PHILADELPHIA – Playing on the second night of a back-to-back is always a challenge, especially when you’re playing 1,000 miles from where you played the previous night.
That challenge almost got the Miami Heat on Wednesday, almost stopped their winning streak at 19 games and almost gave the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans one night of glory in what has been a pretty miserable season.
Heat upcoming schedule
Before Wednesday, NBA teams were 192-250 (.434) on the second night of a back-to-back this season, and 120-178 (.403) in those games when their opponent was rested (like the Sixers were).
But the Heat are not a normal team, and they’re now 8-1 in the latter situation after holding on to beat the Sixers 98-94 and extend their winning streak to 20 games, tied for the third longest streak in NBA history.
The champs had the game in hand on a couple of occasions. A 17-2 second-quarter run seemed to be enough to KO a Sixers team that has twice lost to the Orlando Magic in the last couple of weeks. It wasn’t, but the Heat were still up by 10 points early in the fourth. And that’s when fatigue clearly set in.
Over the next 10 possessions, visibly lacking energy, the Heat turned the ball over five times and missed four jump shots, allowing the Sixers to come back and take a three-point lead with 4:38 to go in the game.
But then the Heat dug down and clearly made it a priority to get into the paint. On next possession, Chris Bosh posted up and hit a short jump hook. Then LeBron James forced a foul on a baseline drive. Then James drove again and found Ray Allen for a right-wing 3 that put the Heat back ahead. Another Bosh drive, more James free throws and a crucial tip-in by Dwyane Wade (off a James drive) were the difference down the stretch.
The Heat had 18 points in the paint or at at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and 13 of those 18 came in the final 4:15, when they clearly didn’t have the legs to succeed from the perimeter.
“I didn’t ask, but I’m sure the guys felt a little bit of fatigue,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. “But when you don’t fully have your legs and you’re coming off of a road trip like that, you just have to find a way to gut it out together.”
Maybe if there wasn’t a historical winning streak on the line — the 20 straight is now the longest by a defending champion — the Heat might not have been able to summon up the energy, both mental and physical, needed to close out this game. They’re clearly taking pride in the streak, and that’s keeping them sharp.
Without the streak, there might not be much to care about over the final five weeks of the regular season. The Heat have defeated every other team in the league at least once already, and they’ve basically wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
So, if opponents give the Heat a tougher contest than they might had Miami lost one or two of these last 20 games, and if more of these games go down to the wire it can only be beneficial.
“Sitting in my chair, I hate it that we get double-digit leads and then it comes to that,” Spoelstra said. “But when it does come to that, all of these experiences help you. We’ve been in a lot of late-game situations where we’ve had to find different ways to win. And those experiences will be needed in the postseason.
“You always want to see how your team will respond, if there will be the resolve, the toughness, the cohesiveness, the connection when there’s a little bit of adversity. And our guys did respond.”
The streak now moves on to Milwaukee, where the Heat have lost two of their last three games, including their previous visit there this season on Dec. 29. Sunday’s game in Toronto is a 1 p.m. start, and you never know how NBA players are going to perform that early in the day. Then comes a visit to Boston, where the Heat are 0-5 in regular season games since James took his talents to South Beach.
So it will take a lot more mental resolve to get the streak to 22 or 23 games. Shane Battier has been there before, having won 22 straight with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets. And he knows there’s a clear difference.
“That was so different, because that streak was pretty organic,” Battier said. “It came out of left field and no one could explain it. We couldn’t explain it. It was a bunch of journeymen and role players doing it.”
Those Rockets knew they weren’t winning a championship that season. For the Heat, anything less than a second straight title would be a huge disappointment. So while the streaks are about equal in length, they’re much different in meaning.
And rather than the highlight of the season, this streak can be a means to an end in its ability to build character and resolve for when the games really count.
“We have bigger goals,” Battier said. “It’s cool to win 20, but our main goal is still ahead of us.”
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: Last night’s trio of games weren’t the most exciting matchups on paper, with two games (Nuggets-Kings and Lakers-Thunder) being matchups that were pretty one-sided (and ended up being that way in the final result, too). That makes Celtics-Sixers our pick this morning, mostly because we were treated to a performance from Avery Bradley that was reminiscent of the work he did in the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against these Sixers. As you’ll read below, Celtics coach Doc Rivers credits Bradley’s play with a lot of Boston’s success since Rajon Rondo was lost for the season, and this game last night was a great case in point.
West: LeBron ‘in another world’ right now — Around the All-Star break, the LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant debate was stirred up anew after Hall of Famer Michael Jordan said he’d pick Bryant over James. Another Hall of Famer, Warriors executive Jerry West, has his thoughts on the LeBron debate — specifically where James ranks among all-time performers and whether or not he is on Jordan’s level. West’s answer to that, as well as his thoughts on the struggling Lakers, his old owner, Jerry Buss, and more are all a must-read in this Q&A from Sports on Earth’s Shaun Powell:
Q: After 50 years in the game, you’ve seen just about everyone. Are you ready to call LeBron James the greatest after Jordan? Or maybe he trumps Jordan? Or is this all too silly?
A: I’ll say LeBron is in another world right now. He’s a player for the decade. You watch him and you can tell his teammates love him. What you can’t do is judge him by the championships right now. Just his all-around play and skills. He’s a superstar who’s very unselfish. You don’t find that too often. He could lead the league in scoring every year if he wanted. But he’d rather find any way to beat you even if it meant giving up the ball. To watch his growth as a player and person has been pretty special. I would have enjoyed having him as a teammate.
Q: Miami has made it work by combining three All-Stars. But weren’t you, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain the original Big Three?
A: Oh, I don’t know. That’s just a label. The difference between us and them is they’re in their prime. Elgin battled injury and wasn’t the same player when we came together. I wasn’t the same player because I battled knee injuries and we didn’t have the medical advancements then as we do now. I was almost constantly in pain. Wilt wasn’t the same, either; he was at the end of his career. And we didn’t win together because Elgin retired before the championship. I know people didn’t like what Miami did by teaming them up, but I thought it was fantastic. LeBron is special, Dwyane Wade is right behind him and Chris Bosh is a very good player. They’ll win championships or be right there as long as they’re healthy and on the same team. People should enjoy and respect what they’re seeing right now.
Q: Meanwhile, your old team has struggled with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash although to be fair, Howard and Nash haven’t been healthy from the jump. Will they get it together? Or will this be basketball’s Titanic?
