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Phoenix Suns agree to Blockbuster deal with Orlando Magic
Aiming to bolster their chances this season, the Phoenix Suns made their first big move this year when they struck a deal with the re-tooling Orlando Magic squad on Sunday 18 December.
The Suns, who are still in the process of adjusting after losing Amar’e Stoudemire during the offseason, acquired eight-time all-star guard Vince Carter, defensive specialist Mickael Pietrus, center Marcin Gortat, and a first-round draft pick in exchange for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and second-year forward Earl Clark.
“This transaction helps us now and in the future,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said in the team’s official statement. “While it is difficult to see players like Jason, Hedo and Earl depart; we are excited to welcome Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus. Marcin addresses our need for more size, rebounding and defensive presence. Vince and Mickael will be dynamic in our offense and improve our perimeter defense.”
Although he admitted that trading away Richardson, Turkoglu, and Clark was a difficult decision, Babby believes that the deal would benefit the team and will greatly address their lack of size and their poor defense, which has caused some struggles for them this season.
“Carter and Pietrus give us a great defensive presence on the perimeter and they should be extremely dynamic offensively,” Babby said. “And, of course, I think we all recognize that we had a need here for an increased interior presence, size and rebounding. And Gortat is really someone that we've had our eye on since we got here.”
The deal, which was the first major move made by the Suns new front office tandem of Babby and general manager Lance Blanks, also produced speculations that Phoenix will start revamping their roster and dealing two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash would be the next big move that the Suns will look for.
However, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver reiterated that they have no plans of dealing Nash and they would not even entertain trade proposals for their backcourt general, who is averaging MVP-like numbers this season: 17.5 points and 10.2 assists in 23 games this season.
“This deal has nothing to do with trading Nash,” Sarver said in an ESPN interview. “We have no intention to trade him.”
Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith, on the other hand, said that the deal would improve their team after struggling this month, dropping six of their last 10 games, while witnessing their Eastern Conference rivals, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, racked up 12 consecutive wins each.
“We’re very excited to welcome these three players to our family,” Smith said. “Richardson is a tremendous athlete who runs the floor, can shoot the ball and loves to compete. We’re obviously familiar with Hedo. He is a great shooter and is a player that has flourished in our system. We liked Clark in the draft a few years ago, and he will help fortify our frontcourt.”
The Magic also acquired Gilbert Arenas in a separate deal that sent sharp-shooting forward Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards, proving that they are dead serious in contending for a title this season.
“We needed a little bit more punch,” general manager Smith said. “All those guys coming in have an ability to move the ball. After looking at our team through 25 games, we were missing a little something. I thought change was needed.”
The Suns and the Magic, who both sit in the middle of the standings of their respective conferences, are expected to improve with the deals that they have made, providing a serious threat to their conference rivals.
After this deal the Magic are +700 to win the Eastern Conference championship according to Sportsbook.com. Are you betting on them? Get over to sportsbook.com and get into the betting action today.
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Houston Rockets center Yao Ming out for the season
After making his much-awaited return this season from an injury, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming absorbed another setback and will be out for the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in his left ankle that also caused him to miss the entire season last year, much to the disappointment of NBA betting.
Yao, who averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game this season, has been sidelined since November 10, but the Rockets team training staff didn’t immediately discovered that Yao sustained a stress fracture that was related to his previous injury.
Rockets head coach Rick Adelman was saddened with the news, saying that they were excited to have Yao back in their fold. Adelman also added that they were planning to give Yao more minutes after limiting him to less than 24 minutes early in the season, which was a plan to prevent Yao from absorbing another stress fracture injury.
“It's just really sad, and you have to really feel for him because he's worked so hard to come back and then to have this happen,” Adelman said. “He was talking about getting out to play pretty soon, and now to get the news, you really feel for him and feel for our team.”
The Rockets team physician Walter Lowe said that they are still weighing their options, but having a surgery that would need 10 months of recovery period is on top of their list. Lowe also pointed out that the surgery Yao had last year was not a fluke because Yao has been prone to stress fracture for his entire career.
