Tag Archives: Utah Jazz

NBA teams make moves in preparation for another big free agency

As the NBA Draft came round the corner and free agency lurked on the horizon, it’s usually that time of year where teams begin to strong-arm themselves into a position. Whether that be a clear rebuild, shifting assets to have more money or adding players to look like a more enticing unit to a prospective free agent, everyone wants to show their hand.


Teague is a super pick up for the Pacers. Source: slamonline.com

That started when the Indiana Pacers traded for Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague in a real statement move from a franchise ready to compete now. Teague is a former All-Star, an excellent scorer in the paint and should relieve some of the workload from Paul George.

Add those two to some interesting pieces like Myles Turner and the newly acquired Thaddeus Young and Indiana could be a dangerous team in the East. They pushed the Toronto Raptors to seven games and despite losing coach Frank Vogel, they are a side to keep an eye on going forward.

Atlanta are handing the keys to Dennis Schroder, who has impressed in spurts, as well as freeing up some cap space. They are desperate to resign Al Horford and Teague was seen as dispencable with the German waiting in the wings behind him.

They gained a first-round pick from the Utah Jazz, who selected Taurean Prince for them, and he at least defensively will be a replacement should Horford go. That also sets up a piece for their future, which must be the direction the Hawks will go in if they struggle to compete in the upcoming free agency.

Utah gain George Hill from this trade and it’s a tidy piece of business for them. They’ve struggled at the guard position and to get an underrated veteran that can play both the one and the two will help this team reach another level in terms of competing for a playoff spot.

Whether they will compete for some low-level free agents to push them even further on is yet to be seen but this was still a solid move. Whether it’ll be worth the 12th pick in the draft remains to be seen but they will not be disappointed with what Hill will bring to this team


Rose to New York is a no-lose situation for the Knicks. Source: sportingnews.com

Another team that have made a big move is the New York Knicks, who traded for Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks definitely needed to get better and Rose is certainly an upgrade, even if he has lost a step since his knee injuries over the last few years.

He’s still a good driver and had a slightly better season last time out, which means he’s worth the one-year risk to see if he can become a great player in the league again. The only worry will be that he, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis all need to get their shots with none of them regarded as excellent assist makes.

Chicago needed this break as much as Rose did and with his deal winding down, they got as much as they could for him. Robin Lopez is a solid starter in this league, especially as they are resigned to losing both Joachim Noah and Pau Gasol, and Jose Calderon can be a stop-gap player while they find a new point guard.

It also opens up the fact that Jimmy Butler is now the star on this team but the fact they looked to deal him to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night should worry fans. The Bulls look just about ready for a rebuild and this could be a tricky season for them.

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five

If Ibaka can rediscover his form and gets more involved offensively, this could be a really good move for the Magic. Source: Sportal.co.nz

The final big deal happened on draft night itself as the Oklahoma City Thunder moved Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic. The team in the East get a solid-to-great player that has stagnated a little in the last few years, especially after looking like a defensive beast back in 2012-13.

He is solid from three-point range and if he can rediscover his form as a leader on a young, improving team then this is a great addition. It frees up Elfrid Payton as the starter at point guard, he’ll pull attention away from Nikola Vucevic and with new coach Vogel at the helm, the Magic are on the rise.

As for the Thunder, there is zero chance that this deal was not sanctioned without the explicit consent of Kevin Durant. A lot will be on hold while we wait to see where KD will be next season but OKC will do everything in their power to convince him to stay for at least one more year.

Victor Oladipo was a great pickup, who could even start at the two-guard and give the team another solid scoring option. He could even be a leader as a sixth-man if Dion Waiters bolts town and he should be a great third option for the team going forward.

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Damian Lillard comes out swinging after All-Star snub

This man is on a real tear.  Source: SB Nation

This man is on a real tear. Source: SB Nation

The message has been sent, loud and clear. Do not snub Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard, he will come back to haunt you.

