BY: COLIN KRAUSS
Through the first five years of Blake Griffin’s career, he was an All-Star. It’s rare to find someone who plays five straight All-Star games to start their NBA career, and then doesn’t make one for the next three.
Blake is 29, normally the dead center of a prime for stars. And no one could have seen this revival coming that he’s experiencing with the Detroit Pistons. After two seasons from 2015-2017 of being mostly injured or limited in some fashion, Blake is having the best season of his life.
by: keith rivas
I get that it’s hard for a lot of Jazz fans to cope with the fact that their team is still flirting with
being .500 at the halfway point of the regular season. Given the kind of sway that took place last
season when the team looked all but a lottery team through three-fourths of the year, there’s still
a weird presence of faith in this team.
A lot of that faith should be placed in Donovan Mitchell. While he’s not at the top of the Western
Conference or nearly in the headlines as much as Ben Simmons or Luka Doncic, he’s doing
more than enough to carry his weight with the team.
BY: MATTHEW EMERY
You may have noticed many players were waived yesterday. That’s because all player contracts become fully guaranteed on January 10. Since a player stays on waivers for 48 hours, where he can be claimed by other teams, and must be waived by January 10 before his contract becomes fully guaranteed, January 7 (by 5:00 pm) was the deadline to waive players for the purpose of clearing team salary. For many teams, this deadline has cap and tax saving implications. With that said, below is a list of the players that were waived on January 7 in anticipation of the deadline.
BY: COLIN KRAUSS
In the modern NBA, we often think of the stars as guards and wings. LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard. Each are incredible talents, but what truly makes a star in today’s NBA is your skill level. Under the radar, a wave of super skilled bigs are making their way up the NBA’s ladder of stars. One of these is Anthony Davis.
Davis has entered the super-duper-star discussion, and has overall become a defacto top 5 player in the NBA. Since it’s already universally accepted Davis is an MVP caliber talent, I will focus on what I believe are the next three great centers.
My discussion today surrounds three bigs with immense skill levels and a career trajectories that should land all of them in MVP discussions within 5 years. For a couple, those discussions are taking place now. These three bigs are Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Karl Anthony-Towns.
BY: JOHN DELEON
Tom Thibodeau has been relieved of his duties as Head Coach and President Of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The decision was made after the Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 108 to 86, leading to a record of 19-21. Thibs had a tendency to run players into the ground. He also brought over some of his former players from the Chicago Bulls to the Timberwolves, including: Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, earning his team the TimberBulls moniker, a combination of both team names.
Earlier this season, Thibodeau traded Jimmy Butler along with Justin Patton to the Philadelphia 76ers for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2nd round pick in 2022.
Thibodeau’s record with the Timberwolves stands at 97-107. He also previously was a Head Coach for the Chicago Bulls with a 255-176. He also had assistant coaching experience with the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a bit of irony that coincides with the TimberBulls, the coach that took over for Thibodeau with the Bulls, Fred Hoiberg, is being considered to replace him with the Timberwolves.
John DeLeon is a contributor for The Up & Under.
BY: AUSTIN KRELL
Manute Bol is no longer with us, but a piece of him is still very much alive. Bol’s son, Bol, is a freshman at the University of Oregon. The fourth-ranked player in the nation coming out of high school is polarizing because of his size--at 7’2” and 235 pounds, Bol Bol is the spitting image of his father. There is one major difference, his game is far-more evolved than his dad’s ever was.
BY: JOHN DELEON
James Harden is a ref-baiter. All he does is draw fouls and shoot free throws. He can’t put up those same numbers in the playoffs or lead a team to a championship. As part of #NBATwitter, I’ve heard and/or seen it all about last year’s MVP. Some of it may be true, but to quote Jay-Z, “men lie, women lie, NUMBERS don’t!” Harden’s last 5 games, he’s had 40+ points, adding his name to the history books alongside Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, as players having 40+ points for 5 consecutive games. Those same 5 games are a part of 11 straight games with 30+ points streak. If he can continue at the current pace for two more games, Harden would add his name to the Rockets’ record books, alongside Moses Malone, who currently has the record for consecutive games of 30+ points, with 13 games.
by: tiffany tripp
Starting this season as part of the Nike NBA Earned Program, a new partnership between the athletic apparel giant and the NBA, the 16 teams that made the playoffs the previous season will be awarded an exclusive alternate uniform. The program released the new jersey designs today, receiving the typical fan range of emotions: everything from vomit emojis to heart-eye/crying emoji combos to the least creative response a person can give, “meh.” We will start seeing these uniforms on-court Christmas Day, according to the NBA website.
BY: COLIN KRAUSS
The LA Lakers just finished off the first of two straight games against the San Antonio Spurs. The game was a back and forth slugfest between the mid-range masters led by Coach Pop and the springy youngsters in Hollywood. Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMarcus Aldridge did what they could, but in the fourth quarter, the story ended in a way we’ve seen many times. With a LeBron takeover.
LeBron had 20 in the fourth quarter, including several ridiculous three pointers and old-fashioned three point plays. Brandon Ingram was only able to play 5 minutes, as he was inadvertently fouled by Aldridge as he came down on Aldridge’s foot after a jump shot, spraining his ankle. LA didn’t skip a beat when Ingram went down. It’s almost as though he doesn’t make a difference for the Lakers in their current team construction. This brings me to a concern the must be eating at the Lakers’ management day in and day out: when should Ingram be traded?
Spencer Dinwiddie becomes eligible to sign an extension today, December 8, 2018. The deadline to sign the extension is June 30, 2019. What options do the Nets have? Take a look below for a quick break down:
Extension: The Nets can extend Dinwiddie for four (4) seasons, providing for a max contract value of approximately $50 million. Extending his contract would get rid of his cap hold and keep him from entering free agency where he is likely to have significant interest. If extended for a contract greater than allowed in an extend-and trade, then he cannot be traded for six (6) months.
Trade: Dinwiddie could be traded this season up until the trade deadline. Note that his contract value is low, making it difficult to execute a trade because of the salary matching involved. Of course, player salaries could be aggregated in a simultaneous trade.
Extend-and-Trade: As alluded to above, the Nets could also extend-and-trade Dinwiddie. In this instance, the team could only sign Dinwiddie to a three (3) year extension, including the remaining year on his contract. The raises are also limited to 5%. This likely won’t happen though. The last extend-and-trade involved Carmelo Anthony in 2011, so they are rare.
Sign-and-Trade: Equally as rare as an extend-and-trade is a sign and trade. This is not likely to occur though because the team would then be hard-capped at the apron (a theoretical line which is always $6 million above the tax threshold), thereby inhibiting the team’s ability to sign big time free agents, which appears to be a priority for them next summer given that they have cleared so much cap space. Also, the BYC rules would likely come into play and drastically reduce the outgoing value of his contract in any trade.
Resign Dinwiddie using Bird Rights: It’s possible the team just re-signs Dinwiddie next season too. They will have a big decision to make between D’Angelo Russell and Dinwiddie. If just resigning him, the team could offer him a max which projects to be about $144,970,000 over five (5) seasons. Dinwiddie could not be traded in this scenario for three (3) months or until December 15 of that season, whichever is later. However, if the BYC rules are triggered, then he cannot be traded for three months or until January 15 of that season (whichever is later).
Of course, the team can let him walk next season. I should note that Dinwiddie’s cap hold is actually going to be less than his current salary, which is a weird CBA quirk. So there is little value to renouncing his bird rights this off-season as it won’t impact their cap room by much.
By: Matthew Emery