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Basketball Insiders Week in Review: 2/23/14

Basketball Insiders looks at some of the articles of the past week in case you missed them the first time around.

Kyle Cape-Lindelin



Cleveland Back on Track?

By Bill Ingram

When the Cleveland Cavaliers fired general manager Chris Grant last week, it seemed the team was about to completely implode. The Andrew Bynum experiment was a dismal failure, recent lottery picks Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett have failed to live up to their draft positions and head coach Mike Brown appeared to have lost the team. To make matters worse, trade rumors started swirling around Luol Deng, whom the team recently acquired from the Chicago Bulls. The team had lost eight of nine games and looked like it was preparing to implode.

But as soon as Grant got the axe, the Cavaliers turned things around in dramatic fashion, winning four games in a row heading into the All-Star break.

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John Wall: The First of Many All-Star Appearances

By Moke Hamilton

“What do you think about the league implementing a four-point shot? Do you think that would be a good idea?”

“If you could choose any two teammates for a three-on-three competition, one from this era and one from the past, who would it be?”

Among the sea of media and alongside some of the Eastern Conference’s other giants—LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, to name a few—John Wall answered some of the most interesting questions he has had to field since his professional career began back in 2010.

But hey, as an All-Star, in New Orleans, it comes with the territory. And if the first half of his 2013-14 NBA season is an indication, Wall should get used to taking part in the NBA’s midseason classic.

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Top 5 All-Time All-Star Performances

 By Joel Brigham

There’s no question that Sunday night’s All-Star game was one for the ages, as statistical records were broken all over the place. It was the most total points scored in a game, Carmelo Anthony broke the record for three-pointers in an All-Star game, Blake Griffin broke the record for most made field goals and the Eastern Conference scored more points than any other All-Star team in the history of the NBA.

Kyrie Irving was named the MVP after contributing 31 points and 14 rebounds in the East win, but it could have been any of a number of guys. Griffin scored 18 points in the first quarter and 38 points in the game, while his Western Conference teammate Kevin Durant also scored 38 and hauled in 10 rebounds. Anthony hit the eight three-pointers on his way to 30 points, and LeBron James finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

It was, put bluntly, an extremely memorable game, but there have been a lot of memorable games over the years. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive All-Star showings in league history:

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Wallace Still Irked by Bobcats Trade

 By Jessica Camerato

Gerald Wallace understands the nature of the NBA. He has seen teammates come and go. He himself has played for five teams over his 13-season career. But in spite of knowing basketball is a business, there is one move that irks him three years after the fact.

Rewind to February of 2011. The Charlotte Bobcats were coming off their first playoff appearance in franchise history, a season in which Wallace had earned his first All-Star selection. Even though the team was 25-32 at the deadline, Wallace believed in their postseason potential. He wanted to finish out the year in Charlotte, his NBA home since 2004.

Wallace had heard the rumors, yet after a while that becomes common for talented players with sizeable salaries. (He was set to earn over $20 million the next two seasons.) The afternoon of the trade deadline Wallace went to practice and says he was told by Bobcats personnel he would not be moved later on that day.

He returned home, only to be awoken by an unexpected phone call: he had been dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Less Than 30 Hours To The Deadline

By Steve Kyler

With roughly 30 hours remaining until the 3:00 pm EST NBA’s trade deadline, a lot of last minute chatter is leaking out as teams try and consummate deals before the mid-day cut off tomorrow. While there is a lot of talk taking place, the general sense around the league is that this may again be a very anti-climactic trade deadline with very few major players moved. With that in mind lets dig into what we know today.

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Biggest Available Names At The Deadline

 By Jabari Davis

With the NBA’s trade deadline (February 20, 3 p.m. ET) rapidly approaching, we are almost certain to hear of dozens of trade rumors and scenarios. While some will be more far-fetched than others, we wanted to take a look at some of the bigger names that could potentially be available in deals.

While the probable ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’ may have been difficult to determine at times, both the standings and financial (cap) realities of certain franchises have made the picture a bit more clear. The Lakers, Sixers, Pistons and Bucks are the likely to be the biggest ‘sellers’ at the deadline, but given how unpredictable of a season 2013-14 has already been, we shouldn’t be surprised by much of anything over the next 28 (or so) hours.