The young point guard was passed over for the All-Star game in Toronto, admittedly amid a tough crowd of guards, but he has been exceptional. Averaging a career-high 25.1 points per game and 7.2 assists after being handed the face of the franchise since LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure is no mean feat.

In fact, comparing him to some other superstars shows you how well he’s doing. His three-point percentage (37.2%) is better than the likes of James Harden and DeMar DeRozan, while he also has more assists per game (7.2) than the best player in the NBA at this moment in time, Stephen Curry.

Lillard is solid from the free-throw line (86.2%), his turnover ratio is similar to other All-Star talent on similar minutes too. The main attribute he’s behind on is steals, his average of 1.1, is way below the likes of Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul, who all average at least 2.

Not many put Curry on skates.  Source: YouTube

Not many put Curry on skates. Source: YouTube

However, Portland fans are starting to chant MVP since his snub and for good reason, the former Rookie of the Year has been on a tear.

In his last five games, Lillard has averaged 35.8 points per contest, which is already ridiculous. Combine that with the fact he’s shooting at a 49.5% clip and you have a real monster that’s slowly helping the Trail Blazers rise up in the Western Conference rankings.

What’s really impressive is that through this spell, he’s earning himself easy baskets. The 25-year-old is 23/32 on shots from within 10 feet of the basket, meaning that he’s picking his drives at the right time and making sure he’s finding an easier show when his team needs points on the board.

The real statement came against possibly the best opponent in the Golden State Warriors. Facing the best in the game, Lillard put up a career-high 51 points, shooting at 64.3% from the field , hitting 9/12 three-point shots while adding seven assists and six steal.

McCollum has helped make an incredibly exciting backcourt in Portland.  Source: USA Today

McCollum has helped make an incredibly exciting backcourt in Portland. Source: USA Today

What a barnstormer of a performance that is.

Admittedly, C.J McCollum’s rise has helped too, with the absolutely nailed-on Most Improved Player averaging 21.1 points per game. He notched 31 to Lillard’s 30 against¬† Utah Jazz and equalled his point guard’s 34 points against the Brooklyn Nets, highlighting how good these two young guards are.

In many eyes, only the Splash Brothers at the Warriors are better. While some could argue that DeRozan and Lowry should have something to say about it, there’s no doubt that Portland have a backcourt they can really excited about for the next eight to ten years.

And as for Lillard, it’s almost a certainty that if he keeps playing like this, he will not be ignored for long. Him and McCollum are both lifting the Blazers way above where most would think he would be and his on-the-court leadership, showing everyone how it’s done, has simply been exemplary.

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NBA Trade Deadline: Who improved and who disappointed?

After the dust settles from the All-Star Weekend, all the attention turns to the trade deadline and as always, there were plenty of interesting moves made. So who came out smelling of roses and who look to have shot themselves in the foot? Here’s a quick look at three teams who improved and three that disappointed.



Detroit Pistons

Drummond and Jackson are good players who now have more talent around them.  Source: USA Today

Drummond and Jackson are good players who now have more talent around them. Source: USA Today

There’s always one team that likes to surprise us a little at the trade deadline and this year it was Stan van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons. They might just be floating outside the playoffs but with a solid core and some really valuable additions, they look like they could pull ahead in that tight pack in the Eastern Conference.

Tobias Harris is only 23 and can still get better, even though he’s an asset with his versatility already. They then get Donatas Montiejunas, who could still develop into a really good power forward, and Marcus Thornton, who adds to their weak bench.

When they give up a first-round pick and two role players for that much coming in, it’s nothing more than a win. Not only have they got enough to contend for a playoff place this season, they may have set up enough for a strong future too.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Some wil miss the sight of Varejao but the Cavs upgraded with Channing Frye.  Source: The Express

Some wil miss the sight of Varejao but the Cavs upgraded with Channing Frye. Source: The Express

While the reigning Eastern Conference champions gave up a popular player in Anderson Varejao and a conditional first-round pick, they must feel that they’ve added a solid piece in Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic.

