Good timing or bad timing?
After numerous trade rumors swirled surrounding Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire last week, the Phoenix Suns and GM Steve Kerr elected not to trade the NBA all-star stud. The non-move looked like a good one for the Suns as he poured in 42 points in Phoenix’s 142-129 blowout victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. But in that game, a blow to the head may have aggravated an existing injury to Stoudemire’s right eye that caused the partial detachment of his retina. Stoudemire underwent surgery on Friday and he cannot resume physical activities for 8 weeks. Stoudemire originally injured the eye in training camp when he suffered a partially torn iris, with no damage to the retina. Stoudemire and the Suns had been monitoring the condition all season long with monthly eye doctor visits, but it appears something that happened during Wednesday’s game made the injury even worse.
The Suns are on the outside looking in right now. At 31-23, the Suns are the 9th seed in the Western Conference. They already traded Boris Diaw and Raja Bell, so the loss of Stoudemire stings even more. It will be interesting to see if the Suns will be able to catch the teams ahead of them in the playoff race – Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets , Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers – all within 3 games of the Suns.
Other NBA teams clearly averted disaster by not being able to complete a deal for Stoudemire – those teams include the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors. Just goes to show you how sometimes the best trade is the trade you don’t make.
Another amazing performance from King James. Lebron James scored 55 points on 16 of 29 shooting – 8 of 11 from 3-point range, dished out 9 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds against the Bucks on Friday night. The Cavs needed his entire effort as the Cavs trailed by 6 at halftime and had to ride James’ coattails in the 3rd quarter to take a 4-point lead heading into the 4th quarter. James hit a 33-foot heave at the buzzer before halftime to give him 25 points before the break. Then James went nuts at the start of the 3rd quarter – 16 points scored in the quarter’s 1st 3 minutes of play.
The Bucks are still looking to find a groove after losing their 2 best players – center Andrew Bogut and guard Michael Redd. Carlos Villanueva led the Bucks with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Richard Jefferson chipped in 17 points in the loss. The Bucks hold on the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference is slipping – they now lead the Bulls by only 1/2 game.
As for the Cavs, they have played 3 less games than the top seed Boston Celtics, so they are sitting pretty. Will they have what it takes to take the #1 East Seed away from the defending NBA Champion Celtics? We’ll find out soon in the season’s final 29 games…
After pulling off a nice trade the day before (Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Cedric Simmons and Michael Ruffin to the Sacramento Kings for Brad Miller and John Salmons) Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson made a “what are you thinking” trade just before the trading deadline on Thursday. The Bulls sent disgruntled guard Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks for Tim Thomas. The Bulls acquired Larry Hughes at the trading deadline last year in a move to unload Ben Wallace. Hughes has never fit in on the Bulls roster (often refusing to pass the ball to Derrick Rose while in the game), which forced Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro to bench Hughes since January 12th. Hughes is averaging 12.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Tim Thomas is averaging 9.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in about 20 minutes of play per game. This will be Thomas’ second stint as a Bull. Back during the 2005-6 NBA season, the Bulls acquired Thomas from the Knicks. Thomas played only 3 games and 30 total minutes for the Bulls before the Bulls sent him home that December for not fitting in with the team.
One positive on the deal – Del Negro has played with Thomas in Milwaukee and was familiar with him as an executive while in Phoenix. Del Negro will clearly spell out Thomas’ role with his new team and expects Thomas to be professional and contribute to the team on a nightly basis. Good luck with that Vinny…
So much for the Chicago Bulls blockbuster trade including Amar’e Stoudamaire, Chris Bosh and Tyrus Thomas. Instead, the Bulls moved Drew Gooden (who hasn’t played in a month because of a nagging groin injury), Andres Nocioni and Cedric Simmons to the Sacramento Kings for Brad Miller and John Salmons. The Kings made the deal to get extra salary cap space this summer as Gooden’s and Simmons’ combined expiring contracts will free up $9 million in cap space.