A: What people don’t understand is the enormous adjustment you have to make as a player in those situations. I was a scorer, Elgin was a scorer and Wilt, even then, liked the ball. We all had to put everything else aside. The Lakers are playing better now, especially defensively, and I think they’ll make the playoffs. I think the worst is behind them.
Q: You knew Jerry Buss as well as anyone, maybe even better. Got a favorite Dr. Buss story you could share?
A: Well, because of the personality he had, I couldn’t tell you any of the best ones for print. But everything you heard about him as an owner was true. He always did what was in the best interest of the game, from a Lakers perspective and a league perspective. I wish all owners were like him. He was a real innovator. He wasn’t afraid to make a decision. You liked him and cared about him. He was a good guy who was able to buy something and become an incredible steward of a historic franchise. I was lucky to have known him. Working for him wasn’t even work, it was fun. I never saw it as a job. Not for one day. I miss him already.
Kings’ Cousins has words for fan — For DeMarcus Cousins against the Nuggets on Tuesday, it was a night to forget. A season-worst shooting night (1-for-12) coupled with a relentless barrage by Shootaround favorite Kenneth Faried led to a 120-113 loss in which Cousins sat on the bench for the final 10 minutes, 15 seconds. But as Cousins left the game, writes Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, he got into a bit of a verbal altercation with a fan — another black mark in a season where Cousins has had his fair share of on-court dustups:
Cousins sat out the final 10:15, and his exit wasn’t the usual jog to the bench. He engaged in a shouting match with fans seated on the baseline near the Kings’ bench.
“He said some disrespectful things, and I had some things to say back,” Cousins said. “That was it.”
Cousins said he believes it was a Kings fan, “which makes it even worse.”
Coach Keith Smart said sitting Cousins had nothing to do with that verbal exchange and instead was about finding the best matchup to slow down the Nuggets (40-22).
“The focus is on the game. The focus is on what we’re trying to do on the floor,” Smart said. “And whatever happens with someone on our team in the stands, whatever needs to be dealt with, is dealt with.
“These are our fans and they come out here to support us, and we’ve got to make sure we do the right things at all times”
Asked about fan support, Smart made it clear the team’s focus needs to be on the court.
“That’s why it’s very important that we focus on playing good basketball instead of being focused on the fans,” Smart said. “They pay good, hard-earned money to come to a game to do or say whatever they might want to say. But overall the fans in Sacramento have been great to our basketball team.”
‘Melo asked out of game before he got hurt — Although the Knicks rallied from a 22-point deficit to take down the Cavs in Cleveland on Monday, they suffered a loss as Carmelo Anthony left the game in the second quarter after injuring his knee. A day after that mishap, Knicks coach Mike Woodson says the injury could have been avoided had Woodson agreed to let Anthony out of the game when the Knicks’ star started feeling pain. Ian Bagley of ESPNNewYork.com has more on the situation:
Woodson revealed Tuesday during an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM that Anthony had asked to be removed from the game due to knee discomfort before suffering the injury in the second quarter.
The Knicks announced later Tuesday that Anthony officially has been diagnosed with a sore knee and will be listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
Woodson called Anthony’s injury “alarming” during his interview on “The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show” and admitted his decision to leave the star forward in the game was “stubborn.”
“Melo was hurt,” Woodson said. “For him to ask me to come out of the game before he actually took that spill made me realize that something wasn’t right. He’s never ever, ever, even hinted about coming out of the game [before Monday]. I play him too much in that regard. Melo’s a trooper — he’s a warrior, he’s a tough kid.”
Woodson was asked during the interview why he chose to leave Anthony in the game after he requested to come out.
“I should have [taken him out],” Woodson said. “Stubborn coach — I just didn’t.”
Woodson explained that he hoped Anthony would help dig the Knicks out of their 22-point first-half deficit.”Maybe I should have taken him out before he actually stumbled and took the fall,” Woodson said. “But again, I’m thinking [during] the game, ‘Hey, he’ll play through it. He’ll figure it out.’
“But he was hurt. He walked out after he took the spill and he didn’t come back, and that’s not Melo-like. Obviously, his knee is bothering him.”
Anthony said on Monday that his knee had been bothering him in recent days, and an MRI taken recently revealed no structural damage.
“Today I just woke up, and you know how some days you really don’t feel right,” he said after the game. “I came out here and I tried to warm up and I thought it was going to loosen up before the game, but some of the things that I was doing, I felt like I was dragging it.”
Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said Tuesday in an interview with radio station WFAN that he did not believe the injury was “serious,” even though Anthony has been bothered by the knee for two or three weeks.
Sans Rondo, Celtics up their intensity — As was mentioned by the Inside the NBA crew last night, the Celtics are 12-4 since Rajon Rondo was lost for the season on Jan. 27. While getting key players back (such as Avery Bradley and Chris Wilcox) and adding a little depth (via a trade for Jordan Crawford) have helped, Boston coach Doc Rivers says Rondo’s departure probably did more to help get the team on a winning track than anything else. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe has more on the Celtics’ sudden improvements:
The Celtics began Tuesday two games from the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round, which is stunning considering Boston was 20-23 when Rondo went down and was expected to sink in the second half.
“I just think we’re playing better, for whatever reason,” said coach Doc Rivers. “You have all those injuries, you usually go the other way. I just think our guys kind of came together and realized we don’t have a margin of error anymore.
“And maybe that’s why. But overall, I think a lot of things happened, too. I think Avery [Bradley] was just coming back, so our defense improved dramatically with him.”
Rivers said Bradley’s presence has been critical. The Celtics had improved to ninth in the league in points allowed entering Tuesday night’s game.
“When the guy is on the point of the ball putting pressure, it makes everyone else kind of join in, I think that helped,” Rivers said. “I thought our second unit was just about to take off before all the injuries. So they were finding their way.”
Kevin Garnett said the team’s decision making has drastically improved to compensate for Rondo’s missing floor leadership.
“I would say [we’re] more decisive,” he said. “You get to whatever you’re doing and if you’re going to pass it, pass it, if not you make your move. Consistency is something that I always put our hat on. The more consistent we can be with stopping the ball . . . that’s been the formula for success since I’ve been here and getting guys to buy in.”
