NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics complete their trade

I just wanted to provide a quick update on here about the Kyrie Irving/Isaiah Thomas trade. As I'm sure many of you heard, the trade got stalled due to Isaiah Thomas' hip still being injured. In order for trades to process, players have to pass a physical or else the deal can be nullified. In order to push this through, the Boston Celtics agreed to sweeten the deal by attaching their 2020 second round pick via Miami to the originally proposed trade.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed the details earlier today. If you missed my take on the trade and why the Celtics should now be favorites to come out of the East, click here.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Will Nerlens Noel find a groove in Dallas?

Earlier this week, the Dallas Mavericks re-signed Nerlens Noel to a one-year, $4.1M deal after acquiring him in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Noel was the #6 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, selected by the New Orleans Pelicans and then traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season after recovering from a torn ACL and has since struggled to stay healthy, playing in just 51 games last season.

Before tearing his ACL, the 6'11", 228 pound forward had all the makings of an elite big man. He could run the floor, jump, etc. He was the perfect big man for the modern NBA that likes to play at a faster pace. Since the injury, he hasn't been the same and has had a very difficult time reaching his full potential.

While he hasn't become the player everyone thought he would be, Noel has still been a solid NBA player when healthy, averaging 13.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes. If he is able to actually log in 30+ minutes per night, he could become a really good player for this Mavericks team.

In terms of whether or not Noel finds a groove in Dallas, a lot of that comes down to whether or not he stays healthy. The Mavericks are getting him on the cheap, so this is a low risk, high reward type of signing for them. If he finds a way to stay on the court, there are good odds that he'll be a very effective player for this Mavericks team. If on the flip side, he doesn't stay healthy, he could find himself playing overseas in a year.

                                                      (Regina/acrphoto. Click here for source)                   

Noel truly finds himself at a critical point of his NBA career. He's no longer the talented young big man that is waiting to get back on the court. He has a few years under his belt now and can no longer afford to sit on the bench like he has in past seasons. If he doesn't put it together this year, there's good reason to think he never will, making it hard to see him survive one more injury ridden season.

What Nerlens Noel does have in his favor is the fact that the Mavericks aren't very good, making it the perfect place for him to get his career back on track. He doesn't have to worry about being buried on the bench or not getting enough minutes from the coach. The minutes and opportunities will be there. It's just a matter of him not being in a suit and tie every time the team is playing.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: After landing Kyrie Irving, the Boston Celtics are the clear favorites to come out of the East

(Ron Schwane/AP)

On Tuesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first-round draft pick. This move appears to be good for both sides involved. The Celtics add a superstar point guard with championship experience while the Cavaliers free up some cap space and land an elite level point guard of their own in Isaiah Thomas.

While this move does make sense for both sides, the surprising part of this deal is the fact that the Cavaliers were willing to make such a move with their biggest threat in the East. Typically, you want to do all you can to not help your enemies, but in this case, the Cavaliers felt like they couldn't pass up what the Celtics had to offer.

While I do like what the Cavaliers got back in this trade, the Celtics are the clear winners. By getting both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving this summer, the Celtics have greatly upgraded their roster and positioned themselves to reach the NBA Finals.

What the Celtics have needed is a true go-to option that can lead them to a title. As good as Isaiah Thomas has been, I was never convinced that he was that type of guy. As for Al Horford, he's not even remotely close to being such a guy. While he is a very good big man that borders on all-star level, you are not going to win a title with him as your best player.

While Irving gets criticized for not playing defense and being too much of a one-way player, there's no denying his ability to take over games in crunch time. He's one of the most electric offensive players in the league and has proven himself to be more than capable on the game's biggest stage.

As for Hayward, while not possessing the same resume as Irving, he appears to have the tools to be a really good number two option on this Celtics team. He plays well on both ends of the floor and is capable of doing a lot of different things on offense, whether its shooting, attacking the rim, or creating for others.

The Boston Celtics have to feel really good about where they are right now. They landed the biggest prize in free agency and also the star point guard of the team that took them out in the Eastern Conference Finals. If the Celtics do not find themselves playing into June next season, it will be a major disappointment.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Phoenix Suns had some fun during the solar eclipse

On Monday, the United States put political differences aside to admire the solar eclipse that streaked across the country, starting in Oregon and making its way down the country in a southeastern trajectory. I was able to look at the eclipse in California and see the moon cover up to 75% of the sun. I can only imagine what it was like for those who got to experience a total blackout.

