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NBA PM: Memphis a Frontrunner to Land Green?

The Memphis Grizzlies are pursuing Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green and talks are reportedly “heating up.”

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Memphis Emerging as Frontrunner to Land Green?

This afternoon, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics are having discussions about a Jeff Green deal and that the talks are “heating up.” Nothing is imminent, but the report suggests that the Grizzlies are serious in their pursuit of the veteran forward.

Memphis is one of the more intriguing suitors for Green, and this is definitely a situation worth watching. Some reports have indicated that the framework of the deal would be Tayshaun Prince’s expiring contract and a draft pick for Green. The Grizzlies have traded their own draft picks for this year and only own the less valuable of the Toronto Raptors and and Dallas Mavericks’ second-round picks. They can trade a future first- or second-round pick, though.

This comes just one day after Stein reported that the Grizzlies want to add a veteran small forward, with Miami HEAT forward Luol Deng being mentioned as a possible option in addition to Green.

Now that the Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo and are clearly rebuilding around their young core, it’s no surprise that Green may be the next Celtics player traded.

Green will turn 29 years old in August and can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason by opting out of the final year of his contract worth $9.2 million. This may complicate things a bit, as he could just be a rental player (which could cause teams to hesitate about giving up significant assets for him). With just $41 million (that doesn’t include the full five-year max deal they plan to offer pending free agent Marc Gasol this summer) in guaranteed contracts on the books for the 2015-16 season, the Grizzlies should feel confident in their ability to re-sign him if they were able to acquire him and he declined his player option. Even with a new max deal for Gasol the Grizzlies, thanks to inheriting Green’s Bird rights, would be able to ink him to a new pact without going into the luxury tax.

Green is playing very well this year, so Boston shouldn’t have any trouble finding potential suitors for him outside of Memphis if they want to gauge interest elsewhere around the NBA. According to sources, the Los Angeles Clippers have shown interest in him in the past.

It makes sense for the Celtics trade Green before the Feb. 19 deadline and get something in return for him rather than risking losing him for nothing this summer. It’s unlikely that he would re-sign with Boston at this point in his career since he likely want to join a team that’s closer to winning.

UPDATE: Reports have indicated that the two sides have agreed to the deal and it’s expected to be finalized tonight. Memphis will land Green while Boston will land Prince and a future first-round pick.

Oh, How the Odds Have Changed

If daily fantasy sites like Draft Kings have taught us anything, it’s that sports fans enjoy gambling on the NBA more than they ever have, and one of the easiest ways to go about that gambling is to make a preseason wager on the team you think is going to win the championship.

Of course, the odds have changed quite a bit over the course of the last three months, as injuries, trades and unexpected succesess and failures have made some preseason odds look like rip-offs and others look like steals. Here’s a peek at some of the most dramatic changes between preseason and current betting odds, courtesy of OddsShark:

The Best Bets

Golden State Warriors
Preseason: 25/1
Now: 5/1
Everybody liked the roster coming into the season, but nobody was 100 percent sure how quickly Steve Kerr would figure out this whole head coaching thing. Turns out Kerr is pretty good at it and players like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are having career-best seasons. Stephen Curry could even win MVP, leading the Warriors to the best record in the NBA by a wide margin. All that said, 5/1 might be a rather generous line.

Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason: 40/1
Now: 18/1
The Blazers have owned the Northwest Division this year and have the second-best record in the NBA behind the efforts of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. With this output, should it continue and everyone stay healthy, 40/1 odds looks like highway robbery. After a strong showing in the first round of last year’s playoffs, many people expect some kind of jump from Portland, but not a jump this big.

Toronto Raptors
Preseason: 50/1
Now: 16/1
Kyle Lowry is having a career-year and the Raptors just keep on winning, even with DeMar DeRozan missing significant time. This is one of those feel-good stories where a team with tons of talent sees it all come together and of course the wins follow shortly after. Perhaps those 50/1 odds before the season were unfair for a team that had just won the Atlantic Division, because here they are, winning it again.

Atlanta Hawks
Preseason: 100/1
Now: 12/1
Nobody saw the Atlanta Hawks leading the Eastern Conference in wins nearly halfway through the season, but that’s where we are and in this weak a conference, it’s hard to believe they will ever fall too hard, even if they hit a slump and Chicago, Toronto or Washington makes a run at the top seed. Like Portland, the Hawks are 27-8 right now, and have the second-best championship odds in the East, behind only the Bulls.

The Worst Bets

New York Knicks
Preseason: 50/1
Now: 5000/1
Welp. There was some preseason sentiment that the Knicks wouldn’t be that bad, but things just haven’t come together for Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and the ragtag bunch of NBA players that have only managed to slap together five wins this season and are in the midst of a 14-game losing streak. Odds don’t go much lower than this, but if Carmelo Anthony officially shuts it down for the season, it could be ∞/1 and nobody would make the bet.