Perhaps this is a blessing and curse, because professional sports can break a ballplayer’s heart this way. Redick’s loyal this way. He immerses himself in the franchise’s fabric, invests in the community. His two old coaches – Mike Krzyzewski and Stan Van Gundy – still get calls and texts on a regular basis.
“My wife Chelsea and I built a life in Orlando,” Redick told Yahoo! Sports. “Listen, there was no anger [over the trade], but there was a little bit of disappointment.
“Part of me wishes I could’ve been there my whole career and been part of the rebuilding, part of the turnaround, and gotten back to the finals in my 11th or 12th year. That’s the romantic in me, the idealist.”
With Redick, the Bucks have won four of five games. With the Bucks, Redick is relevant again.
“There’s been a number of moments since I’ve been here – in the fourth quarter, in overtime – where I’ve thought, ‘Man, I missed this,’ ” Redick says. “And I did.
“Even in Orlando, in a close game, coming down to the wire, you still think to yourself: ‘We’re 15-37 or whatever.’ ”
So far, the vision of Bucks general manager John Hammond has been validated. Redick will be a free agent this summer, and Hammond gambled with the trade for him. As hard as the Bucks tried to get Josh Smith, Redick was the player whom they believed could become their starting shooting guard for years. Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent, Monta Ellis can opt out of his contract and, almost assuredly, only one of them returns next season.
Milwaukee can’t afford to pay the three of them, so Jennings or Ellis will stay, and Milwaukee is prepared to pay Redick as a starting shooting guard. Redick will be in great demand, but make no mistake: To leave the Bucks, he’ll have to take less money – probably a lot.
Hammond and his assistant GM, Jeff Weltman, have the Bucks positioned to be an Eastern Conference playoff team for years to come. For them, Redick has arrived to make shots, yes, but also bring professionalism to the workplace.For Redick, it was over in Orlando. The Magic disassembled into a total rebuild. Part of him will always live with the regret of how everything fell apart, how they fired Stan Van Gundy and traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In Redick’s mind, the best thing that ever happened was getting drafted into Orlando with a coach who refused to insert him into the rotation. For two years, Van Gundy challenged him to become a more complete player and Redick thinks “a lot about what kind of career trajectory I would’ve had without Stan, and I’m grateful for what he did for me.”
“Those years in Orlando humbled me,” Redick said, “and gave me perspective on basketball and life.”
Bynum visits knee specialist– In the seemingly daily update of how Andrew Bynum‘s knees, the Sixers big man headed off the New York to visit an orthopedist to get more news on his problematic joints and the long-term outlook for his career. Jason Wolf of The (Wilmington) News Journal has more on Bynum’s visit with Dr. David Altchek of the Hospital for Special Surgery and what next steps are ahead for the big man:
The 7-foot, 300-pound Bynum, whose right knee continued to swell more than a week after taking part in his first practice of the season on Feb. 22, is considering arthroscopic surgery and no longer confident he’ll play for the Sixers this season.
Bynum also visited with at least one doctor on Monday, Sixers CEO Adam Aron said in two broadcast interviews.
“We’re all trying to gather information and see what the best course of action is,” Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said. “I’m sure Altchek will have an opinion, our doctors will have an opinion, and Andrew, basically, will have an opinion. It’s just gathering information now. And like I said before, he’ll continue to rehab and see how that goes. The option of washing it out [with arthroscopic surgery], we’ll see what happens there.”
Bynum has been sidelined by bone bruises and damaged cartilage in his knees since September. The Sixers acquired him from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade in August.
He is making $16.9 million this season and will become an unrestricted free agent in July, when he’s hoping to land a long-term deal and a nine-figure pay day.
“He set it up. That’s his doctor,” DiLeo said. “I know it’s a late appointment, so I don’t know if we’ll hear [results] tonight or tomorrow. … [The swelling] has gone down. But the activity has gone down.”
ICYMI of the night: Kenneth Faried got Dunk of the Night honors from our multimedia crew for this jam, but we like this one so much better:
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: Box scores rarely tell the whole story of a given game and such was the case in last night’s Raptors-Warriors game from The Oracle. A click over to said box score reveals Andrew Bogut‘s return to the Golden State lineup and a somewhat ho-hum stat line: four points, eight rebounds and two turnovers in 29 minutes. But what’s lost in the box score is seen on the court as Bogut helped the Warriors get a sense of what their full starting five is like while also providing some defense that the Warriors have lacked the last few weeks. Steph Curry and David Lee were the box score stars in this game, but don’t discount what Bogut adds to the Warriors.
Stoudemire wants more playing time — We mentioned in this space yesterday that some were questioning Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s strategy in Sunday’s loss to the Heat, particularly the amount of minutes reserve big man Amar’e Stoudemire was playing down the stretch in that game. After Stoudemire logged 31 minutes and led New York with 22 points in a comeback win over the Cavs on Monday, it appears Stoudemire can handle more playing time. Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com reports that a source says Stoudemire is more than set to take on a bigger role if asked:
… According to a source close to the Knicks, Stoudemire is “ready” and “healthy” to play more minutes to help the team.
“He’s in tip-top shape,” the source told ESPNNewYork.com. “He wants to play; whatever it takes for [the Knicks] to win.”
On Sunday, Stoudemire only got in for 21 minutes — sitting out the last eight — in the Knicks’ losing effort against the Heat. Down the stretch he was needed because when the Heat applied more aggressive defense on Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks didn’t have an inside scoring threat. Tyson Chandler was in the game, but he’s not one to create his own opportunities.
If Stoudemire’s body is ready, it would be important to increase his minutes now, to better prepare him for increased playing time in the postseason. That’s usually what happens during this critical period of the season, as coaches shorten their rotation to focus on their best players.
“Now is the time to be giving him extending minutes to see how his body reacts to it,” the source said, “especially when you’re not on [a] big winning streak. … Something has to shake up.”
Head coach Mike Woodson is still banking on basic perimeter play and 3-point shooting, which worked in the first two months of the season when the Knicks started 18-5. But since then, they’ve been mostly playing .500 ball, and there are still too many outside shots from Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith. In fact, against the Heat, while Smith shot 3-for-14 from 3-point, Stoudemire took just seven shots from the field, making five.
The source said the Knicks are “not a real hard team to figure out right now.”
