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Obvserations from NBA All-Star weekend with eye towards trade deadline

Obvserations from NBA All-Star weekend with eye towards trade deadline

NEW ORLEANS — Another All-Star weekend is in the books, and now it's all about the trade deadline as teams have been as active as ever going into the stretch run of the season.

In the East, a lot of it has to do with the Cleveland Cavaliers being viewed as vulnerable.

They're still the favorites to advance to another NBA Finals but the Raptors, Wizards and Celtics believe they have a chance to make them uncomfortable. 

There will be drama.

My takeaways:

RELATED: NBA POWER RANKINGS AT THE ALL-STAR BREAK

1. Russell Westbrook is the Silky Johnson of All-Star Games. If you don't know who that is, see Chappelle Show.

What Westbrook did in taking 26 shots in 20 minutes for 41 points is try to lift the MVP from Anthony Davis, who was playing at home.

Davis wound up earning it with an All-Star record 52 points. Maybe Westbrook was just playing hard, but he came off the bench as a reserve and really wanted that trophy. He has no off button, but if that's not hatin' I'm not sure what is. Everyone on the West team was on board with helping Davis shine -- except Westbrook. But in a way, I respect that.

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2. James Dolan and the New York Knicks can be thankful for the Sacramento Kings, who makes their incompetence as an organization pale in comparison.

The Kings gave up a three-time All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins for a rookie whose ceiling is unknown (Buddy Hield), a known quantity who is a role player at best (Tyreke Evans) and future draft picks with value that only can be gauged by the success of those picks. In other words, whatever Cousins' flaws -- and he has many -- draft picks mean little if the Kings don't draft well. And they don't have a history of doing so. The most difficult thing to project is the celing for players who are 19 and 20 years old.

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3. Pelicans GM Dell Demps, who has been undermined at almost every turn in his tenure because of ownership issues, pulled off a deal that should solidify his spot if not in New Orleans with a future organization. He knocked this deal for Cousins out of the park. It's a risk worth taking to pair him with Davis. A playoff berth is in reach as the West isn't as strong at the bottom as it used to be.

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4. Some semblance of defense needs to be played to resemble an actual game.

Then again, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony and Isaiah Thomas rarely play defense in actual NBA games so in an exhibition it's all downhill.

Bradley Beal, who would've been a first-time All-Star, would've played harder. A vet like Anthony, in his 10th apperance and admittetdly didn't want to be there after he was named as a commissioner's pick, is too concerned with not getting hurt. The last All-Star Game at Verizon Center in 2001, the final score was 111-110. That's 131 fewer total point scored than Sunday and an indication of how far the effort has waned.

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5. Not buying that the Westbrook-Kevin Durant rivalry is over just because they passed the ball to each other. It's a nice, warm and fuzzy storyline for now.

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6. To spice up All-Star Saturday night, sprinkle in some of the better D-League players compete with NBA players in the three-point shootout, skills competition and dunk contest. They'll take them more seriously which makes for a better product. NBA players won't want to be shown up and will try harder and lead to a better product.

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7. Given that the East had so many guards, the idea that they needed another frontline player in Anthony to "balance" the lineups is ridiculous.

It's a jump-shooting and dunking contest. No one is calling for iso post-ups in an All-Star Game. So Kevin Love's replacment didn't have to be Anthony (Yes, I'm beating the Beal shouldve been an All-Star dead horse).

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8. How great is it to have an All-Star weekend free of labor strife and jockeying for postion over a new collective bargaining agreement?

That baby was put to bed long ago and it's a signal at how new leadership for the league (Adam Silver) and players (Michele Roberts) have led to a more common sense approach to doing business.

A lockout benefits no one.

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9. Draft picks have become so overvalued.

As with the Kings, they're only as good as the selections that are made.

If it's a weak year (see 2016) then those picks aren't that big of a deal as it would be in a strong year (see 2017). All of this, however, is about projections. It's not an exact science. You can put a tape measure on things like height, weight, vertical leap but not heart, will and work ethic. When a variable such as millions of dollars enters the picture, it's impossible to tell how it will impact those traits positively or negatively. Therefore if I'm trading an All-Star, I want certainty in return for his services as in a proven impact player (though not necessarily an All-Star) and a pick or two. 

