Sports Corner

By: Rob Bishop

Back again, and veteran Andre Iguodala, who has been sitting out all season following a summer deal that sent him to the Grizzlies, was dealt by Memphis to the Miami Heat on Thursday. Iguodala will join an upstart Heat team that has been thriving behind a superstar showing from Jimmy Butler, veteran contributions from guard Goran Dragic, and a collection of young, untested talent. Given his excellent career and storied postseason play, Iguodala is a perfect fit for Miami under any circumstance. Add in that Miami sacrificed nothing of note from its roster, while also somehow shedding salary for next season, and this is a massive off-court victory for the Heat.

For the Grizzlies, in addition to taking on salary for next season in the form of role players James Johnson and Dion Waiters, Memphis landed talented but oft-injured wing Justise Winslow. When healthy, Winslow is a solid player and a perfect fit for Memphis’s style of play. His health remains a big factor, however. Winslow has been limited to 11 games this season, and his availability in the short-term is up in the air. The Grizzlies, currently in eighth place in the West and in the midst of a two-game winning streak, will be in action tonight against the 76ers in Philadelphia. 

In one of the more thrilling games of the season, the Toronto Raptors were able to run its winning streak to a cool 12 games with a hard-fought win over the Indiana Pacers. Despite being outscored by 25 points during the second quarter, Toronto held firm and managed to defeat the Pacers in regulation. Point guard Kyle Lowry finished with 32 points, 10 dimes, and eight boards, while Serge Ibaka put up a season-best 30 points. The success of the Raptors continues to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the season. Toronto will look to make it 13 in a row tonight in a rematch against the Pacers.

Utah and Denver met for the second time in a week on Wednesday, and the rematch did not disappoint. In a back-and-forth showdown between two playoff-bound Western Conference foes, it was Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic who ended up finishing the contest 30-point, 21-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, his eleventh triple-double of the season. Perhaps the only lingering concern for Denver’s title hopes is the continued struggles of guard Gary Harris Jr., who managed to go 0-for-13 from the field against the Jazz. Now that Denver has dealt Malik Beasley, the Nuggets will need Harris to figure things out to maintain claim to being a threat to emerge from the Western Conference.

With a loss on Wednesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to a distasteful 15-35 on the season. Big man Karl-Anthony Towns continues to shine on the stat sheet, but his frustration with his team’s futility continues to manifest within his effort during games. On multiple occasions on Wednesday, Towns wasn’t even visible in-frame during Minnesota’s offensive possessions, and his play on the defensive end continues to be a major issue. Towns has not be part of a Minnesota win since November 27, a staggering fact considering his individual talent level. He will look to end his personal 17-game losing streak tomorrow night against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.

In a bit of surprising move, despite rumors, the Timberwolves were able to land some support for Towns prior to Thursday’s deadline. In a deal that will send Andrew Wiggins to the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota landed guard D’Angelo Russell. Obviously, this is a major move for Minnesota as Russell is an ideal complement to Towns on the offensive end, and the Wolves managing to rid Wiggins’s massive contract is a huge plus for the franchise. Adding Russell won’t suddenly vault Minnesota back into contention in the West, but it should go a long way to pushing the franchise back to being respectable, and it should also ease the brewing frustration within Towns. 

As for the Warriors, the move is a clear sign the team doubted Russell’s ability to play alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Easily a better player than Wiggins, Russell was simply a poor fit for the best version of Golden State. Now, Wiggins can operate as a secondary option for Golden State, and Warriors have to be optimistic that the former top overall draft pick can blossom as a scorer free from the pressure of his draft status in Minnesota. Golden State has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to personnel moves, but without Wiggins taking a step forward, it is tough to see this move as a win for the Warriors, especially considering he is only two years into a five-year, $148 million deal.

Right at the deadline, news began to surface of an unexpected move that saw the Cleveland Cavaliers acquire center Andre Drummond from the Detroit Pistons. Cleveland gave up next-to-nothing to acquire Drummond, who is a stat-stuffing force with questions surrounding his place within the modern NBA. There is also cause to question his fit with the Cavaliers, who continue to employ Tristan Thompson. However, given the cost was minimal, and there is an outside chance this allows the team to retain Drummond, who has a player-option for next season, while moving on from Thompson. On Detroit’s end of things, the less said about the current state of the Pistons, the better.