Posted on: February 22, 2011 12:44 am
Edited on: February 22, 2011 6:28 pm
The Denver Nuggets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. Who are the winners and losers? Let's give out some grades. Posted by Ben Golliver.
It's official: The Denver Nuggets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks on Monday night , with Ken Berger reporting that the deal will go through the NBA's approval process on Tuesday .
Here's the framework of the trade. You can also take a look in the Trade Machine .
New York Knicks get: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman from the Denver Nuggets plus Corey Brewer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Denver Nuggets get: Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton from the Knicks plus New York's first round pick in 2014 and Golden State's second round picks in 2012 and 2013 and $3 million from the Knicks.
Minnesota Timberwolves get: Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry plus $3 million from the New York Knicks.
Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers and hand out some grades for this trade.
Carmelo Anthony: A+
Throughout the last six months of trade rumors, Anthony wanted three things: To get his three-year contract extension done before the trade deadline, to play for the New York Knicks and to compete for a championship. He had to achieve those goals while taking the least hit to his public reputation as possible, lest he fall into the pit of resentment that swallowed LeBron James.
With this trade complete, Anthony obviously accomplished the first two of his three objectives: He got paid and he's the Big Apple's latest high-profile resident, returning to his birthplace and the country's biggest media market. As for the championship contention? That's another matter. The Knicks paid a pretty penny, both now and in the future, to acquire his services, and Anthony and his fellow All-Star, Amar'e Stoudemire, will shoulder a heavy burden down the stretch of this season and into next year as well, at the very least.
Looking out over the duration of the extension Anthony signed, though, the deep-pocketed, big-market Knicks are just as likely, if not more likely, to be championship contenders than Anthony's aging Nuggets. At worst, it's a lateral move from that perspective. Accomplishing 2.5 of your top 3 objectives, given the complexities involved in making a trade of this magnitude, is a home run.
As for his reputation, Anthony's ability to face the tough questions on a daily basis while still performing on the court and keeping the drama on his end to a minimum has saved him a lot of flak. The general reaction to tonight's news has been "Thank God, it's over!" rather than "I hate this rich, spoiled superstar who hijacked his team all year!" As we've seen with the Miami Heat this season, that counts for something.
Denver Nuggets: A
Nobody involved in this negotiation was placed in a tougher spot than the Denver Nuggets and GM Masai Ujiri. The risk/reward analysis for the Nuggets was the scariest of all the involved parties: Had Anthony walked for nothing it would have decimated the team's future. With this deal, the Nuggets accomplished many important goals and elegantly succeeded in avoiding the worst-case scenario.
First, and perhaps most importantly, they acquired talent. Even better, it's cheap talent with flexible and affordable contracts. In Felton, they have a solid starting point guard they can either keep or flip, should they decide to turn the keys over to Ty Lawson. In Mozgov, they've got a serviceable, young big man locked in to an affordable contract through 2012-2013. In Chandler, they have Melo-light, a productive, scoring small forward, who is also an expiring contract. In Gallinari, they get a smooth shooting, long, agile stretch forward with solid upside. That group has helped make the Knicks a playoff team in the East and should allow the Nuggets, who are currently the West's 7th seed, to remain in the playoff picture down the stretch. There's not a bad contract among those four players, and the Nuggets saved enough money overall to try to retain Chandler this summer if they want to.
Really, their books look great. The Nuggets succeeded in moving point guard Chauncey Billups' pricey contract, something I've advocated for months. It was arguably the critical component of a rebuild and it wasn't an easy call, as Billups is a hometown hero. Unfortunately, his massive contract was simply an anchor on the re-tooling process, and escaping the $14.2 million owed to him next season significantly increases Denver's flexibility moving forward. Moving Carter, Williams and Balkman helps Denver get further under the luxury tax line, and doesn't meaningfully impact their ability to compete in the short term. Essentially, Denver takes on $16 million in salary commitments while shedding roughly $34 million. That roughly $18 million savings off this year's books puts Denver roughly $4 million under the luxury tax line, netting its ownership a nice pay day instead of requiring it to write a monster check at the end of the season. If you have to trade your franchise superstar, you want to get the maximum financial benefit from doing it. The only way the Nuggets could have improved this aspect would have been to move Al Harrington's contract as well, but that probably wasn't a realistic possibility, given the four years left on it at the midlevel number.
