Monday Bullets

  • James Surowiecki of the New Yorker says it's time to legalize sports gambling: "The leagues insist that legalized betting will make people suspect that games are fixed, thus harming their brands. Yet in Vegas billions are wagered legally on sports every year, apparently without ill effect, and legal sports betting in Great Britain doesn’t seem to dim anyone’s passion for Premier League soccer. Moreover, as Drazin said to me, betting is already an integral part of sports in the U.S.: 'If gambling is really hurting the leagues, why does every sports show talk about point spreads and favorites and underdogs? And why does every office in America have a pool on the N.C.A.A. tournament?' Indeed, it’s likely that gambling makes sports more popular, not less. 'We know that the d├ębut of ‘Monday Night Football’ really fuelled an explosion in sports betting,' Rose told me. 'And that in turn made ‘Monday Night Football’ more popular.' Even the leagues seem to recognize this. They happily condone fantasy sports, which are, in effect, an attempt to predict on-the-field outcomes, and which have become an industry with more than a billion dollars a year in revenue. The ban on sports betting does exactly what Prohibition did. It makes criminals rich." Related.

  • Huge points per game combined with very low turnovers from two geeky teams, the Rockets and the Thunder.

  • Falling down need not stop you launching, and hitting, a game-winning 3.

  • Linsanity was born a year ago today.

  • Since talk of moving to Seattle has emerged, the Kings have been worse at essentially everything. Wayne Winston, high priest of plus/minus, once suggested to me that sometimes his statistics note when individual players have tough-to-explain rough stretches, which he often suspects are because of stress at home, or an unreported injury. Point being: Distractions and stress are real obstacles to success.

  • Kevin Pelton (Insider) says one reason the Clippers should consider trading Eric Bledsoe, for instance as part of a package for Kevin Garnett, is because if they can re-sign Chris Paul, they likely won't be able to afford a top-dollar Bledsoe as a backup. If he's destined elsewhere regardless, it's less crazy to seek value for him now.

  • Brian Robb of CelticsHub with many reasons Kevin Garnett is unlikely to be traded.

  • Pistons finally get Jose Calderon in uniform. He'll make them better.

  • James Harden, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker ... a lot of young star NBA guards play for teams with very low payrolls.

  • Bradford Doolittle (Insider) ranks the Harden trade very highly for the Thunder: "Kevin Martin is not as good as Harden, and it's not really close. However, he's filled his role on the Thunder this season almost as well as Harden did for last year's squad. Close enough, anyway, to avoid offsetting the improvements OKC has made elsewhere. Harden averaged 19.3 points per 36 minutes, and had a .660 true shooting percentage on a .216 usage rate. Martin comes pretty close: 18.2 points per 36, .617 true shooting, .209 usage. The bottom line is that Oklahoma City is outscoring opponents by 11.2 points for every 100 possessions Martin is on the court. That number for Harden last season was 9.9. The question now is whether Martin can maintain that effect in the playoffs. For what it's worth, Martin has played in exactly six playoff games in his career, the last of which was nearly seven years ago."

  • Lots of missed calls at the end of close games lately, huh?

  • Danny Green is icy hot.

  • Matt McHale of Bulls By the Horns: "The Bulls (29-18) have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. They trail the defending champion Miami Heat (30-14) by 2.5 games and the New York Knicks (30-15) by two games. They are one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets (28-19). According to John Hollinger’s stats-based power rankings, the Bulls are the sixth-best team in the league behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Knicks. They have done this despite the fact that Derrick Rose has missed all 47 games this season. Rip Hamilton has missed 12 games. Kirk Hinrich has missed seven. Luol Deng has missed five. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah have missed three each. For those of you who enjoy simple math, that’s a total of 77 player games lost to injury and we haven’t even reached the All-Star break. All the guys who have missed time are starters. One is a former MVP and Deng and Noah have been named All-Stars. And I haven’t even touched on how management disassembled the Bench Mob during the offseason. This is nothing new. Last season, the Bulls compiled the best record in the league despite the fact that Hamilton (38 games), Rose (17 games), C.J. Watson (17 games), Deng (12 games), Taj Gibson (three games), Noah (two games) and Kyle Korver (one game) combined to miss 9o games in the lockout-shorted 66-game season. With all due respect to Gregg Popovich, I have no idea how Tom Thibodeau didn’t win Coach of the Year honors for that. And — assuming things continue the way they’re going — he should be the favorite to win it this season too."

  • Andre Drummond leads the break, and Brandon Knight comes up with a nice dunk.