The Phoenix Suns were able to release Michael Beasley after trading Caron Butler. Does this draft bust who got busted deserve another chance with another team? Here’s my HoopsHabit article on which NBA teams might be interested.
For what seems like the bajillionth time, Michael Beasley has been busted for marijuana. Here’s my special Breaking Bad-themed HoopsHabit article on Beasley’s legacy and how it’s similar to one of television’s best shows.
The Suns finished dead last in the Western Conference this year, so here’s my HoopsHabit piece grading each player’s performance this season. Spoiler alert: If my future children ever bring home a report card looking like this, they will be grounded immediately.
For the latest news and analysis on all the action of NBA free agency over the last few days, check out my article via Reup Sports. Today’s post includes Jeremy Lin heading to Houston, Phoenix picking up Luis Scola, the ongoing battle for Nicolas Batum and more!
In a particularly dry free agency day, one piece of news immediately jumped out and turned the whole day on its head. Here are the major headlines from the Fourth of July:
Steve Nash Heads to Rival Lakers:
The biggest news of the day was Steve Nash’s decision to play with Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix’s biggest and most hated divisional rival. Although calling what the Lakers and Suns have a “rivalry” might not be completely accurate since Los Angeles seems to get the best of Phoenix every time these two teams meet, Nash’s decision quickly dissolved the happy memories of his time in Phoenix into outrage over his decision to put on the yellow and purple colors. Nash explained that the decision was influenced by his desire to be close to his three children in Phoenix and wished the Suns organization nothing but the best for the future, but there’s no question his departure for LA is still a stab in the back to the city of Phoenix. Nash signed a three-year deal with Los Angeles worth around $25 million, instantly turning Los Angeles into title contenders once again. How Nash and Kobe will function on offense remains to be seen, as both guards need the ball to be effective, but there’s no question that having a quality point guard like Nash increases a team’s pick-and-roll game and overall success. Suns management continued to baffle fans with this trade, as the Suns only got four future draft picks for their beloved marquee player who will now leave to join Phoenix’s hated rival. Phoenix received first-round picks in 2013 and 2015 and second-rounders in 2013 and 2014. Not bad overall, but certainly not worth Nash and definitely not enough to raise a fan base’s faith in their management, especially considering Phoenix’s history of wasting draft picks in exchange for cash considerations. To make matters worse for his former team, Nash will try and talk Grant Hill into joining him in LA. Hill said he would either join the Lakers or retire, but considering the fact that he went to Germany for a knee procedure (the same one that revitalized Kobe Bryant’s knee), it doesn’t seem that Hill is ready to retire just yet. If Hill does head to LA to join Nash, the Lakers could be looking at a potential lineup of Nash, Kobe, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum with Hill, Steve Blake and Jordan Hill on the bench. Not bad at all, especially since the Lakers could look into Dwight Howard either next year or in a trade for Gasol/Bynum. Overall, it was a horrible day for Phoenix fans and a glorious one for LA supporters.
Suns Sign Dragic and Beasley:
In a feeble attempt to compensate for Steve Nash’s departure for LA, the Suns signed Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley. Dragic was signed to a four-year deal worth $34 million and Beasley was signed to an $18 million deal for three years. Dragic was a very good signing by the Suns, especially now that Nash is gone. Considering how Dragic thrived in Houston as a starter when Kyle Lowry sat out, the Suns are getting a quality player who deserves a better contract as a starting point guard. As an added bonus, Phoenix was always particularly fond of Dragic when he backed up Nash and will be happy to welcome his back. Unfortunately, the signing of Beasley won’t get many (smart) Suns fans excited. Beasley is a decent player at best and considering how many of those are already on the roster, this isn’t the kind of quality player Phoenix needs, especially with Nash and possibly Hill leaving.
Houston Offers Jeremy Lin a Deal:
The Rockets have offered Jeremy Lin a four-year deal worth around $30 million. The Knicks can almost match Houston’s offer (four years, $24.5 million), but have made it clear they would have to think hard about matching other teams’ high offers for the breakout point guard. After losing Dragic to Phoenix, the Rockets could use a quality backup for Kyle Lowry in Lin, but keep in mind that Lin and the Knicks both want a reunion. What offer New York puts on the table could decide where Lin ends up.
Jason Kidd and Mavs Close to Signing Deal:
Jason Kidd and the Mavericks are closing in on a multi-year deal that will allow the Dallas veteran to end his career where it all began. The amount is unknown, but it will likely be a bit higher than Kidd would normally be worth after the Mavs were unable to bring Deron Williams or Goran Dragic to Dallas.