Finally, the Nuggets stockpiled picks, too. An extra first round pick and the two second round picks aren't as an attractive warchest as the four first round picks that the New Jersey Nets were rumored to have been offering, but it's still a solid haul, especially if we're acting under the assumption that Anthony was never willing to sign anywhere except with the Knicks. The picks amount to icing on the cake, but in this case every bit of extra icing matters a lot to an organization that's taking it's largest shift in direction since Anthony was drafted in 2003.
That a first-time GM was able to generate such a return underscores how poorly planned and executed Cleveland's and Toronto's efforts to keep LeBron James and Chris Bosh were last season. Coming to terms with trading a superstar is a difficult process, but denial simply isn't an option. Of the three teams' fanbases, there's no question Nuggets fans are the most at ease in the wake of their superstar's departure. There's talent, hope and flexibility going forward, and knowledgeable fans should certainly appreciate that, even if the sting of Anthony's departure still lingers. There's a workable future, immediately and next year. That's more than can be said for the Raptors and Cavaliers.
New York Knicks: B+
The initial wave of reaction to the deal has slaughtered the Knicks for overpaying for Anthony. Their package certainly seems huge in comparison to nothing, the price they would have paid had Anthony been willing to guarantee that he would sign with the Knicks this summer as a free agent. But there is a price to be paid for expediency and a price to be paid for certainty, and the package the Knicks paid seems more than reasonable to lock in a marketable, big-name, perennial All-Star with proven playoff success for three years.
Championship teams now need three stars, and the Knicks are now one of a select handful of teams to have two. They're also well-positioned to recruit a third, pending major changes to the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement of course. They have a steady, tested point guard in place, one who knows how to get the most out of Anthony, and they acquired a solid player in Brewer, who, although nothing special, helps make up for the wave of role players that departed. Importantly, they also retained rookie forward Landry Fields, a prototypical glue player who will become even more important now that the team has two stars. In other words, they improved their top-end talent, built one of the most dynamic scoring one-two punches in the league and managed to do it while gutting things a lot less than you might think at first glance.
The toughest pill to swallow is Billups' contract, but he's not yet on his last legs. Remember also that Felton was not a long-term solution at point guard, so the fact that Billups isn't either shouldn't be considered a deal-breaker.
It's worth noting that Anthony is a nice hedge against potential injury concerns for Amar'e Stoudemire. Plagued by issues with his knees and eye in the past, there's always been trepidation around Stoudemire's future and the massive $100 million guaranteed contract paid out to him last summer. In Anthony, the Knicks have acquired disaster insurance, ensuring that they will remain in the playoff picture regardless of what may happen down the line with Stoudemire.
With an owner as rich as James Dolan, the money the Knicks paid out to both the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves is of little consequence in this deal. Sacrificing three draft picks is tough to swallow, especially because the Knicks already moved so many assets to get in position to sign Stoudemire last summer. It appears, though, that the Knicks are heading towards the Miami Heat strategy of being a top free agent destination and recruiting available veterans to hop aboard a title-contending ship. While this move might not make the Knicks a contender this year, it certainly added to the glamour factor that Stoudemire helped bring back last summer.
Minnesota Timberwolves: B
The Minnesota Timberwolves looked to repeat a marginally successful recent strategy, taking a chance on an under-utilized and misunderstood role player that obviously needs a change of scenery. The Timberwolves previously tried to revive the careers of Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley and they look to do that again with Anthony Randolph, a slender stretch forward that lacks a position and hasn't shown much other than some tantalizing Summer League potential.
The risk and cost here is minimal (zero?) as the Timberwolves are once again a bottom-dweller with nothing to lose. Randolph is on an affordable rookie deal and should finally get a decent chance to show what he is capable of. Randolph has only known up-tempo teams, playing in Golden State under Don Nelson and in New York under Mike D'Antoni, and the Timberwolves are the only team to play at a faster pace than the Knicks, so there shouldn't be much of an adjustment period. The big question is whether the Timberwolves have the support system and structure in place to help Randolph capitalize on his potential, or if he will get lost in a sea of despair like so many other inconsistent players who find themselves on young, bad teams.
