Sheridan: Top 10 Players Most Likely to be Traded

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feb20There are three days left until the trade deadline, the best Thursday of the season, no matter what TNT might say. Folks stay glued to their Twitter feeds awaiting word of who is heading where, with 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET the most riveting two hours of the entire season.

This season, with so many weak Eastern Conference teams trying to add a difference maker that would allow them to compete with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, and with the Western Conference race basically a nine-team affair, there is a strong desire to get better immediately among at least half of the teams in the league.

Does that mean that 15 teams will be involved in trades? Heck no. That only happens on draft night.

Tweet of the Night: Jamal Crawford in awe of Blake Griffin’s monster dunk against Kris Humphries

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Seemingly every year, some poor soul gets viciously posterized by someone from the Los Angeles Clippers. It happened last season when DeAndre Jordan nearly murdered Brandon Knight, and it happened again on Wednesday when Blake Griffin struck against the Boston Celtics.

It’s actually been quite a while since Griffin really put someone on a jaw-dropping, signature poster since doing this to Kendrick Perkins a couple of seasons ago. When Griffin rises for a dunk, players simply know better than to stand in his way.

Still, he was practically due to get someone good, and it finally happened again on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics, as seen below:

He didn’t quite get as much air on this one against Kris Humphries as he did on Perkins on the “throw-in” dunk, but it was pretty nasty nonetheless. After the contest, his teammate Jamal Crawford had this to say:

Smh, indeed.

Tweet of the Day: Spencer Hawes Supports Dan Le Batard

Tweet of the Night: Andrew Bogut appreciates kind gesture of the Bucks fans

James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog

SH Blog: Something is off with Curry’s shot, Deng upset with contract rumors, Wallace blasts teammates again

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Steph CurrySomething is wrong with Stephen Curry’s shot this season.

When the Golden State Warriors guard shoots, it’s almost never considered a bad shot. The reason behind that logic is simple: it’s not considered a bad shot if you make it. In past years, Curry almost always made shots that would be considered a bad shot if anyone else took it, like this one, for example.

This season, however, Curry has simply been off his shooting game. For the first time in his career, he is shooting under 43.7 percent from the 3-point line. In fact, he is nowhere near that number. The 39.6 percent (and that will go down even further after shooting just two-of-10 against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday) shooting from long-range makes Curry no better than very good with all things considered (attempts per game), and that’s a far cry from the “best shooter ever” label that many have put on him over the years. In comparison, he shot a whopping 45.3 percent from beyond the arc last season – over six percent better than what he’s shooting now.

An argument can be made that the loss of a secondary ball-handling point guard like Jarrett Jack plays into Curry’s struggles this season. The Warriors have been scrambling to find a legitimate backup to Curry all season long, and have found no answers in Toney Douglas, Nemanja Nedovic and Kent Bazemore. But from what I’ve seen, this is not the only reason for Curry’s struggles. Simply put, he has missed a boat load of shots that he would normally make – wide-open ones, even – that he has not missed on a consistent basis in the past. The ability to “make shots from anywhere” has somewhat become more of a myth than reality this season. It’s easy to see the difference when you compare his shot chart from this season and last - particularly from the right side. 

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Bernucca: No extensions will be best thing for Bledsoe, Vasquez

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Ryan McDonough GM SunsWhen the deadline for contract extensions came and went Thursday night, point guards Eric Bledsoe and Greivis Vasquez didn’t get paid.

But don’t shed any tears for them. Because when the summer rolls around, they will get their money. And it might be GMs Ryan McDonough of Phoenix and Pete D’Alessandro of Sacramento who are crying.

As reluctant as McDonough and D’Alessandro may have been to pony up for point guards with plenty to prove, they should have done so. Both GMs are relatively young, so they may not remember this commercial from the early 1980s that came with good advice.

You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.

Both GMs chose to potentially pay their players later, and it may cost them millions, given the numbers Bledsoe and Vasquez have a chance to put up this season as they enter a fallow free agent market.

Yes, there’s plenty of big names headed to free agency next summer – Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph, just to name a few.

Notice anything about the guys on that list?