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Who Are the Keepers: Toronto Raptors

 By Nate Duncan

The 2013-14 season has been notable for the number of teams in a clear rebuilding mode. The first step in a rebuilding process, and one that must continue as long as the rebuild does, is to take stock of what talent the team has. There is one major question that should dominate the inquiry: Which of these players will be a part of our next good team? The player’s skill, age, contract and fit all enter into this discussion, as well as a realistic understanding of when the team can hope to be competitive again. This can generally be defined as the date a team’s young core is collectively projected to provide the greatest production. Finally, teams also need to consider the need to maintain flexibility rather than locking up a mediocre core.

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Trade Reaction: Pacers Take Risk Moving Granger

By Lang Greene

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Indiana Pacers have traded veteran forward Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forwards Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.

Granger, a former All-Star and once unquestioned leader in Indiana, had witnessed his role significantly diminish due to the rise of Paul George and troublesome knee injuries.

There were plenty of rumors of the Pacers moving Granger throughout the summer and into the beginning of the season, but those talks cooled dramatically until this week’s deadline frenzy. Granger has undoubtedly lost a step in his game but the Pacers were intent on receiving some value for the veteran as opposed to losing him for nothing in return this summer in free agency.

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Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

By Yannis Koutroupis

There was no shortage of movement in the final hours of the 2014 NBA trade deadline, but overall the activity really lacked substance.

That was until the Indiana Pacers unleashed their latest power play in their quest to win the 2014 championship. Already equipped with one of the best teams in the league and a certified championship contender, the Pacers pulled off the biggest move of the deadline to put themselves in the winners category. We take a look at who joins them in that class, along with who didn’t do so well at the deadline.

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Ernie Grunfeld Explains Andre Miller Trade

 By Alex Kennedy

In recent weeks, the Washington Wizards were one of the busiest teams in the NBA as the trade deadline approached. Washington was determined to upgrade their backup point guard position and they called every single team that had a productive reserve guard and tried to pry them loose.

On Thursday afternoon, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld succeeded in getting a floor general for his second unit, when he acquired Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets in a three-team deal that also included the Philadelphia 76ers. Grunfeld only had to part ways with Eric Maynor, Jan Vesely and a 2015 second-round pick. Once the dust settled, Grunfeld was excited about the deal and addressed the media.

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Trade Deadline: Grading The Trades

 By Eric Pincus

The final 24 hours leading up to the NBA trade deadline proved to be a busy affair — even if only a few of the deals will actually have playoff implications.

How did each team do?

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Kyle Cape-Lindelin is based out of Portland, OR covering the NBA while being one of the newsline editors and contributor to "Out of Bounds."


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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future

Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.

James Blancarte



On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.

Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.

Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with athe season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.

Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.

“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”

Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.

“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”

Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.

“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.

While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.

“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.

Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.

There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.

“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”

Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.

“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”

Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.

“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.

Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.

“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.

When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.

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Tyronn Lue’s Health Concerns Latest Bump In The Road For Cavaliers

Spencer Davies outlines Tyronn Lue’s decision to take a leave of absence to deal with health issues and covers the reaction around the NBA.

Spencer Davies



The win-loss record is not where they want it to be.

The performances have not been up to par with what they expect.

With that said, one thing is for certain: There is no other team that will have been more battle tested going into the playoffs than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Day after day and week after week, there’s always something going on with the team. Between in-house arguments, on-court miscommunication, roster turnover, and more, it has been one giant roller coaster of a season.

Monday morning, another twist was added to the ride. In a statement released by the Cavaliers organization, Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman announced that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence to address his health:

“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is. While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team.

“I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards. I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”

There were multiple instances where Lue either missed part of a half or an entire game this season. The symptoms are definitely not to be taken lightly. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lue attempted to return to the bench Saturday night in Chicago but the team didn’t allow him to. Evidently, Lue was “coughing up blood” some nights.

Seeing it first hand after postgame press conferences, Lue was visibly exhausted and stress could likely be playing a part. He’s been fighting through the tough times the team has been going through and avoided stepping away twice this season.

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had his own battle with health problems earlier this season and temporarily left the team for those reasons. He has attempted to reach out to Lue, a friend and former player of his.

Other head coaches around the league—Joe Prunty, Steve Kerr, and Luke Walton—have all gone to bat for Lue when discussing the rigors of an NBA schedule and the toll it takes.

Altman supports the decision for Lue to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues,” he said.

LeBron James is glad that Lue is going to take some time to get better.

“Obviously, health is the most important with everything in life,” James said Monday after shootaround. “Not surprised by it at all. I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could, but he was never not himself when he was around.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on here. We play a great sport, our coaches get to coach a great sport, and you guys get to cover a great sports. But health is most important right now and that’s what our coach is doing right now and we’re all in favor for it.”

The latest piece of news is a blow to the already injury-ridden Cleveland group. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over duties until Lue returns.

