Feb 21, 2014 1:56 PM EST
When the clock hit 3 PM EST on Thursday, basketball fans around the globe groaned as another NBA trade deadline passed without the epic blockbusters that fill the RealGM Forums. Although the deadline lacked a true blockbuster, the trades that were made (and the ones that were left on the table) will undoubtedly shift the landscape of the Western Conference playoff picture and possibly the team that will be facing the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals (It’s a lock, nobody is seriously questioning it).
The four most notable trades in the West came from the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors, who picked up Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers, will look for him to provide the steady hand off the bench that they have been pursuing since Jarrett Jack left in the offseason. Blake’s addition isn’t going to drastically improve the team, but he is able to give the team quality backup point guard minutes behind Stephen Curry, given Jordan Crawford’s inability to play without Brad Stevens as his coach.
The Rockets moved little used backup point guard, Aaron Brooks, to the Denver Nuggets for Jordan Hamilton. After refusing to lower their insane asking price on Omer Asik, the Rockets decided to fill their lack of a stretch four with Hamilton. Despite Hamilton blatantly not being a power forward or an elite shooter (39 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3), the Rockets apparently believe he can become one when freed up as Dwight Howard draws attention in the post. The more important aspect to this trade is that it likely allows the Rockets to call-up D-League star, Isaiah Canaan.
The Spurs traded little used point guard Nando de Colo for Austin Daye. In one of the day’s most intriguing moves, the Spurs took on another reclamation project in the form of a 6’11 shooter who was once a top prospect coming out of high school. While Daye has struggled to earn minutes outside of his second season in the NBA (when he shot 40 percent from 3), he has tremendous length, can guard multiple positions, and San Antonio has shown interest in him. If that isn’t a sign of someone that will be playing meaningful playoff minutes in May, I am not sure what is.
The last deals of any consequence in the West were by the Clippers. They traded both Antawn Jamison and BJ Mullens for the rights to a Turkish player that probably is unaware he was traded, and a conditional second round draft pick that will likely never happen. These deals, while not interesting beyond the salary implications for the Clippers, do allow open roster spots on the team for buyout candidates. Look for Glen “Big Baby” Davis to join his old coach, Doc Rivers.
While each team above made a move – albeit small – at the trade deadline, the other five teams in contention, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies all stood pat.
Although several teams are in desperate need of a big man (OKC, PDX, PHX), no one budged on Philly’s offer of two second round draft picks for Spencer Hawes.
Portland, who is without a second round draft pick until 2019, had a tremendous need for Hawes with Joel Freeland out for two months and LaMarcus Aldridge banged up.
The Thunder flirted with a deal for Knicks embattled shooting guard, Iman Shumpert, but backed off at the last moment.
As for the remaining needs, the slew of veterans that will likely be bought out this upcoming week will have to suffice. Fortunately for these teams, Glen Davis, Caron Butler, Danny Granger, Jason Terry, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Antawn Jamison are all buyout candidates.
Many NBA teams believe it is better to trade during the offseason so that players can get familiar with a system and their teammates, while others utilize the short second half of the season as a tryout for recently acquired players to see if they’re long-term fits. It appears that teams trading in the offseason are better off. For any fan grumbling over their team not making a blockbuster yesterday, here’s a stat you need to know: one; as in the number of Championship teams during the last 25 years to trade for a starter at the trade deadline (Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons in 2004). So while fans of the Rockets clamored for Rajon Rondo and Warriors' fans hoped for Kevin Love, just know that the odds of you winning the title with those guys was slim to none.
Happy Trade Deadline everyone! Only 124 more days until the NBA Draft!
Feb 11, 2014 1:45 PM EST
The Portland Trail Blazers have been the feel-good story of the first half of the season. Widely considered a fringe playoff contender before the season began, they got off to a gang-busters start, winning 22 of their first 26. They haven’t cooled off much since, heading into the All-Star break with a 36-15 record. With two All-Stars in LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Portland seems like it has a bright future ahead of them.
Instead of going for the headlines, the Trail Blazers made a series of small but significant moves over the summer. The most important was at the center position, where they replaced an undersized power forward who didn't play any defense (JJ Hickson) with a legitimate two-way 7'0 250 banger in Robin Lopez. While not a star like his twin brother Brook, Robin has established himself as a starting-quality center in the NBA.
Portland also boosted their bench, upgrading a unit that had been one of the worst in the NBA last season. The key has been Mo Williams, a former All-Star who has reestablished himself as a premier sixth man, as well as the improvement of Joel Freeland, who turned himself into a poor man's Robin Lopez. Along with Thomas Robinson, Dorrell Wright and CJ McCollum, they have given Portland a legitimate second unit.
