New York Knicks v Golden State Warriors

Is Golden State thinking about trading Monta Ellis?

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Let’s just start this out with the needed disclaimer — this all starts because of speculation from a newspaper columnist, an idea that got picked up and ran with all over the Web Wednesday morning. (Tell me again how bloggers start all the rumors?) Understand it all started with a guess that may be off the mark. So you cannot take enough salt with this rumor.

Okay, everyone understand? Good.

San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami has spoken with Jerry West, looked at the Golden State roster and came to this conclusion:

And with West on board as management’s newest, sharpest voice, it seems likely that West already has begun to survey trade options for Ellis.

“I’ve seen teams trade players that score tons of points and people say, ‘How in the world can you trade that player?’ ” West said last week. “Because he might score tons of points and the team doesn’t win. When I look at (the Warriors), obviously they need more size.”

Of course, West was not definitively referring to Ellis when he spoke those words, and throughout the conversation he added that he admired Ellis’ toughness and inventive scoring ability.

But if West is instantly the team’s most influential voice in personnel moves, which I believe he is, and if he’s going to make a major move, which everybody in the NBA expects “… whom else but Ellis could he trade?

Well, Stephen Curry comes to mind. But if owner Joe Lacob is serious about a move to a more defensive mindset, the Warriors do have to consider breaking up this undersized backcourt that can’t defend well. Ellis is one of the better scorers in the game right now and there would be real value if the Warriors wanted to move him.

But where? Kawakami spoke to sources and said:

Chicago, which might have been a big-time perimeter scorer away from pushing Miami to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals. Would the Bulls think about Luol Deng for Ellis? Could the Warriors sweeten that offer?

And Memphis, West’s old team, which has Rudy Gay at a huge salary and which offered O.J. Mayo for Ellis in the recent past.

Chicago would be a disaster for the Bulls. They would create what Golden State already has — an undersized backcourt that can’t defend. On offense it might be worse as Ellis not a guy who works off the ball but needs to have it in his hands to create. So he would take possessions away from league MVP Derrick Rose. They would fight over the ball. That would just be a mess, and Deng is too high a price by far.

Now Mayo for Ellis, that makes a little more sense. And the sides have at least discussed it on some level in the past. The question becomes do the small market Grizzlies want to take on three years, $33 million in Ellis before they see what the new Collective Bargaining Agreement looks like?

It’s all a lot of speculation. Although to me the idea of moving some part of the Golden State back court to get more size makes sense.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.