The Minnesota Timberwolves have a very important offseason coming up, one that will be filled with a lot of questions regarding their franchise player Kevin Love. The situation with Love is one that many teams have to deal with at one point or another, deciding whether to trade an unhappy star in fear of losing that player for nothing. While the Timberwolves’ stance on trading Love has softened in recent weeks, there are some teams in the league that might try to tempt Minnesota into making a deal. The Timberwolves are in a no-win situation with Love because if they hold on to him he could walk next summer but if they trade him they know they won’t get anywhere near the value Love is really worth. But something is better than nothing.
The hottest destination for Love right now seems to be with the Lakers in Los Angeles. Love’s connections to California are well known, but is that the best option for the Lakers and the Timberwolves? A perfect trade would send Love to a situation where he would legitimately consider signing a long-term deal come next summer.
While the Lakers are considered by many to be the frontrunners for Love, the Lakers would be taking a huge gamble on trading for him as it would likely cost the Lakers their first-round draft pick in June’s draft, which is the best first-round draft pick they’ve had since drafting Andrew Bynum in 2005. The Lakers may be better off holding onto their draft pick, and going after Love next summer when he can become an unrestricted free agent. If he truly wants to play in Los Angeles, as everyone around the NBA believes, the Lakers don’t need to give up key assets to land him. By waiting, the Lakers could have Love plus their draft pick from this year.
Aside from the Lakers, who are obviously in the mix for Love, here are several other potential trades for Love:
Boston Celtics trade Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and at least one first-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Corey Brewer
By pairing Love with Rajon Rondo in Boston, the Celtics would have two All-Stars and they’d have a legitimate shot at signing both long-term in 2015, assuming they can put other pieces around them. In this proposed trade, the Timberwolves would send Love and Brewer to the Celtics for Green, Bass and Sullinger. The Celtics would also likely to need to part ways with at least one first-round pick, which shouldn’t be a problem for Boston since they have so many picks over the next few years.
The key player in this trade for the Timberwolves is Sullinger, as his contract will be very small for the next couple of seasons, which could be time for the Wolves to take a look at him going forward. Sullinger could become a long-term piece for Minnesota, as he is only 22 years old and still has a lot of potential.
In addition to Green, Bass and Sullinger, the Timberwolves would also have that first-round pick from the Celtics, which would help them as they rebuild and attempt to replace Love’s production.
As for the Celtics, this trade would allow them to get much closer to contending and they could become a top-tier team in the East for years to come if they can lock up Love and Rondo and surround them with talent. While some teams may be hesitant to part ways with a first-round pick, Boston has stockpiled selections so a first-rounder or two is expendable. By keeping their own lottery pick this year, the Celtics could still get an immediate impact player in Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid to put alongside Rondo and Love.
Chicago Bulls trade Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler and a first-round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love.
The Bulls have been rumored to be interested in taking on a max-contract type of player like Love or Carmelo Anthony. The Bulls are in need of an efficient scorer and Love is a player who would thrive alongside a rim protector like Joakim Noah. It’s been rumored that the Bulls want to amnesty Boozer this summer in order to cut his $16.8 million from the books next season, but for trade purposes they would need to keep him and ship him out to make the salaries match.
The Bulls could be a team that can persuade Love to stick around long-term for several reasons. First off, Love trains with Derrick Rose in the summer and is familiar with the former MVP. He may be more inclined to commit long-term if he’s playing alongside a star who he knows. A roster with a healthy Rose, Noah, Love and Taj Gibson could have a chance to go deep into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference; Chicago was able to lock up the fourth seed by winning 48 games without Rose. Finally, the Bulls have one of the highest regarded coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau.
Boozer’s expiring contract would be added just to make the salaries match as the Timberwolves would really be interested in acquiring a young player in Butler, who is averaging 13 points per game. To go along with Butler, the Timberwolves would gain another first-round pick from the Bulls, such as the pick Chicago is owed from the Charlotte Bobcats, which will be the 16th pick.
