51 Q: Who starts the year on the trade block?


PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Going into the season, which players are the most likely to be moved?

The obvious answer to this question is Markieff Morris, but the Suns have shown no signs of trading the disgruntled big man anytime soon. They need him, and his very public trade demands have killed his value around the league. For now, it seems unlikely that Morris will get his wish. But there are other players who could help teams around the league that might find themselves available during the season. Here are a few of them.

Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets

Faried has been available for a while. All of the Nuggets’ veterans have, really — despite having just been signed to extensions this summer, don’t think Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari couldn’t be had for the right price as Denver hands the keys to the franchise over to Emmanuel Mudiay. Faried is the most likely to be moved, since his skillset is the most redundant to what they already have. He’s entering the first year of a four-year, $50 million deal that will prove to be a good value, especially once the new salary cap kicks in next summer. But the hiring of defensive-minded coach Mike Malone is a bad match for Faried’s limitations on that end. The Nuggets are in a weird place, roster-wise, between going full-on youth movement and having enough veterans to contend for a playoff spot, so if their season starts off slow, they could finally commit to a rebuild. If they do, Faried will be among the first to go.

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

Once the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo, Gibson took over his title as the player who was involved in the most trade rumors without actually being traded. The Bulls have a crowded frontcourt between Gibson, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic, and Gibson is on a great contract. If Noah has a bounceback season, it could make it more likely that Gar Forman and John Paxson finally pull the trigger on a Gibson trade. But they’d have to get a player who can help them right now, and it’s unclear who that might be.

Jeff Green, Memphis Grizzlies

Green never fit with the Grizzlies the way they hoped he would last season when they acquired him from the Celtics. It was a great idea: some added versatility for a team that customarily has played an extremely traditional style. But Green struggled in his half-season in Memphis, and going into the final year of his deal, the Grizzlies would be very open to moving him if the right deal came along. There’s no clear destination that makes sense for him, though.

Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers

Crawford’s name as been floated in trade talks for a couple of years, and he’s the only player on the Clippers’ roster who could easily be moved. He’s getting up there in age, but he could still provide enough value with his bench scoring to help a contender. The problem is, who are the Clippers going to get back that makes them better? Doc Rivers will listen to offers, but if they haven’t traded Crawford already, it’s hard to see them doing it now unless a clear upgrade presents itself.

George Hill, Indiana Pacers

This is going to be a transition year for the Pacers, going from a David West/Roy Hibbert-dominated identity to a smallball style that will supposedly see Paul George playing a lot of power forward. As they transition to a new era, Indiana will have to decide if Hill is the long-term answer at point guard. They don’t have an in-house replacement lined up, but if there’s any area where they’ll explore upgrades during the season and beyond, that’s it.

Watch Lance Stephenson get into flopping battle in China

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You can take the flopper out of the NBA but you can’t take the flopping out of his game.

Unable to land an NBA contract this season, Lance Stephenson signed with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association. He has taken his flopping skills to China.

However, he may have met his match with one Chinese player, who tried to sell a non-contact, off-the-ball, sniper-in-the-grassy-knoll level flop that even legendary flopper Vlade Divac would have called extreme. The Chinese referees saw through that and awarded a technical to Stephenson’s team.

Then Stephenson drew another foul later in the game with a flop as he tried to grab the ball away from a player after the play. That drew a foul on the opposing player, who complained and then got his own technical.

It’s all just Lance being Lance.

Kyrie Irving out Saturday vs. Bulls due to shoulder injury

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Already without Caris LeVert for a couple of weeks due to thumb surgery, the Nets just lost their primary playmaker for at least one game.

Kyrie Irving is out Saturday night for Brooklyn’s game in Chicago.

Irving has been battling this pain for some time. This is the kind of injury often seen in swimmers where, due to usage, the bones in the shoulder impinge on the tendons or bursa (the sac of fluid in the joint that makes movement smooth and painless).

The treatment for this is generally rest and time off, it would not be surprising if Irving missed more time to get his shoulder healthy and right (a specialist told the New York Post exactly this). Call it load management or whatever you want, better to get Irving healthy now rather than have this be a chronic thing all season long.

Irving is leading the Nets averaging 28.5 points and 7.2 assists a game, hitting 34.1 percent of his threes, and he’s the guy with the ball in his hands being asked to make plays. The Nets offense is 10.4 points per 100 possessions better when Irving is on the court this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who has struggled some with his shooting and efficiency to start the season, now will be asked to step up and carry the load. With the Nets off to a 4-7 start, they don’t want to give up a lot more ground in the East playoff chase (the Nets are currently in a four-way tie for the nine-seed, just half a game out of the playoffs).

Kings’ Dwayne Dedmon snags french fry from Lakers’ fan during game (VIDEO)


The french fries at Staples Center are pretty good. Better than the popcorn.

Kings’ center Dwayne Dedmon was on the bench at one point Saturday night during the Kings’ loss to the Lakers, looked at the dude sitting next to him in fan seats (and look at that guy, he’s a “dude”), and asks if he can have a french fry.

No ketchup or sauce, but the fries seem to get Dedmon’s seal of approval.

A player like Dedmon burns a lot of calories during a game, you got to keep that energy level up with a few carbs. Plus, french fries are awesome. Can’t blame the guy.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo on Malcolm Brogdon: ‘Definitely wish he was still here’

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Malcolm Brogdon is thriving with the Pacers.

The Bucks are doing just fine without him.

But with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s super-max decision rapidly approaching, Milwaukee’s controversial decision to sign-and-trade Brogdon during restricted free agency last summer looms over the entire NBA.

The Bucks visit Indiana tomorrow. So, it’s an opportunity to take Antetokounmpo’s temperature on the move.

Jack Maloney of CBS Sports:

“Wish he was still here” because that’s a nice thing to say about a friend? Or “wish he was still here” because Antetokounmpo wanted the Bucks to handle last offseason differently?

The difference means everything to Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo has consistently said he wants to stay with the Bucks as long as they prioritize winning. Though there were also basketball reasons to move Brogdon, losing him also kept Milwaukee out of the luxury tax. That financial motivation is impossible to overlook.

If the Bucks wanted to keep Brogdon, they could have. They wouldn’t have a first-rounder and two second-rounders incoming from Indiana. They might not have lured Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver in free agency. They’d likely be in the luxury tax. But they would have had Brogdon.

As Antetokounmpo pointed out, Brogdon was complicit in his own exit. Brogdon wanted to play point guard, wanted to have a bigger role. That wasn’t happening in Milwaukee with Eric Bledsoe at point guard and Antetokounmpo as focal point. So, one some level, Antetokounmpo might appreciate the Bucks helping Brogdon get to a more desirable situation rather than leveraging restricted rights over him.

But, at the end of the playoffs, how will Antetokounmpo feel about Brogdon not being at his side for the postseason run? That’s the big question that will determine everything. For now, we’re getting only clues.