Like the rest of the country, the NBA also admired the astronomical phenomenon. NBA teams tweeted about the event and players found time to put on their shades and gaze up at the eclipse. As a way of adding some color and humor to the event, a few NBA teams posted videos of their team blocking shots of Phoenix Suns players, an analogy to the moon blocking out the sun. As a way of getting back at these teams, the Suns' twitter account blocked the teams that posted the videos.

Personally, I found this to be a really creative use of social media. While social media can be used to divide, it can also be used as a way to bring people together in ways that weren't previously possible. Here's to bringing people together through basketball and rare astronomical events! We know that this country needs unity more than ever.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: The Sacramento Kings have a brutal schedule early on

In order to make things easier on the players, the NBA regular season will begin a couple of weeks earlier than usual, tipping off on Tuesday, October 17. The league is doing this to reduce the amount of back-to-backs and give teams less of an excuse to rest their star players. Personally, I think this is a great move by the league. The rigors of the NBA schedule are very real. Starting the regular season a couple of weeks earlier is a simple and effective solution to improving the quality of basketball across the league.

While the decrease in back-to-backs and increased time for rest is a benefit to all 30 teams, that doesn't mean that all schedules are created equal. The Sacramento Kings for example will play 20 of their first 33 games away from the Golden 1 Center, making it about as brutal of a schedule as you could realistically have to begin an NBA season.

Of course, the benefit of this is that by getting 20 road games out of the way so early, the Kings will play 28 of their remaining 49 games at home, which is pretty nice. However, it will be tough for this young Kings team to weather the storm early on. Given the nature of this schedule, they could find themselves in a very deep hole by the end of December.

To help things out a little bit, the Kings tip off the season at home against the Houston Rockets on October 18 before going on a three-game road trip to Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix (October 20-23). What really stands out about the Kings' schedule isn't just the amount of road games but where those road games are being played. The Kings have four Eastern Conference road trips between October 31 and December 20:

The first road trip is to Indiana, Boston, and Detroit (October 31-November 4); the second is to New York, Washington, and Atlanta (November 11-November 15); the third is to Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and New Orleans (December 1-December 8); and the fourth is to Minnesota, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn (December 14-December 20).

After all that, the Kings will take on San Antonio at home on the 23rd before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on the 26th. Starting December 27th, the Kings will finally get their first real home stand of the season, which will keep them in Sacramento through January 8 for six consecutive games.

There's no other word to describe this early schedule but "brutal."  I know that it all evens itself out over the course of 82 games, but having four road trips to the Eastern Conference region to start the season feels almost unfair. Had even just one of those road trips been converted to a home stand, I would feel different. But as it is presently constructed, it really does appear as though the Kings got a raw deal from the league.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Slam: The Cleveland Cavaliers are falling apart

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be falling apart at the seams. During the past couple of weeks, reports have surfaced that Kyrie Irving wants to be traded and LeBron James will exercise his player option to leave Cleveland in the summer of 2018.

With both reports coming from credible reporters, it's safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the verge of collapsing. The only thing that can save them now is an NBA championship in 2018 and the chances of that happening look very bleak. As crazy as it sounds, the Cavaliers are on track to be without both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in 12-18 months.

What you might be wondering is how did this happen? Weren't these guys building a dynasty in Cleveland? The answer appears to lie in the fact that neither James nor Irving have much faith in the front office. While he should certainly be credited for helping the team win their first NBA title, owner Dan Gilbert needs to take a lot of heat for this happening. For Gilbert to have his two superstars both wanting out reflects very poorly on how he has ran the organization during the last couple of years.

Part of it might stem from the way in which Gilbert handled James' initial departure from Cleveland. Rather than taking the high road and wishing him good luck in Miami, Gilbert cried like a spoiled brat and threw one of the biggest hissy fits ever seen by a professional sports owner.

When James did return, Gilbert failed to bring in a competent head coach. Both David Blatt and Tyronn Lue have been nothing more than figure heads on the bench. Their job has been to open up the gym before practice, close the gym after practice, and talk to the media. That's pretty much it. Not once have I or anyone else who follows the NBA viewed them as legitimate coaches.

In addition to failing to hire a good head coach, Gilbert also made the fatal mistake of allowing Andrew Wiggins to be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. To be fair, LeBron James was the one who pushed for this trade so he deserves a lot of the blame for that happening. All the same, Gilbert could have still done more to keep Wiggins and try to explain to James why Wiggins was actually the better player to have on the team both in the present and in the future.

The only thing the Cavaliers have going for them right now is that it's 2017 and not 2018. Both James and Irving want to win more than anything. If Dan Gilbert and his chums in the front office can pull a rabbit out of their hat and make some amazing trades before the trade deadline, maybe things will be different in a year. I highly doubt it, though. With the way things are going, this team will be lottery bound heading into the 2019 NBA Draft and they'll be back to square one, hoping to land another #1 draft pick.