Taking on the Eddy Curry contract is simply a procedural, paperwork deal, as the Knicks are sending along the money to buy him out. The Timberwolves were one of a select few teams with the cap space available to absorb that contract, creating enough room for the Knicks to bring in both Anthony and Billups.
Other Winners & Losers
Corey Brewer: A candidate for Most Improved Player last year finally gets off a dysfunctional team, the only NBA home he's ever known. Who could blame him if he's popping bottles tonight?
NBA Bloggers: Arguably the biggest winners of this entire episode, those paid to track and react to the latest Carmelo Anthony trade machinations may be the only people happier than Anthony and Brewer tonight.
J.R. Smith & J.R. Smith's Agent: Denver's reserve scorer should see his role increase as the Nuggets look to replace the 41.7 points per game that are departing in Anthony and Billups. He should get a lot more minutes and shots over the next few months before he becomes a free agent this summer. Pretty great timing.
Northwest Division: The Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers have to be thrilled with Anthony heading to the Eastern Conference, as the Nuggets' era of bully-ball is significantly diminished, clearing the road for the next wave of Northwest power teams. With the Utah Jazz falling off and dealing with Carmelo-like problems with Deron Williams, the league's toughest division all of a sudden isn't looking quite as formidable.
Denver's Veterans: Guys like Kenyon Martin, Nene and Chris Andersen just watched a deep playoff run walk out the door, throwing their team's future up in the air. Andersen's long-term contract makes him difficult to move, but Martin and Nene have to be wondering what their personal futures hold.
Minnesota's Fans: The Timberwolves held a valuable trade asset - loads of cap space - and were only able to turn it into an untested, young, moody power forward. Unless another deal is coming down the pipeline this week, this feels less like real hope and more like false hope, and that's the last thing long-suffering Wolves fans need.
Danilo Gallinari: The Italian forward goes from being an up-and-coming international star in a metropolitan market playing for his father's former teammate to the Denver Nuggets, who have been known for their physical, pounding style rather than Gallinari's smoother approach. It will be very interesting to watch how he handles the transition.
Small-Market Teams: It's impossible to think back on how this trade played out and conclude that it's anything but bad news for the league's smaller-market teams. Another major star headed to another major market, potentially foreshadowing similar moves in years to come. Unless the NBA's new CBA adds a franchise tag designation, there's nothing to suggest that this trend is slowing or reversing any time soon.
For more on our coverage of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York, check out:
Ken Berger's report on the breaking deal .
Matt Moore on whether this is good or bad for Carmelo Anthony.
Royce Young discusses the impact the deal has on the Knicks.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 11:35 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 9:11 am
Posted by Royce Young
Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks. Finally.
This trade finally happening is kind of like Chinese Democracy. We knew at some point it was coming but now that it is, it's kind of a letdown. Carmelo was going to be a Knickerbocker, it was just a question of what it would take to get him there.
Despite the New Jersey Nets best efforts, Melo was never going anywhere other than Manhattan. Through all the posturing, all the leveraging, all the nonsense, we finally have the resolution we knew was coming when Ken Berger reported that Melo wanted to be a Knick way back in September.
The cost of getting Melo might be that the Knicks front office has been doused in gasoline and one little spark will blow the whole thing up. The Knicks tried to say they were unified in the plan to acquire the superstar swingman, but by all accounts, James Dolan may have stepped on Donnie Walsh's face in bringing in Isiah Thomas to backdoor the deal. In fact, the deal has Isiah's stamp all over it -- overpaying as a result of knee-jerk reaction.
However, this is a deal the Knicks had to make. Whiffing on Melo simply wasn't an option. Maybe they gave up a bit much, but the Knicks are better today than they were yesterday and that's the whole point.
Whatever the case is, Carmelo will be donning the orange and blue in Madison Square Garden. Here's the framework of the deal, according to Ken Berger:
But remember: Carmelo Anthony isn't LeBron James. He isn't the kind of player that's automatically going to elevate the player of everyone around him. He's no doubt one of the most gifted scorers in the league and maybe the toughest player to defend in the world. In Mike D'Antoni's system, Anthony will fit better than most think, plus playing alongside Stoudemire gives the Knicks one of the absolute finest inside-out, one-two punches in the league. Still, I can't get on the contender bandwagon. Yet, that is.
We all tooted the same horn when the SuperHeat were formed. Yeah they have LeBron, Wade and Bosh. But if you're going to win, you've got to have the role players. You've got to have the depth. And that's what Pat Riley desperately built in grabbing Mike Miller, Eddie House, Erick Dampier and James Jones. It's a good-enough second unit to supplement the Heat's super trio.
The Knicks on the other hand are dropping four players, two of them young, promising talents in Chandler and Gallinari. Now the depth chart has Shelden Williams seeing big minutes with Toney Douglas, Brewer, Andy Rautins, Balkman and Shawne Williams. Not exactly a championship unit there. I guess on the positive side of things, they finally have that backup point guard they've been looking for. Too bad it's Anthony Carter though.
(An aside: I think Brewer could be an underrated steal for the Knicks. He's a good player that was just never in the right role in Minnesota. He was always pressured to be a scorer rather than playing a specific role tailored to his talents. Now in coming off the bench to spell Anthony and Fields, Brewer can try and assert himself as an athletic defensive stopper, while also finding a bunch of open outside looks in D'Antoni's system.)
I don't think there's any doubt that the Knicks have improved here. At 28-26, they're in the middle of the East. With Anthony and Billups joining Stoudemire, this team is going to battle the Magic for the four-seed the rest of the way. With 28 games remaining, it's not hard to see New York going something like 18-10 and finishing with something like 46 wins, while at the same time being a scary team to play in the postseason.
But a contender? Not yet. That was the issue at hand all along for Walsh. Giving up too much for Melo just didn't make a lot of sense when you were essentially bidding against yourself. The cost might be some tension in the front office, plus a hefty price tag of young talent shipped out to the Rockies.
With a lot of the financial flexibility Walsh fought tooth and nail over the past few years now jeopadized because of the imminent $65 million extension for Melo, how do the Knicks fill out this roster? If the plan is to wait until 2012 to add Deron Williams or Chris Paul, did they really do themselves any favors by making this move now, instead of just remaining patient and making the play for Anthony over the summer?
The Knicks didn't want to take any chances and let their opportunity to land Melo slip through the cracks the way LeBron did. They wanted to pounce now, no matter what the cost was. Yes, they're better. Yes, they're dangerous. I know I'd be nervous if my favorite team were playing them in a seven-game series. Having two top 10 offensive players makes anyone good.
But are they actually a legitimate threat to unseat the Celtics or challenge the Bulls or Heat? Hardly. Just like they were yesterday before this deal was made, they're still a year or two away.
-- For more on our coverage of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York, check out:
Ken Berger's report on the breaking deal .
Matt Moore examines the danger of giving all that power to one player.
Ben Golliver hands out trade grades and winners & losers .
Posted on: February 20, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2011 7:28 pm
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett discusses the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. Posted by Ben Golliver.
There's no one else in the NBA quite like Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, and thank goodness for that. His antics, trash talk and intensity have helped make the Celtics a perennial contender but have also drawn criticism from opponents, media and fans. During his All-Star Weekend media availability on Friday, Garnett said he was looking forward to a break from the constant competitiveness and had a number of funny one-liners and interesting observations.
Here's a collection of Garnett's best quips from Friday.
On whether his fellow All-Stars are thrown off by his on-court demeanor and profanities when they see him at All-Star Weekend: "I don’t swear that much. But I do play hard. I do play with a purpose. My demeanor on the court is what it is, and my demeanor here is a whole different thing."
On whether he will be playing lockdown defense and getting into his teamates' faces on Sunday: "I think offense is the priority here… The fourth quarter is really only the serious time too ... I’ve been doing it for what, 14 years, competition is one thing, socializing and being friendly is another. I know how to separate the two."
On his pre-game music: "In the early years, I used to listen to a lot of hardcore stuff. Now I’m doing my yoga days -- Namaste -- R&B, sort of stuff that calms me before the game."
On what his job would be if there was a work stoppage next year: "An architect. Being somewhere putting some things together. Illustrating. I’m very much into putting things together, starting from scratch, going forth with that, making it concrete where you can see it.
