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NBA PM: Worst “Future Draft Pick” Trades Ever

It’s incredibly risky to give up a “future draft pick” for a current player, as these trade continue to prove…

Joel Brigham

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A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, which explains why NBA teams continue to ship off future draft assets in exchange for current NBA players that can help them win now. It has happened time and again over the course of the last few years, despite mountains of evidence that unprotected or poorly protected picks really can come back to bite a team in the rear end.

This year’s draft lottery seems to come with an especially high amount of drama with several different scenarios that could play out in ways that do not help the teams that traded their picks.

We already know that the Brooklyn Nets will have to swap their elite selection with the Boston Celtics this summer as a result of a trade that took place four years ago. What that probably means is Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball is headed to what could be the Eastern Conference’s best team next season, and the even worse news is that Brooklyn doesn’t even get to swap first-round picks with the Celtics in 2018. Boston just gets that pick outright as a result of the same deal.

It’s fair to say that when this one is all said and done, Brooklyn fans are going to wish that former Nets general manager Billy King had never existed. They probably think that already.

Of course, they aren’t alone in their misery. The Los Angeles Lakers owe a pick either this year or next as a well, a result of the Steve Nash trade that ruined every NBA reporter’s Fourth of July in 2012, which occurred about an hour before most of the East Coast was preparing to set off fireworks. If the Lakers don’t land in the top three this year, that pick goes to Philadelphia. If they keep the pick this year, it goes to Philly next summer unprotected.

And then, of course, there’s the Sacramento Kings, who dumped a bunch of salary to the Sixers a couple seasons ago for a handful of goodies, including the right to swap picks this year should the Kings end up with a better pick than Philadelphia, which could very well happen.

The 2017 NBA Draft brings an extreme set of circumstances that frankly aren’t common, but that doesn’t mean these types of things haven’t happened before. It’s not that every traded “future draft pick” turns into a stud, but that’s how it happened for the teams on this list. These are “future draft pick” trades that still give fans of certain franchises nightmares:

Los Angeles Lakers “Magic” in the 1970s

In August of 1976, the New Orleans Jazz traded, among other things, a 1979 first-round draft pick as compensation for a trade that landed Gail Goodrich in the Big Easy. As it turns out, the Jazz stayed bad and that 1979 pick ended up being the top overall selection the year that generational talent Magic Johnson left Michigan State University.

After that one went down, no team should have traded a first round pick ever again, but it did not serve as any sort of deterrent. None whatsoever.

Cleveland Sends L.A. a “Worthy” 1982 Draft Pick

That actually wasn’t the last time the Lakers would trade for a future draft pick and end up on the right side of history. Back in February of 1980, before the ubiquity of home computers and cell phones, when the typewriter was king and everything the Los Angeles Lakers touched turned to gold, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded a future 1982 first-round pick and a player to L.A. for Don Ford and a 1980 first-round pick. Cleveland drafted Chad Kinch (not exactly a household name), while the Lakers used that future pick to haul in future Hall-of-Famer James Worthy.

There are seven Lakers jerseys in the rafters at Staples Center, and three-time NBA champion James Worthy is one of them. Kinch meanwhile, was out of the league after a year and unfortunately passed away at age 35 due to AIDS-related complications.

There are no jokes here, but it’s clear the Lakers got the better end of that deal.

Memphis Loses #2 Pick in 2003

The 2003 NBA Draft Lottery had to have been excruciating to watch for Memphis Grizzlies fans. The team, represented that year by Jerry West, was in a really nasty spot thanks to a 1997 trade that shipped away a future first-rounder for Otis Thorpe. It took forever to convey the pick because of the protections that were placed on it, but by 2003 it was only top-one protected.

The tension for that particular lottery was deep-seeded for fans of all lottery teams, mostly because it was the year everybody was hoping LeBron James would fall into their laps. So it was a small miracle when the Grizzlies were one of the last two teams standing while the pick envelopes were unsealed. West was one ping pong ball away from landing James in Memphis, but thanks to that stupid Thorpe pick he couldn’t even settle for Carmelo Anthony.

