Marc Stein: Teams

Stein's Power Rankings: Week 8

December, 23, 2013
The job for your trusty committee (of one) would have been a lot easier if the Oklahoma City Thunder had just done what they were supposed to do Sunday night and taken care of the Toronto Raptors.

Our issues, though, aren’t what matter.

What matters is that OKC, despite that defeat, could not be denied its first promotion of the season to the top slot of’s weekly NBA Power Rankings.

You could make a passionate case for any of the top three teams in the rankings to be No. 1 on this Week 8 Monday. The Pacers, for example, responded to their failure to hold a late lead in Miami by beating Houston and Boston by a combined 60 points. The Blazers’ only loss last week, meanwhile, came on the road at Minnesota in their fourth game in five nights ... with Kevin Love falling just one assist shy of his first career triple-double in yet another otherworldly performance.

The Thunder, in the end, prevailed thanks to their dominant December. They’re 11-2 this month even after losing their unblemished home record to the Raps, but don’t forget that Sunday’s narrow defeat came right on the heels of OKC’s emotional Saturday night win at San Antonio, which nudged the Thunder to 2-0 against their longtime rivals.

The Thunder can’t answer the biggest questions that linger about them -- starting with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and whether they’ll get enough scoring help in the playoffs -- until we get to the spring. But the progress report on Christmas looks undeniably good with Durant brilliant as usual, Westbrook gradually making you forget he ever had knee surgery, Serge Ibaka anchoring the defense and Reggie Jackson emerging as a better sixth man than OKC could have ever hoped for after the exits of James Harden and Kevin Martin.

The latest rankings, as always, were compiled by the committee with Chris Paul-esque dishing from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. You can click here to rank the teams yourself until we return next Monday with a fresh 1-to-30 pulse-take of the league.

Stein's Power Rankings: Week 7

December, 16, 2013
The top three teams in the most recent compilation from your trusty Power Rankings committee (of one) went a combined 10-0 last week.

So that should explain why there's zero change in the order of the top three in Monday's Week 7 edition of the rankings.

Indiana (2-0), Portland (4-0) and Oklahoma City (4-0) all managed to avoid even one loss to open things up for the NBA Finals foes from Miami and San Antonio lurking just beneath them.

The Spurs still managed to move up from No. 6 to No. 4 with their own 4-0 week -- bumping the Heat down to No. 5 after the two-time champs' fall-from-ahead loss at Indiana last Tuesday -- but the consistency coming from the aforementioned trio means that the Phoenix Suns' startling rise from No. 10 to No. 7 will have to suffice in terms of surprises in the upper third.

The latest rankings, as always, were compiled by the committee with Rajon Rondo-esque dishing (in honor of Rondo's clearance to return to practice) from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. You can click here to rank the teams yourself until we return next Monday with a fresh 1-to-30 pulse take of the league.

What has already been a robust marketplace, for those of you who love the NBA’s Transaction Game, is about to get robust-er.

OK, OK. Let's just say busier.

A league that has already witnessed three trades headlined by Marcin Gortat, Derrick Williams and Rudy Gay since training camps opened -- with Toronto trying hard as we speak to find a workable Kyle Lowry deal that makes it four -- will see more than 100 new trade chips put into play in less than 48 hours.

At 12:01 a.m. Sunday, no fewer than 114 players who signed new contracts since July will become trade-eligible, thanks to the league rule stipulating that recipients of new deals (in most cases) cannot be dealt until Dec. 15 or three months from the day their new contract is completed ... whichever of those dates falls later. So ...

Just as we would have in the Weekend Dime era, Stein Line Live serves up a list of all 114 of them -- along with a flurry of bonus lists -- to assist in your ESPN Trade Machine endeavors:

Players eligible to be traded as of Sunday


* -- Players with an asterisk next to their name possess additional trade restrictions in their respective contracts that earned them spots on Stein Line Live's All-No-Trade Team. Click here to get reacquainted with that group.

Bonus List No. 1

The following 20 players with new contracts aren't eligible to be traded Sunday because the three-month window since their respective signing dates extends beyond Dec. 15. Next to each player's name is the date he becomes trade-eligible:

Bonus List No. 2

The NBA, as part of its new labor agreement in 2011, restricts players possessing new contracts from being eligible to be traded before Jan. 15 when (1) the player's team is over the salary cap and (2) the first-year salary in the new deal exceeds the prior season's salary by more than 120 percent. There are seven players who fall under those restrictions this season:

Bonus List No. 3

Any player who signs a contract extension cannot be traded for six months if the total length of the contract (prior deal plus extension) is longer than three years or if the extension has annual increases in excess of 4.5 percent. Two big names, as a result, are thus ineligible to be traded until after their teams' respective 2013-14 seasons:

* -- Don't forget that Kobe, as covered in the Nov. 8 SLL post, is also one of four players in the league who possesses an outright no-trade clause in his contract along with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki.

Bonus List No. 4

There are only eight teams in the league, in case all of this trade-eligibility talk has made you curious, that aren't currently carrying a full 15-man roster. They are: