Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 2:30 PM
NBA NEWS/NOTES IN THE JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT - BACK FROM THE ALL-STAR GAME BREAK ON THURSDAY WITH THE BIG TRADE DEADLINE LOOMING
COLLEGE HOOPS UPDATE & MAJOR-LEAGUE BASEBALL'S EARLY-BIRD WINS TOTALS
It was all lots of laughs from the NBA family last weekend in Toronto - dunks all around, Kobe Bryant tributes all over the place and (what else is new) an absolutely ridiculous All-Star Game with 369 total points scored.
BTW, we saw an early totals price there of 310 and so it only went "over" by 59 points!
Now, it's time to get back down to the business at hand with teams coming back from the break beginning with Thursday night's TNT twin-bill of Chicago at Cleveland and San Antonio at the Los Angeles Clippers - along with the makeup-game between the Utah Jazz at the Washington Wizards (see snow postponement back on Jan. 23rd) -- and what many hoop fans want to know is how different will their teams be following the Thursday afternoon 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Folks, it's all about matching up salaries when you make a deal in the NBA and so you certainly need your accountant sitting next to your general manager at all times - but here's some moves we'd like to see done providing the NBA teams can come close to matching dollar-for-dollar:
Would love to see the Miami Heat acquire C Dwight Howard from Houston as part of a multi-player package deal. Howard - no doubt a major malingerer when he wants to be - could be a real missing puzzle piece to go with All-Star Dwyane Wade. Remember there is concern now over the health of F Chris Bosh (more blood clot fears) and so team prez Pat Riley may be pressed to add a star to the lineup. Put Howard in the mix and get Bosh back in full health and - trust us - the Heat will either beat Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals or at least make 'em go seven tough games.
Everyone's talking about Boston Celtics' GM Danny Ainge and where he's gonna turn prior to the trade deadline but Jim Sez insiders swear most of the league's general managers don't want to deal with Ainge (some of it is personal, some of it is not) but we won't be surprised if the Celtics acquire either All-Star F Al Horford from Atlanta or perhaps Denver rebounding maven Kenneth Faried. Both are high on the Boston shopping list this week.
P.S., we don't see Cleveland F Kevin Love getting shipped to Beantown nor do we believe the Cavaliers will move Love at the trade deadline despite the fact they'll likely field half-a-dozen swap offers including some expected potential deals with the LA Clippers.
Believe it or not, we could see a handful of "name players" getting shipped from their current teams and we'll begin by saying the Los Angeles Clippers would love to deal injured F Blake Griffin and there could be significant interest from the Toronto Raptors and/or the Chicago Bulls.
Meanwhile, we don't believe Houston G James Harden is a lead-pipe cinch to sit still here at the deadline - if Chicago tosses in a draft pick or two with some bodies, then Harden could be bound for the Second City. The folks in Houston are hinting around that it already may be time to "break it all down" here.
Three other "name players" from the West to keep an eye out for:
Minnesota PG Ricky Rubio, PG Brandon Knight and Denver F Danilo Gallinari - look for one or two of these guys to be part of a three-team deal with our sources claiming Rubio could wind up with the New York Knicks and Gallinari could be Indiana-bound. Other potential landing sites for Rubio and/or Knight include Milwaukee where sources say the Bucks are not happy with PG Michael Carter-Williams.
THE COLLEGE HOOPS UPDATE
Hey, we're at the time of the season where folks start to wonder aloud how the Top 4 seeds in each region of the NCAA Tournament would look and so let's get you our Jim Sez opinion and let y'all know we'll provide this service every week till we get to the start of this year's "Big Dance" ... as they say, it's for "entertainment purposes only"! Note that we're also including the Sweet 16/Elite 8 sites for each of the four regions:
EAST - at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia (PA)
Villanova, Iowa State, Iowa and Miami
The #5 Seed - Notre Dame
Comment: Keep in mind the 'Nova Wildcats are eligible to play on this floor in Philly because they only played three regular-season games here (folks, it's a cinch if Jay Wright's club is a numero uno seed, it is staying home for the tourney with the first two rounds in Brooklyn).
