On the NBA Beat Ep. 2.21: Dan Devine: Pelicans’ “Bully Ball” Could Take Toll on Warriors in Postseason (Trade Deadline Special)

Less than 24 hours before the NBA’s annual trade deadline, Yahoo! Sports NBA editor Dan Devine (Ball Don’t Lie) fits us into his busy schedule. Dan breaks down the league’s biggest trades to date (chief among them, this past weekend’s DeMarcus Cousins deal), hints at what may be on the horizon and touches upon the Clippers’ postseason prospects and two dark-horse contenders in the Rockets and Wizards. He even provides a glimpse into New Orleans cuisine. What a guy! What a show!  

7:57 – 9:15: Dan explores how the DeMarcus Cousins acquisition will likely affect the Pelicans’ position in the race for the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed:

“Adding Boogie to the lineup, giving them that core three with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, gives them, from a talent perspective, maybe the best core that you can offer in that group. It’s also worth remembering that New Orleans is three games back of Denver in the loss column right now, and they’ve got to leapfrog both Portland and Sacramento…They’ve got some work to do…and they’re going to have to integrate a gigantic piece with 25 games left in the season. The talent of DeMarcus Cousins is such that it made all the sense in the world for them to take the gamble on him, especially given the very low price they had to pay for him, but making the fit work neatly and fluidly with him alongside Davis in the frontcourt, two of the five or six highest-usage players in the league…getting them acclimated to playing off each other and having times where they’re not going to have the ball for long stretches…all those sort of things can be difficult to figure out, and they’re going to have to figure them out immediately to make up the ground that they need to make up to get to the eighth seed.” 

15:19- 16:01Dan analyzes Magic Johnson’s first move as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations:

“Lou Williams, on a relatively short-term contract, is not going to be a long-term piece of their [the Lakers’] future. The idea being that he’s having a career year and is an attractive piece at a nice price was going to be to flip him anyway. You wind up getting a first-round pick and Corey Brewer, who’s obviously just there as a salary filler…That seems like a pretty shrewd move as you continue to try to build your young talent base, especially if Lou Williams being gone makes the Lakers a little bit worse now down the stretch. The more losses they stack up, the better their odds of falling in the top three of the lottery, and if they’re outside the top three, they lose their pick to Philadelphia.”

25:29 – 26:48Dan remarks on the calculations the Celtics organization must make when determining whether it is going to make a transcendent trade ahead of the deadline:

“It’s a delicate balance. You come to a point where you’ve got to make a decision one way or the other. Everyone’s been waiting for years for Danny Ainge to swing for the fences with his accumulating all these assets with young players and picks and an amazing haul from the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade where they’re still benefiting from the pick swaps…And advantageous moves bringing in Isaiah Thomas and below-market contracts they’ve thrown at guys like Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder…There’s the concern of, if you blow up something big and you maybe disrupt the chemistry on a team where everybody seems to be pulling in the same direction and it’s been good enough to get them within a couple games of the Cavs and the No. 2 seed so far, do you risk blowing that up by swinging for the fences for a big star?…The goal is at some point not just to be pretty good for a long time. It’s to put yourself in a position where you have the capacity to add that picture-shifting player, the guy that can change the landscape.” 

35:44 – 37:08Before lauding the Wizards as his dark-horse contender in the East, our guest selects the Houston Rockets out West, and he feels good about their chances:

“Houston, that offense is a straight-up meat grinder. It chews you up and spits you out. When they’ve got everybody going, they can be absolutely terrifying. James Harden can be the best player on the floor, even in a game against the Warriors. Because of how disappointing last season was with the Rockets and the way things fell apart with Dwight and Harden, we forget the season before when they did meet up in the Western Conference finals. Those first two games in Golden State, the Rockets were right there. The Rockets could have easily stolen at least one game in Oracle. And if they do that, who knows how the complexion of the series changes? And Harden was tremendous. They had zero answer for him. Yes, the Warriors are better now and have Kevin Durant, but the way the Rockets can spread the floor, the way they can bomb away, they have so many good shooters and players who can make plays. Lou Williams only adds to that. If they can keep Harden fresh down the stretch here and they enter the playoffs with that arsenal, 3-point shooting is the great variable. If the Rockets hit 20 3s a game, I don’t know what the Warriors do about it. They would have a great puncher’s chance based on the volume of shots they generate and the way they can knock them down.”

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin Macleod