Cleveland Cavaliers trade Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Jarrett Jack to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love
The Cavaliers are one of the many teams with a lot of things to consider heading into next season. With the upcoming early termination option in LeBron James’ contract, the Cavaliers are among the teams that could be vying for James’ services this offseason. As currently constructed, the Cavaliers may not be attractive to James. But if he has the opportunity to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love? Suddenly, Cleveland is much more appealing to James (as well as other free agents). A trio of James, Irving and Love could do some real damage in the Eastern Conference, especially since Irving and Love have yet to reach their prime.
Giving up young players in Waiters and Thompson for the chance to get Love is worth it, especially if it increases the odds that James returns to Cleveland. The Cavs would still hold onto their first-round pick in this scenario, which is projected to be around the ninth pick and would allow their incoming rookie to grow around a proven trio of players. Cleveland could part ways with a future first-round pick, if necessary.
For the Timberwolves, this is a move that would set them up for the future, as they would add Waiters and Thompson and have a promising young core with Ricky Rubio.
Orlando Magic trade Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love
The Magic just completed year two in life without Dwight Howard and are approaching the time when the team needs to start winning rather than accumulating ping pong balls. With a young core of players in Maurice Harkless, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and Kyle O’Quinn, the Magic also have two lottery picks coming up in June’s draft.
The team’s goal during the rebuild with general manager Rob Hennigan has been to cut bad contracts and acquire assets. The team doesn’t have any real bad contracts left as Jameer Nelson can be bought out for $2 million this offseason, so the Magic have to decide where they want to go from here. Harkless was brought into Orlando with high hopes, but he hasn’t improved as much as expected. Harris presents a challenge when deciding where to plug him in on the floor, as he is an undersized power forward but lacks speed to match up with quicker wing players. With the two lottery picks, players like Harkless and Harris could become expendable in a deal for Love.
The good news for the Timberwolves is all three of these players come in with good contracts. Afflalo is due $7.5 million, but returns great value considering the 18.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists he put up this season. Harkless is one of the league’s youngest players and isn’t even 21 years old yet. Harris has shown glimpses of brilliance and is just 21 years old. Orlando also has a lot of picks to part ways with, if Minnesota is demanding picks back in any deal for Love.
A Magic starting lineup of Vucevic, Love, Oladipo and the two draft picks could be very good. If they are able to have a Phoenix-like turnaround, that could sell Love into staying long-term in Orlando.
Phoenix Suns trade Channing Frye, Gerald Green and multiple first-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love
The Suns have been mentioned as a possible destination for Love and other stars due to their plethora of first-round draft picks. The Suns have three first-round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft – their own lottery pick, which is projected around to be the 14th selection, the Washington Wizards’ 18th overall pick and the Indiana Pacers’ 27th overall pick. Not to mention, they could have two first-round picks in next year’s draft.
The Suns came into this season with 10 new players on the team and because of that, they weren’t expected to win very many games. They defied the odds and narrowly missed the playoffs. The Suns aren’t very far off with their current crop of players and with three first-round picks in a talented draft, they’ll be an even better team next season. With so many first-round picks, the Suns can put together an intriguing package for Love if Minnesota wants to rebuild through the draft.
Phoenix could be a dark horse destination for Love, and he spoke highly of the Suns a few months ago.
“Coach [Jeff Hornacek] has them playing hard,” Love told The Arizona Republic several months ago. “They have a lot of confidence. Their offense is very fitting for the team that they have. Dragic has been playing awesome basketball all year.
“Guys can really shoot the ball, spread the floor. They’re different in a way that when they get an offensive rebound, some of the time they don’t put it back; they kick it out for another three, miss another shot and kick it out for another three. That kind of just drains a team.”
Meanwhile for the Timberwolves, they would be adding two players capable of putting of solid numbers in terms of production. Both of those players would be coming into Minnesota with manageable contracts to work with. The draft picks would also help the Timberwolves retool after losing Love.
Golden State Warriors trade David Lee and Harrison Barnes to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love
The Golden State Warriors are extremely aggressive when it comes to upgrading their team, and they could find themselves in a position to make a play for Kevin Love this offseason. Given Love’s reported desire to return to the west coast and play for a contender, Golden State seems like an attractive place for Love to stay long-term.