Now to the bigger question – why did the Bulls make the trade? Like Gooden, Brad Miller has an abdominal injury and hasn’t played since January 30th (in a blowout loss to the Bulls in Sacramento). Miller is averaging 11.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Compare that with Drew Gooden when healthy – 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game – and it is a little bit of a drop off. John Salmons is a big guard (6 foot 6 inches and 207 pounds) and is averaging 18.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He will fit in nicely with the Bulls, but the only negative is that he is under contract this year and next year, and has a player option that he will likely exercise that will keep him on the books through the 2011-12 NBA season.
The Bulls do get $26 million dollars in cap relief with the expiring contracts of Miller and Larry Hughes. They will either be able to use that money to trade for a big name player this time next year, or save it up for the summer of 2010 when mega stars like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh hit the free agent market. Stay tuned Bulls fans – the next 2 years will be interesting for sure as the Bulls get set to make some news during the summer of 2010.
Portland Trailblazers Center Greg Oden is injured again. This time he has a bone chip in his left knee that he suffered in a collision during a game against the Golden State Warriors last Thursday. Oden missed the Rookie Challenge during the All-Star Break festivities over the weekend and is scheduled to miss tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Oden is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated again by doctors during the course of the week.
In 39 games this year, Oden is averaging 9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Oden missed 6 games earlier this season because of a foot injury he suffered in the opening game of the season. Oden, the top pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, missed the entire 2007-8 NBA season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee right before the season started.
The Portland Trailblazers are 32-20 and are currently tied for 5th in the NBA’s Western Conference with the Houston Rockets. Any extended absence for Oden could end up hurting the Trailblazers chances of making the playoffs this Spring.
With the trading deadline fast approaching (next Wednesday, 2/18), the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors completed the much-talked about trade of Shawn Marion and Jermaine O’Neal. The Raptors also get Marcus Banks and cash. The Heat will also receive Jamario Moon and a 1st round pick at some point in the future. The 1st round pick is lottery protected which means that the first time the Raptors make the playoffs following the 2009-2010 NBA season, the Heats gets the Raptors 1st round pick that spring. And if the Heat does not get the 1st round pick during the 2010 NBA draft, they get an additional 2nd round pick that year.
Marion has been one of the Heat’s best players all year long and has helped them get off to a solid 28-24 start right before the all-star break. He even won the Heat’s game against the Bulls last night with a monstrous dunk off a pretty feed from Dwayne Wade with only 1.1 seconds remaining in the game. Marion averages 12 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game. Marion has expressed the desire to be rewarded with a long-term contract, however, and the Heat are not willing to do that. The Heat know that Wade, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh all become free agents in 2010, and they need to keep salary cap space to make sure they can sign Wade and maybe one other top player.
To that effort, the Heat get a true center in Jermain O’Neal. He has averaged 13.5 points and 7 rebounds this season, but has been hobbled by injuries of late. He is owed $23 million during the 2009-2010 NBA season, but that will not count against the Heat’s salary cap space for the 2010 free agent market.
For a while there, it looked like the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to run their home winning streak to 24 games to start the season. The Cavs led by 2 points after the first 12 minutes of the game, and had increased that lead to a comfortable 10 points by halftime. But the 2nd half was a completely different story. The Lakers outscored the Cavs 50-30 in the 2nd half and cruised to a 101-91 win at the Quicken Loans Arena – handing the Cavs their first loss at home all season long.
While everyone expected Lebron and Kobe to duke it out all night long, it was Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Zydrunas Ilgauskas who led the charge. Kobe battled the flu pre-game and needed an IV at halftime to even keep playing after the break. He ended up playing “only” 35 minutes and scoring “only” 19 points on 8 of 17 shooting. Lebron played 40 minutes and had an awful shooting night – 16 points on 5 of 20 shooting from the floor. Lebron did manage to grab 8 rebounds and dish out 12 assists though.
