Western Conference Trade Deadline 2015

The trade deadline is just a couple days away, and teams on the cusp are making their final push to acquire a player who can help elevate them to “true” contender status.  They target teams looking to change direction (like Brooklyn) and willing to unload their assets like a fire sale in Call of Duty, hoping to flip them for future draft picks or expiring contracts.   

Before I get into the possible trades, I’ve established 3 rules so I don’t find myself talking about which teams should try to give up all their assets for Anthony Davis (probably the whole league).

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Blake Down, Clips Out?

In case you missed it, here is a five second summary of L.A.’s seven game road trip so far:

-Game 1: Lost a close one to a Pelicans team sans Anthony Davis

-Game 2: Won by 20 against the Spurs (arguably the best win of the season)

-Game 3: Blew a 9 point lead against the Nets with just 1:35 left to play

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Brandon Knight A.D.J. (After DeAndre Jordan)

When someone mentions Brandon Knight in conversation, you know this is the first thing that pops into your head:

What an unfortunate memory for Knight.  He was the laughingstock of the NBA for days, as the posterization replayed ceaselessly on ESPN.  Social media didn’t make things any easier for him, as people hurried to their Twitter and Facebook accounts to take jabs at him.  Someone even took the time to change Knight’s Wikipedia page to state that he had died at the hands of DeAndre Jordan.

In a way, a part of Brandon Knight did die on March 10, 2013.  That fateful dunk would serve as a turning point in the career of the Florida native; he would be resurrected the following season as a changed basketball player.  Enter Brandon Knight A.D.J.

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Should the Thunder Tank?

With the injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban recently had a suggestion for Oklahoma City’s management: “The question I don’t think anybody has asked is, why don’t they pull a David Robinson and try to get Tim Duncan?”

If you don’t understand what Cuban is talking about, he is referring to the 1996-97 Spurs.  David Robinson had an injury plagued season, missing all but six games due to a broken foot.  The Spurs finished with a miserable 20-62 record, but in the process, put themselves in the running to grab the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

You know the rest… The Spurs won the lottery, drafted some kid named Tim Duncan, and never looked back.  After five championships, I don’t think the Spurs have any regrets and the 1996-97 season is long forgotten.

The Spurs make Cuban’s question sound intriguing.  But should the Thunder actually follow through and tank this year?

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Opening Week: NBA Roundtable

The NBA Season is barely a week old, but so much has already transpired. Among other news, Westbrook and D-Rose have both already gotten hurt, Klay Thompson got paid, and the King made his return. There's clearly too much to talk about, but we'll try to cover some of the NBA's hottest issues in the infant stages of the season.  So without further ado...

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Has Kevin Durant Already Lost This Year's MVP Race?

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the reigning MVP Kevin Durant will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a Jones fracture, an injury where the bone at the base of the small toe breaks.  And with just under two weeks until the 2014-15 NBA season tips off, the Thunder will undoubtedly miss their superstar on the court.  But how will this injury impact Kevin Durant’s chances of defending the Maurice Podoloff Trophy?

Well, before Durant went down, Vegas had LeBron James as the favorite to win the MVP this year with 3:2 odds while Durant came in at second with 3:1 odds.  Now, James’ odds have improved to 5:6 while Durant's have fallen to 4:1.  While the odd shifts correctly reflect that Durant’s chances of winning MVP have diminished, Vegas still severely underestimates the uphill battle Durant faces.  Let’s see why by breaking down a few key components to winning the NBA’s most coveted award:

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NBA Roundtable!

We got a few of our writers together to share a few of the debates we have had in the offseason.  We reflect on some of the great moments of last year, and also look forward to all the excitement of the upcoming season.  Joining us this week is Bulls-aficionado Jake Weiner of (D)Roses and Thorns Enjoy:

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Tony Allen: the Birth of the GRINDfather

I had a chance to make my first trip to the FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies.  My beloved Los Angeles Clippers were playing in the playoffs for just the fifth time in my 22 years of life (and three of those appearances occurred before I was 5).  Luckily, I was attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and decided to make the 3-hour drive to Memphis to root my team on in Game 1.

The game was a memorable one.  The Clippers made a historic 27-point comeback.  Reggie Evans transformed into our MVP.  Swaggy P drained three consecutive 3’s in the 4th quarter. And I blacked out when Kenyon Martin locked down Rudy Gay at the buzzer.  But the thing that stuck out most to me that night wasn’t our miraculous win.

On the long drive to the Forum, my friends and I were debating which Grizzly player was likely the most popular.  Was it Zach Randolph?  Rudy Gay?  Marc Gasol?  Mike Conley?

While there was a good mix of Z-Bo and Gay jerseys, there was another jersey that popped up with alarming frequency around the arena: #9, for Tony Allen.

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Drafting Like a Champ

Although there is no blueprint for winning an NBA championship, we have encountered only a few strategies that have resulted in league success. For example, Danny Ainge revitalized the 'Big Three' Strategy by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Paul Pierce's Celtics. This blueprint was famously followed in the 2010 by the Heat, when Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade teamed up in Miami.  While these triumvirates dominated the media's attention, they depended upon a strong group of role players to complete a championship roster--Ainge's Celtics would not have defeated Kobe and Pau's Lakers without stringy point guard Rajon Rondo or even Glen "Big Baby" Davis, and Miami’s “Big Three” could not have won consecutive titles without timely contributions from the likes of Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and Udonis Haslem.

But signing superstars leaves little money to fill out the rest of the roster. Teams have met this challenge by completing their rosters with efficient role players who demand lesser contracts. Teams like the Heat have achieved this by adding veterans like Ray Allen who have been willing to play for less than market value to play for a contender. While well-known veterans taking pay cuts grab the headlines, the contributions of young players on rookie contracts have proven invaluable to teams looking for contributions at a bargain. This article focuses on the latter group, one that is often overlooked when discussing team building.

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