September 25, 2016, 5:37 pm
One Big Thing: Summer’s End
Mercifully, we’ve reached the end of summer. The Cool Weather People rejoice as training camps around the league are set to kick off. Actual news will start to happen! We no longer have to settle for speculation and vague tweets. We’ll still talk about that stuff because it’s cheap popcorn fun but there’ll be some actual basketball happening. Feels good.
For the edification of anyone who was without wifi all summer long, we’re going to take a stroll back through the summer’s activity in the basketball world.
The elephant in the room is obviously the moving and shaking that happened in free agency.
The cap spike gave us some laughers and head scratchers. We had Timofey Mozgov as the first guy off the board with Jonas Valanciunas money. We had a bunch of unnecessary heat on Mike Conley for being a good player at the right time. We had useful guys like Solomon Hill and Mirza Teletovic pull in big money.
Nearly everyone pulled in big money. It’s what the predictions said and essentially what happened. That doesn’t absolve all sins, but it does ease the pain a bit.
In a world where cap space is crucial, spending because you have the money doesn’t make it the right move. It’s as if every team found $20 million in the laundry and snickered away, thinking they’d found some hidden advantage.
That’s not the case. The goalposts moved, but they moved for everyone. True value remains the same even if dollars balloon to new heights. Spending eight figures on average-to-decent players will never be how a winner gets built.
Next summer, when the cap goes up again, we’ll see a little more patience. Teams have locked in a lot of money but there’s shaping up to be a fair amount of buyer’s remorse. Two really good deals came from Miami and Toronto who waited to sign Dion Waiters and Jared Sullinger to cheap low-risk deals, respectively. Value is value. Maybe teams will pump the brakes next summer.
Additionally there were some interesting moves that went down that had little to do with the cap spike.
The New York Knicks dusted off the PS3 and found their old copy of 2K11 in the attic. Dwyane Wade left South Beach for his hometown of Chicago. Chicago also snagged Rajon Rondo. Houston did some very Houston things and signed Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. Lots happened. KD happened.
Kevin Durant left the Thunder. OKC and Boston tried really hard (getting Tom Brady to pitch is the ultimate try-hard move) but came up empty. Durant joins the 73-win, 3-1 lead losing, Golden State Warriors.
With that in the West and the reigning champ Cavs in the East, this season is shaping up like an existential dilemma that would bring Camus to his knees.
But hey, we’ll play out the string. The NBA has a new public enemy so at least we’ve got that going for us.
Half-jokes aside, the disparity between the elite of the elite and the rest of the league has completely reshaped how we define the term ‘contender.’ It’s something that’ll probably come under scrutiny if players dance on parity’s grave and keep joining forces for ‘easier’ paths to money, championships and everything else that comes with them.
On the other side of that is Russell Westbrook.
That’s an oversimplification, of course, but the narrative of Westbrook as the hero that OKC needs- the one with him as the long-time scapegoat that rises to the challenge- is alive and well.
Westbrook, like just about anyone, is looking out for Numero Uno. Don’t ever forget that.
At the same time it is the sort of easy story that people like. The characters are fully-formed, the context and history set the stage nicely and the heel turn was magnificent. It’s far more complex than it will be described on the airwaves, but the heart wants what it wants.
In the meantime, the basketball in Rio turned out how we thought it would. Team USA won again despite some early struggles against inferior teams. Australia announced their prominence on a big stage and we saw strong showings from Serbian and Croatian squads. Older squads like France, Argentina and Spain all disappointed for the most part. The home team Brazilians gave us some fun moments while Nigeria looked like a composed squad in their Olympic showing.
Rio showed us that for as big as basketball is here, it’s still a game on the rise elsewhere in the world. That’s a great thing. The US will always be playing with a head start but the talent on the international scene is as good as it’s ever been and there seem to be even brighter days ahead.
While Team USA’s medals and trophies are more for Not Losing than actually winning these days, it was nice to see a cast of characters who might not make another Olympic team cash in.
Back stateside, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Chris Bosh have taken the spotlight recently. Unable to pass a team physical, Bosh’s health has left him in a major bind. Finding a doctor who will clear someone on blood thinners with a history of clotting to play a contact sport is a Herculean task. Bosh is working on a sort of web series that will chronicle his comeback and I can’t wait to watch his journey unfold.
In the non-news category of news, Rudy Gay still wants out of Sacramento. Water remains wet.
On the social commentary side, more and more players have taken to social media to speak their minds about growing racial issues in the US. The NBA has been fairly proactive about supporting these discussions and working to bring some positive change. The league responded to North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 by stripping Charlotte of the All Star game. There are issues far greater than any one athlete, any one league or any one sport and the NBA and its players deserve credit for not being afraid to stand up for what’s right.
