Ham’s Hoops Roundup Tuesday 1/30: Blake Griffin Got Traded. That’s The Whole Headline.

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Did the Clippers or Pistons win the Blake Griffin trade – and what does it mean for both long term? How does John Wall’s surgery affect Washington? How will teams in the East attack the deadline? Will the NBA news cycle ever stop? It’s the Hoops Roundup for Tuesday, January 20th. Let’s get it…

Scores from Monday, January 29th:

Charlotte 96  –  Indiana 105
Minnesota 100  –  Atlanta 105
Phoenix 109  –  Memphis 120
Philadelphia 95  –  Milwaukee 107
Miami 95  –  Dallas 88
Boston 111  –  Denver 110

Around The Association

Okay… before I get into the huge news of the day… I have to issue an apology here. Over and over and over again, I say that my goal is to give you a full Roundup of everything that happened from the day before in the NBA. Everything – scores, highlights, analysis, viral clips, and all of my poignant, well thought out, sometimes extremely off the rails thoughts on this beautiful goddamn league.

I missed the Pelicans fan sneaking onto the court for warm ups. I think it’s my favorite video of the year and I missed it. It was out at 10:35am, well before the Roundup was finished. It would have led the blog because it’s that goddamn good. And I missed it.

I let not only you, my hundreds of thousands of readers down… I let myself down. And for that, I’m sorry. As a token of my apology, here it is again. I know you’ve already seen it, but it’s so good that it demands even more appreciation.

Legend has become one of the corniest terms in our lexicon… but there really is no other way to describe it. Some people choose their heroes for their wealth… some for the women they get… some for the goals they’re reached. My hero is a fat dude in the full Pels warm ups who stretched it out, snuck up a J at shootaround, and lived to tell about it with nothing more than a finger wag from Officer Cruller.

I am a sad excuse for a human who cares way too much about the NBA. Today, I’m totally fine with that.

Anyway……… another Monday, another insane day in the National Basketball Association folks!

Okay, here we go:

For Detroit…

In the short term, this is pretty much a Hail Mary by Stan Van Gundy. Outside of their hot start to this season, this Detroit team has been stuck in no man’s land since SVG’s arrival in 2014. They’ve lost 20 of 28, and sit 2.5 games out of the playoffs at 22-26. They enter tonight game with Cleveland on an eight game losing streak.

Free agents don’t come to Detroit. The Draft is vital to their success. In 2014 SVG took Spencer Dinwiddie with his lone second round pick. He’s now thriving – for the Nets. Since then he’s whiffed on three first rounders (Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker, Henry Ellenson who has been a dud, and now Luke Kennard one pick ahead of Donovan Mitchell).

He won the Tobias Harris trade with Orlando. And getting a second rounder from Boston for swapping Avery Bradley and Marcus Morris was a smart move both to bolster the defense and clear space for Tobias Harris to take a step forward. But other than Ish Smith at $6mil for this year and next, nothing about their roster is inspiring from a personnel or contract standpoint. Reggie Jackson is not worth what he’s owed ($17 mil next year, $18 after that). And now you have two guys in Andre and Blake who will make a combine $57 mil in ’18-’19… $61 mil in ’19-’20… and AT LEAST $65 mil in ’20-’21, with the potential for $70 if Drummond signs another contract.

Blake is a great player. At this point of his career, with where the NBA has been headed, it makes more sense to me to play him as a small ball five as much as possible. Instead, he’s basically playing with a better passing, worse defending DeAndre again. But they have the potential to be a potent offensive duo inside.

Blake is also the most injury prone star in basketball. Putting aside even the long term ramifications there, SVG is banking on Blake staying healthy the rest of this season. If Blake gets hurt, the Pistons don’t make the playoffs – in which case SVG is getting fired. He pushed all his chips in on the potential that Blake comes in hungry, forms a quick bond with Drummond, and the two of them stay healthy and overwhelm teams in the East with size on their way to a playoff berth. Anything short of that and SVG is out.

My prediction… Blake stays healthy and they still don’t make the playoffs. Blake & Reggie Jackson hate each other almost immediately. Blake throws off Drummonds emergence as a passing big. Their defense falls apart. SVG is fired… and then former Detroit Pistons legend Jerry Stackhouse is brought it next season to right the ship. Jerry works with Blake all summer and re-motivates him, the new GM trades Drummond and Jackson. And they rebuild from scratch around newly motivated Blake.

I don’t like the trade for Detroit. I actually kind of hate it. But it works out in the end because it unintentionally shakes them from the no mans land they’ve been in for a while.

For Los Angeles…

I love it. L-O-V-E love this trade. Forget the loyalty and fake banner ceremony and all that. That happened before the new front office was brought it.

They just traded an extremely injury prone star, on a brand new massive contract, at the last peak of his value. They were never getting more than this for Blake. Getting rid of him now not only allows them to start their rebuild sooner… it prevents the very high likelihood of having to deal him for 50 cents on the dollar after his inevitable next injury. The shed cap and acquired two very nice draft assets (one of which could absolutely be in the lottery near 10 or 11 this year). Those are both wins. But they also pulled the rare move of winning in the short term and the long term.

If the Clippers stand pat with this team, they’re better than they were with Blake. Lou Will & Avery Bradley is a devastating offense-defense backcourt duo. Tobias gives them a very good wing scorer and helps spread the floor for Lou and DeAndre. And DeAndre, who has always thrived without Blake, gets the paint all to himself to catch lobs from Milos and clear the boards. They’re now a better defensive team, still have nearly as much scoring punch, and finally have a defined pecking order that is clear to everyone for the first time since Chris Paul arrived on the Clippers.

They won without Blake this year… now they’re adding an elite defensive guard who can hit threes, cut off ball, and doesn’t demand touches; AND a big, versatile scoring forward who can hit shots at an efficient rate (45/41/85 splits this year) and get you 18 a night as the second option.

And in the long term, they just cleared the books for 2019. Bradley expires this year, and Tobias after ’18-’19. Gallinari at $23 mil and Thornwell at $1.6 mil are the only contract on the books going into summer 2019. Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are free agents that year. So are Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson, among others. Plus Paul George, if he were to ride out one more year with Russ.

And yes, if the Lakers aren’t a viable option this summer and/or he opts in for one more year in Cleveland, then maybe LeBron is interested in shifting his LA aspirations to the Clippers with their abundant cap space, Jerry West, and the ability to build a team with Kawhi and/or Jimmy alongside.

Even without those lofty goal though… this was a huge win for the Clippers. They opened their options immensely moving forward and shed a lot of emotional baggage while also remaining just as competitive this season.

Jerry West wins again. Dude is an absolute savant.

Breaking this morning… John Wall is out for the next six weeks.

In my mind this isn’t the end of the world for Washington. A Brad Beal-led Wizards team can remain in the playoff hunt, even if that means falling from the 4-5 range to the 6-7 range. And maybe a well rested Wall is the best thing for them come April and May.

They’ve been one of the main names attached to DeAndre for the last few months. I don’t know how much this affects that now. Maybe they push harder to trade for him, knowing the East is still pretty open and a well-rested Wall + Beal + DeAndre is as dangerous a trio as anyone in the East. Or maybe they pull back, ride this out, then chase DeAndre this summer. I’d lean towards the latter. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Jabari Parker announced during an in game interview last night that he’ll make his long awaited return Friday against the Knicks. I’ll get more into this in the Bucks highlights below.

Charlotte 96  –  Indiana 105

Charlotte  (20-29)  11th in East
Indiana  (28-23)  7th in East

Lance will always make them dance.

Myles Turner came off the bench and dropped 22p/

Dwight had a nice first half with 18p/7r. Then came out in the second, got his lunch stolen by Victor Oladipo, and finished with just 4 more points and 4 more boards.

Oladipo led the way for Indy with 25p/5r/3a on 11-15 shooting.

Minnesota 100  –  Atlanta 105

Minnesota  (32-21)  4th in West
Atlanta  (15-35)  14th in East

Kent Bazemore went for 22p/4r/4a. Dennis Schroder added 18p/11a. But the only thing that mattered last night happened between the timeouts.

Narrator:  “it was that hard”

Phoenix 109  –  Memphis 120

Phoenix  (17-34)
Memphis  (18-31)

Tyreke came off the bench with 27p/4a on 11-17 shooting. Both these teams stink so yeah that’s it.