Thorpe played 47 games for the Vancouver Grizzlies that season and then was traded to Sacramento. James and Anthony have been, you know, way better than that.

John Paxson Fleeces Isiah Thomas in 2005

In one of Chicago’s greatest trades of all time, John Paxson managed to trade Eddy Curry, a player they were not likely to re-sign anyway, for a slew of players and picks that ended up helping them build a future Eastern Conference Finals team. In that deal, the Knicks sent Chicago, among other things, an unprotected first-round pick in 2006 and the right to swap picks in 2007.

While Chicago didn’t keep him, that 2006 ended up being LaMarcus Aldridge, selected second overall, while the following year the Bulls swapped the #23 pick for New York’s #9 pick, and ultimately used it on Joakim Noah. One of the second-round picks in the deal ended up being Omer Asik, and another was used to help trade up for Thabo Sefolosha. All those assets came via trades for future draft picks, and all of them proved miserable for Thomas, who seemed to bail out the Bulls a lot in the mid-aughts.

The Clippers Dump Their Way Out of Kyrie Irving in 2011

The 2011 trade deadline was maybe the greatest trade deadline of all time, with Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams all getting shipped off to new teams in February. The trade that has resonated most in the six years since, however, has been the one that sent an unprotected pick and the salary-dumped Baron Davis to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon.

It saved the Clippers a boatload of cash, and as then-Clippers GM Neil Olshey explained after the fact, the team felt like they were heading in the direction of playing like a perennial playoff team and felt the cap space was more valuable than entertaining “a kid that’s 19 years old with one year of college experience.”

So L.A. ended up with the 8th-worst record in the league, giving them only a 2.8 percent chance at landing the top pick, which they of course did. That pick then went to Cleveland, who drafted Kyrie Irving, who many may recognized as “a kid that’s 19 years old with one year of college experience.” Today, Irving is a bona fide superstar and NBA champion, while Davis has been out of the league for years. Los Angeles survived the blunder, and it clearly didn’t rattle Olshey’s confidence as he moved onto Portland, but that one’s gotta sting, no matter how much Olshey may want to justify it.

The Nets Gift-Wrap Damian Lillard for Portland in 2012.

In a similar salary dump, the Nets sent Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a 2012 first-round pick (top-three protected) to Portland in exchange for Gerald Wallace. The Nets wanted to be good, and they wanted to clear cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard, so they used the pick to clear out the funds.

That pick was the sixth one in the deep 2012 NBA Draft and landed the Blazers one of the league’s elite scorers, and all Portland had to do was pay a little extra money that summer. Totally worth it.

***

So how will this year’s owed lottery picks pan out for the teams that traded them away? Chances are that at least one of them will regret it deeply, but that’s the way professional sports go. Many owners and front offices are much more concerned with players that can help them win immediately rather than the possibility of a future draft pick panning out. Draymond Green, for example, came as a result of a toss-in second-round pick in an old Troy Murphy trade, but how many second-round selections have anywhere near that impact in the NBA?

It’s not a guarantee that even first-round talents will be immediate contributors. When that draft pick ends up being a high one, though, it stings, and it stings for a long time.

You know what they say, though: that which does not kill you, only makes you stronger. Unless, you know, that thing comes in the form of LeBron James. Then he’s going to kill you over and over and over again.

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NBA Daily: The HEAT Are Building Character By Necessity

With so many player games lost to injury, the Miami HEAT have had to look within themselves to keep a good season going.

Buddy Grizzard

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The injury situation for the Miami HEAT has gone from bad to worse with point guard Goran Dragic missing the last two games after suffering a bruised knee against the Milwaukee Bucks. The HEAT were able to gut out a 106-105 win in Charlotte Saturday before falling 99-90 to the Rockets in Houston Monday.

HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra said after the win over the Hornets that the test of going deep into the roster to find contributors with so many players out has forced his team to grow.