On whether the Eastern Conference has restored the balance of power against the West: "To be honest, I think it’s 50/50 now. Night in and night out you can see teams from the East beating teams from the West, and vice versa."
On "fraternizing" with opponents over All-Star Weekend: "All-Star weekend is a chance for all players to sit down and relax. Get to know one another. I don’t like the word 'fraternizing' and I don’t like the word 'fronting'. It’s the one time that we get to socialize and be friendly, I don’t think it’s fronting, I think everybody is sort of in a relaxed state."
On what it's like to be one of four Boston Celtics in the game instead of as the lone representative of the Minnesota Timberwolves: "You tend to come here by yourself, sort of got used to that. The fact that I’m up here with three other guys is remarkable."
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 3:44 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
In today's Friday 5 with KB: A favorite story from Jerry Sloan, the future of Utah, the choppy waters of this year's trade deadline, and when exactly are the Spurs going to hit double-digit losses?
1. So, yeah, Jerry's gone. Which kind of bums everyone out. Do you have a favorite Sloan story to share?
Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Everyone, including me, made fun of Sloan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech two years ago because he basically told his entire life story. But I was touched by how nonchalantly Sloan talked about having lasted only five days as the University of Evansville basketball coach in the late 1970s. The season after he stepped down, his replacement, coach Bobby Watson, and the entire team and support staff were killed in a plane crash. Sloan said it matter-of-factly, just like that, and without blinking got right back to his story. "I spent 2 1-2 years as assistant coach of the Bulls ...," etc. That was Jerry. I don't know why I will always remember that, but I will.
2. Speaking of the Jazz, is there any chance they are able to reassert the kind of stability they've had over the past three decades? Is the organization and environment built in such a way as to develop that kind of constancy? Or are we going to see the Jazz back in the mire of the pack, having to reinvent themselves multiple times in a decade?
KB: The biggest priority, obviously, is persuading Deron Williams to stay. If he leaves as a free agent in 2012, there's no way around it: the Jazz are in for a major rebuild. Before they're faced with that possibility, however, the first order of business is maintaining stability on the bench. By naming Tyrone Corbin to succeed Sloan without saddling him with an interim title is an important first step. GM Kevin O'Connor and Gail Miller, the widow of later owner Larry Miller, both made clear they are committed to Corbin for the long term. Those intentions obviously will have to be backed up at some point by a multi-year head coaching contract, but that will come in time. There's been one head coach in Salt Lake City for nearly a quarter century. The plan certainly isn't to go from that to massive turnover.
3. Lost in Ray Allen's epic three-pointer and Kobe's late game heroics Thursday night was this: Boston's lost their last two, and are 5-5 in their last ten. Has the time come for the Celtics to coast through the second half?
KB: I think their recent struggles are less about coasting and more about injuries. The return of Kendrick Perkins has been muted by the absence of Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and even Semih Erden. Boston also is without Marquis Daniels, Delonte West and Nate Robinson. So it's time to begin wondering if the only thing that can hold the Celtics back -- health -- is starting to rear its ugly head.
4. Alright, Ken. When are the Spurs going to hit double digit losses?
KB: With Philly, Washington and New Jersey next up on the road, I'm going to go out on a limb and say not before the All-Star break. The Spurs haven't lost two straight since early January, so I'm going to say their 10th loss doesn't come until March 4 or 6, when they play Miami and the Lakers.
5. Instability in Utah, the Denver situation, Portland teetering on the brink, Charlotte looking at a need to dump salary, Houston desperate to make a deal. For a long time it looked like we weren't going to be seeing much in the way of trades this year. But are the storm clouds gathering for another busy deadline?
KB: The way I see it now, there will be more buyers than sellers. Several teams have contracts they'd like to dump (Philly with Andre Iguodala, Charlotte with Stephen Jackson, Cleveland with Antawn Jamison or Mo Williams, the Bucks with Corey Maggette or Drew Gooden), but who is going to take on those kind of obligations heading unto uncertain CBA territory? Also, the teams with the most cap space, Sacramento and Minnesota, are going to be less likely than in past years to take money into that space given that they don't know what the 2011-12 cap and rules will be. First-round picks also will be more expensive on the trade market because they represent cheap labor. Whereas in past years, teams would be willing to give up a first simply to get off a contract, this time they'll want something else in return -- such as a second-round pick. The teams that will be able to do something are those that have quality players on expiring contracts -- such as Indiana with Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, and T.J. Ford; and Portland with Joel Przybilla and Andre Miller (whose 2011-12 salary is non-guaranteed).