None are point guards.

Here are the best veteran free agent point guards on the market next summer: Mario Chalmers, Devin Harris, Ramon Sessions, Kirk Hinrich, Rodney Stuckey, Steve Blake, Beno Udrih, Luke Ridnour and Kyle Lowry. In addition, Jameer Nelson could be available if Orlando (or another team) buys out his $2 million guarantee for 2014-15. All capable players – with a combined two All-Star berths among them.

Bledsoe turns just 24 next summer and Vasquez will be 27. Even as restricted free agents with shorter resumes, they immediately go to the top of that list.

The Suns snared Bledsoe in the summer, when the Clippers realized they wouldn’t be able to pay him and decided Phoenix Suns vs Maccabi Haifato get something for him now rather than later. Apparently, Clippers GM Gary Sacks has seen the commercial. McDonough smartly saw him as an ideal piece to his rebuilding project in the Valley, a young player with a high ceiling.

But Bledsoe had never been a starter, and McDonough was understandably apprehensive about giving him starter’s money. The GM also had the more established Goran Dragic’s three remaining years as an insurance policy, so he decided not to pull the trigger on a deal that probably would have cost him anywhere from $32 million to $40 million over four years.

Less than 24 hours later, Bledsoe began his salary drive by scoring Phoenix’s final 14 points vs. Utah, including the game-winning 3-pointer in the final second.

The Kings also acquired Vasquez in the summer as part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent Tyreke Evans to New Orleans. Last season – his first as a starter – Vasquez averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 assists. The only point guard with better numbers in both categories was a guy named Chris Paul.

But D’Alessandro had to drop $62 million to extend DeMarcus Cousins, whom new owner Vivek Ranadive anointed as a cornerstone. He also had an insurance policy in point guard Isaiah Thomas and chose not to extend Vasquez, probably at around $10 million per year.

Both GMs can match any offer Bledsoe and Vasquez get from other teams next summer. And there are going to be offers, because plenty of teams need point guards.

Like Toronto, which can let Lowry walk and put some of its young assets in a sign-and-trade.

Or Milwaukee, where Brandon Knight is not the long-term guy. The Bucks can get down to about $48 million if they don’t make a qualifying offer to the immortal Ekpe Udoh.

Or Orlando, which can get to about $34 million by buying out Nelson, declining some options and deciding if they are serious about making Victor Oladipo a point guard.

Want better landing spots? How about Miami, where Norris Cole is the only player on the books right now. The Heat could let Chris Bosh walk and target Bledsoe.

Or New York, where Raymond Felton really isn’t the answer. The Knicks don’t have any room, but that has never Steve Nashstopped them before.

Or Los Angeles, where Steve Nash could be moved into a backup mentor role in the last year of his deal while giving the reins to Vasquez or Bledsoe.

If Bledsoe gets a big offer next summer, McDonough can easily match because he could have as much as $25 million in cap room. But D’Alessandro can only get his payroll down to about $57 million – and that doesn’t factor in Thomas, who will be unrestricted.

In the NBA’s new financial age, teams are more reluctant to commit to long-term deals of any value because of the punitive repeater tax – which is exactly why McDonough should have signed Bledsoe and D’Alessandro should have signed Vasquez.

It’s hard to imagine either player costing less next summer.

TRIVIA: Who is the only active NBA player with championship rings from different teams? Answer below.

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Sprung: What does Brad Stevens bring to rebuilding Celtics?

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200px-Brad_Stevens_on_Butler_sidelineBROOKLYN– Brad Stevens is new to the NBA, and the Boston Celtics have had to grow familiar with his brand of coaching over the course of training camp and the preseason.

With just about two weeks before the start of the season – and a new era for the franchise – the Celtics seem pleased with the progress the team is making under Stevens’ early stewardship.

If general manager Danny Ainge’s plan for the franchise is for the rookie coach to grow along with his young team, it seems to be working at this juncture despite Tuesday night’s 82-80 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s going to take a lot of patience this season with the Celtics, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett now members of the Nets and Rajon Rondo (who was unavailable to the media Tuesday) still injured.