“We’ve had so many guys in an out, [a] revolving door of injuries,” said Spoelstra. “We’ve been through a tough stretch. But you use these opportunities to test yourself, measure yourself and see if you can develop some competitive character collectively when the chips are down.”

In addition to missing Dragic, the HEAT lost Dion Waiters for the season, likely won’t have Rodney McGruder back until February and are awaiting the return of starting shooting guard Tyler Johnson, who suffered an ankle injury that thankfully wasn’t as bad as it looked initially. Miami is on pace to lose the most games to injury in the NBA for the second season in a row. Spoelstra talked about the role of luck in Charlotte.

“You have to make shots and you have to be lucky,” said Spoelstra. “This league is tough. You need all of it sometimes. You need a great connection, you need good karma, you need to play to your identity and then you need the right breaks.”

One thing that has broken in the HEAT’s favor is the play of shooting guard Wayne Ellington, whom the team has needed more than ever with Waiters and Johnson out. Spoelstra preferred to use Ellington off the bench, but moved him into the starting lineup against the Hornets by necessity. Fortunately, Spoelstra said he never had to worry about Ellington handling whatever is asked.

“Wayne is the true embodiment of pro,” said Spoelstra. “He’s reliable, always early, he’s got a great work ethic, he exudes an incredible positive energy always, whether the game is going well for him or not, whether he’s playing or not.

“I just love the guy. If I would have told him hey, we’re not going to start you and I’m not going to put you in until the middle of the second quarter, he would have looked at me and said, okay, whatever it takes to win.”

While Ellington has slid seemlessly into the starting shooting guard role, covering for Dragic hasn’t been as easy. Against the Hornets, power forward James Johnson and small forward Josh Richardson alternated bringing the ball up and initiating the offense.

Further down the roster, Kelly Olynyk has provided some much-needed offense, but Justise Winslow, whom Johnson singled out as a player that could step up in the absense of others, has continued to struggle. Winslow, who missed 15 games earlier in the season due to a strained knee, shot just 1-for-4 against the Hornets and was frequently matched up against Nicolas Batum, who had a game-high 26 points.

Told that Winslow threw his shooting shirt and towel into the air in frustration after exiting the game late in the fourth quarter, Spoelstra was coy.

“He was probably throwing his jersey to a fan,” said Spoelstra. “He’s just getting back into the mix. He’s fine. He’s a competitor and he wants to be out there and fill in the gaps.”

Despite finishing a five-game road trip, including a stretch of five games in six nights, with a 2-3 record, the HEAT survived to remain the fourth seed in the East with the eighth-best record in the NBA. Only the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors in the East and Warriors, Rockets, Timberwolves and Spurs in the West currently have a better record than Miami. As such, Spoelstra was able to look at the positives after the team finished the road trip with a loss in Houston.

“There’s a lot of good things going on,” said Spoelstra. “Our locker room knows that. We’ve got to get back, get some rest and maybe we’ll get some guys back. If not, get ready for another battle on Thursday night.”

Missing so many bodies, the HEAT have had to rely on the team’s depth and character to excel despite adversity. If Miami can have a little bit of the luck and good karma Spoelstra spoke of, the team will be well-positioned for the stretch run of what has already been a suprisingly-good season.

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NBA Trade Watch: Point Guards

David Yapkowitz looks at five point guards who could be involved in trade deadline activity.

David Yapkowitz

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We’ve got a new series dropping this week here at Basketball Insiders. With the trade deadline about two weeks away on Feb. 8, we’re taking a look at some of the players, position by position, most likely to be traded. For our first installment of this series, we’ll identify the point guards who might find themselves moved as the deadline draws near. There are a few point guards that could definitely help some playoff teams in the stretch run that could be dealt. Here’s a look at them.

1. Kemba Walker – $12,000,000

Kemba Walker has played his whole career in Charlotte. For the past few years, he’s been one of the point guards in the league. He’s got career averages of 18.7 points per game and 5.4 assists. This season he’s putting up 21.7 points and 5.8 assists. In many ways, he’s the engine that makes the Hornets go. He’s been their franchise player since arriving in Charlotte.