The good news for the Cavaliers is that Kevin Love can potentially return to the mix as soon as Monday night against Milwaukee.

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NBA Daily: Calderón’s Late NBA Start

Jose Calderón might be the only player in the league who didn’t grow up dreaming of playing in the NBA.

Joel Brigham



There are a lot of different ways to get to the NBA, but most of them involve lifelong scouting and an unceasing dream to play in the world’s premier basketball league.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard José Calderón didn’t really have either of those things.

“I never even thought of the NBA when I was a kid,” Calderón told Basketball Insiders. “I grew up in a small town in Spain, and I played basketball because my dad played and I loved it. I was having fun, always playing with the older guys because I was good at that age, but I never really even thought about playing any sort of professional basketball.”

Having grown up in Villanueva de la Serena, Spain, Calderón watched his father play for Doncel La Serena, which was his hometown team as a child. He was something of a prodigy, having attended practices and games with his father from a young age, and as burgeoning teenager he left home to play professionally for the lower-level Vitoria-Gasteiz team.

“They wanted to sign me at 13 years old, and we didn’t even know that they could sign people that young,” Calderón remembers. “So I did that, and I tried to get better. I tried to advance into the older clubs, but I never really did think about the NBA at all, honestly.”

That changed as he got older, though, especially after Spain finished 5th in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and Calderón started to get some stateside recognition.

“After that summer, [my agent and I] got a call from Milwaukee asking about my situation, and asked would I think about coming to play over here. It was sort of a let’s-see-what-happens sort of situation, but I couldn’t at that time because I was under contract. That was the first time I was really approached.”

As his teammates from the Spanish National Team made their way to the NBA, Calderón grew increasingly intrigued.

“Pau Gasol obviously opened a lot of doors for us,” he said. “Raul Lopez came, too. I was just playing basketball, though. I didn’t know anything about scouts. Later, when we started to get the calls from Toronto, I started to realize how possible it really was. That’s when I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Despite being eligible for a few drafts in a row, Calderón never did get drafted, which was fine by him. Growing up the way he did, Calderón never had any dreams of his hearing his name called by Commissioner Stern, so playing his way through most of his deal with TAU Vitoria was no big deal for him. He could take or leave the NBA.

“Not getting drafted was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “In my satiation, coming from Europe, I was already playing professionally for a good team and making some good money. That was perfect for me at the time, and I was happy to be a free agent at 23, choosing where I was going to sign instead of going in the second round and having to play for one team.”

He signed with the Raptors in 2005 since they were the most aggressive in recruiting him to the NBA. As a 23-year-old rookie, he wasn’t overwhelmed physically the way a lot of rookies are, but he did find his new league challenging in other ways.

“The hardest part was just having to start over,” he said. “You start over from zero. It doesn’t matter if the other players know you or don’t, you have to prove yourself all over again. You could be the MVP of Europe, but to get respect in the NBA you have to gain it on the court.”

The talent differential was immediately noticeable, as well.

“There are so many guys out there that are better than you. It’s not just like a guy or two; there are six, seven guys on the floor any given time that are better than you.”

That meant making some changes in the way that Calderón played. He was asked to do a lot more offensively for his EuroLeague team. Playing with so many talented scorers completely changed his approach.

“I went from taking 20 shots a game to doing something else, and as a point guard in the NBA I had to approach that point guard role even more, to make those guys respect my game, to make them want to play with me. I had to be able to pass the ball, to do something different from all the other players, so I became a fast-first point guard to make sure we always played as a team. That’s how I get to where I am as a professional.”

Now 36 years old, Calderón is one of the league’s oldest players, making it easy for him to look back at where he came from to transform into the player he is today.

“I’ve grown so much, but I was lucky to be given the opportunity,” he said. “When you arrive from Europe, whether you’re good or bad, it doesn’t always matter if you don’t have the opportunity. Toronto gave me the opportunity to play 20 minutes a night, and that’s a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but they let me play through those mistakes. All those little things added up for me, and I learned a lot.”

He owns two silver medals and a bronze in the three Olympics he’s participated in over the course of his career, as well as gold medals in FIBA World Cup and EuroBasket, but he’s never won an NBA championship. Joining up with LeBron James improves those odds, but that’s the thing that would really put an exclamation point on an excellent career.

Calderón could have stayed in Spain and been fine. He jokes that while the NBA has been very good to him, he and his family could have stayed in Europe and he could have made good money playing basketball there. He’s been happy with his career, though, however unorthodox his journey here, and he hopes his most prestigious accolades are yet to come.

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