With Thursday’s NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, we’re starting to see some activity from teams. Today, two trades were completed. Let’s break down the two deals that went down today:
Magic, Pistons Complete Three-Player Trade
The Orlando Magic sent Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. The move has been finalized and both teams announced the terms of the deal.
Detroit showed interest in Harris over the offseason when he was a restricted free agent, but didn’t extend an offer sheet to the 23-year-old forward because they believed the Magic would match.
Orlando had been looking for veterans to help the team win now and also wanted to add shooting to space the floor. Jennings and Ilyasova have played for head coach Scott Skiles back when he was coaching the Milwaukee Bucks, so they have experience with him and his system.
It was somewhat of a surprise to see the Harris shipped out for so little, especially since the Magic just signed him to a four-year deal worth $64 million this past summer. This season, Harris has averaged 13.7 points (his lowest scoring average since joining the Magic), seven rebounds, two assists and a steal and 32.9 minutes per game.
Jennings is an unrestricted free agent after this season and the final $8.4 million of Ilyasova’s contract is non-guaranteed next season, meaning this move could free up quite a bit of cap space for Orlando while giving them several veterans for a playoff push.
Ilyasova is averaging 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game. Jennings has started just one contest this season, playing behind Reggie Jackson after returning from a torn Achilles, and he’s averaging 6.8 points, three assists and two rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game.
The Pistons are currently 27-27, which puts them in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, and just a half game outside of the playoff picture.
“We are pleased to welcome Tobias Harris to our organization,” Pistons general manager Jeff Bower said. “Tobias adds good versatility as a ball handler and scorer who can play both forward positions. He also has good experience for a young player and will fit well with the young core we have assembled on our roster. We appreciate the contributions made by Brandon and Ersan to our organization and wish them well moving forward.”
The Magic are currently 23-29, which puts them in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, and four and a half games outside of the playoff picture.
“Brandon and Ersan are two veterans that will help balance our roster and provide valuable experience to our team,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. “Both players bring scoring, competitiveness and added depth to our roster. We want to thank Tobias for his contributions, both on and off the court.”
Grizzlies, Hornets, HEAT Agree to Deal
The second trade of the day was a three-team deal that involved the Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets and Miami HEAT.
In this trade, the Grizzlies acquire P.J. Hairston, Chris Andersen and four second-round picks, the Hornets acquire Courtney Lee and the HEAT acquire Brian Roberts.
The deal has been completed and should be finalized later today.
In Lee, Charlotte adds a solid veteran contributor on the perimeter with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out for the season due to a torn labrum. This season, the 30-year-old Lee was averaging 10 points, 2.3 rebounds and one steal in 29.2 minutes per game. Now, the Hornets are in talks with the Houston Rockets about a possible Dwight Howard trade, which is interesting since Howard and Lee are close friends from their time as teammates on the Orlando Magic. At one point, Lee even lived with Howard.
Andersen to Memphis makes sense since Marc Gasol is out indefinitely with a broken right foot and Brandan Wright has been battling some knee issues on top of that. Andersen is 37 years old and in the final year of his contract, but he gives the Grizzlies another body in their frontcourt. They also land a quality prospect in Hairston, along with four picks for facilitating this deal.
For Miami, this trade allows them to get out of paying Andersen’s $5,000,000 contract and they take on Roberts’ $2,854,940 deal instead. This trade reduces their luxury tax bill, and now the team is just one more move away from being below the tax line altogether. Earlier this year, Miami sent Mario Chalmers to Memphis in a similar cost-cutting move.
“I hate to see my homie C-Lee go,” Chalmers tweeted today. “But welcome my homie, my championship [partner], the one and only BIRDMAN. The package deal is back together again. Watch out.”
Dejounte Murray: The Spurs’ Latest Steal
The Spurs have a history of drafting talented players late in the draft. Dejounte Murray is emerging as their most recent steal, writes David Yapkowitz.
It seems like almost every NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs end up selecting a player late in the draft who unexpectedly goes on to become a valuable contributor, sometimes even a star. The entire draft in itself can often be a crapshoot, but the lower the pick, the lower the chances of a team finding a solid rotation player. But with the Spurs, it’s as if they hit far more often than they miss.
Their pick from a year ago is shaping up to be no exception as the injury to starting point guard Tony Parker has opened up a huge opportunity for Dejounte Murray; one that he is taking advantage of.
There is a lot of preparation by analysts leading up to the NBA draft. Several mock drafts are created up until draft night itself. Murray was often projected to be a high first-round pick, possibly even a lottery pick. He had a solid freshman season at the University of Washington where he averaged 16.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 4.4 assists.
Draft night arrived and he ended up slipping to the bottom of the first round (29th overall), far later than he had anticipated. Following his selection, LeBron James himself, who is represented by the same sports agency as Murray, tweeted out some words of encouragement for the young rookie. He let Murray know that he may not have been drafted where he wanted to, but that he was with the best organization in the league.
Murray pretty much rode the bench last season as a rookie, which is not at all uncommon for a first-year player on a veteran team with championship aspirations. He was inactive for most of the final two months of the season. In the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and most of the second round against the Houston Rockets, he was relegated to garbage time duty. Perhaps if he’d been drafted as high as initially projected, he might have had a bigger opportunity at getting minutes right away.
