Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: Two great games on paper — Heat vs. Bulls and Spurs vs. Clippers — turned out to be just that: great games on paper. Both the Heat and Spurs rolled by their respective conference foes in blowouts, making neither game our choice of the night. Instead, we’re going to focus on what was the big story Thursday: the trade deadline. A lack of moves and a mostly dead deadline made it a bit of a buzzkill for those of us hoping to see Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or any other “big name” move on. All that said, some great coverage here from our crew over at NBA TV on why the biggest name of the day — Smith — didn’t go anywhere:
News of the morning
Deng: Rose’s brother’s comments not a distraction — Once the Feb. 21 trade deadline passed at 3 p.m., it didn’t take long for Reggie Rose, the brother of Bulls star Derrick Rose, to blast Chicago for not making a trade. Our main man Steve Aschburner details the whole story here, but making those comments before the Bulls’ game against the East-leading Heat led some to think that perhaps Reggie Rose could have waited a little to make those comments. Luol Deng, though, didn’t give Reggie Rose’s comments much thought before the game, writes Mike McGraw of The Daily Herald:
Long after the Bulls lost an ugly 86-67 decision to Miami on Thursday at the United Center, Luol Deng said he didn’t know anything about Reggie Rose’s critical comments about the Bulls roster.
Reggie Rose, the older brother of Derrick, did acknowledge the team’s two all-stars, Deng and Joakim Noah, but suggested the Bulls should have made a move before the trade deadline.
“I don’t know if it did (distract any players), but we didn’t talk about it as a team,” Deng said. I don’t think that was the problem.”
The most obvious problem Thursday was a season-high 27 turnovers against the red-hot Heat. The Bulls were never closer than 7 points in the second half.
“It was terrible. We talked about it a little bit after the game. We have to understand getting guys going,” Deng said. “I think a lot of times our rhythm out there is not how we need it to be.
“I think that’s something we’ve got to do as a team, all of us, recognizing each other’s strength and playing together. We’ve shown that we’re good enough when we do that, but we’ve got to commit to that.
“Every defensive plan or scheme has a weakness. I think you get in trouble when you play to their strength. They flood and overload where the ball is. That’s when you’ve got to move the ball and try to find their weakness. When you play to their hand, turnovers, they get fast breaks and they get going.”
Rivers ready to better Crawford’s game, attitude — The Celtics had superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the midst of trade rumors leading up to trade deadline day, but neither was moved. The only trade Boston made was landing third-year shooting guard Jordan Crawford from the Wizards for Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins. While Crawford has been a solid NBA scorer — he’s averaged double-digits in all three of his seasons — he’s also struggled with shot selection and bristled this season when Wizards coach Randy Wittman demoted him to the bench. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reports that Celtics coach Doc Rivers is hoping to help Crawford not only on the court, but off it, too:
The deadline passed without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce being moved, although their names were discussed. An NBA source said that, despite rumors, the Clippers never made a formal offer for Garnett, who has a no-trade clause. Ainge also discussed a deal for Atlanta’s Josh Smith, but the price included Pierce and was too steep.
Ainge astutely used Barbosa’s expiring contract, along with Collins, to acquire a 24-year-old guard who has averaged double-figure scoring in all three of his seasons. Crawford comes as an inexpensive addition, playing on his rookie contract potentially until 2015.
Coach Doc Rivers was uncertain when Crawford would join the club.
This season, Crawford averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 43 games with Washington. With the return of John Wall and the development of rookie Bradley Beal, Crawford was reluctant to accept a bench role and clashed with coach Randy Wittman.
Rivers and Wittman are close, and the Celtics coach acknowledged Crawford’s attitude issues in Washington.
“I know he can score and that’s something we needed,” Rivers said. “Losing Barbosa [to a torn left ACL], I kept saying that’s hurt us. We don’t have that wild card off the bench, and I hope [Crawford] gives us that.
“I know about the other stuff, too. I’m hoping, obviously, [with] our staff, and we have some veteran players around him, that he can grow.”
In Washington, Crawford was known for being a streaky shooter, similar to Barbosa, but he was criticized for his lack of defensive intensity and soon lost playing time. He did not play in Washington’s last four games and hadn’t played more than 24 minutes in a game since Jan. 4.
“He wasn’t playing,” said Rivers. “The good thing and the bad thing I hear about him is his confidence. You rarely say that. It’s tough for him [there] to buy into a role because he looked at himself as ‘I’m better than them.’ I’m hoping that we don’t have that issue here. Obviously, if we do, then it will be a problem.”
