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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 3/1

Basketball Insiders looks at some of the articles from last week in case you missed any the first time around.

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Kevin Durant’s Injuries May Hinder Thunder’s Goals

By Susan Bible

Kevin Durant’s NBA season is not playing out the way he expected. On the heels of his Most Valuable Player award and a long, restful summer to prepare for a successful 2014-15 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, injuries have plagued him all year. It’s something he’s never encountered, having missed only 16 games in total over the span of his first seven seasons. Leading the league in total minutes played in 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2013-14, the six-time All-Star also never had to be especially mindful of his on-court playing time.

Of the 55 games the Thunder has played so far this year, Durant has been sidelined in 28 of them for various foot, ankle and toe issues. After a season of on-and-off playing, he’s currently on the DNP list again. Unfortunately – and disappointingly – he’s experiencing soreness in his surgically-repaired right foot. Despite this news, the team doesn’t seem particularly worried.

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J.R. Smith Silencing Critics

By Alex Kennedy

When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired J.R. Smith in a three-team, six-player trade with the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder on January 5, there was a moment when Twitter literally stopped working. Ten minutes after news of the trade first leaked (with Smith’s name being the first to surface in reports), users noticed that Twitter wasn’t able to load for several minutes. Kim Kardashian couldn’t “break the internet” in November, but apparently Smith succeeded a month and a half later.

Perhaps this was a coincidence, but it seems plausible that the temporary malfunction was due to Smith. After all, he’s one of the most polarizing players in the NBA and he’s often the butt of jokes due to his inefficiency on the court, partying off the court and all-around strange antics (such as untying his opponents’ shoes during free throws or tweeting out a picture of a naked model in bed with him).

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Will the Thunder’s Big Gamble Pay Off?

By Nate Duncan

Now that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s moves for this 2014-15 season appear complete, let’s return to simpler times – last September before Kevin Durant’s foot injury was revealed.  Oklahoma City was one of the elite contenders, and my personal pick for the 2015 Championship.  The Thunder had fastidiously hoarded assets, and in fact had so many recent draft picks that they felt comfortable reaching with the 29th selection on Josh Huestis, on the condition he play for a year in the D-league.  With Steven Adams poised to ascend to the starting lineup, the only real hole was a bonafide two-way wing who could play above-average defense and reliably drain threes.  In the last few years the Thunder had been forced to choose between offensive and defensive units, with one-way options like Thabo Sefolosha and Andre Roberson (defense) and Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and Anthony Morrow (offense) as the options on the wings.  With better scouting in the playoffs, teams helped off the defensive wings with impunity (the San Antonio Spurs rendered Sefolosha unplayable in 2014), while the Thunder had struggled to stop elite wings and point guards.  With Morrow, Lamb and Roberson the main options this year, the situation had not much improved, although Morrow is at least a knockdown shooter.  What’s more, the lack of quality wings limited Scott Brooks’ ability to unleash small lineups with Durant at power forward.  Opposing teams could either hide their power forward on the defensive wing, or the Thunder’s defense would suffer too badly if they went with the offensive guy.

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Thunder the Eighth Seed? Not Really

By Moke Hamilton

On a routine October day, with one small announcement, the skies over Oklahoma City seemed to get just a bit more gray.

“Kevin [Durant] made us aware of discomfort in his right foot,” general manager Sam Presti said back on October 12. “We proceeded to perform the necessary imaging studies to determine the cause of his discomfort. At this stage, Kevin has been diagnosed with a Jones fracture.”

Today, the Thunder are still dealing with questions and the fallout from Durant’s injury. In fact, he has just been sidelined once again after having another procedure to reduce pain and discomfort in that same foot.

Immediately after the initial injury was announced, the questions began.

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Isaiah Canaan Adjusting to New System in Philadelphia

By Cody Taylor

Thursday’s trade deadline went on record as the the busiest in NBA history with a total of 37 players getting traded before the 3 p.m. deadline. One of the most active teams on the day was the Philadelphia 76ers, as they took part in three of the 13 deals that transpired.

Perhaps the biggest shock of the day happened when the Sixers opted to trade last year’s Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, to the Milwaukee Bucks. In all, the Sixers acquired a total of three draft picks, Isaiah Canaan, JaVale McGee (from Denver) and the rights to Chu Chu Maduabum. In addition, the 76ers traded away another promising rookie in K.J. McDaniels to the Houston Rockets for Canaan and a second-round draft pick.

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Uprooted: Nelson Plays for 3 NBA Teams in a Month

By Jessica Camerato

Last Thursday nearly 40 players were moved at the NBA trade deadline, relocating to new teams halfway through the season. Jameer Nelson had a head start on them.

In a league of constant movement, Nelson was one of the anomalies, playing the first 10 years of his career on the Orlando Magic. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 20th pick in 2004, the Magic acquired him that night in exchange for a 2005 first-round pick.