Like most teams, the Warriors were reportedly interested in acquiring Love at this season’s trade deadline and should the Warriors have an early exit from the playoffs, they may be motivated to aggressively pursue a deal for Love. It’s not hard to imagine Joe Lacob calling up Bob Myers and telling him to do whatever it takes to put Love in a Warriors jersey.
The Warriors can package David Lee and Harrison Barnes for Love. Barnes is somewhat expendable with Andre Iguodala in Golden State, and the Warriors would likely be willing to part with him if it allowed them to acquire a star like Love. The Warriors don’t have any draft picks in this upcoming draft, but they can offer a future first-round draft pick in addition to Lee and Barnes if they feel it would help their chances of acquiring Love.
The Timberwolves would be getting established players in Lee and Barnes, who can contribute immediately toward the Timberwolves’ goal of making it back to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Barnes also has a lot of potential, since he is just 21 years old.
Houston Rockets trade Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love
The Houston Rockets are expected to be one of the more active teams come this offseason. Even with the addition of Dwight Howard to a lineup that features James Harden and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets have been looking for a stretch-four player and could be in heavy pursuit of Love.
In this deal, the Rockets would trade Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones to the Timberwolves. Any trade with the Rockets will figure to center around the expiring contracts of either Lin or Omer Asik, as the Rockets have had discussions about unloading both.
The Timberwolves would be getting a steal in Parsons, who averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and four rebounds per game this season and is only due to make $964,750 next season. The deal is also enticing since Lin’s expiring contract would provide cap relief after the season and Jones would figure to replace Love in the starting lineup and possibly become a key piece for the organization moving forward since he’s only 22 years old.
New York Knicks trade Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Corey Brewer
Phil Jackson and the Knicks will certainly try to make a bold move this offseason in order to keep free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony in town. The Knicks can offer an expiring contract such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler or Andrea Bargnani along with younger players in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert to help solidify a young core of players for the Timberwolves.
Acquiring a player in Love could be just what the Knicks need to persuade Anthony to stay there long-term. While Anthony has been rumored to want to go to a contender, if the Knicks were to bring in Love it may be enough to keep Anthony because he’d have a star alongside him and the Knicks are the only team that can offer him an extra year and $30 million more in free agency.
Brooklyn Nets trade Brook Lopez to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love
The Brooklyn Nets may have a case for landing Love. While the Nets have virtually no draft picks to offer in a trade scenario, they can offer up proven big man Brook Lopez. The Nets’ struggles at the start of the season are well-documented, but their turnaround into a sixth-seed and one of the best teams in the league in the New Year have them thinking about life after Lopez.
The Nets were able to do a complete 180 without the services of Lopez, who has been out since Dec. 20. With the team able to win games without their star center, he may now be viewed as expendable and a large piece of trade bait. The Nets could offer the Timberwolves Lopez for Love straight up and the Wolves would benefit with a proven 20-point-per-game center. With a veteran group of guys and a large market, the Nets could be a place Love stays long-term.
Which trade scenario is the best? Where do you think Love will ultimately land? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
NBA Daily: Checking In With Terrance Ferguson
Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson talks to Basketball Insiders about learning from his teammates, earning minutes and being mentally tough.
Before he reached the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Terrance Ferguson was once often referred to as a man of mystery. After changing course on two different programs in a two-month span, Ferguson ditched the typical one-and-done collegiate season for an adventure on the other side of the planet. But even after the Thunder selected Ferguson with the No. 21 overall pick in last year’s draft — the questions still lingered. How would a teenager with one season overseas adjust to the world’s most physical basketball league?
Not many rookies can contribute to a 40-plus win squad out in the cutthroat Western Conference so quickly — but down the stretch, here Ferguson is doing just that. With the Thunder locked in a tight playoff battle with six others teams, the 19-year-old’s hard-working personality has fit alongside the roster’s three perennial All-Stars — Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. And although his rookie season has come with some growing pains, Ferguson is earning meaningful minutes and making the most of them.
