NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Slam: How dangerous are the New Orleans Pelicans?

With both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans have one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA. Such a front court duo has the potential to do a lot of damage, especially when you add a talented guard like Jrue Holiday to the mix. Davis is averaging 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game while Cousins is averaging 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. As for Holiday, he is averaging 16.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.

At the moment, the Pelicans are 23-36 and 3.5 games back of the 8th seeded Denver Nuggets. After landing DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans are clearly the front runners to finish 8th in the Western Conference standings and face off against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. The big question that's on everybody's mind is how dangerous are these Pelicans given their place in the standings at this point of the season?

There are two answers to this question. The first answer is that in the short term, the Pelicans are dangerous enough to make the playoffs and maybe win a game or two against the Warriors. Given that it usually takes at least half of a season for stars to gel, the rest of the season can be viewed as extra time for DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis to gel before training camp of next season. In other words, the trade to land DeMarcus Cousins was much more of a move for next season and beyond than it was for this season. This season, the best the Pelicans can hope for is to make the playoffs and get a playoff series under their belt before next season, which is no small thing. Having a playoff series together before they enter their first full season together would be huge for Davis and Cousins as the go forward as the co-faces of this franchise. It should prove to be growing experience that will help them immensely next season and beyond.

Beyond that, there's nothing to expect out of this season. The Warriors are a vastly superior team given that they have had a lot more time to gel and on paper are still a much better team. The Pelicans won't get past the Warriors by adding DeMarcus Cousins. He's a talented player, but let's keep in mind there's a reason the Kings traded him. He has flaws and the Pelicans have to learn how to deal with those flaws and get past them, something that the Kings couldn't do or weren't willing to do. This season is all about working out some of the kinks so as to hit the ground running next season.

As far as next season's expectations are concerned, this team projects to be a playoff team and possibly a top-four team in the Western Conference. If I could start a franchise with any player in the NBA right now, I would choose Anthony Davis. He's a versatile big man that can do it all on both ends of the floor. When you give him another all-star big man by his side like DeMarcus Cousins and a quality point guard like Jrue Holiday, you could have something special on your hands.

The biggest challenge for the Pelicans will be to figure out how to combat "small ball" lineups, which benefit from having quicker guys on the floor. We saw the Pelicans get torched by the Houston Rockets' "small ball" lineup 129-99 in DeMarcus Cousins' debut. Going forward into next season and in the seasons to come, the Pelicans will need to figure out who else to add to their roster to give them more flexibility against teams that will look to go small against them. If the Pelicans can figure out how to combat smaller and quicker lineups with Cousins and Davis, they could have themselves a championship contending team.

The bottom line for the Pelicans is that with DeMarcus Cousins added to the fold, they have the potential to be really good in the seasons to come, but as presently constituted, they still have work to do both on the court and in the front office. The core players that are certain to stick around like Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis will need to figure out how to play with Cousins and benefit from having him on the floor. As for the front office, their challenge will be to figure out what other complimentary pieces need to be added in order to make their team a true championship contender.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Fadeaway Friday: NBA Trade Deadline Roundup

Fadeaway Friday usually focuses on the NBA D-League, but given that the NBA trade deadline was on Thursday, "Fadeaway Friday" this week will be a quick recap of all the deals that happened at the NBA trade deadline. Also, there was no Wednesday Windmill this week due to all the uncertainty that comes with the next day being the trade deadline. So just a quick heads up on that. Anyways, without further ado, below is a recap of all the deals that happened with proper citation. *Note: Deals announced by Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical are cited as "The Vertical" for simplicity.

#1.  ICYMI: The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans. I wrote more about that here.

#2.  ICYMI: The Magic traded Serge Ibaka to the Raptors. I wrote more about that here.

#3. Per The Vertical, the Nets traded forward Bojan Bogdanovic and forward Chris McCullough to the Wizards for a 2017 lottery protected first-round draft pick, forward Andrew Nicholson, and guard Marcus Thornton. The Vertical also adds that the Nets intend to waive Marcus Thornton.

#4.  Per The Vertical, the Lakers traded guard Lou Williams to the Rockets for a 2017 first round pick and forward Corey Brewer.

