NBA Sunday: Warriors May Change Trade Plans
Steph Curry’s Injury Could Change Warriors’ Trade Plans
Outside of Dwight Howard (who we’ll get to in a minute) and maybe Pau Gasol, Golden State guard Monta Ellis has been perhaps the most talked-about trade bait of the 2012 deadline.
The Warriors may or may not be all that interested in moving the league’s ninth leading scorer, but if they ever were it was because Stephen Curry had really broken out and made Ellis a bit redundant in that backcourt. The Warriors both really need and really want some size and talent at the center position, and in choosing between Ellis and Curry as bait in acquiring that, Ellis has always been tagged as the guy to go.
Curry’s re-aggravation of that right ankle Saturday night in Oakland might change that.
After missing a week’s worth of games in late February due to a tendon sprain in his right foot—the same right foot that houses the ankle he injured at the start of the season that kept him out over two weeks—Curry made his first start against the Mavericks on Saturday. Sixteen minutes and ten points later, he was out of the game with another rolled ankle. Go ahead and guess which one.
Curry’s frustration after the game was evident, but the real story here as we approach the trade deadline is what this means for Ellis, who so many writers have mentioned as having one foot out the door in trade.
It’s impossible at this point to nail Curry down as the team’s franchise player moving forward because at only age 23 (he’ll be 24 on Wednesday), he’s already got an apparently chronic injury that could cost him his career at any time. There’s no question the kid is talented—anybody with him on their fantasy team knows what a godsend he is statistically—but if he’s not playing and scoring, Golden State needs a guard who can.
Knowing all that, how could the Warriors possibly move Ellis? He’s not the #1 guy on a championship team; I think we all know that by now. But he’s certainly good enough to take some of the sting away from another Curry injury, especially if we go out on a limb and guess that this won’t be the last time that right foot gives him trouble.
Plenty of people who know the Warriors intimately were dubious the team would trade Monta Ellis anyway, but this recent sprain for Curry, even though classified as “mild” after Saturday’s game, could make it all but certain Ellis isn’t moved.
The Dwight Saga Continues
On the front of the Orlando Sentinel’s sports page today is a giant picture of Dwight Howard with the headline “Dwight’s Decision: Clock is Ticking.” That makes sense considering this is the last Sunday paper before the trade deadline and the entire city of Orlando—even the people who don’t know a whole lot about NBA basketball—is concerned with what the big guy will do.
So what will he do? Good question. The Sentinel’s Josh Robbins has said that Magic GM Otis Smith insists it’s still “50/50” that the team keeps Howard beyond March 15th, but GMs are notoriously tricky with the information they leak out to the media, especially as it pertains to something as huge as this.
In truth, it continues to look more and more like the Magic will, in fact, keep Howard, as HOOPSWORLD’s Orlando experts Steve Kyler and Alex Kennedy have been saying for weeks now. Not only does Howard earn more money by picking up his option for 2012-2013 instead of signing a new deal under the new CBA, but he also earns quite a bit of extra money by taking on the extra year that the Magic can offer. And let us not forget Florida’s lack of a state income tax.
Howard’s other criteria—that he be given the best opportunity to win a championship while also fulfilling his desire to be The Man in whatever city he ends up playing for—could both realistically be met by his current team, as well. A new city would love him, but probably not more than Orlando does, and the fact they’ve won 10 out of their last 14 games has shown that they’re not as far away from the East’s elite as we thought they’d be heading into the season. Wins against Miami and Chicago in the last month haven’t hurt league perception of the Magic, either.
Should Dwight pick up his option, Orlando will have some cap space to work with in 2013, which means the team could bring the talent to him. Does he want to wait that long? Is he really just looking for a fresh start in his career, or is he curious about the wining and dining involved with the free agency process?
We’ll find out soon enough, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if, when March 15th comes and goes, Howard is still on the Magic. The offers simply haven’t been good enough. In fact, as Smith told Josh Robbins, they haven’t even been as good as they were at the start of the year when this whole Dwight frenzy really got going.
That makes it seem like this isn’t happening, but you simply never know. The trade deadline is an unpredictable thing. Anything can happen, and anything usually does.
March Madness Begins Today
As excited as NBA fans are about the trade deadline and what that could mean for their favorite teams, NCAA fans are equally as excited for the Final Four tournament, which will have its brackets set later this afternoon.
ESPN.com’s Andy Kats is reporting that the 37 at-large bids for the tournament were already decided on Saturday, meaning bubble teams playing in conference championships had their fates determined even before it was decided whether or not they’d win their games. That might be good news for Marshall, who got drubbed by Memphis yesterday in the Conference USA title bout. Despite such a demoralizing loss, they may still get in, anyway.
Worse news may come for Kansas, who lost to Baylor Friday in the Big 12 semifinal, because they might have also lost their almost guaranteed #1 seeding in the process. Baylor is no slouch of a team, so there’s still a strong possibility that Kansas could get awarded a top position in the brackets, but some are the saying the loss puts the winner of today’s Big Ten championship between Michigan State and Ohio State into what was once considered KU’s top seeding instead. If there’s any drama at the tippy top of the field, this is it.
Of course, Missouri could be in consideration for a top seed as well, though it would probably be the same one that Kansas and the two Big Ten teams are vying for. Kentucky, Syracuse, and North Carolina are all likely to take three of the four top seeds. The fourth will come down to Mizzou, Michigan State, Ohio State, or Kansas.
But there’s plenty of other drama in the brackets, and we’ll get plenty of bubble talk on television today as the last four conference championships play out on ABC and CBS. The aforementioned Big Ten game should be a good one, as should North Carolina/Florida State for the ACC crown. But none of that can compare with the excitement we’ll have shortly when the tournament finally gets underway.
And it all starts today with the brackets, which will be announced on CBS at 6:00pm ET.