If there were trades this past month, I hope they were more exciting than the two yawners the month before.
L.A. Clippers receive
SG Michael Blunt
New Orleans Hornets receive
PG Gabe Rosen
L.A. Clippers 2013 1st round pick
What this means for the Clippers
Blunt, taken with the 5th overall pick in the most recent draft, is still green but has the potential to be a decent scoring SG and is part of an intriguing young Clippers core that includes Brian Metcalfe, Kyle Hoiberg and Bill Towns. For right now though, he's on the bench and getting limited minutes, despite having been one of the most popular players in the country in college.
What this means for the Hornets
Rosen could become an average pass-first PG and the 26 year old fourth-year, taken with the 20th pick in the 2009 draft will definitely see his share of development time as the first guard off the bench. In prior years, the 1st round pick would be a sure-fire lottery suggestion, but the Clippers have been building smartly with the aforementioned youngsters and still have Elton Brand. They could see the playoffs yet this season.
Both players are raw, but have promise. If it's a lottery pick, score this a win for the Hornets. If not, keep it a draw because Blunt has more upside than Rosen.
Sacramento Kings receive
SF Josh Childress
New Orleans Hornets 2013 2nd round pick
New Orleans Hornets receive
PF Elliot Carter
C Chris Mihm
PF Nick Collison (released and re-signed by the Kings the day after)
What this means for the Kings
Childress has never been much in this league, but Ron Artest has a broken arm and Sacramento, 22-23, sorely lacks bench depth, particularly at the guard spots. While not remarkable at anything, Childress can play 1-3 on the floor without looking like a total buffoon. The Hornets stink, so the 2nd rounder will be a good one.
What this means for the Hornets
Carter is 24, a second-year and former 2nd round draft pick who can play some defense, but that's it. He's even on the inactives. Mihm is a $3.3 million expiring deal that plays a little defense and rebounds a bit to improve the bench.
The Kings gave up very little to gain a stopgap measure until Artest comes back from injury.
In former me-drafted Nuggets news, Andre Egans, who'd started 16 games for the Dakota Great Apes, got picked up by the Sacramento Kings and is presently the 14th man. Hey, it's another $700k in his pocket.
We play deliciously stingy defense against Golden State, winning our first February contest 89-65. Ben Gordon scored 26 and Emeka Okafor had 11 points and 17 rebounds. He's really proving a big part of our team since acquiring him.
Divisional double-header next, so I'm really hoping for a sweep. We take care of Utah 108-73 as Paulinho Buboltz kicks in 17 points and 10 assists and Duez Walker contributes 13 points off the bench, but Minnesota beats us 109-105 at the Target Center despite 18 points and 15 assists from Paulinho Buboltz. I really, really hate losing to the Timberwolves.
My mood takes another dive with a 96-89 loss to the Cavaliers as Lebron James torches us for 39 points. Can't blame Paulinho Buboltz (20 points, 11 assists) or Joakim Noah (13 bench points) for it though.
101 points are enough to win game one of a three game East Coast road trip by four points over the Nets. Paulinho Buboltz continues to be on fire with 23 points and 11 assists, Ben Gordon our lead scorer with 27 points. Mehmet Okur had a small flirtation with a triple-double, garnering 10 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists.
Games Two and Three are back-to-back and we somehow lose to the Hawks 93-88 even though Dan Jacobson played well (10 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks) and Paulinho Buboltz stayed hot with 20 points and 10 assists. We rally the next night to beat the Bobcats 107-96 and head into the All-Star break on a positive note. Ben Gordon scores 27, Dan Jacobson adds 16 points and 10 rebounds and Joakim Noah scores 12 off the bench. Caron Butler starts at SG this game and leads Charlotte's starters with 20 points. He's averaging 3 points a game more in a Bobcats uniform than he did here in Denver, to which I say, good for him (especially since we won).
So it's the All-Star Break and time to decide whether or not to make a move. We're 33-20, our lead over the Timberwolves at 2 games. I could see us making a run for a natural SF or trading Joakim Noah for a better bench piece.
I do make a deal, a relatively small one in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit helps.