#5. 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo confirmed that the 76ers traded Ersan Illyasova to the Hawks for Tiago Splitter, a second-round pick, and the option to swap a second round pick.

#6. The Grizzlies decided to sign Toney Douglas for the remainder of the season according to Real GM.

#7. The Pelicans signed Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract. Marc Stein of ESPN reported this.

#8. Per The Vertical and Marc Stein, the 76ers traded Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and a 1-18 protected 1st Round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Zach Lowe adds that the 76ers will get two second round draft picks (one in 2017 and one in 2018) if the 1st Round pick remains protected. Keith Pompey of adds that the 76ers waived Chasson Randle to help facilitate the trade.

#9. Per The Vertical, the Rockets traded K.J. McDaniels to the Nets for cash considerations.

#10. Per The Vertical, the Thunder traded Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow to the Bulls for Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson, and a 2018 2nd Round pick.

#11. Per The Vertical, the Bucks traded Roy Hibbert to the Nuggets for a heavily protected 2019 2nd Round pick.

#12. Per The Vertical, the Hawks traded Mike Scott to the Suns for cash considerations. posted an update to the deal: The Hawks traded Mike Scott, the draft rights to Cenk Akyol, and cash considerations to the Suns for a top-55 protected 2017 2nd round pick.

#13. Per The Vertical, the Raptors traded Jared Sullinger and two future second round picks to the Suns for P.J. Tucker, whose contract expires in the summer. Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic adds that the Suns will waive Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott and sign Ronnie Price for the remainder of the season.

#14. Per The Vertical, the Rockets traded Tyler Ennis to the Lakers for Marcelinho Huertas. The Rockets are expected to waive Huertas. posted an update to the deal: The Rockets traded the draft rights to AEK Athens small forward Brad Newley and Tyler Ennis to the Lakers for Marcelinho Huertas, who is expected to be waived.

#15. Per Justin Verrier of ESPN, the Pelicans waived forward Terrence Jones as a byproduct of the DeMarcus Cousins deal.

#16. Per the Vertical, the Mavericks are expected to waive Deron Williams. David Aldridge reports that the Cavaliers are the front runners to land him.

#17. Per Marc Stein, the 76ers are expected to buy out Andrew Bogut's contract. The Rockets are expected to go after him. The Vertical, however, has learned that a loophole in the NBA's collective bargaining agreement allows the Warriors to sign Bogut since the "last trade" rule only applies to the previous team that had him.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Will Magic Johnson return the Los Angeles Lakers to glory?

Earlier today, the Los Angeles Lakers made a huge change to their front office in hopes of saving the franchise. The Los Angeles Times has details below:

On one of the most dramatic days in the history of the Lakers, the woman at the center of it all made drastic changes Tuesday aiming to help resuscitate the team.
Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ governor and president, fired her brother, Jim Buss,  the head of basketball operations.
She fired general manager Mitch Kupchak, who has been a Laker for more than 35 years.
She fired John Black, the team’s spokesman for more than two decades.
She handed the reins of the franchise to a man she has known since she was 17 years old, one who calls her a sister. Magic Johnson, perhaps the best to ever play for the Lakers, is now the team’s president of basketball operations.
 What this news all means is that Magic Johnson is now in firm control of the Lakers' destiny. Jeanie Buss has given him the keys to the car and kicked out all the bums in the process. For the Lakers, this could be a franchise defining moment or it could not be. For all we know, Magic Johnson may go on to be just as incompetent  at running the franchise as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, so by no means should Lakers fans be rejoicing just yet.

With that being said, it is encouraging for the Lakers that such an action was taken by Jeanie Buss. The team has been going nowhere for quite a while and Mitch Kupchak has done nothing that would give me any faith or confidence in his general managing abilities. He's made a series of stupid moves that have set the franchise back, so he absolutely deserves to be fired.

So, with that in mind, giving Magic Johnson a shot to run the franchise makes sense in that he's a new guy running the team and he also is the ultimate face of the franchise. Having Magic Johnson at the helm should attract quality free agents and it should also lead to better front office decisions. Magic knows the game really well and has been around championship teams his whole life. He knows what it takes to build a championship organization so it makes sense to give him a shot at running the team that he did so much for.

