damian lillard tyson chandler blazers knicks 2014

This week, several title contenders made key additions to their rosters, the back end of the playoff picture is tightening up and Allen Iverson’s jersey was retired in Philadelphia.

Let’s jump right in to this week’s NBA recap.

Danny Granger Signs With Clippers

danny granger shooting

In recent years the trade deadline has meant disappointment in the deals that were rumored but not completed. Also, as in recent years, our thirst for a shake-up of rosters was satiated by players receiving buyouts or getting straight up waived from their teams in order for those teams to avoid paying the luxury tax among other reasons.

This year, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, Ben Gordon, Jimmer Ferdette and Ronnie Brewer are just a few of the names recently made available.

What makes this year’s buyout/free agent signing season different from those in years past is the number of playoff contending teams that have snatched up players who have a real chance to contribute off the bench.

Two of these transactions were covered in this space last week when Jason Collins signed with the Brooklyn Nets and Glen Davis signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. This week saw the Clippers return to the free agent market to pick up former All-Star Danny Granger.

Granger was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Philadelphia 76ers at the trade deadline in exchange for Evan Turner. The Sixers waived Granger on Wednesday and by Friday the small forward had signed with the Clippers.

Though Granger has seen his game eroded due to injury, he remained a viable option off the bench for coach Frank Vogel this year in Indiana. The ascendance of Paul George in Indiana coupled with Granger’s struggles shooting and with injury limited his role with the Pacers over the last couple of seasons.

In 29 games this year, Granger has seen his numbers improve over the career-low marks he set for himself over the past two years.

While he may never return to the form that earned him a spot on the 2009 All-Star team, Granger has the ability to help a Clippers team that has been in desperate need of help at the small forward spot.

Earlier this season, Doc Rivers brought in both Hedo Turkoglu and Stephen Jackson to play small forward for the Clippers. With a combined age of 69, those two were not getting it done.

Granger has already said that he hopes to compete for a starting spot, but it will take an effort from Granger the likes of which we haven’t seen since Obama’s first term if Granger is to supplant Matt Barnes as the team’s starting small forward.

Regardless of whether or not he starts games, Granger will boost the depth of a Clippers team that expects to contend for a Western Conference crown.

Thunder Sign Caron Butler

caron butler march 2014

Another free agent signing with the potential to make an impact for a contender is Caron Butler to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Prior to signing with OKC, Butler was languishing on a horrendous Milwaukee Bucks team.

The Bucks have been so bad that even though the 76ers have lost 13 in a row, the Bucks a still three and a half games clear of them for the worst record in basketball.

Butler was seeing inconsistent minutes in Milwaukee and coach Larry Drew did the right thing by allowing Butler to move on to greener pastures, so that he can get a look at his young talent(?) and start thinking about next year’s squad.

Butler joins a Thunder team in need of help at the shooting guard position. News broke on Sunday that starting guard Thabo Sefolosha will be out 4-6 weeks with a calf injury.

Butler will have a shot to compete for the starting shooting guard spot with second-year man Jeremy Lamb, who has been coming off the bench for the Thunder this season.

However Butler gets his minutes, his veteran leadership and tough-nosed defense will only help a Thunder team that has championship aspirations.

Grizzlies, Cavaliers Making Late Playoff Push


Saturday night, the Grizzlies were able to overcome a 13-point third quarter Cleveland lead to best the Cavaliers, 110-96. It was a matchup of two teams headed in the right direction with lots to play for coming down the stretch.

Both teams are currently sitting outside of the playoffs in their respective conferences, but both have reason to believe things can break their way.

The Grizzlies were dealt a blow when starting center Marc Gasol was sidelined with a knee injury in November. Without their All-Star center, the Grizzlies struggled near the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 16-19 on Jan. 10.

However, since Gasol’s return to the lineup the Grizzlies have returned to the form that carried them all the way to the Western Conference Finals last year.

Since Jan. 12, when Gasol returned the Grizzlies have posted a phenomenal 17-6 record and currently sit one game back of the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot.

The Suns have faltered as of late going 15-13 since Eric Bledsoe was shelved due to injury. With Bledsoe expected to return to the Phoenix lineup in the next week or two, the Grizzlies will need to employ all their cagey veteran moves to climb the standings.

In Cleveland, the Cavs are optimistic that the addition of Spencer Hawes to their young lineup will help them get over the playoff hump. At 24-37, the Cavs would be about 11 ½ games from the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Lucky for the Cavs, they play in what is this year is called a very depleted Eastern Conference. Their record is good enough to have them only four games out of the playoffs in the East with 21 games to play.

The Cavs have played above .500 basketball since February 1st, going 8-7 in that span. In that same time frame, the team that currently occupies the past playoff slot in the East, the Atlanta Hawks, have gone just 2-10.

If those trends hold, Cleveland could be celebrating it’s first playoff series in the post-LeBron era.

Sixers Retire Allen Iverson's Jersey

allen iverson ceremony march 2014

At halftime of Saturday's game between the Washington Wizards and  76ers, Philadelphia retired Allen Iverson's No. 3 jersey to the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

Iverson was surrounded by friends, family, and former Sixer greats including Moses Malone, Dikembe Mutombo, Theo Ratliff, Gary Payton and former team president Pat Croce.

It was a fitting tribute to the 11-time All-Star, and he looked like he was enjoying every second of it.


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