Before we just recklessly cannonball right in, let’s take a look and see how deep the water is.
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SH Blog: ‘Wolves and Grizzlies looking to deal, Nets want Hill and Jack, Knicks after Lowry or Teague
A memorable All-Star weekend has come and gone, and now it’s back to business as usual.
With the trade deadline just days away, teams will look to do whatever they can to improve their current situation. Without wasting any time, lets get right to what’s going on around the league.
TIMBERWOLVES AND GRIZZLIES LOOKING TO DEAL?
Both teams are currently out of the playoff picture in the West, but the Memphis Grizzlies are just 1 1/2 games behind the Golden State Warriors for the eighth seed. Looking to bolster their roster, they are in discussion with the Minnesota Timberwolves about a deal involving Chase Budinger, Tayshaun Prince and perhaps some other moving parts, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
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:
— John Rohde (@RohdeOK) January 29, 2014
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…
You 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.
In his desire to trade Pau Gasol, the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers should not have insisted on receiving Dion Waiters or a first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody has overpaid for a rental since Ernie Grunfeld sent Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton — and that was a long time ago.
Kupchak should have lowered his demands to match the team’s expectations. The Lakers are done for this season and should be singularly committed to one agenda: Making sure this rare down period for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises doesn’t last more than one season.
Kupchak should be tanking.
Some of the telltale signs already are in place. The Lakers have a bloated payroll of aging, overpaid players, almost all of them on expiring contracts. Injuries to their stars have hampered their ability to compete on their customary high level. They already are fading fast in the Western Conference playoff race.