Ultimately,  I think this is a great move by the Lakers. They needed to make a front office change and bringing in Magic Johnson as the president of basketball operations should bring about better front office moves and give the franchise a much needed boost. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the end, but for now, I really can't complain about this move. This is the first front office move the Lakers have made that I've agreed with in a long time.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: The Sacramento Kings were dumb to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans

                                         (Credit: Matthew Addie. Click here for source). 

After the NBA All-Star festivities wrapped up on Sunday, news broke that the Sacramento Kings have agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and two draft picks, one a 2017 first round pick and the other a 2017 second round pick. For my Saturday Slam piece, I mentioned five teams to keep an eye on at the trade deadline and the Kings were one of the those teams due to all the DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors. Despite insisting that they weren't looking to trade Cousins, Vlade Divac and company decided that in the end, it was in their best interest to move on from the "Boogie" Cousins era. 

For the Pelicans, this is a fantastic move. They have been in need of some sort of blockbuster move to keep Anthony Davis in New Orleans and landing a guy like DeMarcus Cousins definitely qualifies as such a move. Cousins is not even in his prime yet, already averaging 27.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game at just 26 years of age. As for Anthony Davis, he is averaging 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. 

Together, Davis and Cousins could form one of the most dangerous front courts the NBA has ever seen, elevating the Pelicans into championship contender status. As far as this season is concerned, the Pelicans are suddenly the favorites to get the #8 spot in the Western Conference and could give the Warriors a good scare in the first round. 

In regards to the Kings, I'm having a hard time buying this move. I understand that rebuilding is a necessary process that all teams have to go through at some point. It's just part of the natural cycle of the NBA. But the Kings seem to be hitting the reset button way too prematurely. Right when they move into a new arena that keeps them in Sacramento for good the Kings decide to trade away their franchise player. I understand that DeMarcus Cousins has had his ups and downs, but the man still puts up 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Those are hall of fame type of numbers.

 If you have a guy who is putting up those kinds of numbers at just 26 years of age, you better have a really good reason to trade him in order to sell me on it. Simply saying you weren't going anywhere with him won't cut it. You better have a good reason and as this trade is constituted, I really can't buy it for the Kings. None of the guys they got back are guys who they can build around for the future and they aren't guaranteed to get a super high draft pick, either. If the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins because they were convinced that he wouldn't stay in Sacramento, that's fine, but that doesn't mean you trade him for Ring Dings and a Pepsi. If you are going to trade him for Ring Dings and a Pepsi, you might as well keep him for the duration of his contract (through 2018) and see what you can accomplish with him. Maybe you can get better and make things work out. 

What the Kings are getting back for Cousins is nothing to write home about. Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, and Buddy Hield are solid players, but not anything that you can build around. Buddy Hield is just a rookie so it's possible he becomes something, but I still don't see him becoming an all-star or anything of that nature. The bottom line is the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins for essentially nothing and what I find to be so stupid about that is that there is no way they can convince me that was the best offer they could have gotten for him. Surely there was some team that could have offered a more promising young talent than Buddy Hield and offered a better overall package. 

The bottom line is that the Kings wanted DeMarcus Cousins out of town as soon as possible and while they very well may have good reasons for that, at the very least they have to make sure they get back something good given his high value. As of right now, the Kings just set themselves back at least five years and maybe more. The Kings have gone from possibly making the playoffs for the first time in the DeMarcus Cousins era to heading straight back to the lottery with no definitive plan of as to who next face of the franchise will be. This was a dumb move by the Kings and unless they have something else up their sleeves that I just don't see, they'll regret this move for years to come. 

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Slam: Five teams that might make a move at the NBA trade deadline

With the NBA trade deadline approaching on the 23rd of February at 3:00 PM EST, I thought it would be good to provide some sort of breakdown of what to expect. Lots of moves are bound to happen, but there are five teams to keep an eye on.

#1. New York Knicks (23-34): The New York Knicks have been rumored to have Carmelo Anthony on the trading block. I addressed this topic earlier in the season and came to the conclusion that trading Carmelo Anthony would not be a smart decision. That being said, the Knicks rarely make smart decisions, which means that they may trade Carmelo Anthony anyways. The biggest obstacle to making a trade happen is Anthony's $24.6M contract that increases to $26.2M in 2017 and $27.9M in 2018 before he hits free agency in 2019. I have a hard time believing that some team will be willing to take on his contract, but if some general manager really believes adding Anthony will make his franchise a championship contender, then a trade could happen.

