SH Blog: Nene to miss six weeks, Clippers interested in World Peace, Jamal Crawford wants to come off bench

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NeneNot unlike seasons of past, key players for many teams around the league have missed significant time due to a variety of injuries this season.

It looked as though Nene Hilario would suffer a similar fate – and then some – when he went down with a scary looking knee injury against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Some in the organization feared that it may have been bad enough to be season-ending.

Lucky for the Washington Wizards, the power forward suffered nothing more than a sprained ligament, from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports

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Scotto: Midseason Report Cards for Knicks and Nets

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knicks-vs-brooklyn-nets-at-barclays-centerBefore the season, championship expectations were attached to both the Knicks and the Nets.

The Knicks were coming off the team’s first season with at least 50 or more wins and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals since the 1999-2000 campaign, when Jeff Van Gundy patrolled the sidelines, Patrick Ewing wrapped up his final season in New York and Allan Houston was in the prime of his career.

The Nets were coming off their first trip to the playoffs in six years and considered the winners of the offseason after landing future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, along with Jason Terry, in a blockbuster trade with the Celtics.

However, neither team has lived up to the hype with the All-Star break now upon us.

With that in mind, it’s time to break down the season into four sections for both teams: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Future.

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SH Blog: Knicks and Nuggets Revisit Shumpert-Faried Trade; LeBron Says He Is Top Four All-Time; Trade Possibilities Around The NBA

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ImanShumpertAs the February 21st NBA trade deadline looms over All-Star weekend, there is no shortage of news and rumors around the league.

We’ll take a look at which teams have the ammunition to make major moves before next weeks deadline, which players can be on the move, and everything else happening in the league today. 

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Sixth Man Rankings: Waiting on Russell Westbrook to determine the field

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JR SmithGood news, everyone: It’s too early to be a downer about the Sixth Man race.

While the candidates look admittedly boring today, we’re not even at the All-Star break yet. There are events coming in the not-so-distant future that will make this race exciting.

For now, the candidates just seem disappointing because we’re still spoiled from last year’s perfect storm.

In 2012-2013, we had J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford and Jarrett Jack dueling it out for the top spot on a weekly basis. They were all indispensable sparkplug scorers for playoff-bound teams. They made the race fun by taking turns putting on memorable performances in the nationally televised regular season games. It became one of the most entertaining Sixth Man Award races in recent history because each candidate deserved so much consideration.

When 2013-2014 started, it looked like Smith, Crawford and Jack were going to have newfound competition from the likes of Tyreke Evans and Harrison Barnes.

Unfortunately, Evans has been nabbed by injuries all season and Barnes has simply failed to live up to his sophomore expectations.

Beyond the newcomers failing to meet their hype, the candidates we took for granted going into the season are currently off the radar this year.

Smith’s nightmare postseason from last year has flowed seamlessly into a nightmare regular season. While he’s slowly starting to turn it around (18.7 points over his last 10 games!), the hole he dug himself in the awards race (and with his own fans) appears too deep to overcome now.

Crawford was a promising candidate at the start of the year. He held control of the rankings for most of last season and looked poised to reclaim his spot atop the rankings for this season. However, in December he was inserted into the Clippers’ starting lineup to fill in for injuries. He has stayed in the starting lineup ever since.

Fortunately, Crawford figures to return to the bench soon as Chris Paul gets set to return to the court. Our award race will get instantly more compelling when Crawford gets more reps in from off the bench. But for at least one more week, he’s on the outside looking in.

Jack’s failure to recapture last year’s numbers has an obvious correlation to the team he’s currently playing for. Last year, with Golden State, he had an enviable role as the Warriors’ third guard. Surrounded by lethal shooters and playmakers, Jack thrived with newfound space and trust in the offense.

Now, playing in Cleveland, Jack’s team is horrendous and it’s affecting his abilities to contribute effectively. His scoring is down considerably (from 12.9 points to 8.9) and his distributing has been fallen off as well (from 5.6 assists to 3.7). While some projected him to be a favorite for the award entering the season, he now looks untradeable due to his enormous contract.

So as we stand here today, two weeks before the trade deadline, the fate of this year’s Sixth Man Award race hangs on the shoulders of Oklahoma City’s training staff.

When Russell Westbrook does return from injury, Reggie Jackson will instantaneously return to the top of rankings and serve as a worthy challenger to Markieff Morris (and hopefully Jamal Crawford).

Jackson has 26 starts on the season in comparison to only 25 games off the bench.

While Westbrook’s return date is undetermined, it looks like Jackson will return to his sixth man role sooner rather than later:

If this is true, we should expect to see a competitive and high quality race by early March. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Now, on to the rankings…

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Irving & Deng realizing false hopes and unfulfilled promises for Cleveland Cavaliers

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KyrieYou have to be in a special kind of mess as a franchise to be playing the Knicks and be considered the more dysfunctional team in the matchup. That’s what happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. The Cavs may be in the worst situation among any NBA team, a hot mess and a dumpster fire in a frigid North American winter.