Denver Nuggets receive
PG Shaun Livingston
Houston Rockets receive
PG Sebastian Telfair
Denver Nuggets 2014 2nd round pick
What this means for the Nuggets
Livingston is a tall (6'7), extremely intelligent, disciplined pass-first PG with excellent passing and ballhandling skills and slightly above average defense. He's also the same age as the 5'11 Telfair and they're both on minimum salaries, both 9th men in their old and current teams' rotations. So why was Jestor willing to pay the extra 2nd round tax? Because this is exactly the type of PG he craves for his bench.
What this means for the Rockets
They already have a glut of guards, so changing one out for another makes no difference to Houston, particularly given how similiar Telfair and Livingston are in their skill sets. The extra 2nd round pick is a question mark depending on how the Nuggets do next season, but we're betting on the usual garbage late 2nd rounder. The best value from this may come from Telfair's popularity with fans.
Both got a very small something from this, but the Nuggets got a guy that fits their front office's philosophy perfectly and it's widely known that GM Jestor considers 2nd round picks as nothing more than trade fodder.
I'm tempted to make another deal, but I'll sit and wait until after the All-Star festivities.
The Rookies-Sophs game doesn't interest me much this year because no Nuggets are going, although I watched anyway. The Rookies won 102-92, Darrell James the difference-maker and MVP with a game-high 24 points. I still don't think much of him, even though sports blogger R. McDonald raves that he's going to be the next big thing at PG.
I'm ecstatic when Ben Gordon makes the All-Star team and actually gets to play 22 minutes as a reserve. He scored 13 points with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and two turnovers and looked great when he nailed 2 threes. Jonte Jones starting at C, secured the victory for the West and was MVP with 33 points, 7 rebounds, an assist and 4 blocks. We're starting to see a changing of the guard in the West as Kevin Durant was the starting SF, Kelvin Moody the starting PF again and Jones the starting C. The East is still dominated by the old guard, however, with only Greg Oden starting at C and Mateen Yeaton playing 2 minutes of scrub time as the East All-Stars who have been rookies since I joined the league.
I think about adding a new SF or another big man to the bench after the All-Star game, but eventually choose to stay pat other than the Livingston move. In my opinion we've got a pretty good balance of guys and can at least contend with any team in the league, even the Lakers and Raptors.
We thrash the Celtics 110-98 in our first game after the break, Paulinho Buboltz with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Shaun Livingston with 10 points, 6 assists and 0 turnovers off the bench in his Denver debut. Duez Walker added 10 points with the second team as well, in 11 minutes. I'm pleased to see he's been replaced as the first guard off the bench by Livingston. It makes me feel a lot better, both about the trade and about George Karl's coaching abilities.
102-96 loss to the Grizzlies dampens my enjoyment, although Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Dan Jacobson 10 points and 18 boards.
We overcome a horrible shooting night from everyone except Ben Gordon, who had 40 points, to edge the Hornets 111-105. I'm disappointed when Shaun Livingston only gets 6 minutes, but George Karl knows what he's doing, I guess. Then I find out after the game that Livingston has a hand injury. Whoops, guess Karl -does- know what he's doing.
The month ends with a 107-95 victory over the Hawks. Paulinho Buboltz treads water near a triple-double, but doesn't get it, settling for 20 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds a block and steal. Mehmet Okur and Emeka Okafor just missed out on double-doubles with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 12 points, 9 rebounds respectively. Al Thornton led the bench in scoring with 10 points.
36-21 is good enough to maintain our 2 game lead over the Timberwolves at month's end. The Mavericks and Rockets rule the West still with 44-11 and 42-15 respective records. The Lakers are 37-18 and the Trailblazers continue to fall just short of .500 at 27-28.
Shocking statistic: The Clippers went 0-12 this month. This made them go from 20-25 and a chance to turn the season around to a 20-37 record and a lost season.
In the East, it's still totally Toronto at 42-14. The Bobcats are still in 2nd at 37-17 and their current lineup is:
PG Adam Morrison
SG Caron Butler
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Sean May
C Channing Frye
6th Josh Smith
Still crazy, in my opinion.
The Pacers have fought their way back to within striking distance of .500 at 27-29 and are 6.5 games back in another Central dogfight between the Bucks in front (33-22) and the Pistons a game behind Milwaukee.
2006 Golden Scribe Nominee
2006 Golden Scribe Winner
Best Non-Sport Dynasty: May Our Reign Be Green and Golden (CK Dynasty)
Rookie Writer of the Year
Dynasty of the Year: May Our Reign Be Green and Golden (CK Dynasty)