By BRIAN MAHONEY
The Associated Press
It is the time of year when every injury report causes eyebrows to raise.
D’Angelo Russell, not in Golden State’s lineup at Washington on Monday?
Tristan Thompson, scratched by the Cleveland Cavaliers for their game against New York the same night?
That’s because it’s the week of the NBA trade deadline, when teams need to be careful with the health of players they might be trying to deal.
The deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. It arrives quickly now, once the NBA moved it from its longtime spot on the calendar after the All-Star break to its current one the week before. It allows traded players to use the break to acclimate themselves to a new situation, rather than returning to a team that might deal them a couple days later.
Russell could be making that adjustment. He’s been considered a trade possibility since virtually the moment the Warriors acquired him from Brooklyn in July in the sign-and-trade transaction that sent Kevin Durant across the country. He’s a point guard coming off his first All-Star season, is under contract for a few more years, and plays in a backcourt where the Warriors will eventually have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson again.
So it was hardly a surprise when word came Monday that Russell wouldn’t play. The depleted Warriors know as well as anyone how quickly injuries came pop up and wreck things.
They hadn’t made a trade during the season under coach Steve Kerr until dealing Willie Cauley-Stein to Dallas last month. The buzz remains around Russell, leading Kerr to have conversations with his players he never had to consider before.
“It feels different this year obviously, because of the circumstances that we find ourselves in,” Kerr told reporters in Washington. “Definitely different set of circumstances, so I have to address those circumstances as a coach in terms of what that means for our team, for individual players.”
A former Kerr player, the NBA Finals MVP from his first season, could be available by trade. Andre Iguodala is still on the roster of the Memphis Grizzlies, who haven’t played him this season.
The Grizzlies made a deadline deal last year that made a massive impact on the championship chase, when they traded Marc Gasol to Toronto. He became the starting center on their first NBA title team.
It’s unclear if any big moves are left for February after nearly half the players in the league changed teams in the s
A player like Tristan Thompson, with NBA Finals experience but now a veteran on a losing team that’s committed to youth, is the type of player who teams could call about. And a team like the New York Knicks, with a number of veterans on short-term contracts but mired near the bottom of the standings, could have reason to be active before Thursday.
In the meantime, keep an eye on the lineups.