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Monday, August 14, 2017 Podcast: Kyrie Irving is still in Cleveland; Paul Millsap is a great fit in Denver

On this week's episode of the Podcast, I address the very latest in the Kyrie Irving saga, Paul Millsap's future with the Nuggets, and more. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: Does signing Michael Beasley mean the Knicks will trade Carmelo Anthony?

Earlier today, it was announced that the New York Knicks signed Michael Beasley to a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum ($2,116,995). Since being drafted #2 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat, Beasley has bounced around the league, playing for the Heat (twice), Timberwolves, Suns, Rockets, Bucks, and now Knicks. While not living up to the expectations that come with being a #2 overall pick, Beasley has found a way to stick around the league and carve out a nice career for himself, averaging 12.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

While not an all-star level player, Beasley is still a very solid NBA player, capable of scoring both inside and out. Last season with the Bucks, he averaged 9.4 points per game in 16.7 minutes of action, shooting 53.2% from the field, 41.9% from three-point range, and 74.3% from the foul line. If placed back in a starters role and given 30 minutes of action per night, Beasley could average right around 17 points per game, which is pretty good for a starting small forward.

What a lot of people are wondering is whether or not the signing of Beasley indicates that the Knicks are open to trading Carmelo Anthony. When you consider all the money that Carmelo is scheduled to make next season ($26, 243,760) and the fact that Beasley can be a decent starting small forward for a fraction of the cost, there's good reason to think that moving Carmelo is in the Knicks' best interest.

Of course, if the Knicks decide to keep Carmelo, Beasely could still be a solid off the bench type of scorer, similar to what he was for the Bucks last season. What the Knicks have to weigh is whether or not they think they can make a run for the playoffs over the next two seasons if Carmelo sticks around. If they do, then it might not be a bad thing to hang on to him for the next two seasons and then let him walk in free agency. If on the other hand, the Knicks don't see themselves making the playoffs or they have no interest in being an 8th seed in the East, then it probably does make sense for them to trade Carmelo and try to get some quality pieces back for him.

Personally, I think the Knicks will look to move Carmelo. They've not accomplished what they hoped they would during his tenure and it's largely due to their own incompetence. While they've failed to put a quality team around him, the very least they can do for Carmelo is trade him to a team that can contend. They need to retool and build for the future and Carmelo deserves a shot at playing for a contender. It really makes sense for both sides.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: What does Paul Millsap bring to the Denver Nuggets?

                                            (Credit: David Zalubowski, The Associated Press) 

This summer, the Denver Nuggets made a splash of their own in signing Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90M deal. Millsap spent the past four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks after playing his first seven seasons with the Utah Jazz. Millsap was an All-Star in each of his four seasons with the Hawks, averaging 17.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. Despite his success, the Hawks didn't feel they could contend with Millsap as a cornerstone of their franchise, ultimately deciding to let him walk in free agency.

The Hawks' decision shouldn't diminish what Millsap has accomplished during these past four years. He's established himself as one of the best players in the NBA, earning every bit of praise that he has received. They've been in need of a legitimate go-to option and Millsap certainly fits the bill.

The first thing that Millsap brings to this Nuggets team is toughness. Outside of Kenneth Faried, the Nuggets haven't had a lot of toughness on their team. Millsap is a guy who will battle for loose balls and never give up on a play. He plays with tremendous heart and gives it his all every time he steps on the floor.

Millsap also brings lots of experience. He's been an All-Star four straight seasons and has played in 87 playoff games, reaching the conference finals twice ('07 with Utah and '15 with Atlanta). The Nuggets haven't even sniffed a conference finals appearance since Carmelo Anthony left. To have a guy with that kind of experience and leadership will be huge.

In terms of his on the court abilities, Millsap brings versatility. At 6'8", 245 pounds, he can play both the small forward and power forward positions due to his combination of size, quickness, and all-around skill. He can shoot from the perimeter and take opponents off the dribble, creating a lot of mismatches on the floor. He'd be a really nice complimentary player for a guy like Kenneth Faried, who is more comfortable playing as a power forward.

The big question surrounding this Denver Nuggets team is whether or not they'll make the playoffs. Given the depth of the Western Conference, it's no guarantee that they do, but they definitely got a shot. While the Nuggets still need a lot more pieces to become a serious contender, adding Paul Millsap is a solid start. We've seen him anchor a very good Atlanta Hawks team and with the addition of a couple more pieces, there's no reason to doubt the Nuggets' ability to put a similar type of squad around him.

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