Feb 22, 2014 1:25 PM EST
Thursday at the NBA trade deadline, we saw a total of 26 players, seven second round draft picks, and zero blockbuster trades. On Friday, we covered how the 10 players that ended up on West teams will shape the playoff race, and now we are looking at the 16 that were sent to the D-League…whoops, I meant the Eastern Conference.
While the Western teams made a few smart, calculated trades to improve depth (Steve Blake to the Warriors) and cut costs (possible buyout for Jason Terry from the Kings), the East had the biggest deals of the deadline. The East deals included the only two All-Stars dealt (Antawn Jamison and Danny Granger), the two best players (Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes), and the smartest player (Professor Andre Miller, PhD).
The Brooklyn Nets traded their disappointing – but playoff tested – guard, Jason Terry, for the Sacramento Kings' disappointing – and never played in a playoff game – guard, Marcus Thorton. Thorton, who once averaged 21.3 points per game, is a solid sixth man and capable of scoring in bunches when needed though he has struggled badly this season. He will likely provide relief for Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson down the stretch of the season. However, adding his extra $730,000 in salary means paying a ridiculous $3.3 million in tax, bringing their total to over $88 million on taxes alone…for a team that won’t get out of the first round.
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for 76ers' center, Spencer Hawes. He will likely anchor their team right to where they were destined to be before they traded for him…the lottery. Hawes is a talented 7-footer who leads all centers in three-pointers made and percentage, is an elite passer for his position, a good scorer and rebounder, and a capable body on defense when he cares. Forced to play on a hapless Philadelphia team, Hawes had no reason to try over the past few months, but as he heads into free agency this offseason, expect his production to go back up for the Cavs. Despite the addition of Hawes and recently acquired Luol Deng, this team is unfortunately still coached by Mike Brown, suggesting they are likely doomed to miss the playoffs and then ultimately lose Hawes and Deng to free agency for nothing.
Professor Andre Miller, PhD left his classroom for winter break on December 30th and has been M.I.A. ever since. However, after being traded to the Washington Wizards, you can rest assured Professor Miller will be making a teaching once again. Miller, who was restless under indecisive rookie head coach Brian Shaw will be a capable backup behind John Wall, likely helping lead this Wizards team to homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Charlotte Bobcats made a good deal at the trade deadline. Say it with me: “The Bobcats did something right.” They traded valuable but redundant point guard, Ramon Sessions to the Milwaukee Bucks along with Jeff Adrian for Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal. Ridnour is a terrific backup point guard who can play behind or with Kemba Walker, while Neal is an outstanding shooter who won an NBA Finals game last season by scoring 24 points in 25 minutes!
In the only move that might affect the NBA Finals this season, the Pacers trading former All-Star forward, Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Turner is a do-it-all forward who has fallen out of favor league-wide because he has failed to live up to the hype of a second overall pick. Turner should play with the first unit as well as anchor the second for the Pacers. His ball handling will allow George Hill, Paul George and CJ Watson to get free and take uncontested shots while giving them insurance –albeit expensive at an $8.7 million qualifying offer or whatever long-term offer he receives – in case Lance Stephenson leaves in free agency. Additionally, Allen started in the playoffs only two seasons ago and is a capable big man off the bench. Most importantly, Larry “The Legend” Bird signed off on this trade, thus, it must be great.
The last set of trades involved the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks. Each team gave up players that weren’t part of their future and received cash, second round draft picks, and laundry service for a year in exchange for helping another team out. The Heat traded Roger Mason Jr. and cash for a pick they will likely never see in order to open a roster spot for Caron Butler (Tuff Juice wants to go home!). The 76ers, who were involved in a league-high four deals during the trade deadline ended up with five second round draft picks and five players that won’t be buying property in Philadelphia. Finally, the Hawks acquired Antawn Jamison from the Clippers and enough cash to take him out to a nice dinner before buying out his contract.
Compared to the four West teams that made a deadline deal, eight of the top ten Eastern franchises made a deal with only Chicago and Detroit remaining inactive. Whether this reflects the fragility of the Eastern Conference standings (5th place through 11th is separated by just 5.5 games), or the strength of the mighty teams in the West (3rd place in the East would be 10th in the West) is anyone’s guess. With that said, all these moves outside of Indiana and Miami are moot because none of them are making the Eastern Conference Finals.