The Hornets just haven’t been that good of a team. Since their inception as the expansion Bobcats in 2004, they’ve made the playoffs three times in the 14 years they’ve been around. Last week, reports surfaced that the Hornets were open to trading Walker. Compared to the contracts given out since the increase in the NBA’s salary cap, Walker’s contract is a steal. He’s an All-Star level player who can certainly push a team that much closer to the promised land. For any team on the verge of playoff success, it’s a good idea to kick the tires on what it would take to land Walker.

2. George Hill – $20,000,000

When the Sacramento Kings landed George Hill in the offseason, it was considered quite a success. He was one of the most coveted free agent point guards on the market. It was assumed that he’d come in and start right away while being a mentor to De’Aaron Fox. However, the futility of Sacramento’s season seems to have got to him a bit as he voiced his frustrations earlier this month.

Despite that, he’s still having a relatively productive season. His scoring is down a bit from recent seasons at 10.5 points per game, but he’s shooting well. He’s at 46.1 percent from the field, and 45.2 percent from three-point range. His contract is rather large, perhaps making him a little more difficult to move, but for one of the better two-way point guards in the league, he’ll probably have a few suitors. Recent reports have mentioned the Cleveland Cavaliers as being interested, where he could either come off the bench or slide over into the starting shooting guard spot. In any case, he’d bring them a much-needed defensive presence.

3. Emmanuel Mudiay – $3,381,480

When he first came into the league in 2015, Mudiay looked like one of the Denver Nugget’s brightest young stars. He played in 68 games, starting 66 of them, and 12.8 points per game, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds. Since then, however, he’s struggled a bit and at this point, he’s lost his spot in the rotation to Jamal Murray.

This month alone, he’s played in only four of the Nuggets ten games. His name’s been mentioned often in trade rumors, and perhaps this is deadline where he finally gets moved. It’s still only his third year in the league and he’s only 21 years old. It’s not farfetched at all to think that he’s got his best years ahead of him. Like many players before him, all he may need is a fresh start and someone to give him a chance. For any team looking to take a flyer on a player that is a high-reward, low-risk kind of guy, Mudiay is a name worth inquiring about.

4. Devin Harris – $4,402,546

Devin Harris isn’t a name that’s appeared in trade chatter such as the other guys on this list, but he’s a guy that’s worth inquiring about. With the situation in Dallas very apparent in regards to the direction of the team, Harris is kind of an odd man out. Dennis Smith Jr. is clearly the future at point guard for the Mavericks. They also have a younger, cheaper option as a backup with Yogi Ferrell. He’s actually been a part of the rotation, but if the Mavericks get decent offers for him, they should strongly consider moving him.

For a guy who’s been around the league for 14 years now, he’s having a pretty decent season; 8.4 points per game off the bench is solid. He’s also shooting 35.1 percent from the three-point line. He’s not going to be the double-digit scorer he once was, but he can still help a team. He’s on the last year of his contract, too, so if a team trades for him and it doesn’t work out, they can cut their losses at the end of the season. For any team looking for a veteran backup to help them in the playoffs, Harris is a player they should give the Mavericks a call about.

5. J.J. Barea – $3,903,900

Harris’ teammate in Dallas, J.J. Barea is only a year younger and shouldn’t figure into the Mavericks’ future plans either. As an undrafted player out of Northeastern in 2006, Barea has enjoyed a successful NBA career, one that saw him win a ring with the Mavericks in 2011. At age 33, he remains a solid veteran backup, one that could play a big role on a playoff contender.

For someone on the backend of his NBA career, Barea has actually turned in career seasons the past few years including this one. He’s putting up 11.8 points per game this year, the most since leaving initially leaving Dallas for Minnesota in 2011. He’s dishing out 6.0 assists and pulling down 3.1 rebounds, both career-highs, while shooting 37.5 percent from the three-point line. He’s played in all but one of Dallas’ 45 games at 23.0 minutes per. He’s got one more year on his contract after this one, and even then it’s a relative bargain. His name hasn’t come up either in trade rumors, but like his teammate Harris, he’s definitely worth calling about for a playoff team needed veteran point guard help.