MIDWEST - at United Center, Chicago (IL)
Kansas, Virginia, Purdue and Kentucky
The #5 Seed -- Duke
Comment: If Kansas (22-4) runs the table from here to Selection Sunday, then the Jayhawks will be the overall top seed in this year's NCAA Tournament but they may well have to beat either Kentucky or Duke to get into the Elite 8.
SOUTH - at KFC Yum Center, Louisville (KY)
Oklahoma, Oregon, Maryland and Xavier
The #5 Seed -- Texas
Comment: Unless you're a "hater" you'd love to see Oklahoma G Buddy Hield make a run towards the Final Four in his final go-around but we've got a feeling this region could be really sticky for Lon Kruger's kids as some SEC tough guys could wind up here (see Texas A&M and/or Florida).
WEST - at Honda Center, Anaheim (CA)
North Carolina, Michigan State, Arizona and West Virginia
The #5 Seed - Utah
Comment: Sometimes it's a good thing to get moved from your geographical area and we could see positives for North Carolina and/or Michigan State to "moving out". If you believe the NCAA Tourney folks wish to keep some West Coasters "home" then expect USC, Cal and maybe even Gonzaga (a bubble bunch right now) to stick around and play in the early rounds at Denver and Spokane.
THE BASEBALL UPDATE
Hey, Major-League Baseball Spring Training opens up in Florida and Arizona all this week/weekend and so – just so we all feel a bit warmer – here's our first look at the Over/Under Wins Totals with quick-hitter comments for all 30 big-league teams:
|San Francisco||90||Are RHPs Cueto/Samardzija enough to fend off LA & Arizona?|
|Chi Cubs||89||No excuses for the Cubbies in 2016 as Maddon's club is loaded|
|NY Mets||88||Will the young hurlers have innings "hangover" after getting to WS?|
|St. Louis||87.5||If C Molina plays just 110-to-115 games, we say that's not enough|
|Kansas City||87||Royals are MLB's best team but need an arm and could get one in July|
|LA Dodgers||87||Loss of RHP Greinke to 'Zona a killer; when does OF Puig produce?|
|Pittsburgh||87||Pirates keep knocking on the door and another wild card awaits|
|Toronto||87||The Jays scored 891 runs last year, could do again|
|Washington||87||Let's see new/old manager Baker work his magic here|
|Texas||86||Will run away with AL West if righty Darvish is healthy|
|Boston||85.5||Why so quick to christen the Red Sox as AL East champs?|
|Houston||85.5||No taking anyone by surprise this year but team needs a 3rd starter|
|Detroit||85||Will RHP Verlander give 'em 30+ starts and can offense stay healthy?|
|NY Yankees||85||Starting rotation is pretty creaky but bullpen's for the ages|
|Arizona||84.5||D-Backs are the "hot side" in the NL West, but not prime time yet|
|Cleveland||84||If Kluber is 20-game winner, watch out for the Tribe|
|Seattle||83||Healthy 2B Cano could make M's 90-win team|
|LA Angels||82.5||Trout will get his 30 HR, 100 RBI, 100 RS, but so what?|
|Baltimore||80.5||Birds better snag another arm ... or else it's a long year|
|Chi W. Sox||80.5||Manager Ventura on instant hot seat, new 3B Frazier could save 'em|
|Miami||80.5||Fish a real on-the-rise team but will the pen hold up?|
|Tampa Bay||78||Looks like "over" to us with revived rotation and no expectations|
|Minnesota||77.5||Tough to be .500 in this rough-and-tumble division|
|Oakland||75.5||Mix-and-match team that has does sport ace RHP Gray|
|San Diego||74||No-name Pods need an offensive jolt in a bad way|
|Milwaukee||71.5||Is it time to deal RF Braun for some arms?|
|Cincinnati||71||1B Votto/2B Phillips still on board, so Reds ain't dead yet|
|Atlanta||65||Won't be surprised if Braves lose 105-110 games|
|Colorado||68.5||Rockies will be last in MLB team ERA, again|
|Philadelphia||66.5||Don't sleep on these young Phils, they could surprise|
NOTE: Lots more basketball action in the next edition of Jim Sez.