#2. Boston Celtics (37-20): The Boston Celtics are another team that has been discussed as a possible team to make a trade before the deadline. If the Celtics weren't 2nd in the Eastern Conference standings, I would say odds are good they make a move to better position themselves for the playoffs, but so long as this nucleus of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley delivers like they are, I see no reason for them to make a trade. That being said, if an unbelievable offer presents itself, Danny Ainge very well may roll the dice. 

#3. Sacramento Kings (24-33): The Sacramento Kings remain right in the mix for the #8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs, which makes it hard to figure what they'll do at the trade deadline. There has been discussion of them moving DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline as well as Rudy Gay. The Kings have publicly expressed support for DeMarcus Cousins, but if some team is willing to sell the farm to get him, the Kings just may entertain such an offer and make a surprise move at the deadline. As for Rudy Gay, the fact that he tore his Achilles makes him harder to move, but some team may still be interested in his services. He is scheduled to be a go for training camp next season, which ups his value.

It is important to note that DeMarcus Cousins won't be an unrestricted free agent until 2018 while Rudy Gay has a player option on his contract which allows him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer if he so chooses. If the Kings feel confident that Rudy Gay will exercise his option, then they may be more aggressive in looking to trade him.

#4. Brooklyn Nets (9-47): The Brooklyn Nets are garbage while Brook Lopez continues to put up solid numbers (20.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game). Brook Lopez hits unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018, but the Nets might be smart to move him given that his value is high. I would not be the least bit surprised to see Brook Lopez moved before the trade deadline. The Nets are going nowhere and really have no point in having him eat up salary cap space while they continue to spiral downwards into obscurity.

#5. Philadelphia 76ers (21-35): The Philadelphia 76ers have a logjam in the front court with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor. All three are really promising young big men and there's no need to hang on to all three for the long term.  Joel Embiid will almost certainly stay, but it's Okafor and Noel whose names have bubbled up in trade rumors. What the 76ers do at the trade deadline will definitely be something to watch for.

Note: On Thursday, I will post a trade deadline tracker of sorts on here. Definitely check that out to stay on top of what happens at the deadline. 

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Fadeaway Friday: What to look for in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge

Tonight at 9:00 PM EST on TNT, the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will tip off to begin the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. Here are some things to look for in this game.


Team USA: Devin Booker (Suns), Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks), Marquese Chriss (Suns), Brandon Ingram (Lakers), Frank Kaminsky (Hornets), Jahlil Okafor (76ers), D'Angelo Russell (Lakers), Jonathon Simmons (Spurs), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), and Myles Turner (Pacers).

Team World: Alex Abrines (Thunder)*, Danté Exum (Jazz), Buddy Hield (Pelicans), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Trey Lyles (Jazz), Willy Hernangomez (Knicks)**, Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks), Domantas Sabonis (Thunder), and Dario Saric (76ers).

*Injury replacement for Joel Embiid (76ers). **Injury replacement for Emmanuel Mudiay (Nuggets)

What to watch for: The first thing to note about this game is that it is a USA vs. World format. They've done this for a couple of years now, but nonetheless it is a shakeup from the classic East vs. West format. What is most interesting is to see how such a format is actually competitive. Years ago, there wouldn't have been enough international players to form a competitive roster against the United States, but now there absolutely is, which is exciting for the game of basketball.

The second thing to look for are the guys who don't get as much national spotlight. Guys like Devin Booker, Malcolm Brogdon, and Nikola Jokic are having fine seasons, but they are flying under the radar due to playing for small market teams. It will be interesting to see how these guys do playing on a national stage. I'm sure they will relish the moment and do their very to put on a show.

The third thing to look for will be who steps up should this game get close. All of these guys are either in their first or second seasons in the NBA, so they are still getting used to having to take over a game at the NBA level. A lot of these guys have veterans to look to when the game gets close. Some of these guys are in situations where they have to be that guy for their teams already. I think it will be fascinating to see which of these young bucks decides to be the go-to guy in the clutch should this game get competitive. It could provide a window of sorts into which one has the best potential to be the next superstar of the NBA.

