not exaggerating, look at the numbers) should get a chance at regular playing time again with the Dallas Mavericks. I’m irrationally excited about this.

Loser: Utah Jazz

How the Jazz didn’t trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap is absolutely baffling. They clearly have a logjam in the frontcourt with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter needing more playing time, and Jefferson and Millsap are both on expiring deals. Does Utah really think they’re a free agent destination? Do they really think they have a shot at a championship this year as is? What a waste.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

I have no real opinion on acquiring Warriors guard Charles Jenkins, but I’m listing them as a winner for allowing us weekly looks at Andrew Bynum’s hairstyles.

Loser: Boston Celtics

I’m as sentimental as the next guy, and I realize trading franchise legend Paul Pierce is not easy. Don’t the Celtics have to get on with it eventually, though? I suppose they could get really lucky if Miami suffers injuries, but every year they let Pierce and Garnett get a little older, their trade value goes down. Getting Jordan Crawford for nothing was a nice move, though, given the direction they chose.

Winner: Mr. and Mrs. Morris

Having twins in the NBA must be a hassle. You have to pick your favorite child on a nightly basis and rack of a lot of airplane miles. No more! Phoenix has always loved getting the other brother (Robin Lopez, Taylor Griffin), but putting Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris together makes everyone a winner, so long as Rockets GM Daryl Morey airballs on the second round pick they had to give up.

Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

I think everyone expected some Mitch Kupchak magic at the deadline, even if it was acquiring a useful, smaller piece. Nope. For better or worse, the Lakers are going to ride this season out. I’ll guess worse.

Doc Rivers says Paul George will be out for the first 10 games

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We are expecting not to see Paul George on the court with Kawhi Leonard in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform until November. But until this week, we didn’t have a good idea about when George could return over the course of the next month.

Speaking to reporters this week, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers let it slip that George could miss up to the first 10 games of the regular season. That would put George at a tentative return date of Nov. 13 against the Houston Rockets.

Via Twitter:

The Clippers are still expected to be one of the best teams in the NBA, and the real question heading into the first several weeks of the season will be how much they allow Leonard to sit out due to load management if George is not on the floor.

The real question in Los Angeles — on both sides of the hall at Staples Center — will be about health, and the Clippers know that it’s not how you start the season but how you finish. It seems likely they will wait until George is fully ready to return to action rather than rushing him back from dual shoulder surgery.

Kyle Kuzma reportedly cancelled plans to announce Chinese sponsorships

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Tensions are still high between the NBA and China, and both sides are hoping that things return to normal soon. Whether that’s possible is another thing altogether, particularly with how raw the response to the NBA has been by domestic fans concerned with the NBA sticking to its stated principles with regard to social justice.

This has affected not just the league, but players too. James Harden and Russell Westbrook were involved in an incident where an official shut down a legitimate question by a CNN reporter. Now it’s being reported that Los Angeles Lakers big man that Kyle Kuzma decided not to announce sponsorship deals with Chinese companies during his team’s visit to the continent this month.

Via Bill Oram:

Kuzma’s plans to announce additional sponsorship deals with Chinese companies were scrapped once the Lakers arrived on Tuesday and found themselves caught in the middle of a stalemate between the NBA and the Chinese government.

The whole story of what it was like to cover the trip in China as an American is worth reading by Oram. It’s an interesting look at the collision of politics, business, and the perception of sports as separate from those spheres.

Meanwhile, players and their management teams will need to think more carefully about the social perception of business deals both at home and abroad.

Facilitator Kawhi Leonard in Clippers opener could be glimpse into season

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This story is part of our NBCSports.com’s 2019-20 NBA season preview coverage. Every day between now and when the season opens Oct. 22 we will have at least one story focused on the upcoming season and the biggest questions heading into it. In addition, there will be podcasts, video and more. Come back every day and get ready for a wide-open NBA season.

LOS ANGELES — You could see the impact almost immediately.

In his first minutes in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform last Thursday against Denver, Kawhi Lenoard drained a 14-foot midrange shot, stole a Gary Harris pass and turned that into a step-back three-pointer. Five points and a steal, all in 21 seconds.

