Week 17 NBA Storylines

It was a wild week in the NBA. So, it’s time to recap the All-Star break, Kevin Love’s injury, the Raptors-Magic trade, and most importantly the DeMarcus Cousins trade.

All-Star Recap

The dunk contest this year was quite a let down, with what seemed like more missed dunks then made dunks. The past two contests had been a major hit with LaVine and Gordon, but this year Gordon didn’t put on much of a performance and the contest turned out to be quite a disappointment in general. Indiana’s Glen Robinson III came away with the victory.

In one of the biggest surprises of the weekend, Klay Thompson didn’t make it to the final round of the 3-pt contest. Eric Gordon finished with an overtime victory over Kyrie Irving.

As usual, the skills challenge wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was nice to see the Knicks be able to celebrate a victory. Twitter, of course, had a field day after Porzingis’ win.

In the All-Star Game, everyone was waiting for the moment where Durant and Westbrook would finally share the floor together. And as soon as Westbrook subbed into the game, Russ and KD connected on a give-and-go alley-oop just like old times.

Naturally, the Western Conference bench collectively lost their minds in the timeout after the play.

Russ poured in 41 points in just 20 minutes while Durant recorded a 21-point triple-double. But, the hometown hero Anthony Davis took home the MVP with an All-Star record 52 points in the game.

But that wasn’t New Orleans’ only win of the night…

Kings Trade Boogie to Pelicans

During the game, rumors began to swirl about a potential DeMarcus Cousins trade. While this has happened a million times in the past, as the game went on, the talks started to sound more and more serious.

Right around the time the game ended, news broke that the Kings had decided to trade Cousins to the Pelicans. And just like that Sacramento rid themselves of Boogie, while New Orleans GM Dell Demps likely saved his job by putting together a Kentucky Wildcat-filled frontcourt.

In typical Sacramento Kings fashion, just a few hours earlier Cousins’ agent insisted that he wouldn’t be traded. But sure enough, the deal happened not long after.

While talking to the media after the game, it looks as though Cousins is informed about the deal, and a smile lights up his face as he begins to talk about New Orleans.

For the Kings, it’s clear they decided they didn’t want to commit over $200 million to Cousins this summer, and decided to move on from him. But, why didn’t they hold out for a better offer? After years of debating trading Cousins, this is all they got for him? Even if there weren’t better offers out there, it seems as though Sacramento could have waited another few days to field more offers.

Either way, the Kings rebuild has officially begun, and the good news for them is that they’ll probably keep their draft pick this year which would have gone to the Bulls, since it’s a top-10 protected pick.

For the Pelicans, they came away with a highway robbery. Now, they’ll have about a season and a half to convince Boogie to stay long-term. Can him and Davis co-exist in the frontcourt together? That’s the 200 million dollar question.

Kevin Love’s Injury

The Cavaliers announced last week that Kevin Love will be out for six weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

While they are saying this is “minor surgery” for Love, any knee surgery is definitely a serious matter. How long Love takes to get back, and whether or not he’s able to play at the same level he was at the beginning of the season will determine just how “minor” the surgery was. But one thing is clear, this is the most vulnerable LeBron’s Cavs have looked since his return, and the Eastern Conference teams will likely be doing whatever they can at the deadline to add some pieces to try to dethrone Cleveland.

This comes at an awful time for the Cavs, who are already banged up quite a bit. LeBron is also still averaging the most minutes per game of any player in the league, which is practically criminal of Ty Lue. James needs some rest before the playoffs, and Love’s injury certainly doesn’t help.

What Cleveland should be doing, is not worrying about what seed they get. Lower LeBron’s minutes, get some bench help at the trade deadline, and get ready for the playoffs. Even if the Cavs don’t have the number one seed, they should have no problem getting past any of these team’s in the East when healthy. They already can’t get home-court against Golden State in the Finals, so they may want to ease up on the gas just a bit in the next few weeks. LeBron has shown time and time again he can turn it on in the playoffs, so they can count on him to do just that once again, regardless of their seed.

Raptors-Magic Trade

With Kevin Love out for six weeks, the Toronto Raptors decided to go all in on this year’s playoffs. On Tuesday, they agreed to a trade sending Terrence Ross and first round pick to the Magic in exchange for Serge Ibaka.

In the past few weeks Toronto dropped off a bit, sliding down to the 4th seed in the East. This trade should help them quite a bit, as Pascal Siakam was unable to give them reliable minutes at the four spot. Ibaka’s production has dropped off a bit this year, but you have to consider the fact he was playing for a non-contender in Orlando. On a playoff contender, Ibaka is bound to pick up his level of play. Most importantly, Toronto didn’t have to give up Patrick Patterson in the deal. So, the Raptors should be able to close games with an interesting lineup featuring Patterson at the four and Ibaka at the five. Ibaka is a free agent after this season though. That means both him and Lowry are going to want big money from Toronto. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle that situation, but it seems as though they wouldn’t have traded for him if they didn’t want to keep him long-term.

For Orlando, it’s unclear what their front office is doing. They gave up Oladipo and a first-rounder, which turned into Sabonis, at last year’s draft for a half season of Ibaka. Didn’t they know at the time Ibaka would never re-sign with the Magic? They also got the worst of the Raptors two first rounders they had to offer. So, you have to imagine their GM Rob Hennigan will be on the hot seat. The one good thing about this trade for Orlando is they can now move Aaron Gordon back to the four where he plays best. However, they never should’ve traded Ibaka in the first place, and they wasted half a season of development for Gordon playing him at the wrong spot.

Trade Rumors

  • Indiana is willing to deal their first round pick to get Paul George some help before the playoffs.
  • A Jimmy Butler deal to the Celtics may loom over trade deadline week.
  • Multiple teams view Derrick Rose as a potential trade target.
  • Teams interested in Carmelo expect him to stay with the Knicks past the deadline unless something drastically changes.
  • The Cavs reportedly like Lou Williams, who the Wizards have also expressed interest in.
  • The Cavs have reportedly talked with the Pelicans about a deal surrounding Iman Shumpert and the T-Wolves have also expressedinterest in him as well.
  • The Clippers and Thunder are both potential landing spots for Wilson Chandler.
  • Phoenix has been shopping Brandon Knight, PJ Tucker, and Tyson Chandler.
  • There’s a lot of center’s on the market including Jahlil Okafor, Greg Monroe, Andrew Bogut, and Brook Lopez.
  • The Celtics are keeping an eye on Danilo Gallinari in the upcoming week.
  • Boston has also expressed interest in trading for PJ Tucker.
  • Philly almost sent Jahlil Okafor to Portland last week, which is why Okafor was pulled from their lineup.
  • Lakers reportedly trying to trade veterans Deng and Williams before deadline.
  • The Kings wanted Brandon Ingram in a Cousins trade but were turned down by the Lakers.
  • The Kings have also made Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, and Ben McLemore available
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