That all changed, however, against Houston in Game 2 when Parker went down with the injury that he is still recuperating from. Murray was thrust into the starting lineup and he responded as well as an inexperienced rookie under the bright lights of the playoffs could. In Game 4, although the Spurs lost, he had eight points on 50 percent shooting along with three assists. He actually didn’t play in Game 5, but in the Spurs closeout Game 6 win, he poured in 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Even though the Spurs were ultimately swept in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Murray continued his steady play with 8.3 points, 3.8 assists, and three steals.
At the start of this season, Murray has taken his momentum from the end of last season and carried it over. He was given the starting point guard spot in place of Parker on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded on national television with 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
It’s still too early to tell, but it’s highly possible that the Spurs have found their starting point guard of the future once Parker eventually decides to hang it up. At 6-foot-5, Murray is a tall point guard and his length gives him the potential to develop into an elite defensive player. He can score the basketball and he is improving his court vision and playmaking.
One area he could improve in is his outside shooting. Although he did shoot 39.1 percent from the three-point line last season, he only took 0.6 attempts. In his lone college season, he shot 28.8 percent from downtown. If he can improve his range and really begin to put together his entire package of skills, we’ll be talking yet again about how the Spurs bamboozled the rest of the league and found a draft-day gem.
NBA Saturday: Jabari Bird Experiences The NBA Whirlwind
Jabari Bird entered a hostile environment Friday night after being on his couch just three days before.
When Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury six minutes into the Boston Celtics’ season on Wednesday, he wasn’t the only player who saw his season changed in the blink of an eye.
“I was at home in California watching the game as a fan,” Jabari Bird said.
Bird was the 56th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. After playing his college ball at the University of California, the Celtics gave the 6-foot-6 swingman a shot to continue his career. After impressing throughout the preseason, Bird was signed to a two-way contract with Boston and returned home to the west coast.
That didn’t last long.
“After the game was over my phone was going off that I had to get on the quickest flight to Boston,” Bird said about opening night. “Got in 7:30 the next morning, suited up against Milwaukee, now I’m here in Philly.”
With the massive hole Hayward left in Boston’s roster due to his injury, the Celtics are going to have to turn to some unlikely performers throughout the season to pick up the slack. Bird didn’t light up the scoreboard or stuff his stat sheet, posting just three points and one rebound in 13 minutes of play. But down the stretch in a close game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, Bird came up big on defense.
As the Celtics trailed the Sixers 61-53 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bird subbed in for Jaylen Brown and was tasked with guarding J.J. Redick, who was in the midst of carrying Philadelphia with his lights out shooting.
After wiping away the Sixers lead and gaining an 86-84 advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still had Bird sticking Redick. The Sixers’ shooting guard — and highest paid player — rose up for another three-point attempt which would’ve given Philadelphia a late lead and a momentum shift at home with a raucous crowd behind them. Only this time, Bird’s hand was in his face and the shot attempt didn’t find the back of the net.
In a big-time moment on the road, for a team facing a potential three-game losing streak to start the season, the unlikely rookie answered the call.
“Like I said before, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, really good perimeter scorer,” Bird said of Redick. “For the team to trust me with that responsibility, with us being down on the road needing to get a win, I was hyped up and ready to go. I was ready for the challenge.”
Placing such a responsibility like guarding Redick on a night where it seemed like the Sixers marksman couldn’t miss on a player who was sitting on his couch three nights ago seems like a bold strategy. Head coach Brad Stevens, however, knew what he was doing.
“All the way through preseason and training camp I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he has huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in preseason practices. His ability to guard off the ball, especially shooters coming off screens is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he’d step up.”
Going from the couch to a red-eye flight from California to Boston, to the bench in Milwaukee, to the court in Philadelphia is nothing short of a whirlwind experience. With such a series of events, it’s hard to be coached into that moment. As a player, sometimes you have to just go out and play.
“I wasn’t prepared at all for tonight. Mentally I just had to lock into the game,” Bird said. “Coach just looked at me and said ‘Bird get Jaylen.’ ‘Alright.’ So that’s what I did.”
After signing Hayward to $127 million contract this summer, the Celtics were expecting the small forward to provide an elite scoring 1-2 scoring punch with Kyrie Irving. Obviously, at least for this season, Boston will need to move forward without that possibility. An opening night loss, followed by another defeat to Milwaukee the following night, had the Celtics 0-2 heading into Philadelphia and searching for answers a lot sooner than they may have anticipated just a week ago.
Bird’s journey during his first week in professional basketball represents how quickly things can change, and how the ripple effects of injuries and other moves have far outreaching waves.
“I was already packed, I was ready to go to the G-League,” Bird said. “We had training camp coming up. My bags were already packed, I was ready to get out the house. Then I got the call to go to Boston and I was like alright I’m ready to go, just gimmie a flight. And that’s what happened.”
All-star point guard, and Bird’s new teammate, Kyrie Irving doesn’t foresee the rookie leaving the clubhouse anytime soon. With the adversity the Boston Celtics have felt in the first week of the 2017-18 season, Bird’s addition and impact are a prime example of being ready when your number is called, and the culture this team is looking to create.
“Jabari is now probably gonna be on every trip with us,” Irving said. “Guys are gonna be called up and called upon to be ready to play. We just have to have that expectation that when we come into the game we’re gonna be able to play, and we trust one another and have each other’s backs.”
Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team
Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.
“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”
Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN