Trans. Feb 10 10:14 ET (Feb 10 10:14 ET ) Flash back to March 25, the night that John Wall solidified himself as a max player. He put up a career-high 47 points against the Memphis Grizzlies, a defensive-minded bunch who would make a run to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Wizards won 107-94, but it came at Verizon Center. He played with four starters -- Garrett Temple, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Emeka Okafor -- who are no longer starters.
The Scoop:Okafor may not see the court this season, but his contract could play a large part in the Suns acquiring Pau Gasol. In the rumored swap, the Lakers would take on Okafor's expiring $14.5 million contract in exchange for Gasol as they attempt to gain some salary relief. Fantasy owners don't need to concern themselves with what happens to Okafor, but he could still play a part in what might be the biggest trade before the deadline.
COMMENTARY | A potential deal that would send Pau Gasol to the Phoenix Suns is in the works. If the deal can indeed be made, it would be a match made in heaven for the Suns on a number of different levels. Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported the potential deal, which is based around the Suns sending Emeka Okafor's expiring contract to the Los Angeles Lakers for Gasol. Although Gasol makes more, the Suns have the room to pick up the extra salary this season.
COMMENTARY | If you know anything about general manager Ryan McDonough, you know he's got his line wide open to listen for any trade possibilities in order to improve the Phoenix Suns. While they've already got a glut of draft picks, they also have some valuable expiring contracts to work with. Let's take a look at some trades the Suns could consider: Suns acquire Kevin Love, Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved from Minnesota Timberwolves for Goran Dragic, Emeka Okafor and three first-round draft picks
Just how good is Kendall Marshall, and did the Wizards make a mistake in not finding a way to retain the point guard when they orchestrated a trade with the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat? Marshall, who was released along with Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee, signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.The Lakers are in dire need of help with injuries to guards Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake. The Wizards wanted another center because Emeka Okafor had a disk injury in his neck and was out indefinitely.
Marcin Gortat is rightfully looked upon as a season-saver for the 2013-14 Washington Wizards. With Emeka Okafor going down for an indefinite amount of time during training camp with a herniated disc, the Wizards badly needed someone to plug the middle for a team that was hoping to go all in for a playoff berth. For the price of a first round pick, the team was able to send Okafor’s expiring contract to a rebuilding Phoenix Suns squad for Gortat’s services.
Yes, the “rebuilding” Suns currently have a better record than Washington – BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that Gortat has been playing terrific basketball for the Wizards after a bit of a let-down 2012-13 campaign. The big man is averaging 13.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, alongside 1.6 blocks in 34 minutes a contest. This is only the beginning, too, as Gortat and point guard John Wall develop their pick and dive game after missing out on a full training camp and exhibition season together.
Actually, the real point is that Gortat and his father Janusz have kind of a weird chemistry of their own. The elder Gortat was a bronze medalist light-heavyweight boxer for Poland during the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, which is part of the reason why Marcin has a bit of a pugnacious spirit. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise documented their back and forth recently :
Our friends over at Bullets Forever posed this question on Thursday: What should the Wizards do with Trevor Ariza? The premise is simply whether the Wizards should take advantage of the small forward's rising value following his strong start by dealing him and his expiring contract. BF provided the details, including that Ariza is draining 3-pointers (a staggering 57 percent from the corners), that the Wizards defense is statistically better when the lengthy forward is on the court, but that he also plays the same position as Otto Porter and essentially Martell Webster. The simple answer is no. For now and likely for good, that window has closed, though I admit to thinking Ariza could have been dealt during the offseason, preseason or when Emeka Okafor went down. If the Wizards were out of the playoff mix or fighting just for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, then we could talk.
WAKING UP with the Wizards, who shoot around Friday morning before playing the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). Suggesting he should be cut or have been the one traded instead of Emeka Okafor are beyond silly, as if the Wizards would be better off with such a glaring vacancy in an 82-game season and that there's a plethora of quality big men available around the league. But the Wizards are pot-committed at this point. And now that they have another scoring option in the low post with Marcin Gortat, the Brazilian doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting on the offensive end.
The Scoop:It's unclear when he'll be able to make his Phoenix debut.
Oct 30 1:16 ET
News (various sources)
Goran Dragic wins the NBA's 2013-14 Most Improved Player award (Ball Don't Lie) (8 Hours Ago | courtesy: Ball Don't Lie) If the Coach of the Year award is so tough to vote for because there are so many deserving candidates, the Most Improved Player award is equally as vexing because the criteria for the award is debatable at best and vague at worst. The hardware usually goes to a performer who jumps from pretty good to great in the span of a season, but not before writers and fans debate endlessly about who should be included in the consideration for the process.
Are second-year players expected to improve, allowed to be in the mix? What about a player who makes the jump from lousy to serviceable – certainly no marquee name, but still making a bigger jump than someone who rounds into an All-Star. What about MVP-level players like Kevin Durant; should they be penalized for starting off at too high a stratum?
That’s why I always fall back on just voting for a literal “most improved player,” whether that be someone like Durant, someone like little-noticed second-year big man Miles Plumlee of Phoenix, or the 2013-14 NBA Most Improved Player, Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic.
Dragic was left off a loaded Western All-Star squad last winter, and his 48-win Suns just missed making a just-as-loaded Western playoff bracket, so in many ways this feels like a tidy reward of sorts for the Slovenian hybrid guard. Dragic, who turns 28 in May, upped his scoring average by 5.6 points per game to 20.8, despite playing just two more minutes in comparison to 2012-13. His assists dropped, as new addition Eric Bledsoe handled some point guard duties, and his rebounding, steal and block rates stayed about the same.
The guard’s turnover percentage somehow dropped significantly in 2013-14, though. And most importantly, Dragic’s shooting numbers spiked considerably – from just under 45 percent in 2012-13 to more than 50 percent this year, and from well below average at 31.8 percent from behind the arc last season to a stellar 40 percent in his award-winning season.
All this from a player who during Wednesday’s award ceremony claimed he “didn’t have the time” to work on his shooting during the 2013 offseason.
This is indeed a comment on the changing Suns culture. The team went through two coaches last season and dumped general manager Lance Blanks after a 25-win campaign. New GM Ryan McDonough waived Michael Beasley, traded role players for a stud in Bledsoe, and earned two starters (Gerald Green, the aforementioned Miles Plumlee) and a first round pick in a deal for Luis Scola. He also hired rookie head coach Jeff Hornacek, who somehow turned what was supposed to be a rebuilding Suns team into a playoff contender, finishing tied for the 11th-best record in the league.
Hornacek described Dragic’s style as “fearless” on Wednesday, and that’s probably the best way to describe one of the NBA’s most entertaining players. Goran’s lefty drives and finishes in the paint (often off the wrong foot) made him a League Pass must-watch, and there’s no doubt the improving Suns will be rewarded with several nationally televised games in 2014-15.
Whether they’ll be rewarded with a playoff berth is anyone’s guess, as that Western Conference depth isn’t going anywhere. Still, behind Hornacek’s second-place finish in the Coach of the Year voting and Dragic’s new hardware, this is a nice holdover after a season that didn’t end how Phoenix had hoped.
Indiana guard Lance Stephenson finished second overall in the voting, Pelicans big man Anthony Davis and Suns teammate Gerald Green nabbed the second-most amount of first-place votes and finished third and fourth respectively, and Clippers center DeAndre Jordan rounded out the top five.
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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops More...