A quick look at a few NBA headlines on this Feb. 4.
Clippers reportedly covet Kevin Garnett
In the midst of a 8-game road trip and 2-game losing skid minus star Chris Paul, nursing a knee bruise, L.A. is sliding; in fact, the Clippers, who earlier this season held the NBA’s best record, have slipped to No. 3 in the Western Conference and are only 3.5 games up on the No. 6-seeded Denver Nuggets. So what’s the team with the league’s No. 2-ranked scoring bench to do? Well, stock up on more talent.
Reports surfaced yesterday, with the Clippers actually playing in Boston, that L.A. is interested in Kevin Garnett, potentially offering up a package of Caron Butler, due $8 million this year and next, and young energy-two Eric Bledsoe. A deal shipping Garnett away would give the Celtics some cap relief — Garnett’s due $23.5 million over the next 2 years — and a young stud in Bledsoe to pair with Rondo for years to come. Bledsoe is averaging a career-high 9.3 points a night in 21 minutes, shooting an incredible 45% from the field with freakish athleticism and ability to get to the rim for a 6’1″ guard. Bledsoe, with an 18.77 PER, is 46th in the NBA, only 4 spots behind Garnett.
But the deal also doesn’t make sense. Garnett has a no-trade clause, and I’m not sure he’d be eager to leave Boston to likely come off the bench behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, though the Clippers could use some reserve frontcourt help. Boston already has a mishmash of displaced guards, namely Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley, who’ve struggled, at least before Rondo’s injury, to find their role in the offense. Garnett, an All Star starter, is still a decent value at $11-12 million a year, and though the deal could help the Celtics avert the luxury tax, Danny Ainge would take on Butler’s $8 million next year.
Boston apparently has received the memo, as recent reports Monday morning say such an exchange is unlikely before the Feb. 21 deadline. (The move’s prospects are also dampened by the fact that Jared Sullinger, an effective rookie PF who was giving the Celtics 20 quality minutes each night, is out for the season after undergoing back surgery Friday.)
Spoelstra likely to start Bosh over Irving in All Star Game
Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat coaching staff are set to coach the Eastern Conference All Stars Feb. 17 in Houston, and recent reports say Spo is favoring starting Chris Bosh over Kyrie Irving as Rajon Rondo’s injury replacement. Such a move would give the Heat 3 of the team’s 5 starters — Dwayne Wade and LeBron James being the obvious other 2 — and probably bump LeBron to point guard.
The Heat staff have earned this luxury by amassing the East’s best record at the season’s midway point, of course, but the numbers do not back his reported decision. Irving’s been the best point guard in the East, if not the NBA (though Chris Paul would likely debate), this season, with a 12th-ranked PER (Bosh is 24) and 24 points per game (Bosh averages 17.3 as the third option) to show for it.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst tweeted there are “several reasons” Spo likely won’t start Irving over Bosh, prompting Conrad Kaczmarek of the great Cavaliers’ blog Fear the Sword to speculate one of those “reasons” could be rumors of a LeBron return to Cleveland should he opt out in 2014. Whatever the case may be, Irving deserves the start on talent alone, and if Spo needs any reminder, I’d show him this clip of Irving’s 13 in the 4th to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder two nights ago.
Yeah, you should start Mr. 4th Quarter, Spo.
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