Nuggets interested in Korver — The trade deadline is long gone, so any hopes of the Nuggets acquiring Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver in a trade (including this smart one suggested by John Schuhmann way back when) are out of the picture. But that doesn’t mean Korver wouldn’t be a natural fit for the high-octane crew coach George Karl is assembling in Denver, writes Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. In fact, Karl in his pregame comments last night (before Denver hosted Atlanta) couldn’t help but gush about Korver’s skills:
Korver, an unrestricted free agent in his 10th year in the NBA, is expected to be one of the Nuggets top targets in the offseason as the team actively courts players who can fill that shooting void. Denver won’t be the only team looking to gain his services, but if the money is right (Korver makes $5 million this season) the situation might be hard for the sharpshooter, who grew up in Pella, Iowa, to turn down.
Shots figure to be much easier to come by in a system where guard Ty Lawson’s driving is so respected that he sucks defenders into the lane, and other players capable of hitting from long range – Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer – make it so that he would be difficult to devote additional resources to slowing just Korver down in the manner that the Nuggets are expected to try tonight.
“You don’t have a lot of pin-down offenses anymore, for some reason the game’s gone to pick-and-roll and away from the execution of a pin-down,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “You’ve got (J.J.) Reddick and some guys that come off of pin-downs but this kid right now moves without the ball as good as anybody in the NBA, and he will get his opportunity to be the first option in 10-15 minutes of the game that we’re going to have to be responsible and see how he’s shooting it. And then you can’t give them the open three, you can’t give him the ‘oh, what happened’ three. You’ve got to be ready. He’s a big part.”
“He’s an unbelievable shooter, he’s so gifted with that,” Kosta Koufos said. “He just has a positive outlook to everything. That’s why he’s been so successful in the league. He’s just been working hard, day-in and day-out.”
Koufos raved about Korver as a teammate.
“He’s great guy,” Koufos said. “He’s what you think of a professional. He comes in, works hard, he’s very motivational, very positive, a great player. He’s one of the better teammates I’ve ever played with.”
Jazz hoping to get Williams back soon — Utah, the No. 8 seed in the West, has stayed in the thick of the playoff chase and gone 18-14 since Dec. 22. Why is that date significant? That’s when starting point guard Mo Williams was lost so he could have surgery to repair torn ligaments in his thumb. Guard play has been a problem for the Jazz during Williams’ absence, but he practiced with the team in Milwaukee on Monday and could play again as soon as Wednesday in Cleveland. Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune has more:
Williams said Monday at the Jazz’s shootaround in Milwaukee that he could return to games as early as Wednesday, when the Jazz play at Cleveland, where he played from 2008 to 2011.
“We’ll see,” Williams said. “We’ll see. That would be great to play in front of those fans.”
The 30-year-old point guard had two pins removed from his thumb on Feb. 13, and his rehabilitation began in earnest after the All-Star Break, and if Al Jefferson were the final judge, Williams would be cleared to play.
“He said he was a little winded,” Jefferson said. “I told him I couldn’t tell.”
But the Jazz are being cautious with the veteran.
“As he gets close, he’s getting a little frustrated with trying to get himself to get better fast and be ready to go,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “It’s a process until the body responds and getting stiffness out and feeling comfortable with and not being hesitant with the hand.”
Corbin said he has not yet decided how to integrate Williams back with the Jazz, whether he would start right away or come off the bench to ease back into his leadership role.
“We have to get readjusted to him as he has to get readjusted to how the guys are playing now,” Corbin said. “It’s been a long time. … There will be an adjustment period hopefully we can make it as short as we can.”
Alec Burks has seen a substantial increase in opportunity and productivity since Williams went out, and has averaged 8 points in the 30 games he’s appeared in since Dec. 23. In February, he averaged 9.8 points and shot 44.9 percent from the field.
Bobcats tell Thomas to stay home — Around the trade deadline, there were reports of veteran guard Ben Gordon getting into a disagreement with first-year coach Mike Dunlap. While Gordon is still with the team, his role in the rotation has been diminished. Now another player the Bobcats have had troubles with in the past, Tyrus Thomas, has been told to stay home — although not for disciplinary reasons. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer says the Bobcats told Thomas to stay home during Charlotte’s West coast road swing to work on his conditioning and other aspects:
Charlotte Bobcats power forward Tyrus Thomas was told not to accompany the team on its four-game West Coast trip by team management.
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said Monday that the front office felt Thomas’s time would be better spent in Charlotte, doing some physical rehabilitation and individual on-court work, rather than on the road with his team.
Thomas, the Bobcats’ second-highest paid player this season at $8 million, has fallen out of the rotation entirely of late. Monday’s road game in Portland was the 10th straight game that Thomas was designated as inactive and the 12th-straight game in which he did not play.
When the Bobcats acquired another power forward, Josh McRoberts, at the trade deadline, McRoberts was activated for his first game before he had participated in a Bobcats practice or shootaround.
The Bobcats have a considerable financial obligation to Thomas going forward – $8.6 million for the 2013-14 season and $9.4 million for the 2014-15 season, both guaranteed.
Sixers CEO: Bynum trade ‘should have worked’ — We’ve detailed the plight of Andrew Bynum and the Sixers plenty around here during the season, so there’s no reason to get into Bynum’s back story or the latest news. The main takeaway with Bynum is that the Sixers haven’t gotten what they thought they would out of him this season due to Bynum’s lingering knee injuries. Still, the Sixers’ brass is coming out more and more to talk about the trade and a more or less lost season, with the latest name to step to the podium and pontificate being Sixers CEO Adam Aron. He had the following to say to John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com:
“This is a move that should have worked,” Aron said. “But, unfortunately, he got an injury in September and it’s been compounded since, post-trade and we haven’t seen a day. The fans hopes were justifiably high that the Sixers had made a move, a bold move, that would catapult us back into the top teams in the NBA. It hasn’t worked.”
“The issue for this season is not whether Andrew Bynum has surgery, it’s what are the condition of his knees?” Aron said. “We thought he was going to play opening day. His doctors gave us a four-week delay, then another four-week delay. In December, we went out publicly and said he would be out indefinitely because we just didn’t know when he would be back. If you go back in time just three weeks ago, Andrew himself was telling everyone that he thought he’d be actively playing after the All-Star break. He did practice with the team about 10 days ago. There were high hopes and he was working out hard in February behind the scenes at the practice facility. But when he practiced with the team five-on-five his knees started swelling up and that was a big setback.”
Late last week, when Bynum was asked whether his knees are degenerative, he didn’t directly answer the question, saying instead that “50 percent of the people in the United States” are in the same situation. Are Bynum’s knees degenerative?
