Another week in the NBA has come and gone. We’re past the All Star Game as the break finally came to a halt when teams returned to the hardwood Thursday night. The trade deadline came to pass Thursday afternoon with some minor movements but nothing overly earth shattering. There were some deals bandied about that didn’t take place and some moves that were made in an effort to try and bolster their rotations in order to try and improve their chances. Whether any moves that were made will help deliver a title to their respective franchises remains to be seen.
Several players were cut loose and can seek new franchises willing to pay them. Players that have sign with new teams by March 1 are eligible for the postseason this year. That means that some of these guys that have been waived or bought out will have a chance at making an impact for another team as the season winds down. As the regular season plays out its final couple of months, let’s take a look at the big stories that unfolded this week and will continue to be monitored as things wear on. Can Golden State get to 73 wins? Will the Lakers actually beat another team over .500? All that and more will be discussed as we take a look at this past week in the NBA.
The Unibrow Delivers Career Performance: Say what you want about the New Orleans Pelicans and their struggles this season: there’s one thing that you can’t question. Anthony Davis continues to develop and become a major force in the NBA. While the Unibrow hasn’t won a MVP award or anything substantive yet and the Pelicans haven’t had a ton of success in the postseason, he’s quickly improved into one of the top players in the league. With his production (he averages 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in his career), it’s safe to say that he’ll be underpaid on his current five year extension that he signed in the offseason.
Davis delivered a mind-blowing performance in the Pelicans’ 111-106 road victory over the Pistons Sunday afternoon. He knocked down 24 of 34 shots from the floor, including both of his three point attempts, in the contest. In addition, Davis went 9 of 10 at the free throw line and racked up a career high 59 points. He had set a new career high by the end of the third quarter, when he had 44 points. His previous career high was 43, which he accomplished three times: November 22, 2014 against Utah, March 9, 2015 against Milwaukee and November 6, 2015 against Atlanta. In addition, Davis pulled down 20 boards, with six coming on the offensive end, and dished out four assists. If it wasn’t for Davis, the Pelicans wouldn’t have been able to pull out a victory.
Davis became only the third player in the NBA since 1983-84 to score 50 points and pull down 20 rebounds in the same game. The other two to accomplish the feat: Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber. He also became the youngest player to score at least 59 points in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Trade Deadline Passes, No Big Names Move: The trade deadline came and went Thursday afternoon and it was a fairly quiet one all things considered. The buzz around the league last week leading into the deadline was that Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and even potentially Kevin Love could be moved to different teams. Ty Lawson was speculated to be moved to Utah in a deal that would have sent Trey Burke, a former lottery pick, to Houston. As it played out, none of those names ended up being sent anywhere else before the deadline.
The biggest deal that was made before the deadline may have been the trade between the Magic and the Pistons. Detroit dealt away point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova to Orlando in exchange for talented stretch power forward Tobias Harris. The Magic will be able to clear up plenty of cap space for next season with the deal. Meanwhile, Harris is a nice addition for the Pistons and he can create a little spacing. His versatility and ability to score from the outside will come in handy with a frontline that is centered around Andre Drummond in the low block. Detroit’s picking up Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton from Houston for Joel Anthony and a protected first round pick this year adds quality depth to Detroit’s rotation.
Cleveland acquired another stretch power forward in Channing Frye from Orlando in a three team deal that included Portland. The Cavaliers shipped out a conditional first round pick plus talented but oft-injured big Anderson Varejao to Portland and Jared Cunningham to Orlando. The Magic also acquired a second round pick from the Blazers in the deal. Frye will be a solid second unit piece for the Cavaliers and will serve as insurance should Love suffer an injury that knocks him out for any period of time. Frye’s perimeter shooting will prove useful when Tyronn Lue sends in the second unit as defenses won’t be able to sag down on Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson in the low block.
In one of the deals that featured names going both ways, the Grizzlies acquired the talented yet enigmatic Lance Stephenson and a first round pick from the Clippers. In exchange, the Clippers picked up Jeff Green, who has talent but never really fit in the Memphis rotation after being acquired from Boston. The Grizzlies also picked up P.J. Hairston from Charlotte along with Chris Andersen and two second round selections from Miami in a three team deal. Memphis shipped Courtney Lee to Charlotte in that deal.
Old Names Looking for New Homes: One of the big things that tends to happen around the trade deadline is that teams inevitably waive or buy out players, making them free agents. That means those guys, once clearing waivers, have the ability to sign with whatever team they wish that can afford to shell out the bucks to acquire them for the stretch run. The first few days since the trade deadline have been no exception this season either.
Varejao, who spent the first 11 plus seasons of his career with the Cavaliers before being dealt to Portland, was dumped by the Trail Blazers. Portland cut him loose despite the fact that he still has two years and $14 million guaranteed on his deal. The Blazers got into the three-way deal with Cleveland and Orlando to pick up the Cavaliers’ first round pick. Varejao is said to have narrowed his choices down to Golden State and San Antonio, which means the Cavaliers could see him again in the NBA Finals.
Boston cut loose another former Golden State player as David Lee was waived Saturday. He was putting up 7.1 points and 4.3 boards in 15.7 minutes of action per game in his 30 contests with Boston. Lee came over in a deal with Golden State last July; as a result, he can’t sign with the Warriors until after the season. At this point, the Dallas Mavericks are considered the frontrunner for picking him up, which would be a nice boost to their rotation. Lee had a season high 14 points against Dallas back in November.
Steve Novak, who has been well traveled in his career with nine stops on his NBA resume, is another guy on the move. Novak was dealt by the Thunder to the Nuggets last week in a deal that sent Randy Foye to Oklahoma City. The move will clear some cap room for Denver going forward and gave Oklahoma City a solid second unit option on the floor. Novak is expected to return to his college stomping grounds once he clears waivers, he plans to sign a deal with the Bucks. He’s more than familiar with the area as he played college basketball at Marquette.
The Nets waived Andrea Bargnani in what was the first move made by new Brooklyn GM Sean Marks. He failed to contribute much in his time with the team, averaging 6.6 points a night in 45 games. Bargnani and the Nets were outscored by 191 points in his time on the floor, which covered a total of 634 minutes of action.
That’s the rundown on the big stories of the week in the NBA. Stay tuned here for all the breaking news and keep an eye on our picks for NBA action!
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