From ‘the focal point’ to the trading block
You know when a general manager, or a president of basketball operations, changes their mind from you being a ‘focal point of the organization’ to shuttling the season and getting some return on investment for your value, you might no longer be the focal point of that organization.
All one has to do is remember how Isaiah Thomas was treated just a couple months after losing his sister and then Boston losing in the playoffs to find he had gone from focal point of the organization to a middle of the night phone call from Danny Ainge to trying to fit into a Cleveland Cavaliers roster that wanted no part of him.
Such is the case with players like Kevin Love, Jrue Holiday, Steven Adams, and what we initially believed to be the situation for D’Angelo Russell, now that December 15th has come and gone.
Trade eligible folks are Jabari Parker, Vince Carter, Brad Wanamaker, Enes Kanter, Javonte Green, Kemba Walker, Vincent Poirier, DeAndre Jordan and David Nwaba. Others include Garrett Temple, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Theo Pinson, Wilson Chandler, Terry Rozier, Cody Martin, Daniel Gafford, Luke Kornet, Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, Boban Marjanovic, Delon Wright, J.J. Barea, and Seth Curry.
There’s also Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, Tim Frazier, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Willie Cauley-Stein, Austin Rivers, Ben McLemore, Danuel House Jr., Gerald Green, Tyson Chandler, Edmond Sumner, JaKarr Sampson, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. McConnell.
Just from the two L.A. teams, there is Derrick Walton, JaMychal Green, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Patterson, Terance Mann, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, Jared Dudley, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook, Rajon Rondo, and Troy Daniels.
One or both of the L.A. teams could make a move.
Who else is available? How about Jonas Valanciunas, Marko Guduric, Tyus Jones, Jimmy Butler, Udonis Haslem, Brook Lopez, Dragan Bender, George Hill, Kyle Korver, Robin Lopez, Thanasis Antetokuonmpo, Wesley Matthews, Jake Layman, Jordan Bell, Naz Reid, Noah Vonleh, Nicolo Melli, J.J. Redick (he’s not going anywhere, according to David Griffin), and Bobby Portis.
Others still include Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Justin Patton, Mike Muscala, Nerlens Noel, Al-Farouq Aminu, Michael Carter-Williams, Terrence Ross, Al Horford, Furkan Korkmaz, James Ennis, Kyle O’Quinn, Mike Scott, Raul Neto, Shake Milton, Trey Burke, Cheick Diallo, Frank Kaminsky, Jalen Lecque, and Ricky Rubio.
Last, but certainly not least, it could be anyone from this bunch: Anthony Tolliver, Mario Hezonja, Rodney Hood, Cory Joseph, Dewayne Dedmon, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes, Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, DeMarre Carroll, Trey Lyles, Matt Thomas, Patrick McCaw, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson, Terence Davis, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jeff Green, Ishmael Smith, Justin Robinson, and the aforementioned Isaiah Thomas himself. Again.
Don’t expect any of the big names to be moved, other than the four I originally mentioned, and Russell has gone to iffy at best with Golden State’s situation.
But if I’m the Lakers, I take a runner at Holiday; may have to give up Kyle Kuzma and more/cash/picks. The Davis/Holiday reunion may be the key to a Laker championship or close but no cigar(s).
Another key pick up for either L.A. team could be Wesley Matthews, who’s languishing in Milwaukee.
There won’t be a boon like last summer’s free agency circus … but December 15th to the trade deadline is my second favorite time of year in the NBA behind summer.
Los Angeles Lakers 102
Indiana Pacers 105
Last night’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers was nothing more than the classic tale of the Tortoise and the Hare … except the hare’s team was without it’s biggest bunny, Anthony Davis. Indiana went down in the first quarter, but chipped away in the other three and slowly and steadily won the race. The combination they speculated wouldn’t work in Indy – Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis – took full advantage of Davis not patrolling the paint or stretching them with his outside shooting, and downed the Lakers for their fourth loss of the season, putting them on a possible losing streak as they head to Milwaukee to take on the Eastern Conference leading Bucks.
|LOS ANGELES (24-4)||INDIANA (19-9)|
20 points – nine rebounds – nine assists
26 points – 10 rebounds – four assists
20 points – six rebounds – two blocks
16 points – seven rebounds – two steals – two blocks
13 points – three rebounds – two assists – one steal
14 points – five rebounds – six assists – one block
Lakers at Bucks – Thursday
Kings at Pacers – Friday
Sacramento Kings 102
Charlotte Hornets 110
A couple of young ‘Cats squared off last night and it was Malik Monk getting the best of De’Aaron Fox, who returned to the Kings’ lineup after missing 17 games with an ankle injury. Sacramento got double digit scoring from seven players last night in Charlotte, but the Hornets took care of business in the first and fourth quarters to keep the Kings from disturbing the hive.
|SACRAMENTO (12-15)||CHARLOTTE (13-17)|
19 points – two rebounds – eight assists – two steals
23 points – 10 rebounds – four assists – one steal
|Marvin Bagley III|
14 points – seven rebounds – one assist
17 points – nine rebounds – four assists – two blocks
14 points – four rebounds – one assist
16 points – three rebounds – one steal – two blocks
Hornets at Cavaliers – Tonight
Kings at Pacers – Friday
Atlanta Hawks 120
New York Knicks 143
It was an old fashioned mugging in New York City last night as the Knicks posted a 77 point first half and robbed the Atlanta Hawks of their seventh win, kept it for themselves, and leaving the Hawks – not the Knicks – as the Eastern Conference’s worst team when all was said and done. The perpetrators have been identified as one R.J. Barrett, who was outgunned by Atlanta’s Trae Young, but led his team to the win nonetheless. Also, suspects Marcus Morris, Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, Kevin Knox, and Bobby Portis should also be in the lineup. Once identified, let them go, encourage them to continue on … because this was how Knicks basketball should be with Barrett and a glut of power forwards. It was Atlanta’s fifth consecutive loss.
|ATLANTA (6-22)||NEW YORK (7-21)|
42 points – four rebounds – eight assists
27 points – six rebounds – one assist – one steal
19 points – five rebounds – four assists – one steal
22 points – 13 rebounds – one steal – two blocks
15 points – one assist – two blocks
22 points – four rebounds – two assists
Jazz at Hawks – Thursday
Knicks at Heat – Friday
Brooklyn Nets 108
New Orleans Pelicans 101 (OT)
Brooklyn wanted to prove that the New York Knicks weren’t the only team from New York that was going to post a win on Tuesday night. After a strong rally by the New Orleans Pelicans in the third quarter, but the game was neck and neck down the stretch as Jrue Holiday and Spencer Dinwiddie both missed three pointers as the clock wound down to a 93-93 stalemate. Joe Harris led the Nets in the extra period and the Pelicans – who haven’t won in a month – lost their 22nd of the season.
|BROOKLYN (15-12)||NEW ORLEANS (6-22)|
31 points – seven rebounds – two assists – one steal
22 points – 10 rebounds – one assist – two blocks
24 points – six rebounds – three assists – one block
21 points – five rebounds – six assists – one steal – two blocks
12 points – 14 rebounds – one assist – six blocks
14 points – nine rebounds – one steal
Pelicans at Timberwolves – Tonight
Nets at Spurs – Thursday
Orlando Magic 102
Utah Jazz 109
A combined 60 from Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell, and a strong performance from Joe Ingles kept the Orlando Magic out of reach of their 13th win of the season, as they struggle to regain consistency and their identity with Nikola Vucevic back in the lineup; Vucevic dropped a modest 12 and 11 last night in his second game back from an 11 game absence. Meanwhile, Utah stays steady at the six spot in the Western Conference with the win, its 16th, and can tack on No. 17 at Atlanta tomorrow night. The Jazz held off a Magic rally in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
|ORLANDO (12-15)||UTAH (16-11)|
22 points – four rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block
30 points – five rebounds – five assists – one steal
19 points – one rebound – four assists
30 points – three rebounds – four assists
14 points – four rebounds – two assists – two steals
16 points – 12 rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Magic at Nuggets – Tonight
Jazz at Hawks – Thursday
Phoenix Suns 99
Los Angeles Clippers 120
I don’t mean to keep harping on this load management thing, but last night’s game against the Phoenix Suns could count as load management for the entire Los Angeles Clippers lineup, since all Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams had to do was score 20+ apiece last night for the easy win at home. Deandre Ayton looked good in his return from a 25 game suspension, but the Clippers looked better, despite having come home from two weeks on the road, where they went 4-2.
|PHOENIX (11-16)||LOS ANGELES (21-8)|
|Kelly Oubre, Jr.|
19 points – four rebounds – one assist – three steals – one block
24 points – three rebounds – one assist – three steals
18 points – 12 rebounds – three assists – one block
20 points – six rebounds – two assists – one steal
12 points – nine rebounds – five assists – two steals
20 points – two rebounds – eight assists
Rockets at Clippers – Thursday
Suns at Thunder – Friday
WEDNESDAY’S LINEUP / MY PICK ‘EMS
Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards – 7 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Chicago
Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers – 7 p.m. EST – ESPN
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves – 8 p.m. EST – FSN
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets – 9 p.m. EST – Altitude
Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks – 9:30 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Boston
Golden State Warriors at Portland Trailblazers – 10 p.m. EST – ESPN
Tracy Graven is a Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, and done NBA radio, for the last two decades for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, and HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show and NBARadioShow.com, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 20 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City.
A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia
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