“When you look at the course of Yao's career, stress fractures have been part of his foot,” Lowe said. “So to say he's not at a risk to continue to have stress fractures would be crazy. So he is at a continued risk. The new position of his foot should make those stresses lower.”
The new stress fracture injury that Yao sustained could put his career in jeopardy, but Rockets general manager Daryl Morey remains optimistic that Yao would eventually recover again from the injury and help them in the future.
“We need to continue to talk to the doctors and see where that goes,” Morey said. “Yao Ming's an All-Star center and when you look throughout the league there's not very many of them. So if it looks like there's a good prognosis here and we're still learning how good that prognosis will be, for sure we're going to look at Yao Ming past this season.”
The Chinese superstar center is in the final year of the contract he signed in 2005, and GM Morey is not disclosing the possibility of dealing Yao to another team, although he prefers to make a move later in the season or next summer. Despite losing their starting center, Morey is still confident that they can still make the Playoffs, although it would be a tough goal to reach after winning in only 12 of their first 27 games this season.
“We still feel like we're a team that can make the playoffs this season,” Morey said. “We feel like we're fighting with about four or five other teams for maybe the seven, eight seed this season. I know our guys in the locker room aren't writing the season off. I know I'm not. I know coach Rick Adelman isn't. We still think this can be a great season.”
Yao Ming will be a big loss for the Rockets this season and without him, reaching the Playoffs this season will be a difficult task for them, unless their big men like Jordan Hill and Luis Scola will have a drastic improvement this season.
With Yao out the Rockets have dropped to +7500 to win the Western Conference championship this season according to Sportsbook.com. As an NBA bettor are you wagering on the Rockets this season? Get over to Sportsbook.com the home of NBA betting and get into the action today.
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah out for two months
The improving Chicago Bulls squad absorbed a major blow to their campaign after starting center and team’s rebounding leader Joakim Noah underwent thumb surgery that will sideline him for eight to ten weeks this season.
Noah, who is averaging 14 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this season, injured his thumb in their game against the Sacramento Kings on 27 November, but he was able to play through it, which could have aggravated the injury. The 25-year-old center also tore ligaments in his right ring finger and right index finger, but the Bulls training staff said that no surgery is needed to repair the tore ligaments.
Without Noah, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said that the team will have to make a huge adjustment and signing a big man as a short-term solution is possible, although he prefers to stick with the talents that they have in their fold.
“Obviously it affects us,” said Forman on losing Noah. “Not only from a statistical standpoint with his points and rebounds, but the energy that he brings. He'll still be around the team. But in the short term it's a blow.”
The Bulls, who are starting to play well since Carlos Boozer returned from a hand injury, will have to rely on their reserve big men to fill in Noah’s role, although Forman knows that the energy Noah brings inside the court would be sorely missed by the team.
However, Forman is confident that their reserve big men like Taj Gibson, Turkish rookie center Omer Asik, and veteran big man Kurt Thomas would give them a boost and continue to perform well this season.
“We'll go with what we have. We do think we have some depth,” Forman said. “Taj has stepped in, obviously in the past and done a very good job. I think it's an opportunity for guys. It's an opportunity for Omer to play some. Kurt Thomas, even a year ago when he was with Milwaukee found himself in this type of situation.”
Gibson, who started for the Bulls early in the season when Boozer was still recovering from a hand surgery, would take Noah’s spot in the starting lineup, but his entry could mean that Boozer should start at the center spot, which would definitely give them a size disadvantage.
“His presence,” said Boozer when asked what they would miss with Noah out of the lineup. “His presence defensively. I think he clogs up the middle so good for us. He blocks shots. He rebounds. Does a great job of putting pressure on the defense.”
Bulls superstar point guard Derrick Rose also expressed his frustration saying that Noah is the “heart and soul” of the team because of the intangibles he brings day in and day out. He also admitted that none of their remaining big men could fill in the role of Noah.
