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2016 NBA Draft-Day Trades Recap

A review of the draft-day trades that went down on Thursday, along with some analysis.

Basketball Insiders

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There were a lot of rumors about possible trades going down on draft day, and like each year, there were some big moves made before the night ended. Here is a list of all the trades that were made before and during the 2016 NBA draft. Jesse Blancarte and Jabari Davis compiled the trades and provided analysis.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rights to Damontas Sabonis

Orlando Magic:  Serge Ibaka

Analysis: This significant trade caught everyone by surprise. Reports surfaced before the draft that teams were making offers to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka, but it was not apparent that players like Victor Oladipo were in play.

While Ibaka is a talented player and should fortify the Magic’s defense in the frontcourt, he is only under contract through next season. Giving up a young player like Oladipo, as well as a young prospect like Sabonis, is pretty significant considering the risk that Ibaka could walk after one season in Orlando. However, Ibaka is an ideal player to put next to Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who has a nice offensive game but lacks the ability to effectively protect the rim on defense.

For the Thunder, this is a very interesting move considering that superstar forward Kevin Durant is days away from becoming an unrestricted free agent and Russell Westbrook only has one year left on his contract. Thunder general manager Sam Presti undoubtedly made this deal with some sort of feedback from Durant and Westbrook, as he is doing everything he can to keep his superstars in town.

The Thunder made the decision to explore the market, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowksi also reported that Ibaka did not request a trade. Oladipo pairs up with Westbrook, which could be one of the most athletic backcourts in the NBA. Oladipo’s arrival also puts Dion Waiters’ future with the Thunder into question, as there is some overlap between these two players.

Sabonis is another nice addition for the Thunder. He averaged 17.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists for Gonzaga last season. He is also a talented offensive player and plays with a lot of intensity. He doesn’t project to be a top-level defender, however, but isn’t a complete liability on that end either.

Brooklyn Nets: Caris LeVert (20th pick), future second-round pick

Indiana Pacers:  Thaddeus Young

Analysis: The Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers got off to an early start, agreeing to terms on this trade hours in advance of the draft. Indiana brings in Young after recently acquiring point guard Jeff Teague in a three-team trade. The Pacers fired former head coach Frank Vogel after their season ended and promoted Nate McMillan to be his replacement. With McMillan in place and these aggressive moves to bring in veteran talent, it seems clear that the Pacers are trying to restructure on the fly and compete for a deep playoff run next season.

The Nets entered today’s draft with new general manager Sean Marks, who has the tall task of rebuilding a Brooklyn franchise that has recklessly traded away players and draft assets in recent seasons in a failed attempt to compete for a championship. By trading Young, Marks unloads significant cap space and gets a young player and future second-round pick in return. This is just the beginning of what will be a multi-year restructuring process in Brooklyn.

This trade cannot officially be made until July 1.

Sacramento Kings: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Georgios Papagiannis (13th  pick) and Skal Labissiere (28th pick).

Phoenix Suns:  Marquese Chriss (8th pick)

Analysis:
With four first-round picks heading into the draft, it came as no surprise that Phoenix was active on Thursday night, as the Suns helped the Kings solidify their frontcourt depth while bolstering their own with a highly-regarded prospect in Chriss.

Bogdanovic was the 27th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and averaged 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest for Fenerbahce Istanbul last season. It is believed he will play one more season of international basketball before transitioning to the NBA for the 2017-18 season.

Papagiannis could be another player Sacramento decides to leave playing overseas for the time being, but Labissiere will see time with the team and/or their D-League affiliate in the upcoming season. Chriss joins a talented, young core in Phoenix and adds a bit of frontcourt versatility lost with last season’s roster moves.

This trade cannot officially be made until July 1.

Charlotte Hornets: Marco Belinelli

Sacramento Kings:  Malachi Richardson (22nd pick)

Analysis: The Charlotte Hornets acquire Belinelli, age 30, who is coming off of arguably the worst season of his NBA career. Belinelli adds shooting for the Hornets and is only owed roughly $13 million over the next two years, but is a poor defender and doesn’t project to get any better on that end moving forward.

The Kings used their acquired pick to select Malachi Richardson, who averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals in his one and only season at Syracuse. Richardson has good size for his position and projects to be a good defensive player, but his shooting percentages were pretty low in his one college season. However, analysts generally believe that Richardson will be a good shooter at the NBA level and that his poor percentages are a result of bad shot selection. If Richardson is able to clean up his decision making and hone in on his strengths, he could be a steal for the Kings considering they only had to give up Belinelli.

This trade cannot officially be made until July 1.

Boston Celtics: Deyonta Davis (31st pick), Rade Zagorac (35th pick)

Memphis Grizzlies: Future first-round pick (2019) of the Los Angeles Clippers (owned by Memphis)

Analysis: Davis ended up waiting to be selected about twice as long as many scouts seemed to anticipate heading into the draft, but remains a talented option to groom as an eventual replacement for Zach Randolph at the power forward position for Memphis.

This trade cannot officially be made until July 1.

