MORE MAGIC FROM DRAGIC
I’ll admit that I’ve been bumming out about Goran Dragic all year. I had him ranked very highly in my 150 and seeing him held back so guys like Michael Beasley and Shannon Brown could chuck up ridiculous shots has been a buzz-kill. Maybe Lindsay Hunter is figuring it out, though, as Dragic followed up his monster Tuesday with 20 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, and a career-high five steals last night. You can certainly sell-high and try to get an early round stud if you’re not feeling Dragic, but I’m going to hang on and see how it goes.
Jared Dudley scored 15 points with five assists, a steal, and three treys and could be back in favor in Phoenix, but as a trade candidate he could land in a place with much more depth and that makes his already tenuous value that much more shaky.
Marcin Gortat has also been a disappointment after a blistering start to the season, and was once again outplayed by Jermaine O’Neal despite getting three blocks to go with eight points and four rebounds. There have definitely been extenuating circumstances lately with the Suns trying to trade O’Neal, who put up a huge 17-point, 12-rebound, two-block effort in just 23 minutes. O’Neal was definitely out to make a statement last night, and it sure sounds like he’ll find his way to a contender. Either way, don’t panic on Gortat, who is also in diminishing trade rumors. He has enough value to be held in all formats.
The Warriors finally won a game, which I’ll take even if it was a struggle at home against the Suns. Klay Thompson took the ridiculous Eric Gordon trade rumors to heart with 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a block. The Warriors schedule is a mess down the stretch, so owners may want to trade into better situations where they can.
Andrew Bogut backed up his 15-minute outing from Tuesday with seven points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three blocks in a season-high 29 minutes, as you can bet Mark Jackson and the Warriors brass urged him to have a big night needing a win. He should be owned in all formats for the chance he can keep it up, but expectations need to be in check. Jarrett Jack was his typical solid self with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, four assists, and three treys. I have no idea where the Dubs would be without the guy, and while I speculated the Warriors could move away from their three-guard lineup it won’t happen if they keep winning, and even then it’s not all that likely with the way Jack is playing.
Avery Bradley scored just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, but managed four rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block, and a three to salvage his night. Courtney Lee has been playing well enough to consider an add, as he scored 20 points with two threes last night to keep things moving in the right direction. Still, I’m not breaking down any doors to get at either of them.
TRIBUTE TO A LEGEND
In a bit of random scheduling luck, the first game since Dr. Jerry Buss’ death was at home against the Celtics, and the Lakers delivered a win after an emotional speech by Kobe Bryant to start the game. Lakers ops lit up Buss’ seat in the owner box, and for one night everything was alright despite the air of sadness that hung over the game.
Steve Nash scored 14 points with four boards and seven assists, and passed Magic Johnson for No. 4 on the all-time assists list. Dwight Howard scored 24 points with 12 boards, a steal, and a block, Earl Clark posted 14 points, a career-high 16 boards, a steal, and a block, Antawn Jamison had 15 points, five boards, and a three in 22 minutes, and Kobe finished with 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting (no threes), four rebounds, and seven assists. It’s possible that the passing of a legend could bring this team together, and that would be a fitting tribute.
BASKETBALL REASONS (OR LACK THEREOF)
I got a call from a source moments before the deal went down, saying “you’re not going to believe this.” Indeed, this year’s No. 5 overall pick that could have gone as high as No. 2 -- Thomas Robinson -- was getting traded for Patrick Patterson and spare parts. This was a straight-up salary dump, and sources painted the picture of a win-win deal for the Seattle ownership group and the Maloof family. The Maloofs would save approximately $3 million this year and also steal back the narrative that the family and Seattle were in control of the team, despite reports that Sacramento is surging in their efforts to keep the team.
As one source with intimate knowledge of the situation put it, “Why in the world would Seattle want to trade away a lottery pick to save money down the road, and why would the Maloofs have any say over the decision as lame duck owners?”
I said, “Win-Win?” They said, “You got it.”
Let’s break this thing down….