Indiana Pacers Vs. Miami Heat, Round III starts May 20th – Get ready, America!
Feb 13, 2014 6:31 PM EST
Jared Sullinger’s first year in the NBA wasn’t an easy one.
Expected to be a lottery pick coming out of Ohio State, he dropped after several teams reportedly flagged him over concerns about back issues. The Boston Celtics happily took him with the 21st overall pick and prepared to reap the benefits of a skilled, NBA-ready power forward.
Sullinger looked good as a rookie, averaging 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in fewer than 20 minutes on a team headed for the postseason. On Jan. 22, 2013 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the closest thing to a hometown team for the Columbus native, Sullinger registered 12 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Back spasms forced him out of a win over the Sacramento Kings after just four minutes just one week later. The Celtics announced two days later that Sullinger had undergone season-ending back surgery.
“We knew this could happen. We knew it a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point it probably would happen,” then-coach Doc Rivers said at the time.
"We were hoping it would be a summer thing, rather than the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great and the good news is we know he can play. We know he'll be a very good player and, in the long run, this will make him healthier."
The Celtics hope the surgery will remain a long-term fix for back issues that some teams considered chronic heading into the 2012 NBA Draft. One front office was told by their medical staff to avoid Sullinger altogether because of issues they felt might never go away.
A little more than a year since going under the knife, Sullinger is headed to All-Star weekend for the Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans. While he acknowledges having doubts about his basketball future, Sullinger remained strong during his lengthy rehabilitation.
“At the time, there’s always doubt,” Sullinger said. “When I’m sitting there on my bed, sitting on my couch and watching movies because I’m not able to travel with the team. It’s definitely tough, but at the same time I think mentally I was strong enough to understand that I would be back.”
Sullinger’s absence in the second half of last season was compounded by the fact that the Celtics had also lost Rajon Rondo to a torn ACL. Shorthanded, Boston was eliminated in the first round by the New York Knicks.
“When you are sitting down on the bed and you really don’t do nothing, can’t workout, can’t do absolutely nothing, can’t live a normal lifestyle it’s pretty tough,” Sullinger admitted.
“Especially with your team going into the playoffs and you know there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Losing 37 games during your rookie season isn’t something anyone plans for, but Sullinger appears to be much better for having had surgery. He is averaging 13.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 27.4 minutes for the rebuilding Celtics this season.
“Am I as good as new? Yeah, I mean it shows out there that I’m doing fine,” the forward said. “I can do everything I did when it hurt. I was basically playing on one leg [last season], I wouldn’t say I can jump higher but I can move better.”
Sullinger has started 38 of his 51 games this season, while also dealing with hand, wrist and ankle issues. His per 36 numbers (17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds) would make him a borderline All-Star in the Eastern Conference.
“I have a lot of work to do,” he added. “I don’t want to be satisfied and I never will be satisfied. I’ve got a lot more work to do.”
Jan 01, 2014 10:16 PM EST
The franchise that tried to tank for Tim Duncan and Greg Oden/Kevin Durant started the season once again in the middle of a rebuilding season for a future star. They traded away two of their three best players, hired a rookie head coach without previous NBA experience, and their best player has sat out the first two months of the season recovering from a torn ACL. Where has that left them? Second place in the Atlantic Division and a shot at home court advantage in the playoffs.
The Good: The Boston Celtics have gone from tanking to rebuilding on the fly as they managed to rejuvenate their roster with young, inexpensive players while adding a plethora of future draft picks - including four first round picks from the Brooklyn Nets and one first round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers – which allows them tremendous flexibility going forward. Credit for this belongs to Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge. While Ainge’s plan was clearly to tank (most likely for Jabari Parker), his hiring of Stevens, along with his refusal to accept long-term contracts in any deals – with the exception of Gerald Wallace – has allowed this team to stay relevant and on the fast track for rebuilding.
