Cleveland Cavaliers sign Andrew Bogut, lose him indefinitely

It’s hard to make this stuff up. The Cleveland Cavaliers signed Andrew Bogut off the free agent market and then immediately lost him to a fractured tibia. When I say immediately, I mean that in the truest sense of the word as Bogut was injured just one minute into his first game with Cleveland.

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The signing of Bogut was the second big move that the Cavaliers made on the buyout market as they previously added Deron Williams to play point guard. Bogut was expected to shore up the Cavaliers defense which had been waning this season and he also had the added bonus of really irritating his form team in the Finals. Potentially at least. Now? It’s a question as to whether or not he will be back.

LeBron James when asked about the injury had this to say:

”It’s very deflating. It’s a tough moment. We were all excited about the acquisition and bringing him here and him getting some games under his belt before the playoffs. Hopefully, we can hope for the best when he gets the MRI or whatever the case may be. It’s a tough one, obviously for him first of all, and then for our ballclub.”

It’s hard to feel to sorry for the Cavaliers on this one though. The buyout market is the definition of the rich teams getting richer as players who are bought out often find themselves going to the best team out there in a search for a championship ring. Bogut probably could’ve played more minutes in Boston or started for another team, but he decided to go to the team that was most likely to go to the Finals. It’s hard to blame the player for doing that, that’s what any of us would do, but I am not about to feel sorry for the Cavaliers. They are rich enough.

The Cavaliers looked vulnerable for a certain period of time this year and many thought that one of the Celtics/Raptors/Wizards would make a move on them for the top seed in the East, but they seemed to have figured things out and should hold onto that slot. They are still a -325 favorite to win the East. They are still the team to beat.

But there are cracks. The defense has looked terrible, they are 20th in defensive rating and that is something that could come back to haunt them in the playoffs. Lebron James is playing way too many minutes right now and you have to wonder if he’ll have enough gas in the tank to take it to the next level as he did in the Finals last year. There are real questions here.

They are more “Finals questions” than “Eastern Conference questions” though. The loss of Andrew Bogut stinks, but the Cavs won’t change a bit because of it. They’ve lost J.R. Smith and Kevin Love to injury already and are still the best team in the East. The Cavs survive.

The addition of Bogut was like getting a TV that is three inches bigger. It’s great, you love it; but if someone secretly swapped it out for the old smaller one? You probably wouldn’t even notice.

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Kevin Durant to miss at least four weeks

The big news of the day is that Kevin Durant suffered a sprained MCL and a bone bruise on his left leg last night and is considered out indefinitely. The injury will be re-evaluated in four weeks. This is a huge blow to the Warriors, but it is not the end of the world. They have a very comfortable lead in the Western Conference as they are four games up in the standings on the Spurs and should be able to hold court until the season ends in six weeks.

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While this injury will be re-evaluated in four weeks, it’s possible that the Warriors will keep him out until the playoffs. The first round match-up is likely to be no match-up at all and the Warriors are much better making sure that Durant is 100% before bringing him back. This is similar to how the team handled Stephen Curry‘s injury during last year’s playoffs.

To fill the void created by Durant, the team has signed the recently released Matt Barnes to fill in at small forward. Barnes is no Durant replacement, but he is a solid defender and can make an open three pointer when needed. That is all the team needs right now as they also have Andre Iguodala to fill a lot of those minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how often the Warriors “go big” and move Draymond Green down to small forward and filling the power forward and center minutes with some combination of Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney. You could also see Patrick McCaw and Shaun Livingston get some small forward minutes.

This injury did have an unintended consequence as the signing of Barnes cost them signing point guard Jose Calderon who they had been linked to. In the grand scheme of things this move is probably a wash, but another guard who can shoot could’ve helped this team in the playoffs.

I think that there is a certain upside of this injury, at least from a viewer’s perspective as we are likely to see the return of the version of Steph Curry that dominated the league the last two years. While he has had games that have resembled that player, he hasn’t been the night-in, night-out threat that we saw last season simply because he didn’t need to be. Now he does again and that could be very fun to watch. Of course, we’ll also see more offense from Klay Thompson as well and that is also very fun. Draymond Green will also take on a bigger offensive role. Basically, it’s going to be 2015-16 all over again. Back when the Warriors were the best team in the league, but not the juggernaut of the league. At least for a few weeks.