Predictions: I'm going to pick the United States to win this game. Even with the world catching up rapidly, the United States still has the better roster. Of course, this game is an exhibition, so anything can happen, but I do think the United States will come out on top. They have the more talented team. I'm going to say the United States wins 130-118.

                                              (Credit: Basket Streaming. Click here for source) 
In regards to an MVP, I've got my money on Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves. He is averaging 23.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game this season. He's the best player on the floor in this game and I expect him to play like it. Look for him to be the main guy that leads the United States to victory.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: The Toronto Raptors are swinging for the fences by trading for Serge Ibaka

On Sunday,  I wrote that it appeared as though Serge Ibaka was on his way out of Orlando and now it is official. The Orlando Magic have traded Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross and a 2017 1st round draft pick. The Associated Press were the ones to break the story.  

Before I address what this trade means for the Raptors, let me quickly touch on what this means for the Magic. The Magic are currently 21-37 and virtually out of the playoff picture. By making this trade, the Magic ensure themselves that they get something back for Serge Ibaka: Terrence Ross, a solid wing who averages 10.4 points per game and a first round pick that might be used as a building block for the future.

What’s important to know is that Terrence Ross won’t be an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2019, so he’s not a guy who the Magic have to worry about leaving in free agency next summer. Considering that Serge Ibaka was likely to leave in the summer, this is actually a decent move for the Magic.

Switching over to the Raptors, at 33-24, they are 7 games back of the top seeded Cleveland Cavaliers and 4.5 games back of the #2 seeded Boston Celtics. They are really in need of making a move and this particular move is a low-risk high-reward kind of move, which is the best kind of move to make. Terrence Ross isn’t a bad player, but isn’t a guy who was vital to their success, either. As for the draft pick, the Raptors are in “win now” mode, hence they shouldn’t be worried about building for the future in the same way that the Magic are. What they are parting with isn’t all that valuable and what they are getting back could change the course of their season for the better.

DeMar DeRozan is averaging 27.7 points per game while Kyle Lowry is averaging 22.8 points per game. Together, the two of them form a pretty potent one-two punch, but so far they haven’t proven to be effective enough as  a duo to the get the Raptors over the hump. This is where Serge Ibaka comes in. Ibaka can be that third scoring option that the Raptors feel that they need while also providing quality rim protection and rebounding down low.

Ibaka is averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while also shooting 38.8% from three-point range, which makes him one of the more versatile big men in the NBA. He has an ability to beat you out on the perimeter with his three-point shooting in addition to beating you on the glass inside.

I think Serge Ibaka’s ability to protect the rim is just as important to the Raptors as his ability to score. Jonas Valanciunas is averaging 12.4 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game, but only blocking 0.7 shots per game. 7-footer Lucas Nogueira has done a really  good job protecting the rim with 1.7 blocks per game in just 21.7 minutes of action, but he is still not ready to be getting the minutes that Serge Ibaka will be getting. Ibaka will be able to provide a more consistent rim protecting presence in the Raptors’ frontcourt, which should make them much more versatile and dangerous.

As far as what this move will do for the Raptors in terms of the playoff picture, they are right back in the discussion to be the team that will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics deserve to remain the favorites for now, but by adding Serge Ibaka, the Raptors have greatly improved their team and have positioned themselves nicely to make a serious run in the playoffs. Ibaka gives them another scoring threat, better rim protection, and versatility. The Raptors have been lacking a piece to their championship puzzle and Serge Ibaka just might be that missing piece.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Utah Jazz need Rodney Hood back soon

                                            (Credit: FanDuel. Click here for video).

A lot of things are going right for the Utah Jazz right now. They are 34-22 overall and 5th place in the Western Conference standings, just half a game behind the 34-21 Los Angeles Clippers. Gordon Hayward has been named an All-Star and the team is trending upwards. Amid all that good news, there is a more immediate problem that the Jazz have to deal with, namely the absence of Rodney Hood, who is out indefinitely due to a bone contusion and Grade 1 LCL sprain in his right knee.

