How Will Kevin Love Trade Stack Up Against Recent Blockbuster Moves?

July 29th, 2014 by Grant Hughes No comments »
The consensus is that Kevin Love will be leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves at some point this offseason as part of a blockbuster trade. Unfortunately, that's where certainty on the topic stops. Nobody knows exactly when such a move will happen or how it will take shape. Where is also hazy, as a handful of teams have assets on offer, including the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and, maybe, the Golden State Warriors. The why part is easy: Love wants out. "No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win," Love said on ESPN's Sportsnation in June. "At the end of the day, I've played six years, haven't made the playoffs yet, that burns me and hurts my heart, so I really want to be playing." He's not the first superstar to make that request. We've seen this movie before, and the ending doesn't figure to be satisfying for Minnesota. ...

What Is Kawhi Leonard’s Actual Ceiling with the San Antonio Spurs?

July 29th, 2014 by Fred Katz No comments »
Kawhi Leonard is so close. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in the San Antonio Spurs' five-game gentleman's sweep of the Miami Heat. After three years of teasing us with his all-world ability, we finally saw Leonard break out on the big stage, even if it was just for a week-and-a-half.  Leonard had always been more than just a contributor before the Finals. He simply never put up the gaudy numbers everyone knew he could, after most of the world predicted his stats would blow up in each of the last two years. Still, the third-year pro's numbers remained relatively consistent—finishing the 2013-14 regular season averaging 15.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per 36 minutes, superb considering his defensive prowess but not in the superstar realm. But when you go off for 29 points in Game 3, you're starting to hit that level. When you ...

Why Expectations for Aaron Gordon Should Be Tempered During Rookie Season

July 29th, 2014 by Jonathan Wasserman No comments »
For now, forget about the No. 4 overall label that's attached to Aaron Gordon's profile. Ignore the buzz that's surrounded him since his days as a McDonald's All-American. Feel free to get excited about some jaw-dropping highlight plays—those babies will be there as long as Gordon gets an opportunity.  But if you're looking for a Rookie of the Year contender or a sleeper for your 2014-15 fantasy squad, look somewhere else. Gordon will be turning just 19 years old in September, making him one of the youngest players in the NBA. And at this point, his skill level is too far behind his physical tools and world-class athleticism.  Offensively, that athleticism should translate to a few easy buckets here and there, but it won't be enough to neutralize his lack of offensive polish. He's essentially heading into battle without any weapons—no reliable jumper, one-on-one game or moves to comfortably go to. And it's going to ...

Kevin Durant Says Anthony Davis Is ‘Next in Line’

July 29th, 2014 by Jim Cavan No comments »
It’s no secret the sports brain is hardwired for hierarchy—to understand how and why specific players and teams rank above or below their peers. Heck, the debate is what makes it so fun. But it’s particularly powerful when it’s a player—one of the bona fide best, in fact—who weighs in with his or her own perspective. Following a recent USA Basketball practice, Kevin Durant made it clear who he believes is next in line for the basketball throne: New Orleans Pelicans’ third-year sensation, Anthony Davis. From NBA.com’s Jim Eichenhofer: "I know how good [Davis] is going to be," Durant said. "I know how good he is now, but I know how good he’s going to be. He’s an MVP-caliber player. So he’s next. He’s next in line – a guy that has grown so much in just a year." Durant went on to cite Davis’ offseason work habits as a harbinger of things to come: You ...

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Best Highlight-Makers in the Last Decade

July 29th, 2014 by Steve Silverman No comments »
When a team secures two Stanley Cup championships in the last five seasons and reaches the Western Conference Final in a third season, there's going to be no shortage of highlights. The Chicago Blackhawks are loaded with stars who have provided highlight-film plays in each of their Stanley Cup runs, and while four of the top five highlight producers are still with the team, one departed shortly after the team brought home the sport's top prize in 2010. Here's a look at the top five highlight producers over the last decade. (Reminder: These are not the Blackhawks' five best players, just the producers of some of the most memorable moments.)Begin Slideshow