Los Angeles Clippers: Cheick Diallo (33rd pick)

New Orleans Pelicans: David Michineau (39th pick), Diamond Stone (40th pick)

Analysis: The Clippers get a bit of a value pick with Stone as he could be seen as a backup for DeAndre Jordan. He can score beneath the rim and shot 75 percent from the free throw line last season at Maryland. Michineau is an athletic, but unpolished guard option for the Clippers to explore. Diallo might be a bit undersized to play the PF/C at this level, but could transition into a defensive-minded combo forward role for the Pelicans.

This trade cannot officially be made until July 1.

Milwaukee Bucks: Patrick McCaw (38th pick)

Golden State Warriors: Financial considerations

Analysis: Although he may need to improve his ball handling a bit, McCaw is precisely the type of “jack-of-all-trades” shooting guard that should fit in well with the Warriors. He has the skill set and athleticism to potentially contribute on both ends of the court at this level.

This trade cannot be officially made until July 1.

 

 

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Cavs Woes Reason For Concern, But Not Dismissal

Spencer Davies takes a look at the Cavs’ issues and why we shouldn’t count them out just yet.

Spencer Davies

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are the classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

When they’re on, they look like the defending three-time Eastern Conference Champions. When they’re off, they look like an old team that’s worn down and, at times, disinterested—and it gets ugly.

Take this past three weeks for example. After going on a tear of 18 wins in 19 games, the Cavs have dropped eight of 11 and are falling fast. Two of those three victories in that stretch were decided by four points or less against bottom-of-the-barrel teams in the East.

So what happened? For one, the schedule got significantly tougher. Beyond just the level of competition, Cleveland has been on the road for a long while. Nine of the games in this recent down period have been away games. The only time they’ve been home was for a quick second in mid-December and a short stay for New Years.

You’ve got to think about how that affects a psyche, not only from an on-court standpoint but also in regard to spending time with loved ones and family. LeBron James brought attention to his own homesickness on Christmas Day while he was in the Bay Area instead of in Northeast Ohio to celebrate the holidays. If it gets to him, you know it’s got to get to the other players as well. These guys are human beings with lives, and the rigors of travel can wear differently on people. Luckily for them, seven of their next nine games will be at Quicken Loans Arena.

With that being said, everybody in the NBA goes through it, so it’s no excuse for how flat the Cavs have been. Anybody on the team will tell you that, too. However, when you’re figuring out rotations and re-implementing players who had injuries, it’s not easy. This is exactly why nobody should envy Tyronn Lue.

He’s being asked to make room in his rotations and adjust on the fly as Cleveland gets guys back. When they went on that month-long run, the reason they had success was that the second unit really clicked. Dwyane Wade found his niche as the maestro of the bench bunch along with any mixture of Kyle Korver, Jeff Green, Cedi Osman, Channing Frye, and Jae Crowder. Lue had found the perfect group to spell LeBron James and company.

But then, Tristan Thompson came back and, with all due respect, it messed with their flow. The spacing is no longer there for Wade or Green to penetrate because the paint is clogged. It makes it easier on opposing defenses to just stick to Korver because there aren’t any other threatening shooters on the floor (besides Osman, maybe). Worst of all, the change basically kicked Frye—who has a plus-14 net rating, according to Cleaning The Glass—out of the rotation completely.

Deciding who plays and when is a tough job. Derrick Rose is set to come back soon. Iman Shumpert is coming along as well. Lue likes a 10-man rotation, but there are at least 12 players who deserve to be on that court. We already know Rose is expected to commandeer the second unit in Wade’s absence on back-to-backs. As for if Shumpert remains in Cleveland, who knows? It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on how this situation is managed moving forward.

Isaiah Thomas, on the other hand, is somebody the Cavs have been waiting on to return since the season started. Despite LeBron being LeBron and Kevin Love having as great of an offensive year as he’s ever had on the team, the starting unit lacks an extra punch. Thomas can be that shot in the arm, and he proved that in his debut at home against Portland and on the road in Orlando. There are two snags that both he and the team are going to hit before the 29-year-old returns to his All-Star form: 1) He’s got to get his legs under him to regain the consistency in his game and 2) His teammates are going to have to adjust to playing with him.

These are not easy things to do. Remember, aside from Jae Crowder, there is nobody on Cleveland’s roster that has played with Thomas before. Add in that he’s trying to re-discover his own game and that makes for a pretty bumpy road, at least out of the gate.

Start here—put Thompson in the starting lineup. As poor of a fit he’s been on the bench, he has shown promising signs of a developing chemistry with Thomas. It’s only been four games, but he loves having a partner in the pick-and-roll game. That’s clearly where you’ll get the most production out of him and how he can thrive. He’ll provide hustle, second chance opportunities, and a semi-decent big that can at least bother some of the competition’s drives to the basket. Sliding Love over to the four might change his game a little bit, but you can still get him going in the post before giving him chances as a shooter to work him outside-in.