Hood is averaging 13.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game on 42.0% shooting from the field, 36.6% shooting from three-point range, and 75.3% shooting from the foul line. During his six game absence, the Jazz are just 3-3 and have lost 3 straight games, with their next game coming on Wednesday at home against the Trail Blazers. Hood is not expected to be back until after the All-Star break, which means that at a minimum he won't play on Wednesday. It is possible that he is back in time to play in the three-game road trip to Milwaukee, Washington, and Oklahoma City, but no guarantees. 

Even though this Utah Jazz team revolves around Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, they have a lot of really good players like George Hill, Derrick Favors, and Rodney Hood that are playing an integral role in their success. Without Hood, the Jazz lose one of their top shooters and they are already a team that struggles to create their own offense. Much like the Memphis Grizzlies, the Jazz win games primarily by defending and rebounding. Scoring is not their strong suit and so to lose one of their best shooters really hurts.

Hopefully for the Jazz, Rodney Hood will be back sooner than later. They are right in the mix for the 4th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, which guarantees home court advantage in the first round. Getting that 4th seed will be pivotal to their postseason success and so they need to do all they can to get that spot. What makes the absence of Hood all the more concerning is the upcoming road trip to Milwaukee, Washington, and Oklahoma City. That's a road trip where the Jazz could easily drop two of three games. Especially if Hood is still out.

Note: This blog post also appeared on NBA Lord's Utah Jazz blog. Click here to check it out. 

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: Serge Ibaka could be on his way out of Orlando

                                          (Credit: YouTube. Click here for video) 

Earlier this season, I wrote about the sorry state of the Orlando Magic and since then, nothing has really changed. They are 20-36 overall and are currently on a four game losing streak, having won just two of their last 10 games. With things not going as they would like, the Magic are reportedly looking to move Serge Ibaka before the February 23rd trade deadline. Ibaka was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder after last season's NBA Draft in exchange for Victor Oladipo and the draft rights to #11 pick Domantas Sabonis, so his time in Orlando has been really brief.

Marc Stein of ESPN has more details.

Seven months and change later, Orlando is exploring all of its options anew. League sources say the Magic are fielding calls from a handful of teams on Ibaka as the deadline approaches, amid undeniable concern that retaining the Congo native in free agency come July will prove much trickier than initially anticipated.

Sources say Toronto and Miami are among the Eastern Conference teams that have expressed interest in Ibaka this month. More than one rival club has expressed the belief that Orlando will use the next 10 days before the deadline to keep fielding offers and then, ultimately, choose the best available package for Ibaka on Feb. 23 and make the move.
What is hard to gather at the moment is what the Magic are looking for in return. Given that Ibaka will hit unrestricted free agency in the summer, his value is diminished by the fact that there's no guarantee he stays where he gets sent to. That makes it harder for the Magic to get the kind of deal that they would prefer.

At the same time, Serge Ibaka is still a productive player, averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. A team like the Toronto Raptors, who are desperately looking to improve their team for an NBA Finals push would really benefit from Serge Ibaka's presence for the postseason stretch, so trading for him is probably worth the gamble. Plus, if things go well, they should have no problem locking him up to a long-term deal. A big reason for why the Magic are looking to deal Ibaka appears to be due to him not being happy with the direction of the franchise. If he lands in a situation where he can compete, odds are good he sticks around.

If the Orlando Magic are really confident that Serge Ibaka bolts in free agency, then they should absolutely trade him and get back what they can. He's got a lot of value and they could get a lot back for him. What looks bad is that they gave up Victor Oladipo, a young budding all-star, to get him. If you give up a guy like Oladipo, you better hang to that piece for longer than half a season. Of course, if that piece isn't going to stay, then trading that piece makes sense. The Magic were hoping Ibaka would turn their franchise around and he hasn't delivered like they hoped he would. Hence, it makes sense for them to trade him even though it does look like trading Victor Oladipo was a mistake.

It will certainly be interesting to see what becomes of Serge Ibaka as the trade deadline approaches. If he lands with the right team, he could have an impact on the upcoming playoffs. Even though he isn't producing like the Magic were hoping, he's still a very talented player with a lot to offer. Any team looking to give their team a boost for the postseason has to be very intrigued by Ibaka's availability. At the right price, he's definitely worth rolling the dice on.