But the real star of the game was Lamar Odom. Odom scored a game-high 28 points on 13 of 19 shooting. He also grabbed 17 rebounds – 7 of which were offensive rebounds, giving the Lakers countless 2nd chance opportunities which helped break the game open in the 2nd half. Pau Gasol played a game-high 44 minutes – he scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. For the Cavs, Ilgauskas turned in a team-high 22 points and 9 rebounds – 5 of which were offensive rebounds.
At 41-9, the Lakers now have the best record in the NBA. They just finished an undefeated 7-game road trip and get to have an easy home return against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night at the Staples Center. The Cleveland Cavaliers have a percentage points lead over the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs are 39-10, but have 4 games in hand against the Celtics who sit at 42-11. It should be a fun race in the East down the stretch.
Lebron James couldn’t bear to hear the news! In Wednesday’s 107-102 Cavaliers’ win over the New York Knicks, Lebron James was credited with his 21st career triple-double – 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. However, following the game, league officials reviewed certain plays in the game, and ruled that James was awarded a rebound with 39.3 seconds left in the game that should have been credited to Ben Wallace. Corrected statistics now show James with 9 rebounds and Wallace with 2 rebounds. Say bye-bye to your triple-double Lebron.
Now James has only 20 triple-doubles in his career – including 3 during the 2008-9 NBA season. The last time a player scored 50 or more points with a triple-double was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975.
Well it definitely lived up to the hype. For the 2nd time this NBA season, the Lakers ended a double-digit Celtics winning streak, this time on the Celtics own home court in Boston. It was a back and forth game all night long, with the Lakers leading by 3 points after the 1st quarter and the Celtics leading by 1 and 4 points, respectively, after the 2nd and 3rd quarters. In the end, it took 2 free throws by Lamar Odom and 2 missed shots by Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in order for the Lakers to preserve the win.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He also hit three 3-point shots in the final quarter to help the Lakers tie the game. Pau Gasol also stepped up the plate in a big way – Gasol scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Lamar Odom scored 20 points and had 6 rebounds, while Derek Fisher also chipped in 13 points, 5 assists and 3 steals.
For the Celtics, Rajon Rondo just missed a triple-double in one of his best performances of the year – 16 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 22 points. The Celtics dynamic duo – Paul Pierce (21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists) and Kevin Garnett (16 points and 6 rebounds in only 33 minutes) had efficient nights, but they weren’t enough to lift the Celtics over the Lakers.
The Lakers (40-9) are now 5-0 on their current road trip and now have a percentage points lead over the Celtics (41-10) for the best record in the NBA. The Celtics have a 1/2 game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and take on the New York Knicks tonight at Madison Square Garden. Will a Celtic player be able to score 50 points tonight to make it 3 games in a row in which a Knicks’ opponent scores 50 points? Stay tuned.
Just 2 nights earlier, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant poured in 61 points against the New York Knicks setting a Madison Square Garden record in the process. Last night, Lebron tried to 1-up Kobe, and although he didn’t quite reach the 61-point mark, his better overall game helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win a close game in New York. Lebron contributed his 21st triple-double of his young career. He scored 52 points on 17 of 33 shooting from the floor (16 of 19 from the free throw line). He also dished out 11 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds. In 44 minutes, he only had 3 turnovers and he also had 2 blocked shots. In contrast, Kobe only had 3 assists and no rebounds in his performance at the Garden on Monday night.
The Cavs needed Lebron’s full effort in order to pull out the win against the feisty Knicks. The Cavs blew a 12 point 1st quarter lead, but held on for the 5-point victory with an efficient 25-point 4th quarter. Knicks forwards Al Harrington and David Lee were a formidable duo on Wednesday night. Harrington led the Knicks with 39 points and 13 rebounds, while Lee chipped in 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. But it wasn’t enough to take down the Eastern Conference’s 2nd best team.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers take on the Boston Celtics in Beantown tonight in a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals. Then the Celtics take on the Knicks at the Garden on Friday night in New York. Will a Celtic player score 50+ points to make it 3 games in a row in which a Knicks opponent has a player that scored 50 or more points at the Garden? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Paul Pierce has it in him…