Tuesday was an important day in the NBA because it was the date that players (also including most rookies) who signed over the summer, either with their same team or a new one, became eligible to be traded. And it's quite possible you see something before Christmas, although I wouldn't look for a blockbuster by then. The Sacramento Kings already have told Caron Butler they will trade him either right before or after Christmas to a team where he can have a larger role. Milwaukee, Butler's hometown team, is a good possibility. Minnesota would like to deal guard Kevin Martin. With Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins, the team is set at guard and doesn't need the veteran Martin. He'd be a good sixth-man type for a contender. Martin has a player option for next season worth close to $7.4 million and probably won't take it. Must be nice. Boston GM Danny Ainge says he'd like to add a go-to scorer. Might Martin fill that role?
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Lakers at Thunder (-15, 211)
Los Angeles lost 107-87 at home to Houston on Thursday. Kobe Bryant had 22 points and actually dunked for the first time this season. The last time he dunked was in January 2015 against New Orleans, and it tore the rotator cuff in his shoulder. The crowd went wild like the Lakers won a playoff game on Thursday. That's how bad that team is right now. Rookie D'Angelo Russell struggled for L.A., going 1-for-9 from the field for two points. Oklahoma City lost a potential Finals preview in Cleveland on Thursday, 104-100, to end OKC's six-game winning streak. Kevin Durant is now 4-16 all-time vs. LeBron James, including playoffs. Oklahoma City is 6-7 against the East and 11-2 vs. the West this year. Somehow this is the first meeting this season between these teams. The Thunder won all three last year, all high-scoring and pretty close. The Thunder swept the series from the Lakers for the first time since the franchise arrived in Oklahoma City. The Thunder have won the season series four years in a row.
Key trends: The home team is 8-1 against the spread in the past nine meetings. The "over/under" is 6-0 in the past six meetings in OKC.
Early lean: Thunder and over.
Hornets at Wizards (TBA)
This is your lone national TV game, on NBA TV. Charlotte ended a two-game losing streak with a 109-99 OT home win over Toronto on Thursday. Jeremy Lin got a rare start and blew up with 35 points. He was in there because Nic Batum missed the game due to illness. So obviously monitor Batum's status here; he's the team's best player these days. The Wizards really need to fire Randy Wittman with the team at 10-14. The Wizards barely put up a fight in their past two losses, by 17 at Memphis and 19 at San Antonio. The team now has seven losses of at least 14 points this year. Starting small forward Otto Porter Jr. was hurt in Wednesday's loss in Texas and he's questionable with a calf injury. Remaining out are starting guard Bradley Beal and big man Nene. This team needs a change, injuries or not. It's well below .500 over its past 82 regular-season games. Washington lost in Charlotte 101-87 on Nov. 25. The Hornets closed the game on an absurd 25-2 run, and the Wizards' two points were garbage-time free throws at the end. Batum led the Hornets, who had Al Jefferson then (still out now), with 16 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Beal had 17 points for the Wiz.
Key trends: The Hornets are 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 8-1 in the past nine.
Early lean: Hornets if Batum plays and under.
Bulls at Knicks (+2.5, 196)
Chicago hosted Detroit on Friday. New York was in Philadelphia. I'm assuming there are no back-to-back issues here although with Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony I suppose one never knows. They have been playing both ends. Chicago has won three straight in the series and 10 of the past 12 overall. The Bulls swept last season's series (3-0) for the second time since 2004-05. They only played once at Madison Square Garden in 2014-15 and it was the season opener.
Key trends: The Bulls are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The Knicks are 4-1 ATS in their past five Saturday games. The over is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Clippers at Rockets (+1, 212.5)
Los Angeles was in San Antonio on Friday. Houston won at the Lakers by 20 on Thursday behind 25 points from James Harden. The Rockets never trailed. This is the Clippers' first visit to Houston since losing Game 7 of last year's conference semifinals. Houston won in Los Angeles 109-105 on Nov. 7 behind a season-high 46 points from Harden. Dwight Howard had one of his best games of the year with 20 points and 20 rebounds. Blake Griffin had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who played without Chris Paul. The Rockets have won three regular-season games in a row in this series after losing the previous six.
Key trends: The Clippers are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 7-1 in the past eight.
Early lean: Rockets (my play of day with Clips off that huge one Friday) and over.
Pacers at Grizzlies (pick'em, 198.5)
Indiana hosted Brooklyn on Friday, while Memphis was in Dallas. The Grizzlies won 112-103 in Indiana on Oct. 29. Memphis blew a 15-point first-quarter lead and trailed by nine with less than two minutes to go in the third before rallying. Marc Gasol had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Grizz, while Paul George had 18 for the Pacers. Memphis has won four in a row in the series and a fifth would tie the longest in series history for the Grizzlies.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-2 in the past seven.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
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