Sometimes trade rumors are just that — rumors. It’s common for many of the deals rumored and leaked to fall through and never materialize once the deadline hits. But every so often, some big deals do happen. Most of the guys on this list are not “big names” so to speak, but they are certainly capable of contributing to a playoff team for the stretch run. Be sure to check us out tomorrow as our series continues with the shooting guards most likely to be traded. And make sure to follow us at Basketball Insiders for all your latest trade news and rumors as we get closer to the deadline.

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NBA Daily: Things Are Getting Interesting On The NBA Trade Front

Some big names have hit the rumor mill, that’s typically the fuel that starts the Trade Deadline fire.

Steve Kyler

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Things Are Getting Interesting

With the February 8 NBA Trade Deadline getting closer, some bigger name NBA players have started to surface, which tends to fuel the fire of trade rumors. While league sources think its unlikely any of the named guys get moved, there are some things to know about each situation.

Jordan Talks Kemba Walker

In an exclusive interview with the Charlotte Observers’ Rick Bonnell, Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan tried to set the record straight on where his club was with star guard Kemba Walker.

“I’m not looking to trade Kemba, but I would listen to opportunities,” Jordan told Bonnell.

“There have been teams asking about players. Also, we’ve been asking about players. We ask teams who they like on our roster, and they always say Kemba.”

Jordan tried his best to defuse the notion that the Hornets were actively considering trade for Walker. The jist of his stance is that anything sort of a proven All-Star wouldn’t get much attention. However, there is a growing sense that if the Hornets could find a way to pry Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard out of San Antonio, they pull the trigger.

League sources that have engaged the Hornets on Walker scenarios said they believed the Hornets’ stance was more fact-finding and option gathering than anything serious; they also doubted that Charlotte would do anything with Walker based on their conversations.

The running narrative in NBA circles is that any deal involving Walker would also have to clear out a bloated contract while returning a fairly high-level draft pick.

The likely outcome of the Walker situation in Charlotte is the team will try to engage Walker on a contract extension this offseason, and if they can not reach a long-term deal, they would look to move him around the 2018 NBA Draft.

Walker becomes extension-eligible after this season. Involving him and his agent in the trade process could yield a lot more value to Charlotte if Walker ends up being traded somewhere he’d agree to an extension or a new deal. That is a factor in what teams are said to be willing to offer for him at the deadline.

Damian Lillard Wants Answers

According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, Portland star Damian Lillard requested to meet privately with Blazers owner Paul Allen, seeking some answers from ownership on the direction of the team.

In a meeting that took place without anyone in the organization’s knowledge, Lillard is said to have re-committed to remaining in Portland but wanted answers and assurances from ownership that becoming a title contender was the goal in the near term.

There had been growing concerns in Portland that Lillard, who has pledged loyalty to Portland at every turn, might be souring on the situation.

League sources said recently that Allen had taken a much more hands-on approach to many things around the Blazers, including having his top-level staffers gauge the league’s opinion on not only the job team president Neil Olshey was doing, but that of head coach Terry Stotts.

Olshey received a multi-year contract extension in late August of 2017 that is to carry him through the 2020-21 season. Stotts is also signed through the 2020 season.

The Blazers have run off a nice stretch of games, winning six of their last ten, but continue to linger in the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture.

With Lillard facing what could be another All-Star snub, there is a growing sense that Lillard and his camp are pushing for some aggressive changes to try and jump start what’s become a ho-hum team.

The Blazers have been one of the more aggressive suitors for Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan. However, the Clippers continue to say they haven’t been offered anything they’d consider doing.

Kawhi Leonard And The Spurs

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s dropped a doozy this week suggesting that the San Antonio Spurs and All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard are growing increasingly distant over his lingering hip injury.