Posted on: February 8, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 4:26 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Corey Brewer had his name tossed into the Melodrama late last week when Ken Berger dropped news of a proposed three-team trade sending Carmelo Anthony to New York and Brewer to Denver.
While that deal appears to be a ways off from actually happening, Brewer shouldn't plan on staying in Minnesota past the trade deadline.
According to the Star Tribune, Brewer will likely be moved before the Feb. 24 deadline. The report says, "They’re looking to get something of value for a guy it sure seems like they’ve decided isn’t part of their future, not after not talking contract extension with him last fall."
Brewer hasn't ever fully tapped into the potential Minnesota saw in him when the Wolves took him seventh overall in 2007. He was expected to be a lock-down defender and versatile swingman, but he just hasn't ever taken that next step.
After a promising 2009-10 season where he avergaed 13.0 points per game, Brewer has seen his minutes slashed to just 24.5 per night. He started all 82 games last season but only 17 this year. And he's averaging just 8.7 ppg.
Brewer likely isn't starting material and the Wolves might not be able to get a lot in return, but by the sounds of it, they're intent on moving him. Probably the best for both sides at this point too.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 4:13 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Forget all this Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers talk. As Ken Berger reports, someone is just trying to ruffle the Knicks feathers.
So let's get back to painfully covering every bit of the Melo-to-New York stuff. As Berger first reported last week, there's a three-team trade being floated involving the Knicks, Timberwolves and Nuggets. Denver would get Wilson Chandler from New York plus Corey Brewer and a first-round pick from Minnesota.
But most feel like this just isn't near enough for Carmelo Stinking Anthony, so according to ESPN.com, the Nuggets are hunting for more.
The initial discussions revolved strictly around Chandler, but now Denver is asking for some of New York's younger assets in Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields, plus Chandler.
I bet opposing general managers are getting pretty sick of the Nuggets saying, "OK, so how about you throw in a little more too."
Rookie Andy Rautins and Kelenna Azuibuike and his expiring contract were also mentioned earlier as well.
The Knicks would likely balk a bit more at including that much, seeing as they know they can just get Carmelo in free agency over the summer. As much as Denver thinks it has some leverage in this game, all that passed out the window when the Nets pulled out. Melo wants to play in New York and he'll get there one way or another. So while of course the Nuggets can ask for more, the Knicks can just wait until July and keep their young players.
What it comes down to, is if the Knicks feel like adding Melo this year gives them a legitimate chance in the postseason. If so, they might be more inclined to deal some of their younger talent.
It has to be somewhat tempting for New York to just get it over with now and have Carmelo. Once they hit the right mark, Denver will pull the trigger. The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and the Nuggets don't want to get burned. So while they can keep asking for the Knicks to add this or add that, at some point they're just going to have to lay the cards on the table and make the call.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:08 am
Posted by Royce Young
Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: BLAZERS TOE THE LINEYou didn't think LaMarcus Aldridge was an All-Star? Well how about now?
Aldridge went for 42 against on of the league's best defensive teams as the Blazers topped the Bulls 109-103 in yet another big win for Portland. These Blazers just won't go away. With Brandon Roy coming back soon and a big momentum win over Chicago, it's becoming more and more clear that we're not finished hearing from Portland.
While Aldridge was obviously incredible, this game was maybe more about how Andre Miller controlled everything. He scored 27 points and dished 11 assists and really had the team in good offensive sets and rhythm the entire second half. Typically the Bulls lock down in the fourth quarter, but Portland exploded for 34 points and a lot of that went directly through Miller. Aldridge was big in the period but again, Miller had a big hand in getting him those looks.
The Bulls got 37 from Derrick Rose but in the key moments of the fourth, Rose wasn't able to break lose and his teammates didn't provide a boost. Chicago scored enough to win as 103 typically gets it done for them, but they just couldn't get stops. They outrebounded Portland 41-31, made nine more baskets and scored six more points on 3s.