Spencer Hawes Signs Extension:
Spencer Hawes will be staying in Philadelphia next year after signing a two-year, $13 million deal with the Sixers. Nothing much to report here other than the fact that the 76ers could be shaping up to be a pretty consistent threat in the playoffs for the next few years if they continue to keep so many pieces together (especially with so much youth).
Thunder Add Hasheem Thabeet:
The Oklahoma City Thunder signed former number two draft pick Hasheem Thabeet to a two-year deal. Thabeet has never really panned out to be the quality player with potential he promised to be, with career averages of just over two points and two rebounds per game in his limited time on the floor. This is a questionable signing by the Thunder, especially because Serge Ibaka’s return to OKC is not guaranteed at this point.
Derrick Rose – Rose returned to practice but was limited and is unlikely to play tonight in the Bulls’ contest with the Raptors. Rose has missed the past five games for Chicago with a pulled groin but is still listed as day-to-day. Chicago has been successful without their star point guard on the court, but I’ve already written about how much D-Rose means to the Bulls and that sentiment grows with the playoffs looming.
Brook Lopez – Lopez’s ankle injury has been reevaluated and the New Jersey center will be out for at least another two weeks, putting his return date in mid-April. Because the Nets are not exactly contending for anything, they may consider just sidelining him for the rest of the year.
Kyle Lowry – Lowry’s bacterial infection that sent him to the hospital will keep him sidelined for an indefinite period of time. Lowry was initially projected to return in two to four weeks but The Houston Chronicle reports that his return could still be weeks away. This is a critical stretch for the Rockets, who currently hold on to the number eight seed in the West.
Kevin Martin – Martin’s MRI showed a tear in the labral of his right shoulder, an existing injury he aggravated February 2 and then became a major problem March 11 after running into a screen against the Cavs. Although he is listed as day-to-day, expect him to miss a more substantial amount of time now.
Michael Pietrus – Pietrus left Boston’s matchup with Philly yesterday on a stretcher in the first half. He was hospitalized and was diagnosed with a closed head injury after landing hard on his back in a collision with Lou Williams. The game was delayed for 10 minutes while medical trainers looked on. Fortunately, it was reported this morning that Pietrus was lucky enough to avoid a serious head injury, though he may have a concussion. Pietrus could return to the court sometime this season.
Andrew Bogut – Despite reports that Bogut could make a late-season return, Golden State’s new center will not be making his debut for the Warriors this season. In fact, Bogut may not even be ready to play for Australia in the Summer Olympics.
Al Horford – Horford will not play for the remainder of the regular season, but could possibly return during the postseason. Atlanta’s skilled big man tore his pectoral muscle January 11 and has not played since.
Eric Gordon – Gordon is set to return to practice next week. Although the Hornets didn’t give an expected return date, this is a good sign for New Orleans’ injury-plagued guard.
Tony Parker – Parker missed the Spurs’ game yesterday with a mild hamstring strain he sustained in Wednesday’s victory over Minnesota. For now, consider him day-to-day.
Stephen Curry – Curry’s ankle is set to be reexamined by the Warriors’ medical staff this weekend. His status for next week and perhaps the rest of the season will depend on what the medical staff determines, as the Warriors have said they will not play Curry until he is 100 percent.
Anderson Varejao – Varejao is expected to return to practice in one or two weeks after sitting out since February 10 with a wrist injury. However, the Cavs are starting to slip away from playoff contention, which means they will not rush Varejao’s return.
Rodney Stuckey – Stuckey missed yesterday’s game with a strained toe injury. It was the second game he has missed for the Pistons, but he is still listed as day-to-day.
Danilo Gallinari – After suffering a fractured left thumb against the Mavericks, Gallinari could miss up to four weeks. This is a tough break for Denver’s talented small forward, who already missed considerable time earlier this season and was just getting back into rhythm. However, the Nuggets should be okay and do not need to rush his return thanks to Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee.
Nikola Pekovic – Pekovic’s ankles, which have been a recurring problem over the past few weeks, might keep him sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Nuggets. Pekovic is hopeful to return for Minnesota’s matchup with Denver, but T-Wolves fans shouldn’t hold their breath until he has played (and stayed) on the court for an entire game.