There were a few clubs chasing the 32-year-old, including the Los Angeles Clippers, who can work well as a stretch four in the NBA. Some feel that he’s too similar to Kevin Love but that’s exactly why he’s been brought in, he can help that consistenty of emulating Love from off the bench.

With players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving desperate for more floor room, Frye will give them that. It also takes away some of the log-jam happening under the rim with Tristan Thompson as they look to make a team that can take on the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. Or at least, they hope it will.

Los Angeles Clippers

Green fills a need and is a great pickup for the price.  Source: Sports Illustrated

Green fills a need and is a great pickup for the price. Source: Sports Illustrated

When initial reports had the Clippers flipping Lance Stephenson, C.J Wilcox and a first-round selection for Channing Frye, it seemed like a pretty decent deal. However, when it was announced that they were getting Jeff Green for the first and last of that offer, it has to be seen as a real coup.

Green is a really solid player who could even start at the three for LA, a position of need for the last few years, as well as being able to play at the four when the team goes small ball. He already has a relationship with coach Doc Rivers and to give up a player who contributed very little seems like a bargain.

Adding to that, the pick is a 2019 selection that could even become a 2021 pick, so they could be giving up very little for some real solid production. Especially with Blake Griffin out for a few more weeks yet, Green could be a really valuable addition to compete with the other strong teams out in the West.



Utah Jazz

Mack? Really? Why?  Source: saltcityhoops.com

Mack? Really? Why? Source: saltcityhoops.com

The Jazz have a genuine shot of making the playoffs this year but needed a point guard to make more of a contribution. with Dante Exum likely out for the season, they needed a playmaker to help facilitate the likes of Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert.

So they decided to trade for the Atlanta Hawk’s third guard Shelvin Mack. A player who’s statistically worse that their current two fit guards, Trey Burke and Raul Neto, in almost every area. What an incredible move.

Is he good enough to even play? If not, then why did they need to make this move? He may surprise us, he may fall flat on his face. In the end, it looks like the Jazz couldn’t decide whether to stick or twist so just did a twirl for us at the deadline.

Atlanta Hawks

Hinrich has a lot of miles on the clock and has rapidly declined over the past season or so.  Source: Bleacher Report

Hinrich has a lot of miles on the clock and has rapidly declined over the past season or so. Source: Bleacher Report

So as we’ve already mentioned, the Hawks moved on their third guard, which was a decent move. They also decided to keep the likes of Jeff Teague and Al Horford, so their current core remains in tact until at least the summer.

Was it the wisest move to keep Horford, who could go for free in the summer? It remains to be seen, especially if they couldn’t find a good offer before the deadline. However, they decided to make a late move for Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, to replace the departed Mack.

Why? We may never know. They have two really solid guards, but they essentially swapped Mack for Hinrich while also giving up Justin Holiday, who had fallen out of the rotation anyway. This can only be to clear some space and maybe give the team some extra leadership they didn’t really need anyway.

Memphis Grizzlies

Even Courtney Lee was surprised to be traded.  Source: rantsports.com

Even Courtney Lee was surprised to be traded. Source: rantsports.com

What a strange deadline from the Grizzlies, who look to have thrown their hands up in the air and hope they can rebuild again around an ageing Marc Gasol. That seems even stranger when they are sat with the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

We’ve already mentioned the Green trade, which brings in a player that will either be waived instantly or will be a complete gamble in Lance Stephenson. They also gave up Courtney Lee to the Charlotte Hornets for mainly cap space, although P.J Hariston has shown flashes of quality.

Both were third and fourth in three-point shooting on a bad three-point shooting team. Will these moves help keep Mike Conley around in the summer? He may need more than a load of second-round picks to convince him to stay in Tennessee.

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Has the East finally conquered the West in the NBA?