“I can’t get into his exact medical condition,” Aron said. “But I can say this, which is obvious to all of us: All season long he’s had bone bruise issues. He’s had cartilage problems. It’s March. He’s still not playing. He hasn’t played basketball since last May. Clearly, Andrew is dealing with some knee problems that have prevented him from playing in the NBA.”
Aron said “four doctors cleared the trade in August, and six doctors have actively been treating him and examining him all year long.” The Sixers’ CEO insisted that the team, until now, was confident Bynum would play this season.
“We certainly thought he was going to play in August,” Aron said. “That’s why we made the trade. Even in early October, we thought he would play on opening night. Then there was a delay. Then there was [another] delay. Even when we announced that he was out indefinitely, inside the team we thought he would play in January or February. He himself, in February, said he would play in February. But here we are in March and the team is disappointed. Our fan base is disappointed. And that’s the story of the season.”
ICYMI of the night: One reason Monta Ellis is the 15th-best scorer in the NBA?: it’s because he can always find creative ways to get the ball in the basket, like this:
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.
Ginobili eyeing next contract, future — Spurs swingman Manu Ginobili is a free agent this summer and, barring a total surprise, will likely be back with the only NBA team he’s known for 2013-14. Still, as likely as it is that Ginobili will be a “Spur for life” (like fellow teammate Tim Duncan called himself a few years ago), how many more seasons of Ginobili will Spurs fans get? Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News caught up with Manu for some thoughts on his future and more:
Ginobili will be back next season, though he says there are no guarantees. At his age, he says, it’s year to year.
“But ask me right now,” he said Sunday, “and I’d like to play two more years for sure.”
His fans would prefer 10 years, but at least his timeline fits with others. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, for example, currently have contracts through 2015.
Ginobili’s contract ends this summer. And while he’s currently the highest-paid Spur, it’s likely a hometown compromise could be reached with him as it was with Duncan before.
He acknowledged Sunday he feels the years. “Little things” that wouldn’t have physically bothered him before now do. Given that, he eats better, and he stretches more, and he says he’s “less crazy” than he was eight years ago.
He smiled, acting out how he pulled back against the Pistons, when there were few signs he actually did. After his only turnover, for example, he sprinted back to draw a charge.
Still crazy after all these years. “And I love that,” Stephen Jackson said. “I’d rather play with someone like him, who plays hard and gets hurt, than someone who is afraid.”
But if he’s always been crazy, he’s also always found his game after injuries. That’s why the next few weeks, in Parker’s absence, will give better evidence of where Ginobili is in his career.
Still, even if he can only play in bursts from now on, there will always be a place for the Ginobili who played Sunday.
Pacers’ Vogel gets win No. 100 — Crack open the Indiana Pacers record book and you’ll see Larry Bird as the club’s all-time coaching winning percentage leader. The guy right behind him? Larry Brown? Slick Leonard? Isiah Thomas? Nope. It’s none other than the current man stalking the sidelines, Frank Vogel, who got career win No. 100 in last night’s nail-biting victory over the Bulls. Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star has more on Vogel, the win and his still-surprising rise to NBA coach:
How lucky did the Indiana Pacers get when they plucked the no-name assistant off Jim O’Brien’s 21/2 years ago and made him an interim head coach?
And how fortunate does Vogel feel after starting his career as a Division III point guard at tiny Juniata (Pa.), then heading to Kentucky, where he talked his way into a job as a manager?
“I never could have imagined I would be in this position,’’ Vogel said Sunday. “Just getting the opportunity to be a head coach, that’s so rare. And then to have such a good and ready basketball team, that’s an absolute blessing.’’
The 39-year-old Vogel is a rising star in the business, a come-from-nowhere guy – well, Jersey, actually – who has a chance to be a long-term answer for this franchise. The Pacers were smart enough to extend his contract earlier in the year, and after a chorus line of three- and four-year stays by previous Pacers coaches, Vogel has shown he can be the rarest of all birds: An NBA coach with staying power.
In 21/2 years, his winning percentage is .608, behind only Larry Bird in the history of the franchise.
He changed the culture almost overnight, infusing the team with a newfound passion and direction.
“The first thing he did was preach positivity,’’ said Danny Granger, who left Sunday’s game early with knee soreness. “At first, honestly, a lot of people didn’t believe it, but then we started playing the way he wanted us to play. This league is all about confidence and when your coaches expresses confidence in you, it spills over onto the court.”
Nobody benefited more from the O’Brien-to-Vogel change than Roy Hibbert who, by the way, is starting to come out of season-long offensive funk in recent weeks.
“He’s a players’ coach,’’ Hibbert said after a double double (18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots). “He lets us go out there and have fun, but we take things seriously when we go through practice. But he lets us enjoy more. Now we have a voice in the locker room, which we didn’t have before.’’
Hawks’ Smith thinks Dwight will stay put — The friendship between Hawks forward Josh Smith and Lakers center Dwight Howard has been well documented, so it’s only natural that some would go to Smith to pick his brain on whether Howard, a free agent this summer, will stay with the Lakers. Smith provided his own speculation on L.A.’s star big man when he spoke with Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News before last night’s Hawks-Lakers game:
First, Smith says he has a good idea on whether Howard will stay with the Lakers once he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
“I can’t pick his brain and be in his head but to me, I don’t see him going anywhere,” Smith said before the Lakers hosted the Hawks at Staples Center. “It would be a shock to me.”
“Dwight is a loyal athlete and loyal person,” Smith said . “He’s not a quitter and doesn’t run from situations. That’s why I believe with this franchise and the way he’s talked so well about it, I can’t see him going anywhere.”
Still, Howard’s encountered frustrations on his first season with the Lakers. That’s included rehabbing from 10-month old back surgery, a torn labrum in his right shoulder, a relatively diminished offensive role and larger media scrutiny.
“He’s grasping that,” Smith said. “He’s trying to find his way on this team and trying to get back healthy. That’s the biggest thing he’s doing and worrying about. He’s getting his legs back under him and he’s starting to block more shots. It’s going to take some time.”
Howard and Smith grew up together in Atlanta and played together on the same AAU team. To this day, they often talk about eventually becoming teammates again.
“Situations like that are far fetched so it’s more, ‘What if we play with each other?’” Smith said. “In AAU basketball, we had a ton of success. You never know what the future entails. But we can talk about it. It might not necessarily happen. But it’s a good conversation.”