The short version here is that the Spurs are growing frustrated with Leonard’s inability to get right, almost as much as Leonard is frustrated with not being able to get right.

League sources said their calls on Leonard were shut down before they started, so it’s not likely that San Antonio is ready to do anything drastic with Leonard.

Spurs GM RC Buford told ESPN that there was “no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi.” However, whenever there is talk of unrest in the NBA, it brings the sharks out.

The Charlotte Hornets are rumored to have tried to engage on a Leonard deal built around Kemba Walker, which is where many believe the Walker rumors started.

Evan Fournier Likely The Guy

The Orlando Magic have been around the proverbial block with most of their roster according to league sources. The story surrounding the Magic is that virtually anything on the roster could be had in trade and that the Magic really are not seeking a ton in return.

The overarching theme from other teams is that the Magic are looking to shed salary and get out of players that do not fit the direction team leadership wants to take the team. Equally, the Magic are not overly interested in additional draft picks, understanding too much youth can and likely would slow down progress.

The ideal package seems to be some combination of ending contracts and players on rookie scale deals that are a little further along.

No one in Orlando likes the term fire sale, mainly because the Magic don’t seem to have a ton of urgency in blowing the team up at the deadline.

The general belief from most is that if Orlando can’t find the kind of deals they are looking for, they’ll simply run out the clock on this season and seek a more aggressive rebuild around the draft and in July when teams can absorb contract money into cap space.

The name most teams seem to have eyes on is guard Evan Fournier. There is a belief that of all the players that could get moved Fournier is the most likely. The Magic have also seriously gauged the trade value of point guard Elfrid Payton in advance of his free agency in July.

The Cavs Got Issues

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a contentious and brutally honest team meeting before Monday’s practice.

The jist of the report is that no one was spared in what was a brutal assessment of a team that lost seven of their last ten and now find themselves six games out of the top seed in the East.

A big source of frustration seems to be the perception from Cavs players that Kevin Love was not ill and they wanted answers on why he left the locker room early on Saturday. Guard Isaiah Thomas has been a huge source of frustration for a Cavs team that said all the right things about Thomas when he came back from injury but, are growing increasingly frustrated with his poor effort on defense.

The Cavaliers have been aggressive exploring trades trying to dump off veteran players they feel may have become too complacent in Cleveland.

Forward Tristan Thompson and guard Iman Shumpert have been regular names in NBA trade circles for most of the season, with some suggesting that guard J.R. Smith and Thomas could both be packed into a deal if it returned the right upgrade.

With Love in the crosshairs of his teammates, his name will likely start to come up as the Cavaliers try and find their way out of the mess they have become.

Bucks Ramping Up To Shake Things Up

The Milwaukee Bucks opted to shake things up yesterday firing head coach Jason Kidd. The news was somewhat surprising given Kidd’s relationship with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

According to Kidd, who spoke with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Antetokounmpo was the one who told Kidd about the decision and offered to call ownership on his behalf. The Bucks have involved Antetokounmpo on almost everything, hoping to keep his buy-in on the team.

The Bucks are also ramping up efforts to trigger a significant trade, with eyes not only on Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, but possibly Miami’s Hassan Whiteside.

The Bucks have been dangling big man John Henson and several of their rookie scale players under the guise of a willingness to take on unwanted salary.

League sources said the Bucks are weighing where they are with injured guard Jabari Parker, who continues to shuttle back and forth between the Bucks and their G-League team the Herd for practice time.

Parker is set to hit free agency in July, and there is a sense that he could get very expensive. It’s not out of the question that Parker becomes the jewel of a trade if it returns the right combination of proven players and future assets.

One thing is becoming very clear. The Bucks understand the urgency of proving they can compete and they want Antetokounmpo on board with the plan.

As the trade deadline approaches Basketball Insiders will start to drop position Trade Watch feature, starting with the point guard today and shooting guards tomorrow. If you want to know who could be had, make sure to swing by early and often all week as we map out who to watch at every position.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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