Last season, the Trail Blazers had a lot of front-line talent, but they were essentially a four-man team of Aldridge, Lillard, Nic Batum and Wes Matthews. As a result, their starters wore out over the course of the season, culminating in a 13-game losing streak to end the season that pushed them all the way down to tenth place in the West. With so many good teams in front of them, whispers about Aldridge's free agency began spreading.
The key to Portland's success this season has been the combination of Aldridge and their outside shooting. At 6'11 240 with a 7'4 wingspan, Aldridge is one of the longest and most skilled power forwards in the league. An elite shooter with a developed post game, he is one of the toughest covers 1-on-1 in the NBA. The only real way to stop him from scoring is to send double-teams, which opens up offense for everyone else.
Portland starts three elite three-point shooters on the perimeter -- Lillard (41 percent on seven per game), Matthews (42 percent on six) and Batum (34 percent on five). All three can shoot, dribble and move the ball, making it easy for them to exploit a scrambling defense. It’s the same story on the bench: everyone for Portland can shoot 3’s, with Williams (38 percent on 3), McCollum (36 percent on 2) and Wright (34 percent on 3) all capable of stretching the floor.
Having so much perimeter shooting allows the Trail Blazers to maintain floor spacing while playing big. Portland is one of the only true two-post teams left; they stay big for all 48 minutes, with Freeland and Robinson coming off the bench to back-up Aldridge and Lopez and playing with them as well. Playing all that size allows the Trail Blazers to be an elite rebounding team; they are currently ranked No. 2 in the NBA in that category.
The concern for Portland is on the defensive end of the floor. While Matthews and Batum are elite perimeter defenders and Aldridge has all the tools to be an interior stopper, the same can’t be said for Lopez or Lillard. Their bench is an even bigger problem on that side of the floor, as Freeland and Robinson are both somewhat raw while Williams (6’1 195) and McCollum (6’4 200) give up a lot of size and athleticism to bigger guards.
As a result, Portland is one of the most unbalanced teams in the NBA. They have an offensive rating of 112.4 per 100 possessions, tops in the NBA and a defensive rating of 107.8 per 100, good for 20th. Their rebounding ability means they don’t give up a ton of second-chance points, but that does them no good if they are rebounding the ball from under their own net. In the crucible of a seven-game playoff series, that could be a concern.
When you examine their schedule more closely, the Trail Blazers appear to be a bit of a paper tiger.
Going forward, they have one of the toughest schedules in the NBA, with only four home games left against Eastern Conference foes. They only have one East Coast road trip left all season; for the most part, they are playing only Western Conference teams in the last three months. They won’t have many chances to pick up easy wins.
With this current roster, the Trail Blazers will have to win games on the offensive end of the floor, which becomes harder in the playoffs, when you mostly face elite defenses. Since none of their perimeter players is an elite slasher, opposing defenses can press up on their guards and dare them to attack the rim. Aldridge prefers playing 20+ feet from the basket; Portland doesn’t have anyone who makes a living at the rim.
The lack of an elite slasher negates some of the value Aldridge brings to the floor. His dead-eye shooting from long range forces one of the opposing big men to leave the paint, which opens up a ton of driving lanes to the rim. If the Trail Blazers want to make a deep run in the playoffs this season, that’s a hole they will need to address. There are too many good teams in the Western Conference for them to get away with that.
The good news for Portland is they have the pieces to be very active at the deadline. Neil Olshey has done a fine job of upgrading their talent base in the last two years. Meyers Leonard, Will Barton and Allen Crabbe all have the upside to be NBA starters and none of them can find minutes on the Trail Blazers. Even McCollum, the No. 10 pick in 2013, isn’t needed on this team. Lillard and Williams do all the things he does but better.
It would be easy for the Trail Blazers to stand pat at the deadline, as they’ve already done more than enough to clinch their first playoff appearance since 2011. At the same time, though, Aldridge is 28, Matthews is 27, Batum is 25 and Lillard is 23; they are ready to win right now. Nor has Aldridge’s long-term status been resolved. If they lose in the first round, no one is going to care about what happened in November and December
Oct 29, 2013 12:14 AM EDT
The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.
Atlanta Hawks: Are the Hawks going to try to bottom out and if not, what is their plan for the future?
Boston Celtics: What’s going to happen with Rajon Rondo's return from a torn ACL and how will the Celtics' front office go about their rebuilding process?
Brooklyn Nets: How will Jason Kidd lead a veteran roster filled with players he competed against for the last 15-20 years?
Charlotte Bobcats: Are Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller legitimate young players to build around?
Chicago Bulls: Do the Bulls need another source of offense to prevent defenses from dialing in on Derrick Rose?