The resulting effect helps the second unit as well. They’ll get one of either J.R. Smith or Crowder, depending on who would be relegated there. Both of those guys can use a spark to get them going. Because of Crowder’s familiarity with Thomas, let’s say Smith gets kicked out. Maybe that gets him out of the funk he’s in? It also allows for Frye, who hasn’t seen more than 20 minutes in a game since December 4, to get re-acclimated to a group he truly helped on both ends of the floor earlier in the year.

Outside of the need to make a move at the deadline, the Cavs can figure this out. It’s understood that they’re the fourth-worst defensive team in the NBA, but they’ve gone through these kinds of ruts at this time of year, specifically since LeBron came back. There might not be statistical evidence backing up the claim of any improvement, but the track record speaks for itself.

The panic button is being hit, but pump the brakes a bit. This isn’t anything new. The pieces are a little different and things look as bad as they ever have, but in the end, the result will likely be the same.

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NBA Daily: Zach LaVine Has Solid Debut With Bulls

Zach LaVine put together a solid performance for the Bulls in his first game back from injury.

James Blancarte

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The Chicago Bulls are turning a corner this season. Zach LaVine is healthy after completing a year of rehabilitation from an ACL injury. LaVine’s return comes at a critical moment. The team is 13-7 over the last twenty games. Many of the wins in this stretch are over current competitors for a potential spot in the playoffs. This includes wins against the Charlotte Hornets (in overtime), the Philadelphia 76ers and three wins (one in overtime) against the New York Knicks. The stretch of winning ties into the return of forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic. Having these key players back and winning this many games recently has changed the dynamics of what had been shaping up to be a losing season.

LaVine played in his first game of the season on Saturday and hit three of four three-point baskets while scoring 14 points in 19 minutes played. LaVine described how he felt physically and about the team’s recent run.

“I thought I did pretty good. I was tired as hell at first. But, we got the win,” LaVine said. “We’re going to keep this thing going.”

The team went into this season having parted ways with their franchise player, Jimmy Butler, in a trade that was derided by many for being lopsided. The trade netted the Bulls LaVine, point guard Kris Dunn and the sixth pick in the 2017 draft in exchange for Butler and the number 16 pick. The trade also allowed Butler to be reunited with coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. For the Bulls, Dunn has greatly improved from the poor play of his rookie season in Minnesota. In addition, the Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen, whom has already displayed some serious talent and potential. Now with LaVine in the lineup, the Bulls can see the total value of the trade on the court.

So, where do the Bulls now stand? According to FiveThirtyEight, as of January 14, the Bulls are projected as having a three percent chance of making the playoffs with a projected record of 32-50. This is a jump from less than one percent (essentially zero percent) back on December 11, 2017. Still, three percent is not the most reassuring projection.

In addition, the recent shift to winning basketball also puts Chicago’s 2018 draft pick in a more precarious position. On December 6, 2017, the Bulls were 3-20 and were on pace to have one of the worst records in the league, if not the worst. Now every win moves the pick further away from a likely top three or even a potential number one pick and moves it closer to a top-10 selection or even middle of the first-round pick.

At the moment, the team is 16-27, good enough for 12th place in the Eastern Conference behind the Hornets, Knicks, 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. Being 6.5 games back and having seven more losses than the Bucks means the Bulls will need to continue winning at a high rate to make up the difference in the time left in the season.

LaVine didn’t hold back when it came to expressing his optimism regarding the team’s potential.

“I think we can make a push for this thing,” LaVine said. “That’s our job to do. That’s our job to do that,”

LaVine isn’t paying much attention to skeptics who still don’t believe the Bulls have much change to win anything meaningful this season.

“You know, we can’t control outside thoughts or anything,” LaVine said. “We’re ball players, we go out there and try to win every competition. You know, I think we’re good. I think we’re going to be good.”

In LaVine’s absence, Mirotic and Portis (despite their offseason scuffle) have emerged as two of the team’s best players. In addition, center Robin Lopez has done an admirable job keeping up his effort all season long while fulfilling his role as a veteran leader for the team. Lopez described the atmosphere on the team as positive recently in an interview with Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders.

Despite the reason for optimism, it must be noted that the franchise might make another big trade that would diminish the team’s ability to be competitive this season. Despite his recent on-court success, reports are that Mirotic would like to be traded and that the Bulls asking price is a first-round pick.

Until such a move occurs, the Bulls appear poised to maintain their recent rate of success. Every win could cost the Bulls what could be a top overall pick in 2018. Regardless, the Bulls are surely feeling better about the results of the Butler trade, especially after LaVine’s impressive Chicago debut.

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NBA Daily: Lopez’s Enjoys “Old Guy” Role on Young Team

Robin Lopez is the old man on a very young Chicago Bulls team, but he says the camaraderie is a big reason why he’s happy there, and why the team is overachieving so much this year.

Joel Brigham

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When the Chicago Bulls started the season 3-20, nobody was surprised that they stunk. Everything was fine. They were supposed to stink. That was the entire reason they traded away Jimmy Butler for younger players in the first place. They wanted got their rebuild underway in earnest. (more…)

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