NBA fans had a chance to clear their minds with the NBA’s All-Star break and then have their minds shattered by a flurry of moves on last Thursday’s trade deadline (more on those later). Games have resumed, we’ve gotten a look at some of the new guys in new places. A major injury has changed the landscape in the East, tensions are at an all-time high in the West. The Clippers are marching on without Blake Griffin and the woeful Lakers still find a way to steal a headline. Let’s delve into some of the happenings from this past week in the Association.
LIFE WITHOUT BLAKE
The Clippers lost an absolute heartbreaker to the Memphis Grizzlies 90-87 on Monday night. Chris Paul played brilliantly dropping 30 points and 10 assists before turning the ball over on the Clippers final possession of the game. Despite the loss, the Clippers are still 4-2 since Griffin went down with a staph infection and have beaten some quality opponents on the road. The Los Angeles Times reported that Griffin had his stitches removed on Monday, but he’s still expected to be out for at least the rest of this week. The Clippers will look to rebound against the Rockets tonight. The Clippers have matched up well with Houston winning both previous meetings by an average of 16 points and holding MVP-candidate James Harden to 12.5 PPG. The Clippers travel to Memphis on Friday and have a back-to-back in Chicago and then Minnesota to finish up a four game road trip. Speaking of Chicago.
DERRICK ROSE GOES DOWN AGAIN
In a surprising development, the Chicago Bulls announced on Tuesday that Derrick Rose would undergo surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee, presumably ending his season. This is a devastating blow for Rose and the Bulls, this is the same knee that Rose had the same surgery on two years ago. It’s seems like ages ago that he was destroying the league and winning MVP back in 2011, sadly, his career parallels are probably Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill. Unbelievable talents who had their careers derailed by injury. Rose will return to basketball, but it’s unclear where the Bulls go from here. It would appear their title hopes are pretty much over, but Rose was not having a very efficient season (40.7% FG, 28.7% 3’s) and his PER (player efficiency rating) of 16.06 is on par with guys like Gerald Green and J.J. Barea. Coach Tom Thibodeau has been in this position before and maybe the Bulls can open up the floor a little bit and score more efficiently without Rose. It looks like Cleveland has a pretty clear path through the East toward the Finals.
TRADE DEADLINE BREAKDOWN
This was the busiest trade deadline in NBA history, more than 30 players switched teams, however, the biggest name was probably Goran Dragic. The Suns shipped the disgruntled point guard and his brother Zoran to the Miami Heat for some random-ass players and draft picks. The move seemed to immediately bolster the Heat’s title chances, however, Chris Bosh will sadly miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with blood clots on his lungs (a potentially life-threatening condition!). The Suns also shipped out guard Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics. The Suns also acquired guard Brandon Knight from the Milwaukee Bucks to offset the departure of Dragic and Thomas, however, the Suns appear to be punting on this season and will look to retool this offseason. The Western Conference contender that solidified themselves the most had to be the Portland Trail Blazers, who acquired swingman Arron Afflalo from the Denver Nuggets. Afflalo can play both wing positions, give the Blazers immediate scoring off the bench, he can spell Nic Batum and Wes Matthews and gives the Blazers future flexibility. Great trade for Portland.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were also active shipping out disgruntled guard Reggie Jackson to Detroit, and acquiring Enes Kanter from Utah to give the Thunder some much needed scoring up front. The Thunder also got D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler from Detroit. Augustin is a much better fit as a backup guard behind Russell Westbrook and Singler gives them a much needed catch-and-shoot guy. Unfortunately for the Thunder, Kevin Durant will be sidelined another couple of weeks after undergoing another surgical procedure on his foot. Westbrook is balling out of his mind right now, putting up a 29-10-8 line in his last 10 games. However, can the Thunder reach their full potential without Durant, and this of course raises more questions about how Durant and Westbrook will co-exist in the future. The Thunder have won nine of 10 games and have a firm grip on the eighth seed. Golden Stave vs. OKC in the first round of the playoffs is a distinct possibility.
LAKERS GET A LITTLE OVERZEALOUS
I guess it’s all about the small victories for the Lakers these days. After a thrilling 118-111 OT victory over Boston on Sunday, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, and Carlos Boozer did a group interview with Lakers’ sideline reporter Mike Trudell and celebrated like they were in Vegas! Kobe Bryant and Coach Byron Scott were not amused. Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday night, Kimmel showed Kobe the video, and Kobe just sat there speechless with a blank expression before finally turning his head to address a hysterical Kimmel, who said “I thought of you when I saw that.” No words were needed to know that the Mamba did not approve. Scott called it unprofessional and said it wouldn’t happen again when speaking to reporters at Lakers’ practice. The Lakers head to Utah Wednesday night. They’ll wrap up the week with home games against Milwaukee and Oklahoma City. There won’t be a celebration like that Sunday if Russell Westbrook and his True Religion commercial have anything to say about it.