Denver Nuggets v Charlotte Bobcats

What the three-team trade really says: The Nets want Melo

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Step back and look at the Nets/Lakers/Rockets trade that is all but official — Terrence Williams is tweeting about his new home already — and one thing jumps out:

The Nets are really serious about getting Carmelo Anthony.

The Lakers get cap relief and another big man in case their good ones get hurt again. The Rockets roll the dice on a talented wing player who was deep in Avery Johnson’s doghouse. Both get a nice win in the deal.

The Nets get a little win that they want to turn into a big, big win.

This trade gives the Nets two more first round picks — the Rockets pick in 2012, and the Lakers pick in the upcoming 2011 draft, which will be late in the first round and not tremendously valuable — as well as another expiring contract in Sasha Vujacic to move. Oh, he can shoot a little too, I guess.

Those are assets the Nets can use in any trade — and GM Billy King has said he wants to make multiple moves — but still when you talk Nets trades your are really talking about Carmelo. He is the big fish.

Tomorrow’s trade — which becomes official once Joe Smith can be moved — means the Nets can now offer young up-and-coming forward Derrick Favors, expiring contracts in Troy Murphy and Vujacic, plus a bevy of first round picks for Anthony. Denver is not likely to find a better deal unless Mark Cuban goes drunk trading one night.

Especially compared to the Knicks shrinking offer — that Houston first rounder was the one New York was rumored to have a deal in place for, so they could sweeten their offer to Denver. The Nets pulled that rug out from under their growing rivals.

Two other points here.

One is the ultimate stumbling block for the Nets remains would Anthony sign an extension in New Jersey? Did his people give a serious it Knicks-or-bust ultimatum? Depends on who you ask, with multiple reports on both sides from respectable sources. Chatter behind the scenes is also conflicted. Choose to believe what you want, but this remains the big question.

Secondly, is this really a good trade for New Jersey? Carmelo Anthony is not a guy like Chris Paul who comes in and starts creating for others, he comes in and takes a lot of long, contested two pointers, drives the lane some but doesn’t dish much, and his touches take the ball out of the hands of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Anthony can score but he is not much of a defender. You can market him but will Avery Johnson really like and want him? There are very smart Nets fans who say it’s not worth it, the price of Favors and picks is too high.

Clearly the Nets management is not thinking that way. Unless they don’t get Melo to come, in which case that will be their spin.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.