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10. Did I mention that the Kings' front office is the worst in basketball? 

They clearly believed they couldn't get more in return for Cousins which is why they should've a) traded him sooner; b) held onto him until this summer because they still had his rights; c) not be deceptive and dishonest about their intentions to the player and his representation. That's bad business.

RELATED: WALL EXPECTS WIZARDS TO MAKE A TRADE DEADLINE DEAL

 

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers host Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre and the Washington Wizards on Monday night as they hope to move up in the everchanging ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

With the possibility of John Wall not playing, this game will be a big moment for the rest of the Wiziards players to step up and show the city what they can do. The Pacers, on the other hand, have been playing exceptionally well in their past 6 games.

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame, postgame and live game coverage of Wizards at Raptors.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time…

WIZARDS at PACERS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers, 2018 NBA Regular Season, Game 27

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

When: Monday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards-Pacers will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can stream Wizards vs. Pacers live on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. After the game tonight, Wizards Postgame Live and Wizards Outsiders are streaming exclusively on the MyTeams app. Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at PACERS TV SCHEDULE:

06:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
06:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) 
07:00 PM: NBA: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (LIVE)
09:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 

WIZARDS at PACERS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Pacers: Victor Oladipo (out, sore right knee)

WIZARDS at PACERS SERIES HISTORY: 

Number of all-time Meetings: 174 games (6 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Pacers lead series, 96-78

Playoff Record: Pacers lead series 4-2

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Pacers 109-102 on 3/17/2018

Last 10: Wizards 6-4

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John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

The problem with John Wall on Saturday night in the Wizards' blowout loss to the Cavs depended somewhat on whom was asked. Either that, or it was all of the above.

Head coach Scott Brooks indicated to reporters in Cleveland that Wall was sick. Bradley Beal referenced personal issues the team would prefer to keep in-house. Wall suggested he was hampered by a nagging left heel injury. 

Wall's explanation certainly passed the eye test. He clearly didn't have his trademark burst up and down the floor. Plus, he has been icing his left foot after recent games.

Add it all up and it was enough to produce the worst stat line of Wall's nine-year NBA career. Never before had he been held without a field goal and not once had he scored just one point in a game.

Wall runs the Wizards' offense, so naturally, his lethargic play set a sleepy tone. The Wizards dragged their feet, got shoved around by Tristan Thompson and went down by as many as 29. A reminder that this was against the Cavs, a 6-20 team with the worst defensive rating in the league.

Wall went on to tell the Washington Post that the pain in his heel is bad enough that he can't yet commit to playing on Monday in the Wizards' next game. 

When Wall is playing through injuries, he will often go out of his way to downplay them. His admission of the heel injury and how much it has hurt him is unusual and indicates the severity.

Wall has been dealing with several minor leg injuries this season. On top of the heel issue, he played through a thigh bruise earlier this year. But it had yet to be this bad and there may be a reason for that.

Wall returned for this game after being away for a few days to deal with a personal matter. Perhaps that time off made it tough for him to get loose or manage the injury like he usually does when under the watch of team doctors. 

That would make sense, given the last time he played, he played well. Wall had 18 points and 15 assists against the Knicks on Monday.

Many factors may have been at play. The result was a hobbled version of Wall, one who couldn't force enough separation to even get his shots off. Wall attempted only five field goals, the second-fewest of his career. Usually, even on his worst shooting nights, Wall can at least put up shots.

The pain and how it affected his game was clearly wearing on Wall. With just under two minutes to go in the first half, he drove into contact in the lane. After missing the layup, and not getting a foul call, he slapped the stanchion under the hoop before slowly turning to head back on defense.

When Wall is at peak powers, he plays with an unrelenting chip on his shoulder, flying to the rim like he's drawn by a magnetic force. He glides down the court, finishing with left-handed dunks and darts to open teammates on the perimeter. 

On Saturday, the swagger wasn't there. He hung his head, trotted timidly up and down the court and watched helplessly as rookie Collin Sexton and others drove past him.

Wall was far removed from his usual self against the Cavs. It would be hard to envision a scenario in which the Wizards could win with how he played.

At this point, it wouldn't be surprising if he missed Monday's game against the Pacers. The Wizards need him at or near 100 percent and he wasn't close enough against the Cavs.

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