The Cavaliers lead the charge but the rest of the East has improved.  Source: Bleacher Report

The Cavaliers lead the charge but the rest of the East has improved. Source: Bleacher Report

It has been a running joke for almost the past decade that the Western Conference has held complete dominance over the Eastern equivalent in the NBA. Despite the East winning four of the last 10 NBA Finals, they have been demolished in terms of regular season wins and inter-conference games by those that play a little later here in the UK.

However, the balance of power looks to have shifted this year and in striking fashion.

The Eastern Conference have 10 players over .500 this season, similar to what we saw in the West last season, after just five teams managed that total in 2014/15. Whether that record continues will yet to be seen but adding to that, the team with the best record last season, the Atlanta Hawks, are currently outside of the playoff places despite going 14-12.

So how has this happened? The simple maths tells you that teams that struggled with injuries or chemistry last year have managed to pull it together. Other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were excellent last season too and could get better, most teams have had something that has changed their season.

Going down the confernce standings, the Chicago Bulls have a new coach that emphasises on offence and that’s getting the best out of the likes of Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. It hasn’t been a rousing success, they are still waiting for Derrick Rose to return to MVP-like form that he may never reach and Jochaim Noah to find himself, but Chicago were pretty good last year too.

Paul George, a certainty for comeback of the year.  Source: Fox Sports

Paul George, a certainty for comeback of the year. Source: Fox Sports

The Indiana Pacers have been dramatically changed by returning All-Star Paul George, who is really playing on an MVP level.¬† He’s averaging 26.2 points per game, fifth best in the NBA, along with 7.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists. George put the power forward experiment to bed quickly and he’s proving why they should have never considered it in the first place.

Miami have all their pieces they traded for fit and ready to play. They have gelled well, they play some serious defence again and they have enough firepower to deal with any team. Dwayne Wade is ageless, Chris Bosh is still great, Hassan Whiteside is a monster in the making and Goran Dragic is the ideal point guard to add to that great mix.

Toronto haven’t changed too much, with DeMarre Carroll adding some strong defence, but they need to find more offence from somewhere other than DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. They are possibly the best backcourt in the league and Jonas Valanciunas was growing into a solid piece until his injury, his return might be the spark they need.

The Hornets have just found their chemistry in Charlotte, especially after Lance Stephenson left. Nicolas Batum was always a good pickup, Jeremy Lin is actually playing good basketball and Al Jefferson is still a beast, before his silly suspension, then add the surprise form of Jeremy Lamb.

Orlando were a solid team just waiting to grow. They have three great guards, Nikola Vucevic is a really solid player and their coach is pulling them together. Detroit Pistons are another team that just needed to reduce the log jam as Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson look like pieces for their present and future.

The Magic, led by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, have been a nice surprise.  Source: sircharlesincharge.com

The Magic, led by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, have been a nice surprise. Source: sircharlesincharge.com

Teams like Atlanta are just outside, Boston have a good solid team that are well coached and New York have finally found some traction despite their poor record. Even the Milwaukee Bucks, who everyone thought could make the leap, have shown in flashes real brilliance and are certainly a team to keep an eye on. That’s also considering that Washington Wizards have a good team but just aren’t competing right now.

Looking into the deficiencies of the other conference and it’s the usual mix, big teams underperforming and players injured. The Los Angeles Clippers look to have finally got out of their early hump and the Houston Rockets are hanging in there despite still being in a funk.

New Orleans have had an abysmal injury crisis and Anthony Davis is not playing at his full level. Phoenix and Utah have not met expectations, the Kings are good but only on their day and Portland are really missing the star power behind Damien Lillard.

So is the East better now? On current evidence it’s hard to deny. Back in early December, the East was 57-55 on games against the West and that just shows you that the gap is not as big as it looks on paper comparing conferences.

It is good to see both conferences be competitive but at the same time, it is weighed against the dramatically poor starts from the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the real question becomes that come playoff time, can anyone knock off the Cavs? I’m not so sure yet.

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