Philadelphia 95  –  Milwaukee 107

Philadelphia  (24-23)  8th in East
Milwaukee  (27-22)  5th in East

No Embiid, which was simply devastating for everyone who wanted to see him play back-to-back NBA Twitter porn matchups against Russ then Giannis.

Ben Simmons had a nice night with 16p/6r/5a on 7-10 shooting.

But Giannis basically doubled him up with 31p/18r/6a. Goddammit it sucks so much that Embiid couldn’t play.

Also like I mentioned above, Jabari is back Friday. It’s gonna be fascinating to see how Joe Prunty handles shot distribution with four guys (Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton, Jabari) who want and/or need touches. Right now Giannis is at 19 attempts per game, Middleton at 16, and Bledsoe at 13.5.

Jabari was averaging 16 attempts per game before his injury last season.

Brogdon will no doubt see his go down from 11. But what about the rest? Nobody has four guys shooting over 13 shots a game. Does he cut into Giannis’s touches? Does Bledsoe have to become more of a distributor? Does he replace Middleton as the second option? And that’s not even mentioning how he gels with this team… with now top five player Giannis… with Bledsoe as his PG.

Or do we get three audition games from Jabari before they flip him at the deadline? It’s gonna be a fascinating next few weeks for Milwaukee.

Miami 95  –  Dallas 88

Miami  (29-21)  4th in East
Dallas  (16-35)  14th in West

Whiteside went for 25/14r on 10-15 shooting and the Heat keep creeping up on Cleveland in the East. They play tomorrow night in Cleveland on the second night of a back-to-back for the Cavs.

Boston 111  –  Denver 110

Boston  (35-15)  1st in East
Denver  (26-23)  8th in West

Wild, wild game in Denver last night. Boston blew a 20 point lead, trailed going into the fourth, and needed Kyrie’s heroics again.

They also needed a dumb decision and bad shot from Denver, who got it back with 4 seconds left, down one.

Will Barton delivered.

Kyrie (27p/3r/6a on 11-17 shooting) and Tatum (20p/6r/4a on 8-13 shooting) led the way for Boston

The Nugs made this a game after falling down ___ early. They assisted on 31 of their 42 made baskets. And Trey Lyles (20p/7r/3a with 4 threes on 7-10 shooting) came in following Mason Plumlee’s injury and joined all five starters in double figures with a monster night. Jokic led the way with 24p/11r/5a on 8-17 shooting.

I wrote last week about the issues Boston has with these bigger, stronger guys inside. Towns, Gasol, Drummond, Dwight, Boogie. It’s a small group, but Jokic is in there as well.

Jokic didn’t destroy the Celtics last night. He was the catalyst for the Denver comeback (??????), and it felt like he could do more than he actually did, yes.

But they won the game – just like they did against Towns, Gasol, Drummond, and Dwight. Their loss to Boogie (tears) came on Anthony Davis’s 45p/16r game. And their loss to Embiid came without Kyrie in the lineup. So it’s not like this is some huge, unsolvable issue.

The crux of my point last week is that sometimes on a basketball court there’s just nothing you can do with size and strength. Boston is winning the coaching matchup almost every night, and have a deep team with a ton of quality defenders, and play great team defense, AND have their own different but damn near unstoppable force at the end of games in Kyrie. They can almost always win despite someone like Embiid or Towns or Jokic having their way inside and beating them up on the glass. But it’s still an issue.

Which is why I’m interested, now that the trade deadline is off to the races in a MAJOR way, how teams in the East are going to approach taking on Boston. If you’re Toronto and Miami are you content with Valanciunas and Whiteside – or do you make a splash? If you’re Milwaukee or Washington, do you push your chips in with DeAndre in hopes that his presence on the boards is the difference with Boston? If you’re Cleveland, don’t you have to make Center your priority? Can you really say you’re getting past Boston when LeBron is the only positional matchup you’re winning in that series?

February 8th is a week and half away, but Deadline season is already rolling. It’s gonna be a wild next week and a half folks.


Schedule for Tuesday, January 30th:

7:00   Oklahoma City  @  Washington
7:30   Brooklyn  @  New York
7:30   Minnesota  @  Toronto
8:00   Cleveland  @  Detroit    TNT
8:00   Orlando  @  Houston
8:00   Sacramento  @  New Orleans
8:30   Denver  @  San Antonio
9:00   Golden State  @  Utah
10:30   Portland  @  LA Clippers    TNT

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