But Smith stressed neither he or Howard are actively trying to ensure that outcome.
“If it happens, it’ll be crazy,” Smith said. “But you never know. “
Stoudemire sits as Knicks fall to Heat — Knicks reserve big man Amar’e Stoudemire had 12 points in last night’s loss to the Heat, but only three of those 12 game in the second half. Down the stretch of a tight game with Miami, coach Mike Woodson opted to play fellow reserve J.R. Smith some big minutes while Stoudemire found himself stapled to the bench for the final 7 minutes and 56 seconds of the game. That move hasn’t made some folks in New York happy, starting with MitchLawrence of the New York Daily News:
Too much James at the Garden, not enough Knick scoring in the second half, and the last eight minutes in particular, and this is why Mike Woodson now has an Amar’e Stoudemire problem on his hands.
Woodson created it by sitting Stoudemire for the last 7:56 of the Knicks’ 99-93 loss to the Heat. As James and the Heat put the finishing touches on their first win over New York this season, Stoudemire was bolted to the bench, LeBron was locking up Anthony and the Knicks were doomed.
Know this: The Knicks weren’t necessarily going to win if Woodson had called Stoudemire’s number. Not the way James had it going in the final quarter, with 12 points and the best man-to-man defense that Carmelo Anthony has faced this season.
But Woodson made a big mistake by putting his fate in Smith’s hands and not at least trying to get some offense with a proven scorer. Which Smith isn’t, as Woodson readily admitted after the Knicks saw their home record in their last 20 games fall to 11-9.
The idea that Smith needs to learn, while Stoudemire already has the credentials as an accomplished All-NBA selection — because of his scoring prowess, first and foremost — made more than one Heat player chuckle in the postgame locker room.
After seeing his team totally outplayed in the second half by a Miami team that shouldn’t have its 14-game winning streak broken any time soon, Woodson admitted that he didn’t even think about putting Stoudemire back in.
Not even a little bit, Coach?
“No, at that particular time, I didn’t because they were small and I wanted to go with Tyson (Chandler) against (Chris) Bosh and they played small around Bosh,” he said. “So we just tried to keep the matchup.
“I’m not saying he (Stoudemire) wasn’t a good fit,” Woodson added. “I’m saying that’s the way I decided to go. They were small.”
Knowing a controversy when they see one, Knicks officials wisely ended Woodson’s interview right then and there.
But the controversy isn’t over, no sir. Remember, Woodson was the one who boldly stated that he could make the Anthony-Stoudemire pairing work. But he didn’t even try, on a day when it might have been the best way to go.
Bynum considering arthroscopic surgery on knee — On Friday came the news from Philadelphia that injured center Andrew Bynum said he would be OK with missing the entire season to tend to his still-recovering right knee. While the prospect of a Bynum-less campaign is nothing the Sixers or their fans want to think about, the likelihood of it may be becoming more real based off a report from Jason Wolf of the The (Wilmington) News Journal. Sixers GM Tony DiLeo says the team is waiting to hear whether or not Bynum will have arthroscopic surgery on his knees, which will affect Bynum’s long-term future in Philly:
Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said that Andrew Bynum is considering arthroscopic surgery on his balky knees and that the organization has yet to decide whether to attempt to sign the one-time All-Star center once he becomes a free agent after this season.
But building around Bynum remains the team’s preferred option, if he’s healthy.
“He is Plan A,” DiLeo said Sunday before the Sixers played the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center, speaking publicly for the first time since Bynum announced a setback in his rehab from what could be career-threatening knee injuries on Friday.
“Until we get the answers, until we make a decision, whether like you’re saying it’s a calculated decision or a risk management decision, that’s something we’ll have to make at the end of the year, going into free agency, and that’s something he also has [to figure out],” DiLeo said. “He’s unrestricted, he can go anywhere he wants to and it’s his career. And he’s only 25 years old. That’s just something we’ll have to see. We just don’t have all the information now.”
Bynum was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee in September and with a “mirror issue” in his left knee in November, when a piece of cartilage broke loose and his joint swelled after going bowling. While Bynum said his right knee felt “phenomenal” in February, his left knee remained problematic as he continued to experience pain and a locking sensation in the joint. Now, once again, the right knee is an issue.
Arthroscopic surgery to clean the loose cartilage out of Bynum’s knees would ensure he does not play for the Sixers this season.
It remains to be seen whether Bynum’s knee pain can be managed effectively, allowing him to resume his career.
“We haven’t seen him out on the court,” DiLeo said. “So we don’t have all the answers, and hopefully we’ll get some answers. It’s always been our goal to see him healthy, out on the court with us. So far we haven’t been able to see that.”
It has all just been so mind-boggling. Bynum’s final statement to the media Friday will be the one fans will focus on most, when he said, “I don’t want to play with pain.”
Again, confusion. Bynum didn’t say he wouldn’t play with pain, he said he didn’t want to. Certainly, everyone wants to be pain-free, but that’s just not a reality in professional sports. The question is this: Is Bynum willing to play with pain, and, if so, how much?
“Actually the condition, 50 percent of the people in the United States have it now; they just happen to not play basketball,” he said. “It takes on a little bit more shape in my world. It’s frustrating. There’s really nothing yet to do about it [surgically]. I just don’t need a swollen knee.
“I played in LA with a bit of swelling, but it wasn’t this bad. I didn’t really feel the pain when I was playing, but now it’s like really stiff and a lot of pain. Just doing stuff, not even full five-on-five stuff. I played in one scrimmage and it’s a 4- to 5-day setback.”
Four or 5 days now, perhaps 4 or 5 years for the organization. Is there any way the organization would look to bring him back after all that has transpired this season? Can you take that chance? If he isn’t re-signed, then what? Sure, there will be money to work with, but can any signings be as significant or have the type of impact the Bynum trade was supposed to have? Time will tell, but for now, time appears to be running out on a Bynum sighting this season.
“I’m not really concerned [about his future]; it’s more frustrating,” Bynum said. “You do the work, you get to a point and then you have to back down. It’s kind of tough. Now it’s getting really late, so I really don’t know.”
The Sixers have plummeted out of the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 22-34 record that recently led to a post-game meltdown by coach Doug Collins following an abysmal home loss to Orlando. That led to speculation about Collins’ future. Now the hope of getting Bynum onto the floor for even a glimpse of what he might be able to provide is fading.