The point guard came to Orlando the same season as Dwight Howard and helped grow the team from a sub-.500 squad to a title contender. He was there for the playoff runs and was still around for the rebuilding phase after Howard got traded.

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More Bad News For Derrick Rose

By Steve Kyler

Late last night, the Chicago Bulls announced that guard Derrick Rose was experiencing some pain in his right knee and after an evaluation and MRI, it’s been determined that Rose has a medial meniscus tear in his knee. This is the same knee and meniscus that cost him the 2013 season.

The initial belief is that unlike the last tear, where Rose had the tear repaired, this time around he may opt to have the torn tissue removed, which means a much smaller recovery time that typically is three to six weeks.

There is also a belief that the tear is rather small in the grand scheme, which could bode well for a return this season.

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Sizing Up the Western Conference After the Trade Deadline

By Jesse Blancarte

By now, you should have a pretty good grasp of what trades were made right before last Thursday’s trade deadline. If not, be sure to check out our trade grades by our own Ben Dowsett.

Altogether, nine Western Conference teams made at least one trade, including several teams that are competing for the eighth and final playoff spot. Let’s take a look at the distribution of power in the West now that the dust has settled from the trade deadline, starting with the teams that arguably improved the most.

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Can Magic Climb into the Eighth Seed?

By Cody Taylor

If the Orlando Magic are going to make the playoffs, their push to make it into the postseason must start now.

Heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Miami HEAT, the Magic trail the eighth-seeded Brooklyn Nets by six games and the seventh-placed Miami HEAT by six and a half games. A win against the HEAT would bring the Magic a game closer to their goal.

Still, there’s optimism in Orlando right now because the Magic are currently riding a successful stretch of the season where they’ve played some of their best basketball in over a year. That generally is what happens after a team fires their head coach – players buy into the new game plan, want to make a solid impression on their new coach and get a clean slate.

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Rajon Rondo, The One-Year Rental?

By Lang Greene

The NBA is filled with guys at the top of their respective professions, playing or coaching a sport with the goal to ultimately win at a high level. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise the game is also filled with egos – massive egos. It’s part of the game. Always has been, always will be.

The Dallas Mavericks suspended former All-Star guard Rajon Rondo for one game prior to Wednesday’s road game versus Atlanta for conduct detrimental to the team. Rondo and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle got into a shouting match during the club’s Tuesday night contest versus Toronto. The guard apparently ignored Carlisle’s play call from the sideline, which led to the coach rushing the floor to call a timeout and the subsequent altercation.

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The Curious Case of Carmelo Anthony’s Injured Knee

By Tommy Beer

Here’s what we know: At some point, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had an MRI that revealed he needed season-ending surgery on his left knee. Last Thursday, a few days after he played 30 minutes in the 2015 All-Star Game, Anthony underwent the required procedure, which included a patella tendon debridement and repair. Knicks president Phil Jackson announced Anthony’s recovery window would likely be between four-to-six months.

Here’s what we don’t know: Exactly when did Anthony, Jackson, team doctors, owner Jim Dolan and the rest of the organization come to the realization that Anthony had sustained a significant injury to his knee, an injury that required major surgery and would keep him sidelined for potentially up to half a calendar year?

The timeline on the Anthony injury has been murky this whole season. Was the seriousness of the situation downplayed at ‘Melo’s request, or was the team and/or Anthony neglectful in their attention to this issue? Either scenario is worrisome.

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Sloan Takes Whiteside’s Path to NBA

By Joel Brigham

Miami HEAT center Hassan Whiteside is having the year of his life in the NBA, putting up video game numbers after spending his first few years as a professional basketball player suffering through injuries and toiling in the D-League and overseas.

He is, unquestionably, the biggest surprise success story of the year, but there’s another NBA player who has taken an uncannily similar road to achievement on the sport’s biggest stage: Indiana Pacers guard Donald Sloan.

Both came into the league with Sacramento in 2010, and both spent a good chunk of their first season playing for the D-League’s Reno Bighorns. Now, in 2015, both players have started several games for their respective NBA teams.

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On Doc’s Shoulders?

By Jabari Davis

There may not be any reinforcements coming for the Los Angeles Clippers, as it appears the team has missed out on the preferred veteran buyout players just on the heels of remaining inactive at last week’s trade deadline.

The lack of deadline moves was far from a surprise given that veteran shooting guard Jamal Crawford was their best (if not only) movable asset, but there had been rumors about significant interest in players like Tayshaun Prince (who was eventually traded to Detroit), Andrei Kirilenko (who returned overseas to play in Russia), Kendrick Perkins (who signed with Cleveland, but admitted it was tough to turn down Doc Rivers).

Not only would moving Crawford likely have disrupted team chemistry, but there probably wasn’t a realistic scoring threat available to offset what they would lose in terms of the offensive productivity the 15-year-veteran provides. Our own Alex Kennedy caught up with a very confident-sounding Crawford just yesterday, as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year made it clear he still believes the Clippers can be title contenders as they currently stand.

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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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