Cleveland Cavaliers: Who will emerge as Kyrie Irving’s sidekick if Andrew Bynum doesn’t return to full health?
Detroit Pistons: Will the Pistons be able to manage a functional offense with three non-shooting big men?
Indiana Pacers: How will the Pacers divide playing time between Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson, and who will be more effective with the starting group?
Miami Heat: Will Shane Battier and Ray Allen be able to remain productive as the key three-point threats in the Heat offense?
Milwaukee Bucks: Can the Bucks trade some of their young promising players for an All-Star?
New York Knicks: Will Andrea Bargnani provide another element to an offense that became stagnant in the postseason?
Orlando Magic: Will the Magic be active in trying to trade some of its young pieces, or will they be patient and hope for another high lottery pick?
Philadelphia 76ers: To what lengths will the 76ers go to make sure they have the worst record in the league?
Toronto Raptors: When will the Raptors trade Rudy Gay and what will they get in return?
Washington Wizards: Do the Wizards need to add a frontcourt offensive threat in order to score consistently?
Dallas Mavericks: If it becomes clear that the Mavericks aren’t going to be a contender, what will they do about Dirk Nowitzki?
Denver Nuggets: What will the Nuggets do about the highly paid trio of Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee if they do not make the playoffs?
Golden State Warriors: Will Andre Iguodala hurt the Warriors’ three-point attack that was so vital to their success in the postseason?
Houston Rockets: Will the Rockets keep Omer Asik and have the best backup center in the league while experimenting with coexisting with Dwight Howard, or will they trade him to bolster their rotation elsewhere?
Los Angeles Clippers: Do the Clippers need to make a move for an effective third big man in order to become a legitimate contender?
Los Angeles Lakers: How angry will Kobe Bryant be if the Lakers find themselves on the verge of missing the playoffs?
Memphis Grizzlies: How will the Grizzlies maintain a good balance between shooting and perimeter defense at their wing positions?
Minnesota Timberwolves: Will Derrick Williams have an opportunity to live up to his potential as a former second overall pick despite not being an offensive priority?
New Orleans Pelicans: How will Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon mesh in the backcourt?
Oklahoma City Thunder: Who will emerge as the new third scoring option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook?
Phoenix Suns: Is Eric Bledsoe capable of being the Suns’ point guard of the future?
Portland Trail Blazers: If the Trail Blazers struggle, will LaMarcus Aldridge’s name reemerge in trade rumors again?
Sacramento Kings: Is DeMarcus Cousins good enough for the Kings to put up with his immaturity?
San Antonio Spurs: Will Tiago Splitter develop enough to become a factor on both ends in the playoffs?
Utah Jazz: Will Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter work together in the frontcourt?
Oct 26, 2013
The Pelicans, Raptors, Pistons, Wolves, Cavaliers, Blazers, Wizards, Mavericks, and maybe even the Kings and Bobcats could find their way into the playoffs if a number of things go right.
Aug 16, 2013
Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.
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.
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.
May 19, 2013
We have seen a whole lot of changes since the pre-Tournament issue of the Lottery Lowdown. March Madness gave us a few players to watch both this year and for 2014 while the Nike Hoop Summit and Combine helped clarify the picture in terms of athletic ability and positional versatility.
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.
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.
Nov 01, 2012
While the drop-off from the Heat to the rest of the Eastern Conference is severe, the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder have quick company in the second and third tiers.
Aug 19, 2012
The Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, 76ers and Nets were amongst the teams with great offseasons, while the Bucks, Magic, Suns, Knicks, Cavaliers and Bulls were in the bad column. Here's how all 30 teams have fared in the 2012 offseason.
Aug 13, 2012
The Jazz and Thunder have had the most Gold Medalists since the USA began bringing NBA players in 1992, while Duke leads amongst colleges. How do the other 29 NBA teams rank?
Jun 28, 2012
Center represents the position of greatest need for nearly half the NBA, while power forward isn't the top priority for a single team.
Jun 27, 2012
Polling the Green Room candidates to determine who they think will be the second best player of the class, the rise of skinny guys, a new Harrison Barnes and which team workout was the toughest.
May 31, 2012
The Blazers were the second biggest winners from the lottery, as they now own the sixth and 11th selections and have a wealth of options at their disposal. Here we outline several strategies.
Mar 16, 2012
The Blazers turned a player they had no use for in the future into a lottery pick with a trade that has the Nets overpaying.
Feb 27, 2012
Becoming an All-Star opens the door to an elite class and gains certification that can’t ever be taken away. Andre Iguodala, Roy Hibbert and LaMarcus Aldridge enjoyed those moments and look towards building from them.
Feb 09, 2012
The Bulls have ascended to the top spot in our rankings, while the Clippers and Celtics have made big jumps over the past two weeks.
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