The Celtics have a defensive structure that Rivers stresses, and he said Crawford will have to fit into that to gain playing time. Rivers has turned midseason acquisitions without reputations as defenders into capable defenders before.
“He hasn’t been a great defender, but he’s an athlete,” Rivers said. “The way I always look at an athlete is, if you’re an athlete, you can be a defender. That’s one thing I’ve had no problem with.”
The coach also said more pressure will be on inconsistent center Chris Wilcox to perform as Garnett’s primary backup.
“Chris has struggled,” Rivers said. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on Chris. Chris is going to have to play well for us.”
Redick bids farewell to Orlando — With all the names swirling around on trade deadline day, few thought that Orlando Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick would end up being the biggest “name” player dealt. But that’s exactly what he ended up being as he was the centerpiece in a six-player deal between the Bucks and Magic. Redick was drafted by Orlando in 2006, where he grew into a solid NBA player there after early struggles and enters this summer as an unrestricted free agent. The Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins caught up with Redick after the deal to get his thoughts on moving on, the Magic and more:
Redick, who is in the final year of his contract, said he hasn’t spoken with the Bucks yet about his long-term plans.
“I think with them bringing me in I assume they want to get into the playoffs, make a playoff run and try to get as high a seed as possible,” he said. “Hopefully, I can help them do that and we’ll deal with the summer when the summer happens.”
Redick, who will turn 29 in June, will become an unrestricted free agent in July because his current contract can’t be extended.
Hypothetically, he could sign with the Magic, but he doesn’t see that as a realistic possibility because the Magic are headed in a different direction.
“I think that door is probably closed, and that’s just my assumption,” he said. “I can’t imagine a scenario where that would be the case. Will our paths cross at some point in the future? Who knows? But in terms of this summer, I don’t see that happening.
“I have no hard feelings. None whatsoever. I just can’t remember that ever happening in the NBA [where someone was traded and then signed a few months later].”
“I can’t overstate my level of gratitude for the Magic fans, for the Orlando community,” he said. “I get a little emotional thinking about it just now. But I truly believe it was the place where I became a man, an organization that was very good to me. I was just proud to have been a part of the ’09 team that made the Finals, proud to have been a part of six playoff teams. I’m grateful for the way the community embraced myself and [my wife] Chelsea. I can’t overstate my level of gratitude.”
Cavaliers keeping tabs on Oden — Like the majority of the NBA on trade deadline day, the Cleveland Cavaliers remained quiet. If they’re still thinking of making a move before the season’s end, one name to keep an eye on is Greg Oden. The former Ohio State star and No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 Draft may sign with Cleveland as soon as next week, writes Jason Lloyd of The (Akron) Beacon Journal. Even if that happens, don’t expect to see Oden on the court until next season. Here’s more:
Cavs General Manager Chris Grant confirmed the team’s interest in Oden, and a league source confirmed the team is expected to offer him a two-year deal with a team option for a third year. Then it’s up to Oden and his agent, Mike Conley, to decide if he wants to sign this season or wait until the summer when they can perhaps drive up the bidding since more teams will have cap space.
The Miami Heat, another team in the bidding for Oden, cleared a roster spot by trading Dexter Pittman to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“Obviously we’ve spoken to Greg, we’ve had him in, we’ve done a lot of due diligence with him,” Grant said. “He’s a great kid, wonderful heart. We’ll see. We’ll still talk to them and see what his position is and what his goals are. Just like any other free agent, if we’re able to make something happen that makes sense for us, we’ll do it. And if not, that’s OK.”
The Cavs made their big trade last month when they acquired Mo Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jon Leuer.
They still aggressively approached this trade deadline searching for one more first-round pick but lacked the assets to pull off a deal. Their most valuable players comprise the young core around which this team is rebuilding. The available veterans, such as Luke Walton, Daniel Gibson and Omri Casspi, were more attractive because of their expiring contracts than their on-court ability. But a number of “bad” contracts teams were trying to move this trade season were already expiring contracts, which compounded the Cavs’ struggles.
They tried earlier this week to swing a deal with the Sacramento Kings that would’ve removed some of the lottery protections from their previous trade involving Casspi and J.J. Hickson, but the parameters of that deal crumbled Wednesday night when the Kings and Houston Rockets completed a six-player trade headlined by Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
New CBA shapes OKC’s deadline strategy — Rumblings of a possible Kendrick Perkins-for-Marcin Gortat swap swirled around trade deadline day, but the Thunder never did end up swapping its center for the Suns’ Gortat. Instead, two smaller moves — trading Eric Maynor to Portland and picking up Ronnie Brewer from New York — marked the only transactions in Oklahoma City on Thursday. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman says that concerns about the NBA’s new financial world shaped what contenders like OKC, San Antonio, Miami and the L.A. Clippers did (or didn’t) do:
So, why didn’t the Thunder strike a big deal?
