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NBA AM: Down Goes Bucks’ Star Rookie Jabari Parker

Emerging rookie Bucks forward Jabari Parker suffers a torn ACL. Are the Cavaliers eyeing Wesley Matthews?

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Emerging rookie forward Jabari Parker reportedly suffers torn ACL

There are plenty of surprises around the league that have been uncovered during the first quarter of the 2014-15 campaign. The Charlotte Hornets’ implosion, Detroit’s plummet deeper into the Eastern Conference basement and of course all of the drama unfolding in the land of the New York Knicks – all showing that preseason scripts are rarely followed to the letter.

The Milwaukee Bucks have also been a surprise. A pleasant one to their fan base, in fact. In 2013, the franchise won a grand total of 15 games. This season, fortunes have reversed, as the club already has 13 victories and would be the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed if the playoffs started today.

However, the positive momentum starting to build in Milwaukee took a huge blow on Tuesday night when the franchise announced rookie forward Jabari Parker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and would miss the rest of the season.

The arrival of head coach Jason Kidd and the arrival of Parker, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, have been two of the leading drivers of the Bucks’ success during the early portion of the season. At the time of the injury Parker was averaging 12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 49 percent shooting from the field in 25 games.

The question now is where does Milwaukee go from this point?

In the short term, swingmen Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jared Dudley are likely to receive a hefty boost in minutes. Antetokounmpo has started the majority of the season but currently averages below 30 minutes per contest. Expect that number to increase. Middleton and Dudley’s time has fluctuated throughout the campaign.

In terms of looking outside for reinforcements, Milwaukee currently has $56 million in guaranteed salaries on the books giving the franchise a little over $7 million in cap space to utilize in a potential trade.

There are a few talented forwards (and wings) who are potentially on the trading block for the right assets. Detroit’s Josh Smith and Greg Monroe are consistently mentioned in rumors with Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson reportedly on the outs with the Hornets.

Smith is owed $27 million after this season and has looked to be on the decline. Monroe will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and could be a risk for any team to acquire in a deal while giving up real assets in return. Stephenson is owed $18 million after this season and is clearly an all-around talent, but Milwaukee already has Antetokounmpo spending a good portion of his time  playing the same position.

Milwaukee travels to Portland on Wednesday night in their first game of the season without Parker in the lineup.

Cleveland Cavaliers eyeing Blazers’ guard Wesley Matthews?

The Cleveland Cavaliers got off to a slow start but have seemingly found their rhythm as the club has rattled off eight wins in their last 10 contests. However, there continues to be rumblings the Cavaliers are in the market for assets and all signs point to the franchise aggressively working the trade market looking to solidify their rotation.

There are two areas Cleveland would be looking to address – shooting guard and a quality big man who can help protect the rim.

According to Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the team has been enamored with a productive guard from the Western Conference.

The idyllic fit for the Cavaliers to fill their void for toughness, shooting and defensive tenacity resides in the Pacific Northwest: Wesley Matthews of Portland Trail Blazers. Cleveland has adored Matthews for quite some time and its quest of him has been repeatedly vetoed, league sources told Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Matthews, on paper, would make sense for the Cavaliers. The guard is averaging 16.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on the season for Portland. There’s little incentive or reason for the Blazers (19-6), clicking on all cylinders, to deal away one of their most talented assets, though.

Matthews is in the final year of his current deal worth $7.3 million this season.  According to Haynes’ report, the Blazers aren’t interested in moving Matthews at the moment and view him as part of their long term strategy moving forward.

Barring an unexpected plummet, the Trail Blazers are dismissing all overtures for Matthews. He is a free agent at the end of the season and they have every intention of re-signing him next summer, a league source said.

While Matthews might be unobtainable at the moment for Cleveland, the team’s need for more depth at shooting guard is apparent with veteran Shawn Marion playing out of his natural position and Dion Waiters inability to find a consistent groove with the starting unit.

 

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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