I don’t see this move affecting the Warriors championship odds whatsoever until this injury is re-evaluated in four weeks. With Durant they are not only the favorite, but the presumptive champion of the league and until we learn that he won’t be back it’s silly to speculate that any team will challenge them. While this injury sucks, it’s good for the Warriors that this move happened now and not a week ago at this time. If that were the case, we might have seen a bit more movement at the deadline as one of the Rockets/Jazz/Spurs might have made a move to capitalize on a perceived vulnerability.

As it is now, the Warriors are still -150 at Bovada to win the title and there is no reason to think that is a bad play.

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Orlando Magic trade Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors

The NBA trade season is upon us and the first big name is on the move as Serge Ibaka leaves the Magic to head to Toronto. Yahoo Sports super reporter Adrian Wojnarowski had the scoop (as always):

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This is as close to an all-in move that you will see from Toronto and it certainly puts them in a better position than they were in earlier this week. The Raptors have been losing more than you’d expect from a team of their caliber and Kyle Lowry was giving messages in the media. When asked what need to change he said “I have an idea, but I’m going to keep my mouth shut, keep it very professional.” Which has been taken as a shot at head coach Dwayne Casey most likely because it obviously was.

The addition of Serge Ibaka is huge for them and could solve some of the problems they’ve been having. The starting five for Toronto is great with just the one big hole at power forward. Rookie Pascal Siakam has started in that spot 38 times this year and he hasn’t impressed anyone. They’ve also seen rookie Jakob Poeltl, Patrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira log minutes at power forward. Ibaka is an upgrade over all of them.

While Ibaka’s game is a lot different than it once was during his prime in OKC, he is still a valuable player. His blocks and rebounds are his lowest since his rookie year, but he’s upped his three-point attempts and is scoring at a much higher clip. That works well on this team as Jonas Valanciunas can protect the rim and rebound which will allow Ibaka to help spread the floor. His counting stats could take a hit moving to a much better team, but that should improve his efficiency and he should be better overall here.

The Raptors gave up Terrence Ross in the deal which stings a bit, but is hard to get too upset about with second year player Norman Powell on the bench, dying for more minutes. Powell was a cult hero in the playoffs last season and more minutes for him is not a bad thing at all. Toronto will also send their 2017 first round pick to the Magic which should be in the mid 20s.

Considering that the Magic gave up the 11th pick in last year’s draft plus Victor Oladipo (and Ersan Ilyasova) to acquire Ibaka, this has to be considered a big failure on their part. A worse draft pick, a failed move and the team in worse shape than they were last season is not a good look. Someone could be losing their job over this one. Tyson Ross could flourish in Orlando if they want him to. There is definitely an opportunity for someone to score down there and Ross has shown flashes that he could be a scorer in this league.

This move is all about Toronto though. They’ve recently dropped all the way down to the four/five seed and could have a hard time getting back in the top three thanks to the red hot Celtics and Wizards. They are just 4-6 over their last time and are really hurt by their 14-13 road record. Better times are ahead for them, but for a team that many thought could steal the top seed in the East before the season this has to be considered a disappointment. It’ll be interesting to see how Ibaka fits in the offense with Lowry and DeMar Derozan needing the ball, but it’s not like he’s never been in that role before. He did play behind Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for all those years. This should be a cakewalk compared to that.

As of this writing the Raps are +3500 to win the championship and +1100 to win the Eastern Conference. It was always going to be an uphill climb for them, but this is a lot steeper hill than anyone could’ve expected. Toronto is only four games out of the Atlantic division behind Boston and thus four games out of the second seed. That’s a lot to make up, but they aren’t getting much of a chance. The only division bet that 5Dimes has on the board is this one:

Atlantic Division – Winner
Boston Celtics win Atlantic Div-335
Field wins Atlantic Division+255

Not exactly a big vote of confidence. However, if this trade works out how they expect it to this could be a great value. The Celtics can’t stay this hot forever and better times are ahead for the Raps. Stay tuned.

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