But the Blazers went 37-40 from the free throw line compared to Chicago's 11-18. Right there, is where this game was won. Aldridge and Miller went a combined 25-27 from the line, Rudy Fernandez 8-9 and Nicolas Batum 4-4. Other than Rose, nobody for the Bulls really got to the stripe. The Blazers attacked, while Chicago settled.
The Blazers need every win they can get, but with a little help on the way, beating the Bulls makes for some good feelings heading into the All-Star break. Portland looks to be in the playoff discussion all the way through and Monday's win showed that there's no reason they won't be.
SNEAKY WOLVESYou hear it all the time, but it's true: No matter who you're playing, there aren't any easy nights in the NBA. And the Hornets were the latest example of that.
Playing at home against the lowly Wolves, a team that had won only two road games coming in, New Orleans looked to roll over Minnesota. Except the Wolves came out firing, scoring 37 in the second quarter en route to hitting 11 3s on the night and beating NOLA 104-92.
Other than the two lines -- the free throw and 3-point ones -- this game was even. New Orleans made 35 baskets to Minnesota's 34. The Wolves had 44 rebounds, the Hornets 43. Turnovers were almost even.
But the Wolves separated because they scored 15 more points from 3 and went 25-25 from the free throw line. Between those two places, Minnesota picked up an extra 24 points on the Hornets. It showed late in the fourth too as Minnesota stretched out to an 18-point lead before Chris Paul tried to bring his team back by forcing a few turnovers and getting a couple good looks for Hornet shooters.
It wasn't enough though as if only for a night, the Wolves looked like the playoff team in New Orleans. Jonny Flynn looked as good as he has this season after coming back from hip surgery with 13 points and six assists, Kevin Love was Kevin Love (27 points, 17 rebounds) and the Minnesota bench poured in 47 points. The defense was there, they selectively ran instead of recklessly doing it and definitely played their best game of the season.
Is it something to build off of? Probably not, because I think it was more of a product that the Hornets weren't prepared, but the Wolves have some talent on the roster. And they showed that they're capable on any given night you don't take them seriously.
BOSTON SLIPS TO BOB'S FORMER CATSWhat did I just say about any given night in the NBA? Well, apply it here too.
The Bobcats bit the Celtics 94-89 behind a big performance from unlikely hero Shaun Livingson who had 18 points on 7-10 shooting off the bench. It was the kind of game you almost always see Boston win. A tough, defensive game where every point came at a premium. But the Cats did it all a little better in the end, hitting a number of tough, contested shots while forcing Boston into tough looks on the other end.
At the half, it looked like Charlotte would have a serious uphill climb in order to win. They led 51-50, but Stephen Jackson was tossed because he picked up back-to-back technicals. Without Jackson, things looked to be difficult for Charlotte. One of their top offensive options was gone. They needed someone to step up. And that's where Livingston came in.
He was a huge part of the offense in the fourth quarter rally where Charlotte outscored the Celtics 29-20. He moved the ball, hit jumpers and freed up others with dribble penetration.
A late questionable call on Livingston gave the Celtics life as Paul Pierce went to the line for three, making two and cutting the lead to 92-89 with three seconds left. And despite the bad foul, Livingston swore he wasn't trying to throw the game.
(Ray Allen hit two 3-pointers, putting him one shy of Reggie Miller's record. In case you were wondering.)
The Celtics aren't going to win every night, but this was pretty unexpected, especially with Jackson being absent the last 24 minutes.
CAVS BEIN' CAVSComing in, it didn't look there was any question as to if the Cavaliers would drop their 25th straight. They were playing in Dallas against the hit Mavericks.
But there they were, right in the game.
Cleveland got it down to three and had possession with a minute left twice. But they almost looked panicked. Antwan Jamison hurried a 3-pointer and then J.J. Hickson ran over Jason Kidd for a charge. The Cavs went into a frantic mode, hurrying everything trying to tie the game.
Jason Terry knocked down a jumper, but the Cavs responded, cutting it to 99-96. The Cavs got a stop with 15 seconds left and Anthony Parker had a decent pull-up look from 3 to tie. The ball just bounced off the rim but Jamison tapped the ball out.