Ranking Best NBA Stars to Ever Wear No. 23

July 29th, 2014 by Adam Fromal No comments »
In the NBA, few numbers resonate like No. 23.  As soon as you see those two consecutive digits placed right next to each other, it's hard to avoid thinking of a certain Chicago Bulls legend. However, LeBron James is doing what he can to change that, as he's decided to switch back to No. 23 for his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The four-time MVP announced his jersey decision on Instagram, and that got us thinking—who are the best players to ever put on a uniform proudly bearing this famous number?  LeBron and Michael Jordan are certainly two, but how many others can you come up with before clicking through to view the rankings themselves? There have been plenty of Hall of Famers, a few retired jerseys and tons of All-Star appearances made by standouts wearing No. 23, and Basketball-Reference.com shows that—as of the 2014 offseason—206 NBA players have claimed the number throughout ...

Magic Johnson: ‘It Messes Up My Whole Year When the Lakers Are Not Successful’

July 29th, 2014 by Jim Cavan No comments »
Dating back to their 1947 establishment in Minneapolis, the Los Angeles Lakers have won an NBA championship roughly once every four years. There are a couple ways one could process this information. Either such consistent fortunes instills within you, the average Lakers fan, a sense that good days are always around the bend even in the toughest times. Or…what Magic Johnson said: To recap: Magic Johnson—one of the top 5 players to ever spin a Spalding, winner of five NBA championships and three MVP awards, participant in 12 All-Star games, basketball ambassador beloved the world over—had a “messed up” year because the Lakers were kind of crappy. Perspective! It’s possible Johnson spends hours a day fielding pointed questions from angry fans, imbued with accusatory undertones somehow placing blame on Magic himself, about why L.A. hasn’t remained in its rightful place atop the Western Conference. But we kind of doubt it. That said, all is far from well ...

Comparing the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2014-15 Roster to the 2009 Stanley Cup Squad

July 29th, 2014 by Franklin Steele No comments »
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now five years removed from their last Stanley Cup championship. That would be good news for franchises like the Toronto Maple Leafs or St. Louis Blues, organizations that have gone the better part of 40 years without an appearance in the Cup Final. For the Penguins, however, this half-decade streak has been viewed as a total failure. That's the breaks when you employ two of the top 10 players in the NHL. When the team won the Cup in 2009, the average age of players on the roster was 26, as per Hockey-Reference.com. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang were all just starting to scratch the surface of their prime playing years, and there seemed to be a dynasty evolving before our very eyes. Five years is a long time in professional sports, and climbing to the top of the NHL's mountain is a brutal and challenging task—one that ...

Who’s Winning Tyler Seguin Trade After One Year: Dallas Stars or Boston Bruins?

July 29th, 2014 by Jonathan Willis No comments »
Few trades in recent memory have been as jaw-droppingly awesome as the seven-player blockbuster last July between the Dallas Stars and the Boston Bruins. An honest-to-God hockey trade that was headlined by emerging star Tyler Seguin and long-time stalwart Loui Eriksson, the deal provided the kind of drama that most NHL moves lack: huge risk, massive reward, high-end talent and a surprisingly long list of players moving in both directions. The deal was notable, too, for its authors. On the one side, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is well-established as one of the league’s best; Boston won the 2011 Stanley Cup and has been perhaps the most dominant team in the Eastern Conference over the last half-decade. On the other side, Jim Nill was a newcomer prior to the trade but a highly respected hockey mind who had served a long apprenticeship with the always impressive Detroit Red Wings. It was certainly the kind ...

Is Thaddeus Young Key to Minnesota Timberwolves Completing Kevin Love Trade?

July 29th, 2014 by Zach Buckley No comments »
The Minnesota Timberwolves have enjoyed a front row seat for every second of Kevin Love's NBA brilliance. They know as well as anyone this league doesn't have a carbon copy of the sweet-shooting double-double machine. That's perhaps why this summer's biggest "Love affair" has rarely included mention of a potential replacement. With Love anxiously awaiting his inevitable exit, the Timberwolves have searched through the trade market for the best players available, with wings Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson reportedly sitting atop their wish list. Of course, when Love does receive his ticket out of town, the Timberwolves will need someone to fill his spot in president-coach Flip Saunders' rotation. And it appears that someone could be Philadelphia 76ers swingman Thaddeus Young, a solid starter on a team that has no need for such a player at the moment. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Timberwolves have started exploring the possibility of bringing in ...