Indiana Pacers
Preseason: 50/1
Now: 300/1
Believe it or not, that 50/1 number came out after Paul George was pronounced out for the season and Lance Stephenson had signed with Charlotte, so the original number appears abnormally high in the first place. Still, even if they were more like 100/1 to kick things off, the drop to 300/1 would be a pretty precipitous one. Injuries crippled this team to start the season, and they’ve been only mediocre since getting guys like David West and George Hill back in the lineup. They aren’t out of the playoff picture, but it’s hard to see them being competitive unless George makes a miraculous comeback at the perfect time and somehow manages not to miss a beat.

Charlotte Hornets
Preseason: 66/1
Now: 500/1
And speaking of Lance Stephenson, his failure to launch in North Carolina was a huge reason for their slow start, and while they have won four in a row and Kemba Walker is really starting to emerge, they’re still 10 games south of .500. Despite that, they’re only 2.5 games out of the playoff picture with 44 games left to play, so at 500/1 they’re actually not the worst bet in the world. Still, it’s quite a drop.

Brooklyn Nets
Preseason: 66/1
Now: 200/1
Nobody really expected the Nets to compete for a championship, so the 66/1 odds were a bit generous to start the season. The Lionel Hollins hiring probably had a little to do with that, but the talent there just looks run down and they’re going nowhere fast, hence the massive drop in odds.

L.A. Lakers
Preseason: 66/1
Now: 750/1
While it’s not as dramatic a fall as New York, the Lakers do have some of the worst championship odds in the league at this point after starting the year among the top half of the league. This is a case, though, of oddsmakers setting a line that isn’t realistic but will draw bets from a strong fan base. It’s the same reason the Dallas Cowboys are 7/1 to win the Super Bowl. They aren’t the second-best team in the NFL playoffs, but those odds will get the millions of Cowboy fans to bet. For the Lakers, though, the odds have settled in where they probably should have been all along.

At this point in the season, it takes something pretty dramatic for the odds to change in any sort of noticeable way. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers, who made two trades this week to better themselves, are 13/2 favorites to win the championship, and that includes all their struggles early in the season.

A big trade or a big injury can shift things, but otherwise these odds seem to have settled in. Hopefully, if you’re the betting type, you made the right bet at the right time.

Former Commissioner David Stern Embraces Data Revolution

There’s no question that enhanced data has completely changed the way that players, coaches and even fans watch and appreciate sports. In the NBA, specifically, a revolution has taken place over the course of the last decade, with more and more teams turning to advanced analytics to assemble game plans and find ways to be more effective on the court.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern recently told Big Think he believes that, more than anything, teams will use this data to alter substitution patterns.

“You’ll have an assistant coach on the bench that’s going to be looking at the game, the video, everything else, and you’re going to know exactly at the end of the game that the opposing team is going to go to this player 82 percent of the time for that shot. Let’s defend it,” Stern said.

Knowing that information, teams can substitute in the defender most capable on that side of the floor or in that kind of situation and hopefully have the most success making a stop on the play.

Theoretically, that’s how it would work, and the same ideas could be applied on the offensive end.

“The coach has to understand—and they will, because they’re smart and they’re adaptive—it’s one thing if a player shoots 50 percent, but if he shoots 60 percent on the left and 40 percent on the right, you better get him the ball on the left,” Stern said. “You can use the data to tell you that.”

Not all players obsess over this information; in fact, very few give it all that much consideration, especially when they’re on the floor moving a million miles a second and trying to survive against the biggest, strongest defenders on the planet. They’re not always thinking, “I need to get to that spot on the floor instead of that other spot on the floor,” particularly if the opening comes in just a split second and isn’t in the preferred region.

But teams are still figuring out how to use all this information, as Stern points out.

“If you want to have four trillion facts, you can go to NBA.com/stats, and the SAP HANA program will give you all those statistics. You’ve got the SportVU statistics. You’ve got a high-speed arena network that brings the video back from every arena for replay, but once it’s back for replay you can splice it, chop it, tweet it, you name it,” he said.

“The age of analytics is upon us, and we (the NBA) wanted to be ahead of it. That’s an example of things being available to us that weren’t available to us before. A decade ago we were primitive compared to where we are now, and in another decade I think we’ll see how primitive we are now. We’re so much further advanced. It’s amazing.”

As teams hire more and more people to read and figure out how to use this data, the game will change. Already GMs like Daryl Morey in Houston are purposefully going after certain types of players to play a certain type of game that takes advantage of teams that aren’t doing much with these stats. To a degree, it’s working, and it probably isn’t long before it’s working for 29 other teams, too.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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