But naturally, the Cavs didn't even get another tying attempt up before the buzzer sounds. It was so, so Cavs.
They battled though, going on a 7-0 run to even have a chance. But they finished the game like a team that just doesn't know how to win. This is the official record of 25 losses in a row and wouldn't you know it, they were so, so close to preventing that.
GO-GO-GADGET LINESCarmelo Anthony gets the gold star of the night as he dropped 50 points on 16-24 shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds.
LaMarcus Aldridge exploded for 42 against the Bulls.
Kevin Martin went for 37 against Denver.
Gerald Wallace went for 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Rajon Rondo notched another double-double with 10 points and 14 assists.
Kevin Love with another typical night -- 27 points, 17 rebounds and 14-14 from the line.
PARTING THOUGHTI don't know who's harder to figure out, the Nuggets or the Rockets. Denver lost to Houston at home 108-103 despite 50 from Melo. The Rockets just don't seem to go away and the Nuggets just continue to lose puzzling games. In Denver's defense though, Nene missed the game and Chauncey Billups exited early with an injury. Still though, dropping games at home versus sub-.500 teams doesn't happen often in Denver.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 7:11 pm
More names have surfaced in a Carmelo Anthony trade proposal involving the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The latest round of Carmelo Anthony trade proposal rumors have involved the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have tons of cap space to act a potentieal facilitator of a deal between the Denver Nuggets, who must trade their All-Star forward or risk losing him for nothing this summer, and the New York Knicks, who want Anthony but are trying to appeaer coy about the whole thing.
Last week, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger first reported the talks. Over the weekend, we noted one trade proposal that involved Knicks center Eddy Curry and forward Anthony Randolph going to Minnesota along with cash, Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer, a pick, and Knicks forward Wilson Chandler going to Denver, and Anthony going to New York.
The New York Post reports on Monday that the talks are in "advanced discussions" and that a few other Knicks may be involved as well.
Rookie guard Andy Rautins and Kelenna Azubuike's expiring contract have been discussed as parts of the Carmelo Anthony three-team package, The Post has learned. The Knicks have to add more pieces to the reported three-team trade proposal for Anthony to make it work from a talent and financial perspective for the Nuggets, according to NBA sources.
The Knicks, Nuggets and Timberwolves have had advanced discussions on a three-team trade, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.The Knicks would also give up Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph (to Minnesota) and Eddy Curry's expiring contract.Here's what it would look like in the trade machine, if you're interested. It can't go down exactly as constructed because Denver would exceed the league's 15-player roster maximum, so either Denver would need to shed some other pieces or the incoming package wouldn't include all four of the names that have been floated out there.
For Denver, all that's missing is talent! But, seriously, this is a huge discount on the New Jersey Nets offer that was discussed for the last few months. Financially, the Nuggets take on no future obligations -- acquiring three expiring contracts -- except Rautins, who is on a second-round pick's rookie deal. The picks would be nice, too, but still not nearly as attractive as the prospect of Derrick Favors. It is better than nothing, however, and we are entering the stage of negotiatons where "better than nothing" is starting to look better and better.
For New York, this is the dream scenario: upgrade from Chandler to Anthony without sacrificing a single core piece in the process. It allows New York to become a legit title contender in the East. Nothing more needs to be said.
Remarkably, Minnesota might come up even shorter than Denver here. The Wolves are one of only two teams, along with the Sacramento Kings, to have legit cap space, and that's proven to be a powerful trade deadline asset. To turn that space into Anthony Randolph, still a project, and enough cash to cover the difference between the remaining money owed to Curry and Brewer doesn't seem like a very good return on that asset. Surely there are better offers out there, either now or as we get closer to the deadline.
Any time two of the three teams are coming up short, that's probably a good sign this deal isn't going down as reported. But this triad of teams is worth keeping an eye on, purely for financial reasons. The Knicks have money to burn and a desire to get a deal done; given their respective ownership groups, both Denver and Minnesota are always in the market for financially beneficial moves and, in this case, Minnesota is in a perfect position to help make that kind of deal happen.
There's no reason to believe that these three sides shouldn't continue talking in an effort to craft a more even proposal that benefits all of the involved parties. But this iteration is lacking some needed clarity.