Thomas Robinson (to HOU): I think he’s a strong speculative add, if anything because you’re looking for upside in a pickup. The Rockets are suddenly shallow at power forward and banking on Royce White isn’t wise from anybody’s perspective. This would theoretically make him a no-brainer, must-add player, and he could certainly benefit from the wheeling and dealing style of the Rockets, but owners have to realize this dude has some major issues on the court. Namely, he has no clue what he is doing. Kevin McHale isn’t the type to put up with that, so Robinson will either have to cut it out or ride the pine. Examples include not giving the ball to a guard – ever – taking ridiculously bad shots, having no jumpshot, turnovers, and some absolutely awful defense. He can jump though, even if he has a hard time converting on his dunks. We can blame a lot on Keith Smart, but at some point it’s on Robinson to stay in his lane and try to learn the game.
Marcus Morris (to PHO): This is just weird. The Suns will have to either have the guys both wear just ‘Morris’ on their jerseys, or they’re going to have to go with ‘Mark. Morris’ and ‘Marc. Morris,’ or they’re going to have to list their full names out. And then you have the fact that they’re twins and play a similar game. This could also lend itself to some awesome synergies, unless we’re missing something, as the brothers probably know where each other are on the court at all times. The Suns are a total mess and anybody that shows a pulse will find their way on the court. For now things will be tight, and owners may want to take a wait-and-see with both brothers, but don’t be surprised if they start to elbow others out or benefit from later trades sending guys out.
Patrick Patterson (to SAC): I had to remind the Sacramento media that Patterson has struggled this year, save for some strong games recently, but there is definitely some optimism that he can come in and help. I can’t help but think that anybody from another team or system would be welcomed like a guy pulling up his boat to a bunch of stranded island-goers. Owners need to remember one thing – Keith Smart isn’t going anywhere. He could decide to plug in Patterson at point guard or he could run with Jason Thompson and give Patterson the backup minutes. There are still lingering concerns about his foot, but in general, I’d expect Patterson to play 20-27 minutes when he’s up to speed. He’s friends with DeMarcus Cousins and that could actually be useful keeping the big man in line on the court, and in general enhance his chance to play. Just don’t go thinking that it will automatically supersede Thompson’s role on the squad, which has been earned in everybody’s eyes except for Smart.
Toney Douglas (to SAC): No joke, Isaiah Thomas owners shouldn’t be panicking, but Smart could easily decide it’s fair to give Douglas minutes and take them from Thomas’ bucket. I’m not saying he’ll do it, but that it’s on the table. Kings fans might riot.
Cole Aldrich (to SAC): The Kings actually need a big man that can take up space, but that doesn’t mean that Aldrich is the guy they would want or that this deal isn’t laughable on every level.
Francisco Garcia (to HOU): I actually wouldn’t rule Garcia out to have some value, as he can climb the charts quickly with his ability to steal, block, and hit the three, but again, you’ll want to wait and see how things go in reasonably sized formats. On a team with proper talent and coaching, he could actually do some damage if a few things break his way.
Tyler Honeycutt (to HOU): Likely headed for the D-League, there’s not much to see here even if a change of scenery is probably best for him at this stage of his career.
NEWS AND NOTES
Eric Gordon will be dealing with hand pain for “a while” and any analyst or executive that doesn’t laugh his contract out of the room I’m giving the side-eye to. Wesley Matthews (ankle, elbow) won’t attempt to practice until Friday’s shootaround. The Blazers need him back to form a competitive team, but they’re not going to let him run head first into the shredder.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
MIA @ CHI: Derrick Rose (knee) scrimmaged yet again and everybody says he looks like he can play, but strangeness is afoot in Chicago. I think you hold the guy out if he’s not ready, and you get him back on the court if he can go. As long as there are no funky marketing concerns, I think the Bulls would be wise to get him on the floor and see what they can do in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened, and the experience of a deep run will carry over into future years.
SA @ LAC: Stephen Jackson (personal) said he would return tonight, but we’ll see. Lamar Odom is questionable with an eye injury.