It all comes down to money.
On a day when no title contenders made any blockbuster moves, the Thunder fell in line. It has decided to basically stay the course with its current collection of players. Same could be said for the Heat and the Spurs and the Pacers and the Clippers and pretty much everyone else in serious contention.
Everyone is mindful of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Here in Oklahoma City, we have long been aware of the punitive nature of the new luxury tax. We became educated about it this past summer with the James Harden contract negotiations, learning more than we probably ever wanted to about the salary cap and the repeater penalties and the like.
Here’s a quick refresher.
Under the former collective bargaining agreement, a team paid a dollar for every dollar it went over the salary cap. Exceed the cap by $4 million, and you pay $4 million. Exceed it by $14 million, and you pay $14 million.
But under the new agreement, if you exceed the cap by $4 million, you owe $6 million in luxury tax. And if you exceed it by $14 million, you owe $26.25 million.
As of now, the Thunder is about $1.5 million under the salary cap, so it would owe nothing in luxury taxes.
Which is a good thing. Starting next season, teams that exceed the cap in three of four seasons will be subject to repeater rates. Those rates are even higher.
All of that equates to big money in small-market Oklahoma City, but by the looks of things at this trade deadline, the Thunder isn’t the only one concerned about how much it could have to pay in luxury taxes.
Teams everywhere were conservative. There was no blockbuster trade, no big deal that sent a bunch of starters crisscrossing the country to different teams. When the biggest deal that got done involved J.J. Redick and the Milwaukee Bucks, that tells you that there were no big deals.
Is it a bummer for the Thunder?
In this new world order, the Knicks are shopping the bargain bin, too. They wanted to find a way to avoid going down Luxury Tax Boulevard, and here came Presti with a helping hand.
What the Knicks traded was a former lottery pick, a guy who has started 300-plus games, for a second-round pick they could release if things don’t work out. And they could do it all paying a league minimum. First-round picks are guaranteed three years. Second-round picks aren’t.
The Thunder was happy to take Brewer off their hands. He is a Sefolosha clone. Same height. Ten pounds heavier. And he likes to dive on the floor and D people up just like Thabo.
Brewer could be especially helpful if the Thunder runs up against the Heat again in the NBA Finals. I have no idea whether Brewer can truly guard LeBron James — I’m not sure anyone can — but Brewer will be a great addition when the Thunder goes small. I suspect he would’ve come in handy Wednesday night when James Harden was going off for 46 points.
How about Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin, Kevin Durant, Ibaka, and Thabo and Brewer rotating in against LeBron when the Heat goes small?
Sounds all right, doesn’t it?
O’Neal expected to finish season in Phoenix — Veteran big man Jermaine O’Neal hasn’t had the easiest experience of his career in Phoenix thus far, what with a reported dust-up with GM Lance Blanks and rumors that O’Neal would be moved or even released by the team. But USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reports that O’Neal is staying put with the Suns this season and, at the very least, will not be bought out this season:
Briefly considering trying to reach a buyout with the Suns so he could join a contender in the dusk of 17-year-career, O’Neal told USA TODAY Sports in a text message that he will not seek a buyout.
O’Neal was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in January, and his 13-year-old daughter, Asjia, will undergo heart surgery in early March.
“I have a tough situation coming up with my daughter,” O’Neal told The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic last week. “She’s having heart surgery in Boston on March 5. She has a leaky valve that has to be corrected because her body is having to work too hard. She is having chest pains.
“For me, it’s one thing after another. … Every time I think about basketball, real life tends to talk to me a little bit. My focus is to finish my job and what I signed up to do.”
O’Neal also had a verbal dispute with Suns GM Lance Blanks that led some to believe he was unhappy with the coaching situation. He is having a decent season with the struggling Suns. In 16.9 minutes per game, O’Neal is averaging 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds. Take a closer look at O’Neal per-38 minutes totals (15.4 points, 10.4 rebounds) — not bad for a 34-year-old with lots of miles.
ICYMI of the night: Perhaps the greatest in the modern NBA era was memorialized last night in L.A. and many of his current and former employees turned out to honor him … :