Despite a monumental effort from Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves in double overtime with a whopping final score of 149-140. Love finished with 51 points and 14 rebounds, but Wesbrook finished with 45 and Durant had 17 rebounds and 40 points of his own, including a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that sent the game to double overtime. Durant had put the Thunder up by three with 3.9 seconds left in regulation, but Love hit a three of his own with 1 second left to force overtime. Love had a career-high seven 3-pointers but couldn’t carry the T-Wolves in double overtime as the Thunder never looked back after Westbrook stole the ball and got a three-point play on the first possession.
In addition to all of these impressive stats, James Harden added 25 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists off the bench, including a perfect pass that set up Kevin Durant’s game-tying three in overtime. For the Timberwolves, JJ Barea had a triple double off the bench, finishing with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.
The game had a playoff feel despite the fact that only the Thunder look like they will be making the playoffs. The loss was a crushing one for Minnesota, who found a way to compete with the West-leading Thunder despite not having Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic or Michael Beasley. The Timberwolves have been dealing with injury problems since Rubio was declared done for the season with an ACL tear. These injury woes have moved the once uprising T-Wolves out of playoff contention, three and a half games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth spot in the West.
On a night that saw 289 points combined and plenty of highlights, the Thunder got a solid win, not because of their competition, but because of their stars coming up big in the clutch. Love’s 51 gave OKC a challenge, but Durant once again hit big threes when he needed to and Westbrook led the charge right off the bat in double overtime. Harden showed his value as perhaps the best sixth man in the NBA and Nick Collison gave quality minutes off the bench as well. Fisher also came in and contributed, a very positive sign for the postseason. Even though March Madness probably dominated basketball on television last night, this was one game that was a privilege to watch between Love’s 51, Durant and Westbrook putting on a show and a double overtime match that was highly competitive until the end.
It seems the question of whether or not Ramon Sessions would be starting for the Lakers has been answered. After 12 full seasons in Los Angeles and five championships, the Lakers are trading Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill and a future first-round pick.
Fisher is averaging 5.9 ppg on 38% shooting this season. The Lakers traded for Ramon Sessions earlier today, needing an upgrade at the point guard position, but I don’t think anyone saw a Derek Fisher trade coming. Fisher provided the Lakers with many memorable playoff moments, including his incredible buzzer-beater with 0.4 seconds left that lifted the Lakers over the Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference semis in 2004. His heart, determination and highly competitive play was a huge reason for the Lakers’ recent championships over Orlando and Boston, hitting big-time shots down the stretch and providing leadership throughout the postseason. Although LA fans will agree that Fisher has been a liability this season with poor 3-point shooting and lackluster defense on younger and quicker guards, they should also never forget how much he gave the city of Los Angeles.
Although the Lakers don’t really need Fisher with the acquisition of Sessions, it seems almost unnecessary to send him away. However, the addition of Jordan Hill will make the Lakers a better team as his production off the bench can only be a step up from what the LA has been getting from its bench players up to this point. Hill is averaging 5 ppg and 4.9 rpg this season. If the Lakers can get their hands on Beasley, LA will be a powerhouse in the West.
On the other side of the coin, the Rockets’ moves have been questionable so far today. They have acquired two washed up veterans (Fisher and Marcus Camby). I’m assuming they hope these veterans will provide leadership for a team currently in the playoff picture and although they had to give up very little to get them, these moves are not particularly impressive. The injured Kyle Lowry must have had something to do with the Derek Fisher trade, needing a backup for Goran Dragic. Houston may have slightly upgraded, but not as much as they should have if they really want to contend.
The Lakers reached a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that will send point guard Ramon Sessions to LA, as well as the young wing player Christian Eyenga. The Lakers agreed to give their 2012 first-round pick to the Cavs along with Luke Walton and Jason Kapono. LA will also have the right to swap picks next year with the Miami Heat’s first-rounder (which the Cavs own the rights to).
This is a great move for LA, who have finally filled the need for a true point guard who can score. In his backup role in Cleveland, Sessions has averaged 10.5 ppg and 5.2 apg coming off the bench. Laker fans should be hoping Derek Fisher finally gets moved to a backup role, but that remains to be seen. There are talks that the Lakers are looking to acquire Michael Beasley, but these reports have yet to be confirmed. The Lakers have been on a hot streak lately, so this acquisition could make them deadly in the playoffs.
For the Cavs, this gives them the power to add more pieces around Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamison in 2012’s loaded draft next year. Cleveland will miss Sessions’ solid contributions off the bench this year, but can look forward to a solid acquisition with the draft.