Michael Jordan will forever have the universal acclaim but when it comes to Chicago’s late 1990s dynasty, Steve Kerr is the player who beats even “His Airness” when it comes to respect.
What an eventful week in the NBA.
Arguably the biggest trade in years occurred this week in the James Harden trade, one that has sent ripples across the rest of the league. However, that is not all that has occurred. From players falling out with their teams much like Harden did, to the effects of COVID still looming large, the NBA season has had no shortage of drama this week.
So, let us see what the major storylines were.
1. James Harden gets his trade wish
In news that every basketball fan has heard of, James Harden was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets in a massive deal that also involved the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
This created the Nets super team, with a trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden sure to frighten the entire NBA. The Rockets gained some valuable pieces towards a rebuild, while the Pacers and Cavs also got some nice pieces.
While it is unclear whether the three will mesh well, with the return of Kyrie Irving seeing the Nets lose to the Cavaliers in their first game as a trio, the Nets will be under the microscope of every NBA analyst, player and fan, as on paper they seem to be the team to beat that does not come from Los Angeles.
2. Wizards COVID woes
As mentioned in previous weeks, the sporting world is still being constantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA has been no stranger to this, with stars such as Michael Porter Jr and Jayson Tatum being diagnosed with the virus throughout the season.
However, no team has been hit harder than the Washington Wizards. The Wizards have missed five games straight due to seven members of their roster having their tests come back as positive, with their game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday also postponed. It comes as a blow to a team who were already struggling during the regular season.
It also leads to further questions about how the league is going to deal with teams such as the Wizards missing so many games, and what that will mean for the rest of the season and coming into the playoffs. Will the team be forced to play their games all at the end of the season? Or will the teams in this scenario have to suffer more back-to-back games due to rescheduling?
3. Kevin Porter Jr told to clean out his locker
In what proved to be a crazy week for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team will now be looking to ship off Kevin Porter Jr after an outburst that left the Cavs staff “disgusted.”
According to the reports from The Athletic, Porter Jr (who has not played this season) was “combative” when he discovered that his locker had been given to newcomer Taurean Prince, and his locker had been moved to the spot near the end of the bench players. Allegedly, the young player threw food and he was confronted by the Cavs GM and coach.
Porter Jr has been out due to personal issues, and it is fair to say that the locker room outburst was not the whole reason why the outburst occurred. Still, Cleveland will now look to trade a promising youngster and it will be interesting to see whether they can acquire anyone of value as other teams are aware of Porter Jr’s outburst.
4. Patty Mills breaks an NBA three-point record
On a brighter note, Australian star Patty Mills was in the news this week after breaking a three-point record. Mills surpassed former team member Manu Ginobili by becoming the player with the most three-pointers off the bench for one team in NBA history.
???????????????????? ????????????????????????????! ????@Patty_Mills is now the all-time leader in three-pointers made off the bench in NBA history with one team after passing @manuginobili earlier today.#ULTRAMoments | #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/xwk1jPKCAO
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 18, 2021
Mills praised Ginobili when discussing the record-breaking with the media, and said he was unaware that he had broken the record.
“I obviously had no idea about it so that’s news to me,” Mills said to the media in a post-game interview. “I think there’s something there in understanding your role and trying to make the most of that opportunity but at the same time remaining true to who you are as a player. Manu was the perfect example of that and how he accepted his role.”
Mills continues to show the sporting world what he has by being one of the best bench players in the league this season with the San Antonio Spurs.
5. Jazz quietly proving themselves to be a force
The Utah Jazz have quietly had a very solid season, with the team finishing the week on a six-game winning streak. Sitting on a 10-4 record and third in the West has led to the Jazz being one of the best teams this season.
Donovan Mitchell has looked good averaging career highs, with the young guard averaging 23.5 PPG and 4.9 APG. Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley have also been good for the team, with the Frenchman averaging 12.2 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 2.7 BPG to help justify his contract extension. Conley has contributed 16.1 PPG and 6.3 APG, providing valuable point guard minutes for the team, with Jordan Clarkson (17.6 PPG) also providing some valuable points production off the bench.
This has been a whole team effort by the Jazz, who are looking good early on. Whether they can maintain the momentum is the next question, but so far this season has been very good to Salt Lake City.