Despite 61, LeBron not Player of the Week

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Carmelo AnthonyHow do you score 61 points in a game and not get named NBA Player of the Week?

Well, if you’re LeBron James, you total 58 points in the three ensuing games, all losses.

James and the Miami Heat had one of their worst three-game stretches of the season, minimizing the impact of his 61-point explosion a week ago and giving Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors to Carmelo Anthony, whose New York Knicks had a rare good week.

Anthony averaged  29.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.8 steals as the Knicks went 3-1 and remained on the fringes of the East playoff race. 

Bernucca: Feeling the Heat, Pacers Had To Make a Move

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Lance StephensonAll season, the Indiana Pacers have maintained that homecourt advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, and their chemistry will give them a great chance to dethrone the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat.

Are both slipping away?

In the last two weeks, Indiana’s grip on the East’s best record has loosened considerably. And the Pacers’  big move at Thursday’s trading deadline, acquiring Evan Turner, illustrated that their belief in chemistry may have been overstated.

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Magic Waive Hedo Turkoglu, Move $5 Million Under Cap

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Hedo_Turkoglu_MagicThe Orlando Magic on Friday waived Hedo Turkoglu, who likely will become a free agent.

Turkoglu was in the final year of a contract paying him $12 million this season. However, only $6 million was guaranteed. GM Rob Hennigan saved the other $6 million by waiving Turkoglu by Jan. 7, the day all contracts become fully guaranteed.

Waiving Turkoglu moves the Magic approximately $5 million under the cap and makes them a potential player leading up to the trading deadline as a facilitator in a three-team deal or taking back more salary in a conventional trade.

Turkoglu has not spent of of this season with the Magic, who are rebuilding with young players. The sides were unable to agree on a buyout, and Hennigan was unable to trade Turkoglu’s contract for an asset.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal out at least two weeks with leg injury

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Bradley BealBad news for the Wizards, who have yet to see a minute of No. 3 pick Otto Porter. Here’s the press release:

The Washington Wizards announced today that guard Bradley Beal has been diagnosed with a stress injury to his proximal right fibula.  He will miss the next two weeks and then be re-evaluated.   The injury was diagnosed by team doctors following an MRI exam on Monday after Beal experienced soreness in his right leg.

Beal has appeared in all 13 games for the Wizards this season, averaging 20.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 40.2 minutes.  He missed the final eight games of last season due to a stress injury to his distal right fibula.

Southeast Division 2013-14 Team-by-Team Previews

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LeBron JamesNothing matters in this division, or in the entire NBA for that matter, until June.

That’s when we’ll have our answer: Were the Miami Heat good enough to three-peat? That is the first question on people’s minds as we head into the upcoming season, and it brings to mind the following question: If the Heat don’t three-peat, will the Big Three go their separate ways?

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have opt-outs in their contracts, and all are a year older with a little less tread on their tires. Heck, James is even a married man now, and Wade is tying the knot for the second time. (Somebody needs to do an analysis of how players perform in the season after they are married vs. the previous season.)

There will be no competition in this division, OK? Everyone will be looking way up at the Heat, who will be chasing homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. And they are not going to make the mistake of taking the Indiana Pacers lightly. James, Wade and Bosh all have extensive experience doing battle with Luis Scola from their Team USA (and Team Argentina) glory days, and nobody needs a reminder of how effective Indiana’s low-post tandem of Roy Hibbert and David West was during last season’s seven-game Eastern Conference finals.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, no?

This is, after all, a five-team division in which the second-place team last season – the Atlanta Hawks – finished a mere 22 games behind Miami.


By Diego Quezada


Although Wade said he wants to stay in Miami, perhaps a disappointing season with an aging core could give James pause about re-upping with the Heat. Already a champion as a supporting player, Bosh may want the spotlight. Regardless of whether the Heat three-peat, it is entirely plausible that key role players such as Ray Allen and Shane Battier will retire after this season.

And even if James re-signs, Heat president Pat Riley may have to build up another championship-caliber supporting cast without many salary cap exceptions at his disposal. That all leaves the spotlight squarely on Miami yet again.

The Heat come into this season with much of the same roster that won the title in June. But the punitive luxury tax penalties led them to amnesty Mike Miller, who was overpaid and injured but nevertheless managed to contribute during playoff runs.

Miami also added former top overall pick Greg Oden, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2009. Will he mitigate the impact Indiana’s Roy Hibbert and other imposing bigs could have against the Heat? We’ll see.




By Daniel Christian


The Atlanta Hawks, on the other hand, don’t seem to be afraid of low ceilings and high floors, despite the fact they have spent the last five seasons as the league’s shining beacon of mediocrity. This new direction in Atlanta, though, is not a race toward the same mediocrity that has been the unfortunate national staple of this team since 2009; instead, it is a race towards flexibility, something that can potentially be far more valuable than high draft picks – and far more dangerous, too.

That is why it is too early to laud GM Danny Ferry’s strategic rebuild. There are two reasons we should reserve judgment: (a) The rebuild is not even remotely finished and (b) there is no way to determine the longevity of the recently acquired pieces. We have only learned that anyone is fair game, everyone is trade bait and Ferry takes no prisoners. How this will end, nobody knows.

But the Hawks again are going to be a competitive team.




By Ben Standig


Washington kept its primary core of players and inked some – including point guard John Wall – to lucrative deals. Coach Randy Wittman and president Ernie Grunfeld also are back, though both enter the final year of their respective contracts.

The franchise’s negatives are obvious even if they center more on the demoralizing past. Not just five straight seasons without a playoff berth, but just five postseason appearances total over the last quarter century. There have been optimistic times in that span, but injuries, knuckleheads, short-sighted decisions and just plain bad luck have derailed previous plans.

Yet there are reasons why what’s happening now should not be lumped in with the past. It starts with Wall, who missed the opening 33 games last season with a knee injury. Returning with the team sporting a brutal 5-28 mark, his playmaking helped spark the Wizards to go 24-19 over the next 43 games. It also landed the point guard an $80 million contract extension.




By Ben Swanson


This offseason was an eventful one for the Bobcats and their fans. It started the same as the previous one: looking for a new coach. This time, the search did not last quite as long as they snapped up long-time Jeff Van Gundy assistant Steve Clifford. Then they stunned analysts and fans alike at the draft by selecting Cody Zeller over Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and Alex Len at fourth overall.

With newfound financial flexibility because of DeSagana Diop’s expiring contract, the Bobcats played more aggressively in free agency. They set their sights squarely on former Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson, a big man with an offensive arsenal in the post the team has never had. After years of languishing in the paint struggling to get much offense out of Bismack Biyombo or Byron Mullens, the Bobcats leapt at the chance to sign Jefferson for about $41 million over three years.




By Evan Dunlap

Orlando Pinstriped Post


After a surprisingly strong 12-13 start which had some folks around the NBA wondering if they could make the playoffs, the Magic floundered to the finish, losing 49 of their final 57 games. Along the way, they lost Glen Davis to two injuries – one which would ultimately end his season – and dealt J.J. Redick and two others to the Milwaukee Bucks for a package including Tobias Harris.

A three-game skid to end the season, coupled with Charlotte’s three-game winning streak, gave Orlando the league’s worst record and a 25 percent chance to win the lottery. But the Cleveland Cavaliers leapfrogged the Magic to snag the top pick, leaving Orlando to take Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo – who was atop their draft board anyway.

The Magic worked on the fringes of the free agency period, adding eight-year veterans Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price to shore up their depth and strengthen their locker room. Neither player figures to be part of Orlando’s long-term plans – the second year on each player’s contract is non-guaranteed.