The Bad: The Celtics are exceeding all expectations this season. But if you look at their roster, who is a long-term solution at his position? Rondo could leave through trade or free agency – he tasted winning too early in his career and has no patience for a rebuild. Jordan Crawford has been a revelation this season, and while he’s very talented, does anyone believe he can be the starting point guard on a contender? Didn’t think so. Beyond that, they have nice pieces in Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and even Kelly Olynyk. But who among those is an All-Star or a building block? In a related issue, of the nine guys playing fifteen minutes or more per game on this team, five are power forwards. Can that be the case on a contending team?
The Fix: According to Jared Wesiss of CLNSRadio in Boston, Danny Ainge is still determined to have this team lose. Shedding useable players – including Rondo – seems inevitable with such a deep draft. I don’t like this strategy. Stevens is clearly special as a coach and somehow has this team playing together and playing well. If you’re determined to improve your odds in the draft, trade a few of the lesser guys (Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks) for a draft pick or another player that fits this team and could contribute – preferably a guard – and see how far this team can go. If they do insist on trading Rondo, do not trade him without including Gerald Wallace’s outlandish contract.
Oct 29, 2013
The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.
Sep 30, 2013
Rajon Rondo is the unquestioned leader of the Celtics, but Gerald Wallace will have to take on somewhat of a mentoring role as well. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce helped keep the mercurial point guard in check when necessary and Brad Stevens will turn just 37 in late October.
Aug 16, 2013
Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.
Jul 12, 2013
It isnít by chance that Kelly Olynyk is so refined offensively. As a kid, he was taught the game of basketball by having it broken down for him completely, making him a very fundamentally-sound player. In the same way, he must break the game down on the defensive end of the floor in order to elevate his IQ and develop his skills as a defender.
Jul 01, 2013
With the 2013 NBA offseason underway, here is a primer on what all 30 teams are facing.
Jun 28, 2013
Breaking down all 30 teams by category of how they fared in the often surprising, never disappointing 2013 NBA Draft.
Jun 19, 2013
A page needs to be turned and the Clippers are doing Danny Ainge and the Celtics a favor by making it impossible not to flip it and jumpstart the rebuilding process.
Jun 08, 2013
Only Ray Allen can tell you what he really felt about the way he was treated after deciding to leave the Celtics, but none of that really matters. Heís four wins away from his second NBA title and his decision to join the Heat has been validated. That, however, wasnít what this was all about.
May 20, 2013
One fun component of the Amnesty rule is that we know exactly which players are eligible for it and that number can only decrease over time since the players had to have been under contract with the same team before the new CBA.
Apr 27, 2013
Now, the Celtics, who many felt no one wanted to face in the first round, are a loss away from a sweep. Before long, the questions surrounding the team will have a much farther reach than just the scope of a poor playoff series.
Apr 24, 2013
The Knicks allowed only 25 points in the second half of Game 1, only to allow 23 points in the second half of Game 2. New Yorkís second half performance in Game 2 set a new franchise playoff record for the fewest points allowed in a half.
Apr 19, 2013
The Celtics, old as they may be, are still capable of playing good basketball, that we know, but will they have enough in the tank to compete for another title? Rested and healthy, the Celtics are confident that a deep playoff run is not only possible, it's probable.
Mar 06, 2013
D.J. White has struggled to establish himself as an NBA player, but hopes his return from China after playing a bigger role again changes his career trajectory.
Feb 21, 2013
The Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder and Cavaliers have been the most active teams at the deadline over the past decade, while the Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Lakers and Pacers have made the fewest deals.
Feb 08, 2013
Leandro Barbosa has had to play more minutes in the wake of Rajon Rondoís torn ACL. The Celtics have quite a few similar options, but Barbosa has still seen an uptick in his minutes as he gets more comfortable on defense.
Jan 31, 2013
Win-win trades that also make sense financially will become even more rare in the NBA's post-lockout era. Here are trades for the Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Nuggets and Spurs that make sense for all parties.
Jan 16, 2013
Jared Sullinger may not receive as much attention as Avery Bradleyís return has in getting the Celtics going as of late, but the rookie has been vital to the teamís success.
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