The Sixers front office keeps saying that Plan A is to re-sign a healthy Bynum to a new contract next summer. But they also say they have a Plan B in their pocket. Might be time to reach for it.
HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Confident just 10 days ago that he would play this season, injured Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum now has serious doubts after another setback.
Bynum said he has swelling and discomfort in his right knee following last week’s limited practice sessions with the team that sparked hope that the 7-footer would soon make his season debut. Bynum addressed the Philadelphia media Friday and said his hopes for playing are diminishing.
“Now it’s getting really late [in the season], so I really don’t know,” Bynum said. “It’s [not playing] definitely a thought. It’s my body. It’s my knees.”
Asked if he’s concerned that he won’t make it back this season, Bynum said, “I’m not really concerned, it’s more frustrating. You work to get to a point and you have to back down so it’s kind of tough.”
Bynum has missed the entire season with bone bruises in both knees. He believed that rehabbing and rest during the season would get him back on the court pain-free, a precondition that he said is mandatory for him to put on a Sixers uniform for the first time this season.
“That’s true, I don’t want to play in pain,” Bynum said. “I still think I can play, but like I said, the season is short.”
Philadelphia is headed for the lottery as this frustrating year continues to slip away. The Sixers have lost seven consecutive games and are six games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 26 games to play.
The Philadelphia front office hoped to see Bynum play at some point this season to have a better working knowledge of his health and to better prepare for what is going to be a difficult decision-making process this summer. Bynum, who is owed $16.9 million this season, becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
Just 10 days ago, Bynum felt good enough to declare that he’d ”definitely be back some time” this season.
Bynum, who played in 60 of 66 games last season for the Los Angeles Lakers after several injury-plagued seasons, would be in line for a max contract had he remained healthy. Obviously now, the Sixers and every other team interested in the skilled big man will carefully have to weigh risk versus reward.
Bynum said he’s not concerned about his next contract.
“Being healthy is more important than everything else,” Bynum said. “If I’m healthy I’ll get a deal, but I have to be able to play. I need to get to the point with body that I’m able to play, however long that takes.”
CHICAGO – The symmetry wasn’t lost on Doug Collins. Ten months ago, he and his Philadelphia 76ers team were walking the same halls, dressing in the same stalls, taking to the same United Center court for a game that would be, and remains, Derrick Rose‘s last. The Chicago Bulls’ electric point guard blew out the ACL in his left knee late in Game 1, Day 1, of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
The Sixers had been back in town in December, but their game Thursday night was the one that fit the rehab timeline and stirred up a little déjà vu. Rose got hurt on April 28. Here it was, 10 months later. Exactly.
“Derrick, I thought for sure he was going to play tonight,” Collins said about 90 minutes before tipoff. “Y’know, got hurt against Philadelphia, come back against Philadelphia. Game on TNT. I could just see him running out, y’know, with the adidas commercial tonight.”
No such luck. While few around the team would put it past the Bulls’ inner circle to spring Rose back into action as a surprise – coach Tom Thibodeau is notorious for his “game-time decisions” – his sidelined All-Star point guard again was on the inactive list. Same with Philadelphia center Andrew Bynum, the alleged game-changing big man who has played precisely as many minutes this season as Rose. Bynum remains out with bilateral knee bone bruises – good thing he only has two legs – and, with free agency looming this summer, is at risk of a phantom Philly season.
Some have wondered if a recent Bulls slump might be related to the distraction of waiting for Rose. Collins’ team has been waiting, too, but under different circumstances.
“We traded three guys to get a guy who hasn’t played at all this year,” said Collins, without naming Andre Iguodala, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic, helpful pieces in Denver and Orlando. “The Bulls have a player who’s injured but he’s been here the whole time. So the dynamics are a little different. We gave up a lot in that trade, and that’s been tough.”
As a player with Philadephia in the 1970s, Collins battled leg injuries, with some speculating that he might have hurried back too soon. That led to more Rose questions, though his “hurrying back” might mean October.
“The Chicago Bulls have a tremendous investment in Derrick Rose. You want to make sure that this young guy is going to be ready to go,” Collins said. “We take a guy like Adrian Peterson and we say, ‘This guy rehabbed and was back and was playing football … and you kind of expect everybody to have the same timetable.’ Knees are different. Every player is different. Everybody’s game is different.”
Anyone who recalls Rose’s injury 10 months ago, when he came to a jump stop, then damaged his leg as he exploded up, can understand what Collins said next.
“Derrick is an explosive player. He plays in the lane. He’s landing in a lot of bodies, in a lot of congestion,” the coach said. “More important, he’s going to have to be very confident when he plays, about being able to explode off that leg, being able to come down in a crowd and do the things he has to do.
“[Chicago team chairman] Jerry Reinsdorf and the Bulls organization are not short-sighted people. They don’t do that. They view the big picture. I think they feel they have a franchise that has a chance to be good for a long, long time. And Derrick Rose is the guy who is going to make that special.”
If Collins is indeed headed for an exit from the bench, CSN Bay Area’s Ric Bucher is already reporting on a succession plan. Assistant coach Michael Curry, whose last coaching work came with the Detroit Pistons, is poised to take over. Curry last just one season in Detroit. But Bucher reports that he will be considered for the job on a permanent basis, if he does take over for Collins before this season ends.
The Sixers have lost six straight games and still haven’t seen prized offseason acquisition Andrew Bynum anywhere but the practice court. Lingering knee issues have kept the All-Star center out of the lineup since training camp. And based on his comments the other night, Collins doesn’t seem terribly confident that Bynum’s return, if there is one, will do much to change things for his team.
This season has turned out to be a complete dumpster fire for a Sixers team that came into the season with plans to challenge for the Atlantic Division crown and a lofty playoff perch in the Eastern Conference standings. Pairing the free-agent-to-be Bynum with All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and a solid supporting cast looked like an ideal plan, at least on paper.
Entering tonight, Philly is 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for No. 8 in the East. The Sixers appear to be headed back to the lottery at the rate they are going, not to mention into the mix of teams searching for a new coach.
. HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It’s been a pretty miserable season for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Because they’re in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers were just four games out of a playoff spot when they took the floor against the Orlando Magic. But not once in the last 3 1/2 months have they ever resembled anything close to a playoff team. And not once has Andrew Bynum been close to actually playing in a game.