But we’ll end our story on a wistful note: with the retirements of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Each of these basketball titans left such an indelible mark on the game they graced for so long. This won’t affect next season, but this summer marked the end of an era in several ways. Things won’t be the same without TD and the Big Ticket. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that each went about their business in such stark contrast while winding up at the same destination (as well as Springfield, Massachusetts eventually).
Duncan was the gentle giant while Garnett’s perpetual trash talk provided lots of entertaining, if infuriating, moments. Both were tremendous personas that forever changed the game.
That should suffice for a brief overview of the big things from Summer 2016. There’s a multitude of smaller story threads to follow and we very nearly ended up down the rabbit hole here, so you’re welcome for my self control.
As we gear up to find out who can beat the Warriors, who can challenge the Cavs and how many groins get kicked, it bears thinking about all the stuff that did actually happen this summer. The dog days of August hit hard, but the flurry of activity has set us all up for a fantastic season.
January 21, 2020, 3:08 pmJabari ParkerPF, Atlanta Hawks
Jabari Parker (shoulder) has been cleared to progress to the next step in his rehabilitation process, but will not be re-evaluated for another two weeks.
Parker is progressing in his rehab, but he still has a ways to go before returning to game action. Parker had value earlier in the year when John Collins was suspended but doesn't hold much while the team is healthy. He should be on the waiver wire in all formats.
Source: Marc J. Spears on Twitter
January 21, 2020, 2:39 pmJaylen BrownSG, Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown (right ankle sprain) is being listed as questionable to play against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
Brown returned to action in Monday's game against the Lakers after missing a couple of games with a sprained right thumb. The ankle injury is a new injury that was not reported on ahead of today, and it bears watching. Marcus Smart would likely be inserted back into the starting lineup should Brown be unable to play.
Source: Chris Forsberg on Twitter
January 21, 2020, 2:35 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker (left knee soreness) is being listed as questionable to play against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
Walker returned to action against in Monday's home win against the Lakers by putting up 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Walker seems safe to deploy, moving forward as long as there are no setbacks with his sore knee. Walker has been a top-30 9/8 cat play on the year.
Source: Chris Forsberg on Twitter
January 21, 2020, 1:40 pmAaron HolidayPG, Indiana Pacers
Aaron Holiday (sore right thumb) is being listed as questionable for Wednesday's matchup with the Suns.
Holiday has shifted back to a reserve role once again with Malcolm Brogdon back in the lineup. Holiday has proven to be a steady contributor when he sees the playing time, but with Brogdon back and Victor Oladipo's (knee rehab) return right around the corner, Holiday is better left on the waiver wires for the time being.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 21, 2020, 12:15 pmHenry EllensonPF, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have acquired the rights to Henry Ellenson from the Nets for Justin Anderson.
This trade was made through each team's G League affiliation, and Ellenson is likely to stay down there while the Raptors are healthy. Ellenson remains off the fantasy radar.
Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter
January 21, 2020, 12:11 pmDennis Smith Jr.PG, New York Knicks
Coach Mike Miller said on Monday that Dennis Smith Jr. would be re-evaluated within the next few days to get a feel for how close he is to returning to game action.
Smith, who's been in and out of the lineup all season, hasn't played in a game since December 23rd. Even when Smith returns to health, he is presumably the third-string PG for the Knicks, though his name has been floating around in possible trades. Keep an eye on this situation as a change of scenery and return to health could do wonders for Smith's fantasy value. This is all speculation for now.
January 21, 2020, 11:53 amKent BazemoreSG, Sacramento Kings
The Kings announced this morning that the trade that sent Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel to the Blazers for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks has been officially finalized.
Bazemore will be asked to be a glue guy for the Kings but his fantasy value is likely to take a big hit. We should get an idea about his minutes starting tomorrow when the Kings face the Pistons.
Source: Kings PR on Twitter
January 21, 2020, 11:41 amTrevor ArizaSF, Portland Trail Blazers
Trevor Ariza is expected to serve as the Blazers' regular starter at small forward according to Terry Stotts.
Ariza, as expected, will fill in the void left by Kent Bazemore and his fantasy value looks to be on the rise as the minutes will be there. This looks to be a situation similar to when the Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony earlier this season. Both veterans have their flaws but the Blazers have to use them cause they run out of healthy bodies. You can feel free to add Ariza but his percentages are likely to hurt your team.
January 21, 2020, 11:08 amMarcus MorrisPF, New York Knicks
Marcus Morris said after Monday’s game that his ankle was still sore and he would be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
Morris came off a Taj Gibson screen and knocked down a three-pointer four minutes into the final period to put the Knicks up by 11. He landed awkwardly on Kevin Love's foot and fell to the court holding his ankle but he eventually got up and stayed in the game. He recently came back from a neck injury and has been excellent but we shall have to wait and see whether he misses any more time going forward.
January 21, 2020, 10:44 amTheo PinsonPG, Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have assigned Theo Pinson to their NBA G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.
Garrett Temple has returned to action so there are really no minutes available for Pinson. He can remain on the waiver wire.
Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter