A Quick Rebuild in Portland?
By Moke Hamilton
When LaMarcus Aldridge decided that he wanted to take his talents elsewhere in search of greener pastures, he left behind one of the NBA’s more passionate fanbases and one of the league’s most promising young superstars.
In the blink of an eye, the Portland Trail Blazers had gone from a fringe contender that seemed one of two pieces away from seriously challenging for the Western Conference crown to a team that had no chance of qualifying for the playoffs would be stuck rebuilding for the next several years.
It seems that neither general manager Neil Olshey nor guard C.J. McCollum got the message.
Love for Porzingis Knows No Bounds
By Tommy Beer
It’s 2:20 in the morning and Gints Jankovskis’ alarm is ringing loudly. Ten minutes later, he is sipping his first cup of coffee.
Jankovskis is 17 years old. He lives with his mom and dad in the in the rural village of Dzerumi, located in the Kekava region of Latvia. Gints is a student at the local secondary school, but he is not up at this ungodly hour to finish a forgotten homework assignment or cram for a final exam. No, he has set his alarm to make sure he doesn’t miss a minute of the Knicks-Suns game, which is scheduled to tip off in New York at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Believe it or not, Jankovskis has watched each and every game the Knicks have played this season.
Dudley Content in Constant Upheaval
By Joel Brigham
For as valuable as Jared Dudley always seems to be for the teams that employ him, it’s a bit surprising that he’s moved around so much over the course of the last four seasons. After four strong years in Phoenix, he looked like the kind of player that ends up playing for a single team for the bulk of his career, but that’s not how it worked out. In his three seasons since leaving the Suns, he’s donned three different uniforms.
Despite all the shifting around, Dudley has felt comfortable his last two seasons with Milwaukee and now Washington. Continuity, though, is something he feels like he needs to be the best possible version of himself.
Phil Jackson Explains Derek Fisher Firing
By Alex Kennedy
The New York Knicks stole some headlines less than 24 hours after the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl win over the Carolina Panthers by deciding to fire their head coach, Derek Fisher. Kurt Rambis has been the named the team’s interim head coach.
The move was somewhat surprising, given that Fisher was just a year and a half into the five-year, $25 million contract he inked with the Knicks last summer. However, the team had struggled under Fisher, going 40-96 including losses in nine of their last 10 games. After a strong start to the season, New York is currently 23-31 – putting them in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
Trades May Come Down To The Wire
By Steve Kyler
With the NBA trade deadline 11 days away, things on the trade front are picking up. However, for those holding their breath on a deal before the All-Star break, you may not get much satisfaction.
In talking with team sources, the amount and frequency of talks is picking up, but there is still a sense that getting something done before the February 18 3 p.m. EST deadline may come down to the final hours.
Most teams are holding out that an offer will get better or that something new may surface and no one wants to trigger a deal today only to find themselves sitting out a bigger or better transaction closer to the deadline.
Assessing the Schedule Change
By Cody Taylor
Heading into the 2015-16 season, the NBA made significant changes to the schedule for each team. The league wanted to address player safety and opted to make a dramatic change in how frequently teams played.
Since taking over as commissioner in 2014, Adam Silver has publicly expressed a desire to make a number of tweaks to the league. Silver has mentioned cutting down the length of preseason, readdressing the lottery system and possibly changing the current playoff format.
However, one of the biggest areas of concern for Silver was player health and safety. The league heard concerns from the players and cut down the amount of back-to-back games teams played in, as well as stretches of four games in five nights.
Deadline Watch: Northwest Division
By Ben Dowsett
The deadline is upon us! It’s that time of year, and as of this writing, there is one week (give or take a few hours) to go before all in-season trades need to be wrapped up and submitted to the league. Like last season, some executives expect things to come down to the wire as teams hold out their very best offers until the last minute.
The Northwest Division will be of particular interest, with teams stationed at every spot on the spectrum as far as their trade deadline goals. The Thunder are clear contenders who will look to do anything they can to make a push for the rest of the year. The Jazz are toeing the line between competing now and building for the future, and the Blazers have to decide which side of this same fence they’re on. Meanwhile, teams like the Wolves and Nuggets (despite some positive moments this year) are primarily focused on developing their young groups for the future and determining which assets stay in town and which belong elsewhere.
Pelicans Face Crossroads At Deadline
By Lang Greene
The New Orleans Pelicans were one of the league’s biggest surprises last season, winning 45 games and earning a playoff berth over the injury ravaged Oklahoma City Thunder. Although the club was swept in the first round by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, the stage was seemingly set for even bigger things this season.
However, heading into the All-Star break, the Pelicans (20-33) are one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA and sit in 12th place in the West – seven games out of playoff contention. This wasn’t supposed to be the case. All-Star forward Anthony Davis averaged a whopping 31 points and 11 rebounds in the team’s first-round elimination to the Warriors. He was supposed to come back better. Former All-Star Jrue Holiday was expected to come back fully healthy after being hobbled much of the 2014-15 campaign. New head coach Alvin Gentry was supposed to push the franchise to new heights that the departed Monty Williams couldn’t achieve.
D’Angelo Russell Sees Rising Stars Game as an “Opportunity”
By Eric Saar
On the opening night of All-Star Weekend, Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell tallied 22 points in the Rising Stars Challenge, helping the USA team earn a 157-154 victory over the World team. Russell shot 9-of-15 from the floor and also added seven assists in just 16 minutes of action. Prior to the game, Russell talked to Basketball Insiders about his rookie season and the significance of being a part of All-Star Weekend.
“Yes, it is. Very,” Russell said when asked if it was great to get away from his up and down season. “I can’t dumb it down any more. It’s definitely a great feeling.”
The All-Star Weekend is a nice reprieve from what has been a roller-coaster of a season for Russell. The rookie guard has had his share of highlights (including a career-high 27 point performance against the Sacramento Kings) and lowlights (such as getting benched by Lakers’ head coach Byron Scott after starting at the beginning of the year). Making matters worse for Russell is the impressive campaigns fellow-rookies like Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis and (to a lesser extent) Jahlil Okafor are having.
Midseason Surprises and Disappointments
By Jesse Blancarte
It’s All-Star Weekend, which means it’s a good time to take stock of the NBA season up to this point. We enter each season with predictions of what will happen, who the breakout players will be, which teams will turn the corner and make the postseason and which teams will be the real contenders, among other things.
Many times we are right and many times we are wrong. However, that’s what makes the NBA, and sports in general, so much fun. Each season there are players and teams that beat the odds and exceed our collective expectations, while others fall well short of expectations. If everything always played out the way we predict, it wouldn’t be much fun to watch the games each night.
Here, we take a look at some of the teams and players that have been pleasant surprises and disappointments roughly 50 games into the regular season.
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