The Brooklyn Nets made a pair of deals involving second-year guards Saturday, bringing in Marquis Teague from the Chicago Bulls while dealing Tyshawn Taylor to the New Orleans Pelicans. Both deals were first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Teague, the No. 29 pick in the 2012 draft, will be a bit of a project for Brooklyn. Without many draft picks in upcoming years, the 20-year-old point guard gives the Nets a previously well-regarded athlete who still has some potential. Teague struggled badly whenever given the shot to crack Chicago's rotation, but his youth is hard to ignore.
In a separate deal, Brooklyn will also trade former second-round pick Tyshawn Taylor and cash considerations to New Orleans for a "future pick," presumably in the second round. Like Teague, Taylor struggled to find a role the past year-plus while competing with veterans.
Durant says MVP talk is "premature"
When you score 54 points in an NBA game in 2014, that's a pretty big deal. On Friday night, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant did just that, eliciting some talk of dethroning LeBron James as the league's MVP this season. It's certainly a discussion worth having, but as Durant tells The Oklahoman, it's a bit early for it:
"It’s premature," Durant countered when asked about the MVP chants. "It’s still early in the season. I try not to think about that type of stuff. Of course, as a player, you would love to win the MVP award. But I can’t think about that. I can’t take my focus off the team. Every day I got to just keep chipping away and keep enjoying the process and we’ll see what happens."
As Darnell Mayberry writes, Durant has broken the 30-point barrier in 23 games this season. He's currently averaging a league-leading 30.6 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the floor, one of the game's rare combinations of volume and efficiency.
Still, to get past LeBron and his monster reputation, Durant will need to keep playing at an incredible level. Don't be surprised if it happens.
Bargnani to Knicks' bench?
New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson is considering removing Andrea Bargnani from the starting lineup as his struggles persist, Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports. Such a development would likely see Carmelo Anthony shift to the starting power forward spot, with another wing taking Bargnani's spot in the lineup.
"That’s a possibility," Woodson said before tipoff on Friday. "I know we were great last year with Melo at [power forward] and Melo hasn’t had an opportunity to play a lot of four this year based on, you know, Bargnani, and having Kenyon and Amar’e. You’ll probably see more four now that those guys are out. Bargnani could possibly come off and back up Tyson at the center spot."
Both Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire are out with injuries, making this a tough time to shake up the rotation, but after three straight losses, Woodson may want to. The Knicks are only 1.5 games out of a playoff spot despite being 10 games below .500.
Since the beginning of December, Bargnani is averaging 12.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from the field and 21 percent from three.
Kobe Bryant to return regardless of Lakers' record
Losses may be piling up for the Los Angeles Lakers, but shooting guard Kobe Bryant will return this season regardless of the team's record. As Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reports, Kobe's comeback isn't contingent on L.A. still being in the playoff race later this year:
"The only thing I can afford to consider is getting better, getting stronger," Bryant said before the Lakers' 107-104 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday. "I can't allow myself to think any other way. I can only think about the next step. To do anything else becomes distracting if you allow yourself, if you give yourself wiggle room to not push yourself as hard as you possibly can. To think about sitting out and this, that and the other, your motivation is all wrong. I refuse to think that way."
After tearing his Achilles last spring, Bryant returned and played six games for the Lakers this season before suffering a knee injury. He averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds while playing 29.5 minutes per contest.
Still, it doesn't appear that sitting the remainder of the season is an option for Kobe. He wants to play.