More importantly for the Clippers, you could hear the impact almost immediately, too.

Leonard was talking a lot on defense, directing players and making his presence heard. That has been the case in team practices as well, according to people with the Clippers.

“He’s more verbal than you would ever know,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s more demanding in a very positive way. You have to do it right. I love that for our team.”

Questions abound about how Leonard — and Paul George, when he returns at some point likely in November — will fit in with an established Clippers roster and culture this season. The Clippers on paper may be title favorites, but how all those pieces come together remains one of the potential turning points of this NBA season.

The cultural fit seems smooth.

Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell brought an intense, hard-working, tough-to-play-against ethos to Los Angeles — but Leonard and George are lunchpail guys at heart. The Clippers’ new editions may be top five (certainly top eight) NBA talents, but they came into the league seen as “3&D” guys with some potential. They worked their way to the top, and that works for the Clippers.

On the court — at least in the slightly more than 10 minutes he played against Denver — the roster fit also seemed smooth.

Leonard had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, but what stood out were the six assists. Leonard played a facilitator role. The first bucket of the game was a Leonard drive-and-kick to JaMychal Green in the corner, who hit the three. Leonard’s other assists were mostly to bigs Ivica Zubac and Harrell cutting to the basket.

Doc Rivers’ plan is to let Leonard feel how other teams are going to guard him, them adapt.

“Some teams will try to guard him one-on-one and he’ll probably try to score,” Rivers said. “Some teams, like Denver today, was up doubling him a lot, and he’ll be a facilitator…

“That’s what Kawhi does, it’s not like we’re recreating anything here. He’s a smart player. We’re going to try and keep as much shooting out with him, so teams can’t help. We will try to keep one roller on the floor with him, so that guy’s going down the middle of the paint and he’s creating help. We don’t have to make it that difficult.”

“He found me every time I was open,” Zubac said. “I really like playing with him.”

This was not by direct design so much as Leonard taking what the defense gave him.

“It just happened naturally,” Leonard said. “For the most part I cause a lot of attention, and I’m going to pass it to the open man. They was knocking down the shots tonight.”

We will see more of “facilitator Leonard” this season, and facilitator George as well. That Rivers wants to keep shooters on the court around his stars speaks to what a vital role Green and second-year guard Landry Shamet will play in Los Angeles — they are going to get opportunities and have to make the defense pay. (Shamet had 11 points against Denver and was 2-of-5 from three.)

Then off the bench, Los Angeles rolls out the best pick-and-roll combo in the league right now, Lou Williams and Harrell. Those two drove the Clippers offense last season, which is why both finished in the top three in Sixth Man of the Year voting, but this season there will be less pressure on them. They may not even close games, even though Williams is one of the better end-game bucket getters in the league.

The Clippers are that deep with talent.

Leonard showed already how he just makes the game easier for that talent. Zubac setting picks for Leonard and rolling, with shooters on the floor, is not going to be easy to stop — and that’s without George in the mix yet.

It’s more than the Xs and Os, however, Leonard and his rings just bring a gravitas to the Clippers they needed.

“He has a presence about him when he is on the floor, just feels a little different, how he carries himself, how he plays,” Shamet said.

That presence could carry the Clippers franchise to places it has never been before. It’s the impact the Clippers are ultimately hoping to see.

Cavaliers visit owner Dan Gilbert, recovering from stroke

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers visited team owner Dan Gilbert, who is recovering at home after suffering a stroke in May.

After playing an exhibition game in Detroit on Friday night, the Cavs delayed their trip to Boston so they could spend time Saturday with the 57-year-old Gilbert.

He recently returned to his home in Franklin, Michigan, after staying at a rehabilitation facility in Illinois. Gilbert suffered a stroke on May 26 after being taken to a hospital by a family friend following stroke-like experiencing symptoms.

All of Cleveland’s players, along with first-year coach John Beilein and his staff, held a film session and short walk-through on a replica basketball court Gilbert has at his home before having lunch. Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, spoke with many of the players.

The Cavs play their third preseason game Sunday against the Celtics.

Gilbert has owned Cleveland’s franchise since 2005.=