Bernucca: NBA Buyout Season’s Winners and Losers

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I’m kinda high on what the Charlotte Bobcats did with Ben Gordon.220px-Gordon7_20091204

The Bobcats waived Gordon on Sunday, preventing him from appearing in the postseason should he sign with another team. While they may have alienated his agent – not a trifle thing in the business world of the NBA – two things should be pointed out.

1. When teams waive or buy out players at this time of the season, they are essentially establishing a price they are willing to pay to that player to not play for them.

2. In this case, the Bobcats made it impossible for Gordon to come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

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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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Bernucca: Who Is On Your Team’s Mount Rushmore?

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rushmoreThis past week, NBA TV released excerpts of an extended interview with LeBron James (airing in its entirety Monday night) in which Steve Smith asked “The King” to name his Mount Rushmore of basketball.

James offered a quartet of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. But it’s really an unfair question, because in addition to those four players, there are at least three more – centers Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell – who are in the “best ever” conversation. And that group doesn’t include active players who eventually will join the conversation as well, like Kobe Bryant and James himself.

A better exercise might be establishing a Mount Rushmore for each team.

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Bernucca: Grading the Trades That Have Already Been Made

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Andrew_Bynum_CavsSince training camp opened, there have been five significant trades involving 10 teams, 19 players and seven draft picks.

The big winners have been a team that got rid of the highest scorer among the traded players and a team that acquired a player who has yet to play. The big loser has been a team that swears by analytics.

Another way to look at it is like this: The biggest trades thus far have been the ones that haven’t been made – Omer Asik for Thaddeus Young, Carmelo Anthony for Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol for just about anybody.

And with six weeks until the trading deadline, there will be plenty more trades that are and aren’t made.

But we can’t grade those. So we graded the ones that have been made.

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Bernucca: A very early look at free agency

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When former AAU teammates Dwight Howard and Josh Smith were not traded Thursday, they made the offseason all the more interesting.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak held onto Howard and Hawks GM Danny Ferry was unsuccessful in trying to trade Smith. And there is no guarantee that either player is sticking around this summer, possibly leaving $30 million on the table for a fresh start elsewhere.

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