“I think it’s my work ethic, I come in every day with the same mentality,” Ferguson said. “I work my butt off — inside the game, being physical. Even though I’m a skinny guy, as everyone can see, I’m still everywhere on the floor being physical. I think [the coaching staff] really likes that, especially on the defensive end.”
Skinny or not, Ferguson is one of the league’s youngest players, so the 6-foot-7 guard has plenty of room to grow — literally. But for now, he’s playing an integral role on an Oklahoma City team looking to protect its high postseason seed. Late January brought the unfortunate season-ending injury to Andre Roberson — an All-Defensive Second Team honoree in 2016-17 — so the Thunder have needed both new and old players to step up in bigger roles.
While those candidates included the three-point shooting Alex Abrines, veteran Raymond Felton and the newly-acquired Corey Brewer, Ferguson’s recent rise in the rotation has arguably been the most interesting development. Since the calendar flipped to January, Ferguson has featured in almost all of the Thunder’s games, tallying just two DNP-CDs and one missed contest following a concussion. This steady diet of opportunity comes as a stark contrast to the 15 games in which he received no playing time, spanning from the season’s opening tip to the new year.
Of course, playing time is not always indicative of success, but Ferguson himself isn’t surprised that he’s carved out a crucial role ahead of the playoffs.
“Not really, it’s all up to coach’s decision,” Ferguson told Basketball Insiders. “I’m just here playing my part, staying ready at all times and some minutes came, so I’mma take them and play to the best of my ability.”
Back in October, Basketball Insiders’ own Joel Brigham spoke to Ferguson about his unconventional path to NBA and the choice to spend a year grinding with the Adelaide 36ers, an Australian outfit. In the land down under, Ferguson averaged just 15 minutes a night, considerably less than he would’ve likely received as a highly-recruited prospect here in America. Some five months later, Ferguson’s early-season stance on the move still stands out.
“I’m living the dream now, right? I must have done the right thing,” Ferguson said.
Today, it’s hard to disagree with Ferguson’s decisions considering that they’re currently paying off. In 2009, Brandon Jennings became the first to skip college and play in Europe before being drafted, with Emmanuel Mudiay most notably following in his footsteps six years later. While those two point guards both were selected in the top ten of their draft classes — at No. 10 and No. 7, respectively — it still remains the road far less traveled.
Considered raw by most pre-draft evaluations, an early expectation was that Ferguson would spend much of the season with the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate. Instead, Ferguson has played in only three games with the Blue, where he has averaged a commendable 14.7 points, four rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
But as of late, the Thunder have found somebody that’ll always work hard, learn from others and do the little things that don’t show up in the box score.
“I’ve learned a lot more from when I first started,” Ferguson told Basketball Insiders. “I got great teammates — I got Nick Collison, I got Russ, PG, Melo, so just picking their brains. I got Corey now, so just the work ethic they put in, just picking their brains each and every day about what I can do better, watching game film, it’s a lot of things.”
When he was drafted, Ferguson had a reputation as a skyscraping leaper with the athleticism to become an elite perimeter defender. Although his current averages with the Thunder understate his innate potential, Ferguson knows he can contribute without scoring — even noting that he can make up for it “on the other side of the court.” Playing defense and competing hard every night, he has slowly made a name for himself.
And while Ferguson has tallied far more single-digit scoring outings than his 24-point breakout performance in early January, he’s earned the trust of head coach Billy Donovan and his veteran teammates, which is something the rookie will never take for granted.
“Coach believes in me and that means a lot to me,” Ferguson said. “But my teammates believe in me, so I’m not gonna let them down. I’m gonna go out every day and play my hardest, compete and try to get the win each and every night.”
One might assume that his year abroad in Australia helped to mentally mold him into the high-flying, hard-nosed rookie we see today. Ferguson, however, contends that he’s had that edge from the very beginning.
“I’ve been mentally tough, it wasn’t overseas that did that,” Ferguson told Basketball Insiders. “I had to be mentally tough just to go over there — so I’ve always had that mentality, the [desire] to just dominate, play to the best of my ability and compete.”
And now he’s doing just that in the NBA.