Well, things clearly hit rock bottom for Philly on Tuesday night when they lost by 14 points at home to the Orlando Magic, a team that was 3-28 (1-14 on the road) since Dec. 21, had traded one of its best players five days ago, and was looking like it would hold the No. 30 spot in our Power Rankings for the rest of the season.
The embarrassing loss, the Sixers’ sixth straight, was apparently the breaking point for Sixers coach Doug Collins, who had some interesting things to say in his post-game press conference. Collins basically avoided all blame for his team’s struggles and mostly threw his players under the bus.
And he came out firing right away. First, he called the game “mind-numbing.” Then, he used a Pat Summit story to say that a coach can’t control energy and effort, and gave the reporters in the room a look that said, “See what I’m saying here?”
Collins also brought up his own effort as a Sixers player for comparison.
“I gave my body to this franchise,” he said. “I was never booed as a player. Never. I ran through my sneakers.”
There were references to the fact that Bynum hasn’t played a single minute this season…
“The team that we tried to put together we’ve never seen. And so I think, when you take a huge piece away from it, your warts show.”
And there were more obvious criticisms of his players…
“I did not think our guys prepared themselves during the [All-Star] break to come back to play.”
More of the I’m-doing-everything-I-can talk….
“If everybody looked inside themselves as much as I did, this world would be a CAT scan. OK? Believe me, there’s not two days go by that I don’t go to Rod [Thorn], I don’t go to Tony [DiLeo], ‘What can I do? Can I do anything different? How can I be a better coach? How can I be a better leader? How can I help these guys?’
“Sometimes, you’ve got to help yourself, you know? Sometimes you’ve got to help yourself. Youth is a very blaming thing.”
“My job is to not put that kind of product on the floor. I’m incredibly hard on myself. I love it when the fans start yelling at me. I’m not playing. You didn’t yell at me when I played. Why are you yelling at me when I’m coaching?”
Want another way to say that the coach can’t control energy and effort? Here you go…
“They say it’s a players’ league. Well, then take ownership. Take ownership. That’s all I’m asking. Take ownership of what you’re putting out there. To me, I’m a day’s work for a day’s pay kind of guy. That’s all I’ve been ever taught.”
I did my job, but they’re not doing theirs…
“There’s nothing wrong with our preparation. I looked out there to start the game, three guys weren’t even sweating when we started the game! They were going to ease themselves into the game. You’ve got to get sweaty. You’ve got to be ready to go.”
Spencer, I coached Nik Vucevic. I knew Nik Vucevic. Nik Vucevic was a player of mine. Spencer, you’re no Nik Vucevic…
“We made a huge deal. And we have nobody playing as part of that deal. How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic, and have nothing in return playing? That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. I’m not looking for any out. But that’s the facts. Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer had one. I think Lavoy [Allen] had two.”
Finally, about 10 minutes into the press conference, Collins falls on his sword … sort of …
“I don’t want you to feel like I’m up here blaming. I don’t want you to think I’m making excuses. That’s not what this is about. I’m not a blamer. I’m not an excuse kind of guy. No one takes this harder than I do. Nobody. I’m a guy, who, when I have coached, I’ve always been able to find some answers. And I have not been able to find answers. And from my standpoint, that is very disappointing, because I’m paid to do that.”
The Sixers next play on Thursday, when they visit the Bulls (who also suffered a pretty embarrassing loss on Tuesday) at 8 p.m. on TNT. Should be interesting.
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The 2013 trade deadline will be remembered more for the lack of movement than for any deal that was made. We had a handful of transactions in the final hours before the deadline, but the best player dealt this week was a guy who has started a grand total of 52 games over seven seasons.
That would be J.J. Redick, who is heading to Milwaukee in a six-player trade. The Bucks are also getting Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith from Orlando. The Magic will receive Beno Udrih, Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris in return.
Redick is a role player, but one who should help the Bucks, who have struggled on both ends of the floor as they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, dropping below .500 for the first time since early December. Now in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, they’re just three games in the loss column ahead of ninth-place Philadelphia.
The Bucks were reportedly the leaders in the race for Josh Smith, who is surprisingly staying in Atlanta … for the next few months or so. The Hawks apparently did not have a deal they liked, and will have to hope for a sign-and-trade deal in July if they want something in return for Smith. Our own Sekou Smith says that the Hawks will have “no chance” to re-sign Smith.
Atlanta did make a minor move, sending Anthony Morrow to Dallas for Dahntay Jones.
As much as the lack of a Josh Smith move was a surprise, so was the fact that the Utah Jazz stood pat. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter waiting in the wings, the Jazz have both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap on expiring deals. We don’t know if the Jazz had an opportunity to upgrade their backcourt this week, but maybe, like the Hawks, they’d prefer to let one (or both) of those guys walk in the summer.
The Boston Celtics made a minor deal, but held on to both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for the stretch run. They’ll be adding Jordan Crawford to their backcourt, sending Jason Collins and the contract of Leandro Barbosa to Washington in exchange for the volume scorer who has been out of the Wizards’ rotation for the last couple of weeks.
The Heat sent Dexter Pittman and a second-round pick to Memphis.
The Bobcats traded Hakim Warrick to the Magic for Josh McRoberts.
In order to get under the luxury tax line, the Warriors are sending Jeremy Tyler to Atlanta and Charles Jenkins to Philadelphia.
The Raptors traded Hamed Haddadi and a second-round pick to the Suns for Sebastian Telfair.
The Thunder sent Eric Maynor to Portland.
The Knicks sent Ronnie Brewer to OKC for a pick.
In addition to Smith, Richard Hamilton (Bulls), Andrea Bargnani (Raptors), Kris Humphries (Nets), Ben Gordon (Bobcats), DeJuan Blair (Spurs) and Evan Turner (Sixers) aren’t going anywhere. The Denver Nuggets didn’t get a shooter, the Brooklyn Nets didn’t get any of their targets (Smith, Millsap, etc.), and the Los Angeles Clippers will try to get past the Spurs and Thunder with what they have.
The new collective bargaining agreement certainly had a role in the inactivity. The new, steeper luxury takes goes into effect next season, so contracts that don’t expire this season are a heavy burden to bear. Two years from now, the repeater tax goes into effect, so there’s plenty of incentive for teams to get under the tax line this year as well.
And now that the deadline has passed, we can get on with the remainder of the season, knowing that the landscape hasn’t changed one bit.