Update: The Associated Press is reporting that the Magic will trade Serge Ibaka to the Raptors for Terrence Ross and a 2017 1st round pick. Click here for details.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Slam: The loss of Jabari Parker dashes the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoffs hopes

                                          (Credit: Keith Allison. Click here for source) 
Earlier in the week, the Milwaukee Bucks received the awful news that Jabari Parker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and that he’ll be out for at least 12 months. Parker, in his 3rd year out of Duke, was having the best season of his young career, averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. He was playing like a borderline all-star and along with Giannis Antetokounmpo had the Bucks knocking on the door for a playoff spot.

With Parker now done for the season, it will be really tough for this Bucks team to find a way to make the playoffs. They are already on the outside looking in in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, a full two games back of the 25-29 Detroit Pistons, who are in current possession of the 8th seed. With Parker now out, they’ll have to find a way to play even better without their #2 scoring option.

If there is anybody who can be expected to take the pressure off of Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe, Michael Beasley, and rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon are probably the best options the Bucks have right now. Monroe is averaging 11 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while Beasley is averaging 8.7 points per game with the capability of going off every time he steps on the floor.  As for Brogdon, he’s averaging 9.2 points per game, putting together one of the best rookie seasons in the NBA. With Parker out, Brogdon should get a lot more touches and see his scoring average enter double digits.

On paper, Khris Middleton would be the guy for the Bucks to look to with Parker out as he averaged 18.2 points per game last season. However, he is just returning from a torn hamstring that he suffered back in October and so it’s not clear when he’ll be back to full strength. Odds are good he may not be 100% until next season, which is why it’s really on Monroe, Beasley, and Brogdon to step up.

What’s sad is that this Bucks team was trending upwards until Jabari Parker went down. With Khris Middleton returning, the Bucks were hoping to give their lineup a nice boost but with Parker going down, those hopes are gone. More importantly, their playoff hopes appear to be dashed.

The Bucks did make a trade recently that sent Miles Plumlee packing for Charlotte in exchange for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes, but I don’t see that trade really helping them out as far as making up for Jabari Parker’s production. That trade is much more about adding some front court depth and giving them another big guy to bang down low in the post as opposed to giving them more scoring, which is what Parker gave them.

The Bucks are a team that I root for and so I really hate to see them catch a bad break like this. Jabari Parker is a really good guy and has already had his share of injuries to start his career. Hopefully Jabari Parker is able to come back stronger than before and that the Bucks will somehow find a way to remain competitive this season. I wish them good luck and I wish Jabari Parker all the best as he goes about an arduous 12-month rehab process. 

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Fadeaway Friday: Does Nate Robinson have any juice left?

                                                     (Credit: Keith Allison. Click here for source) 

Earlier this week, Nate Robinson made his return to pro basketball by signing with the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League. At 32 years of age, Nate Robinson still believes he has some gas left in the tank despite only playing 2 games for the New Orleans Pelicans last season before signing with Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel.

In his prime, Nate Robinson was one of the most entertaining players in the history of the NBA. At just 5’9”, Robinson was able to entertain crowds with his ability to dunk, winning three NBA Slam Dunk Contest championships in 2006, 2009, and 2010. In addition to being the second coming of Spud Webb, Robinson was actually a pretty good player, averaging 11.0 points 2.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game for his career and 17.2 points and 4.1 assists per game during the 2008-09 season with the New York Knicks. Robinson had a good 11 year career in the NBA, but as far as whether or not he can get back to the NBA, that remains to be seen.

What’s cool is that Nate Robinson still wants to play and he has a forum by which he can prove that he still belongs. The D-League exists not only for the purpose of giving young bucks a shot at the NBA but also giving veteran guys one more shot at NBA glory. If Nate Robinson is able to produce for the Delaware 87ers, odds are good an NBA team will give him one more shot. Even if he isn’t able to get back to the NBA, he is sure to entertain D-League fans and help put the league on the map, so either way, nothing but good can come from this.

It is certainly my hope that Nate Robinson finds his way back to the NBA since he was one of my favorite players to watch when he was in his prime. He always had a smile on his face and genuine enthusiasm for the game of basketball. He has always understood that at the end of the day the NBA is about entertaining the fans and he always did his best to put on a show. The league needs more guys like Nate Robinson and so it would really be a treat to have him back in the league, even if it’s just for the remainder of this season.

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