Is Kyrie Irving’s Second Opinion a Cause for Concern?
Shane Rhodes breaks down the tough situation the Celtics are in with Kyrie Irving.
The Boston Celtics are in one awful predicament.
With a third of the roster out due to injury, Brad Stevens has been forced into the impossible task of maintaining Boston’s championship aspirations with some subpar talent; while they have performed admirably, the likes of Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye wouldn’t see the same run they are currently on with most contenders. Gordon Hayward has missed the entire season, save a few minutes on opening night. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are all currently out, some for the year and others not. Key contributors Al Horford, Marcus Morris and others have missed time as well.
It couldn’t get worse, could it?
Well, it may just have. Reports surfaced Tuesday that Irving, who had missed time this season — including the last four games — with left knee soreness, is seeking a second opinion after a lack of progress in his recovery.
My understanding is that Kyrie Irving is getting a 2nd opinion on his left knee, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Bottom line: he needs the screws out. Knee is flaring up. He will either play thru it going forward or … he will get thee screws out and won’t play at all. Stay tuned.
— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) March 20, 2018
With lack of progress on his ailing left knee, Celtics All-Star Kyrie Irving plans to travel for a second opinion later this week, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 20, 2018
In the wake of the Isaiah Thomas fiasco and his ailing hip last Summer, an injury that lingered deep into this season, the Celtics will likely be more than cautious with Irving, whom they gave up a haul (the rights to the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick, most notably), to acquire. But one can only wonder if these persistent issues — Irving’s left knee was surgically repaired after he sustained a fractured kneecap in 2015, and he reportedly threatened the Cleveland Cavaliers with surgery this offseason before his trade to Boston — are a cause for concern for general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
The situation presents the Celtics with a quandary, to say the least.
Knee injuries aren’t exactly a death-knell, but fans need not look far for to see the devastating effect they can have on NBA players (e.g. Derrick Rose). They can snowball and, over time, even the best players will break down. Regardless of the severity, Irving’s knee issue presents problems both now and in the future.
The problems now are obvious: the Celtics, already down Gordon Hayward, cannot afford to lose Irving if they are at all interested in making a Finals run this season. Boston struggles mightily on the offensive end when Irving and his 24.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists aren’t on the court. In a playoff atmosphere, especially, the team would sorely miss his scoring prowess.
Looking ahead, if Irving is dealing with these problems at the age of 25, what could the future hold for the All-Star guard? Knee issues, most lower body issues in general, are often of the chronic variety, and constant maintenance can wear on people, both mentally and physically.
Just a season separated from a likely super-max payday, will the Celtics want to commit big-money long-term to potentially damaged goods?
If there is a silver lining in it all, it is the fact that 20-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum must now shoulder the scoring load, something that should go a long way in building on the potential that made him the No. 3 overall pick last June. And, should Irving miss the remainder of this season, exposure to the fires of the playoffs should only temper the Celtics’ young roster. In the event that Irving’s absence isn’t prolonged, time like this could only serve to strengthen the roster around him.
Still, Ainge brought Irving to Boston for a reason: he was meant to lead the Celtics into battle, alongside Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, in their quest for a title. Obviously, he can’t do that from the bench. Without Irving at 100 percent, the Celtics are not a championship caliber squad, healthy Gordon Hayward or not. That fact alone will make Irving’s situation one to monitor going forward and for the foreseeable future.
NBA Daily: Houston Has It All
Deciphering whether Houston is a contender or pretender is tough, but they’re making it easy.
It is very easy to get caught up in the NBA regular-season hyperbole. The past is littered with a plethora of NBA teams that looked like world-beaters in the regular season only to pull up lame in the playoffs and emerge as a bunch of pretenders.
So when it comes to the Houston Rockets, it’s no surprise many pundits and fans of the game fall heavily on one side or the other. The 2017-18 Rockets are a polarizing squad in that respect. On one side of the fence, you have the folks that are struggling to get behind Houston until they see how the franchise performs in the playoffs under the brightest of lights and on the biggest of stages. On the other, folks that place a great deal of weight on the 82-game regular season and the ability to sustain consistency throughout the marathon.
