NBA Week in Review: Big trade falls through, Kobe contemplates retirement and the rest of the NBA happenings from last week
For many this weekend was a one long one, so kick back and enjoy your day off. (Also, RIP MLK.)
In case you were as busy as we were last week, you’ll now have a chance to catch up on last week’s need-to-know stories all in one place.
Lopez-to-OKC deal goes on hiatus. – Late last week, there was a proposed three-team trade in place that would have sent Brook Lopez to the Thunder, Jeremy Lamb to the Hornets, and Lance Stephenson to the Nets. This would have been awesome.
Unfortunately, that deal fell apart on Friday, as Charlotte decided to remove themselves from talks. Brooklyn and Oklahoma City were still engaged in talks, but for the time being, they’ve been tabled. It is believed, however, that a Lopez trade is inevitable for the nets, as the team has already gone too far in pursuit of a new destination for their big man.
At this point, the Thunder seem like absolutely his most likely destination, but it will be interesting to see how he fits in there, as a straight back-to-basket center who doesn’t rebound or play much defense.
Nets hit the market. — While Brooklyn’s front office was fielding trade offers, half of them were probably packing up their things as well, since now-former owner Mikhail Prokhorov decided to put the Nets up for sale last Monday. This move has long been rumored for the guy people once overzealously dubbed the Russian Mark Cuban, and he leaves the team in terrible shape, with way too much money committed to a group of past-their-prime players and very few meaningful draft picks remaining, which are usually the quickest means of recourse in the rebuilding process. The billionaire had increasingly lost interest in the team, and to say his tenure in Brooklyn was uninspiring would be an understatement. He will probably be best remembered for paying more in luxury taxes than he did in team salary. Thanks, Russia.
Cavaliers still tinkering, and also now bowling, apparently. — Cleveland continues to scour the waiver wire for veterans to improve their bench, and this week they’re kicking the tires on Jordan Farmar after he was cut by the Los Angles Clippers. Farmar would probably be an upgrade over Matthew Dellavadova, and he’d certainly be a more traditional, pass-first fit on a team that’s not hurting for scorers.
Meanwhile, with rumors about his job and coaching staff betrayals swirling, David Blatt took his team bowling between contests against the Lakers and Clippers out in LA. Unconventional, but then again, the Cavs swept both teams on their California trip. Mark it 8, dude.
Kobe has actually thought about retirement? — This one was a shocker: Kobe admitted to Bill Plaschke that he had actually thought about what it might be like to call it quits early, especially with how creaky his body has been this season.
There’s clearly been a decline in Kobe’s game, and although he’s on a minutes limit right now, he’s still playing at a high-enough level to play in this league: he just set a career-high in assists last week with 17. It hasn’t been easy to watch Bryant lose away his final days, but this season seems to have been humbling for him, and perhaps a valuable experience, even.
Hawks still at the top. — As we get closer to the All-Star Break, the Hawks status as underdogs continues to wane as they continue to win. They eviscerated the East’s second-place team, the Raptors, at home last week, and they’re still healthy and playing at a high level. Until further notice, the Hawks are as good as they look.
Austin Rivers heads to LA to play for his dad. — This trade was in last week’s review, but it was finally finalized this week. It’s unclear why Doc Rivers thinks a guard who shoots less than 40% with a career PER of 9.0 would be the ans… oh wait. Right.
Wiggins giving the T-Wolves hope. — In more promising young player news, Andrew Wiggins continues to lead the race for rookie of the year, and he set a career-high with 31 points last week. Check out last week’s article about the future in Minnesota for more on Wiggins’ continued development.
The 76ers are worried about Joel Embiid. — Apparently Joel Embiid has gained a bunch of weight and had clashes with Philadelphia’s training staff. Embiid is super young, and he lost his younger brother in October, so this type of thing isn’t unexpected. Embiid is far away from his Cameroonian family, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to his situation. Hopefully the young man can get right, because whatever his situation, he seems like a good dude.
Do the Thunder have a Reggie Jackson problem? — So the Dion Waiters trade is actually working out OK for Oklahoma City, and it’s been mostly at the expense of Jackson, both in playing time, and eventually, probably his paycheck as well. His teammates have expressed no kind of sympathy for Jackson’s situation, which isn’t a great sign, and as Jackson’s role continues to wane, you get the impression the Thunder sense Durant’s 2016 free agency bearing down on them, and they’re not going to let Jackson’s situation affect their immediate need to win a title.