Ready for Cavaliers vs. Warriors, Part III?
The NBA trade deadline passed Thursday, and defending champion Cleveland and Golden State remain the favorites to meet in the Finals.
Neither team made a deal in the hours before the deadline. Cleveland is expected to sign Deron Williams now that he’s cleared waivers. With the addition of Williams and the anticipated return of J.R. Smith (thumb) and Kevin Love (knee) from injuries, the Cavaliers are poised to win the East again.
As Cleveland and Golden State largely maintained the status quo, the focus turned to their challengers. Here’s what those teams did and whether it’ll matter in the playoffs. (Spoiler alert: It probably won’t.)
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It’s kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here. I thought I would have been in the loop a little more on that.
Paul George, Pacers forward, regarding trade speculation
Boston Celtics – Boston made no moves with its collection of draft picks. Regardless of what happens in the postseason, the Celtics are set to make a big offseason trade aimed to knock off the Cavaliers in 2018. Meanwhile, Boston will need more huge performances from Isaiah Thomas along with Avery Bradley’s return from an Achilles’ injury to rattle Cleveland this season.
Washington Wizards – One of the league’s hottest teams added Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough from Brooklyn for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 protected first-round pick. Washington’s weakness was its bench, and Bogdanovic’s shooting should help in a possible second-round playoff matchup with Boston.
Toronto Raptors – After trading for Orlando’s Serge Ibaka, Toronto acquired P.J. Tucker from Phoenix for Jared Sullinger, second-round draft picks in 2017 and 2018 and cash. Ibaka and Tucker make the Raptors better equipped to get physical against Cleveland and perhaps push a series to seven games.
San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs will take their chances with Kawhi Leonard and Co., which welcomed back Pau Gasol from a hand injury Friday. The Spurs have the best chance of upending the Warriors in the West.
Houston Rockets – Did Houston really need another scorer off the bench? Well, the Rockets found one – Lou Williams, who came from the Los Angeles Lakers for Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick. Williams had 27 points in his Houston debut without a practice or shootaround. The deal didn’t help the Rockets defensively; Andrew Bogut would have been a plus. But Houston might be best positioned to keep pace with the high-scoring Warriors in a series.
Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers’ biggest difference will be improved health. Chris Paul has been cleared to return from a thumb injury. Los Angeles might be a nonfactor in the postseason because the Warriors have owned the Clippers, even with Paul in the lineup.
The This Can’t Be Life Award
Just how petty can a Twitter beef become?
Did Houston really need another scorer off the bench? Well, the Rockets found one – Lou Williams, who came from the Los Angeles Lakers for Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick.
The latest installment of Naismith Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal vs. Warriors center JaVale McGee shows it’s not entirely funny for some.
The attacks have gotten personal as McGee has grown tired of being fodder for O’Neal’s jokes during O’Neal’s “Shaqtin A Fool” TNT segment, which highlights the follies of NBA players.
O’Neal repeatedly called McGee a “bum” of a player and said he’d smack him, and McGee fired back with insults.
The tension has risen for some time. Don’t think O’Neal missed McGee comparing him to a minstrel show, one of the biggest insults of an African American, and you knew he’d respond.
The NBA doesn’t want Twitter accounts to cross the line. But it’s too late to get between O’Neal and McGee.
The Keeping it Way Too Real Award
“It’s kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here. I thought I would have been in the loop a little more on that.”
– Indiana forward Paul George to The Indianapolis Star after the trade deadline passed. He was the subject of much trade speculation, and quotes such as that further speculation George is headed to the Lakers in 2018 if he’s not traded before then.