As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
At the top of Houston’s lineup are two future Hall of Famers in James Harden and Chris Paul. The latter was a perennial star in his heyday and is still a top-tier talent in the league. Harden, on the other hand, is closing in on his first MVP award and had serious cases for winning the honors in prior seasons, as well. Both Harden and Paul are criticized for their past playoff failures.
Paul entered the league during the 2006 season and has been dogged by the ever looming fact that he’s never reached a Conference Finals. Harden has been to the NBA Finals but has been dogged for multiple playoff missteps and shaky performances that remain etched in everyone’s memory. But something about this season’s Rockets team (57-14) seems different as the duo closes in on 60 wins.
One way to measure the true greatness of a NBA team is evaluating how many ways the roster can win playing a variety of styles. From the eyeball test, Houston checks the boxes in this category. The team sustains leads during blowouts. They have an offense built to erase large deficits quickly. The team possesses the talent to employ an array of versatile lineups to withstand top heat from opposing teams. Head coach Mike D’Antoni has shown the ability to adjust on the fly during certain situations. Houston is seemingly comprised of a bunch of guys that are selfless and ready to sacrifice at this stage of their respective careers.
Time will tell on all of those aforementioned aspects, but the Rockets are built to compete and win now. On paper at least, the team fits the criteria.
Paul has a chance to go down as a top five point guard in NBA history .His court vision is unquestioned and his big men always seem to end up being in the top five of field goal percentage each season (i.e. Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and now Clint Capela). In years past, the Rockets faltered down the stretch of games because the entire system ran through Harden. But this year’s club has the luxury of taking some of the on-ball expectation away from Harden and by giving the rock to Paul who naturally thrives in this role the squad doesn’t take a step back on the floor.
This is going to be big for Houston which has seen Harden gassed late in playoff games from carrying the entire load.
Small Ball Ready
Presumably standing between the Rockets and an appearance in the NBA Finals are the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors turned the NBA upside down with their free-flowing offense, long range accuracy and the successful ability to push the pace while playing small ball.
At the height of Golden State’s success they employed the “death lineup” which places All-Star forward Draymond Green at center. In different variations this gives the Warriors five guys on the court who can dribble, drive, pass and shoot. Versatility is important and if you look at this year’s Rockets team they have the ability to match the death lineup with their own version. Veteran forward P.J. Tucker would be able to guard Green in this scenario at center or Houston could just rely on the athleticism of Capela.
When it comes to defense, the Rockets will never be confused for the bad boy Detroit Pistons of yesteryear, however, the team has an assortment of individually capable defenders on the roster. Paul has all defensive team honors hanging on his mantle during his time in the league. Small forward Trevor Ariza made his bones in the league by placing an emphasis on defense. Before Capela emerged as a double-digit scorer, he was relied on as a defensive spark off the bench. Luc Mbah a Moute has a reputation and consistent track record of being a very willing defender.
Shooting, Versatility and Experience
All of this success, leads to the variation D’Antoni can put out onto the floor. The versatility to go with a small ball lineup or a lineup heavily skewed toward defenders is a luxury amenity. Houston also features five guys with 125 or more three-pointers made this season with Harden, Eric Gordon, Ariza, Paul and Ryan Anderson leading the way. A sixth, Tucker, should join the +100 club before season’s end. Veteran Gerald Green has only played 30 games with the franchise but has already knocked down 76 attempts from distance.
Experience is key as well. This year’s Rockets team features only one player under 25, receiving 25 or more minutes per night in the rotation. Look at NBA history, title winning teams are full of veterans not second or third year players.
Again, the Rockets will never be confused with the late 80s or early 90s Pistons but the team has more than a few guys that don’t shy away from contact or physical play. The collection of Nene, Tucker, Green and Ariza have had more than their share of shoving matches when things get heated on the floor.
With the start of the NBA playoffs (April 14) under a month away, the Rockets continue to build momentum toward a title run. Will Harden and Paul’s playoff demons from the past emerge or is their first true shot at greatness with a complete team? These questions will soon be answered.