We at Bulls by the Horns realize that you’re busy and don’t have the time to go searching through website after website for some interesting, NBA related reads. So, every Saturday, we’ll gather the articles we’ve found interesting and put them together for you in one place.
The trade deadline passed on Thursday afternoon and there weren’t any blockbuster deals, but certainly a few that warranted further discussion. We’ll start this week with a Friday Five on ESPN.com that breaks down some of the week’s biggest moves and non-moves. The first topic they looked at was the Pacers’ trade of Danny Granger for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Surprisingly, most of the panel thought that it wasn’t a big move for the Pacers and doesn’t really move the needle in their push for a championship this season. They also touched on the Celtics’ decision to keep Rajon Rondo and how involved Kobe Bryant should be in the Lakers’ decision-making process moving forward.
With a lack of moves at the deadline, Tom Ziller broke down the big transactions that could happen this upcoming offseason. Ziller mentioned that the Knicks, Timberwolves, Pistons, Lakers, Rockets, Suns, and Pelicans all have uncertain futures going forward and decided to pass on any moves at the deadline to wait for the market to improve or simply change in the summer. Ziller highlighted the Carmelo Anthony situation in New York as the event that should really get the offseason going, but also mentioned that Minnesota should also be very interesting with Kevin Love’s impending free agency in the summer of 2015. Free agency drama along with one of the most hyped draft classes in recent memory should make the offseason very interesting to a lot of teams.
Though the deadline might have been boring, there will be some excitement in the next week as teams start to buy out the contracts of veteran players. Now, the signing of an aging veteran may not sound all that exciting, but it can be the impact move to make for many of the contending teams living in fear of the tax line. With that in mind, Rob Mahoney at Sports Illustrated broke down some of the potential difference makers that have already been bought out or might be bought out in the coming days. Among those candidates are Glen Davis, Earl Clark, Roger Mason Jr., Antawn Jamison, Danny Granger, Ben Gordon and Metta World Peace. In fact, World Peace’s agent tweeted that the Knicks are beginning to work on a buyout, which sent World Peace’s brother Daniel Artest into an entertaining Twitter tirade railing against the entire Knicks organization Saturday morning.
While most wanted to focus on the action off of the floor this week, actual basketball was played and the Bulls blew out the Nuggets on Friday night. The blowout infuriated Nuggets coach Brian Shaw so much that he completely let loose in his post-game press conference in Chicago. “I told our team I wish paychecks were predicated on night-to-night performance,” said Shaw. He went on to speak even more about the complete lack of effort and his desire to play newly acquired players and young guys because he knew that “they’re going to be hungry” and “they’re going to want to play”. It has been a rough season for Shaw in his first year as a head coach for the Nuggets and it doesn’t look like it is going to get much better anytime soon.
Some of the reason for Shaw’s freak-out could be credited to the Bulls’ most effective player last night D.J. Augustin, who recorded 22 points and 8 assists. Augustin has been sensational since joining the Bulls in November and James Herbert wrote that Augustin might be this season’s most prominent reminder of how quickly things can change in the NBA. Herbert wrote that Augustin has not changed much as a player, but his opportunity has changed greatly with his new team. Rather than being forced to produce off the bench, Augustin has been allowed to function as a primary playmaker in Chicago and regularly gets the chance to show off his skills without restrictions.
Noam Schiller at Hardwood Paroxysm also took a look at how quickly things can change in the NBA, but his profile took a look at a player trending in the opposite direction. Schiller examined how the Bucks’ Larry Sanders finds himself in an interesting situation as his “career arc” has now been broken. Sanders was developing in a pretty typical “career arc” as he struggled in his first two seasons, but seemed to figure things out in his third year last season before this nightmare of a season occurred. Schiller believes Sanders will prove to be an interesting case study because no one really knows what to expect from a player, who has had their developmental path broken so strongly in just a single season.
Another player with an interesting career arc is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has been unable to avoid injuries in the last few seasons and the Thunder have been forced to forge on without him for extended periods of time. This week, Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry dissected whether or not this week’s popular #HotSportsTake (The Thunder are better without Russell Westbrook!!!) was actually correct. When looking at the numbers for the Thunder’s most used lineups with and without Westbrook, he found that the Thunder are undoubtedly better without him this season. Though the numbers look to support the notion that the Thunder are better without Westbrook, Goldsberry warned against such a rash judgment because of the Thunder’s complete inability to function last postseason without Westbrook. So, in the end, no one really knows the answer to this question, but it sure is fun to write about.
Though the All-Star Game presented many interesting stories, the best story might have been Sir Foster, the game’s in-arena organist. Sir Foster made some news by being the greatest organist of all-time and covering “Southernplayalisticadillacmusik”, “Rude Boy”, “Public Service Announcement”, and “Whistle While You Twurk” during the game.
As rumors swirl about a possible second Space Jam movie, we will end this week’s edition of What We’re Reading with USA Today’s Sean Highkin’s breakdown of NBA players that should star in Space Jam 2.
That’s all for this week. Remember…reading is FUNdamental.