“Energy,” said Rose when asked about the difference of having and not having Noah inside the court. “Of course, you know, rebounding, just almost everything. He puts a lot into the game. Little things like passing, him talking, things like that.”
Despite losing Noah, Rose is still confident that they would continue to play well as long as they would stay focused. He also added that Gibson and Asik should have great confidence in themselves and the former rookie of the year believes that both of them would be up to the challenge.
“The guys that are coming in like Taj and Omer and all them that's coming in, they got to be ready to ball,” Rose said. “We got to get their confidence up high. They've at least got to put forth the effort that he put up every game. That's going to be a lot on them, but I think they can bear it.”
The Bulls will definitely be a different team with Noah out of the lineup, but with the talent that they have and by having two superstars in their fold, Rose and Boozer, the Bulls remain a formidable team and would still be a threat to teams like the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
With Noah out the Chicago Bulls are xxx to win the Eastern Conference championship according to the Basketball Odds at sportsbook.com. Are you betting on the Bulls? Head over to sportsbook.com and get into the NBA betting action today.
ATLANTA HAWKS (13-8) at ORLANDO MAGIC (15-5)
Sportsbook.com using Orlando -6.5 &188
Only eight players were active for the Magic in their 96-85 loss in Milwaukee, as Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus were home with a stomach virus. Ryan Anderson was also out with a sprained foot. The 11-point loss to the Bucks snapped a six-game winning streak for the Magic.
Howard, Nelson and Pietrus also missed Friday's 104-91 win at Detroit, and they remain day-to-day. Redick missed Friday's game and Tuesday's win over Chicago. Anderson is listed as doubtful for Monday.
Howard won't want to miss his third straight game, especially given his success against the Hawks. He's averaged 22.0 points and 16.8 rebounds against Atlanta the past six meetings and is at 21.3 PPG, 12.1 RPG and 2.4 BPG for the season. In a Nov. 8 home win over the Hawks, 93-89, he scored 27 points and pulled down 11 boards.
The Magic have five players who are scoring in double-digits this season. Vince Carter is second on the team in scoring (15.4 PPG), while Jameer Nelson is third with 14.9 PPG and a team-best 7.1 APG.
Carter scored 19 points against Atlanta in the season's first meeting, hitting 8-of-12 from the field.
The Hawks are having their own health problems as Joe Johnson will remain out for at least a month. Johnson (17.1 PPG, 5.2 APG) is sidelined four-to-six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery this past Thursday. He scored 23 in the early-November loss at Orlando.
The Hawks lost at Miami on Saturday, 89-77, which ended a five-game winning streak and gave them their third road loss in 10 games (7-3 SU and ATS).
Al Horford (16.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG) scored 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting, but the rest of the team was held to 31.9% FG. Horford had 16 points, five rebou*nds and five assists in the first meeting between the two teams.
Johnson and Horford are two of six players who are averaging double-figures in scoring for Atlanta. Josh Smith (14.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG), Jamal Crawford (14.0 PPG), Mike Bibby (10.3 PPG) and Marvin Williams (10.1 PPG) are the other.
The November loss marked Atlanta's sixth straight defeat in Orlando. The Hawks haven't won on the road against the Magic since a 99-85 victory on Oct. 29, 2008. The Magic swept four games from the Hawks in the 2010 playoffs, winning by an average of 25.3 points.
Including this postseason matchup, the Magic are 11-2 SU (10-3 ATS) against the Hawks over the past three seasons.
79% of action at Sportsbook.com is banking that Orlando will continue their success against the Hawks by winning and covering the spread.
Play On - Favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points (ORLANDO) - off a road loss by 10 points or more, good team, winning 60-75% or more of their games on the season. (239-157 since 1996.) (60.4%, +66.3 units. Rating = 2*).
Ten of the past 13 meetings have finished Under the Total, but this trend thinks the Over.
Play Over - Any team (ORLANDO) - off a road loss against opponent off an embarrassing road loss scoring less than 80 points. (74-36 over the last 5 seasons.) (67.3%, +34.4 units. Rating = 2*).