Spain's Pau Gasol looks at the timeboard

The Houston Rockets have not gotten over the Pau Gasol trade falling through


It was supposed to be different this time. After years of trying to trade for a legitimate star or sign one in free agency and having it fall apart at every turn, the Rockets were going to land their big fish. It was there on the table. It was agreed to by all parties.

And the league blocked it like Hakeem turning back a runner.

Everyone’s moved on. Chris Paul is a Clipper. Preseason games are in full swing. The Lakers brought in Troy Murphy… OK, so the Lakers haven’t really moved on. But the Rockets? The Rockets are soooooo mad  you guys.

From the Houston Chronicle:

By then, the person said, Alexander had no interest in speaking with Stern and has declined to speak with him since.

The Rockets had hoped with the added cap space to sign Nene, who instead returned to the Nuggets. With the bolstered front line, the Rockets intended to bring back Chuck Hayes to a roster they believed would then be in position to contend in the West.

“You can say he (Alexander) was very angry,” said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He was on the phone with Daryl too many times that day to count. When the deal finally got done, he got a call from Daryl saying the deal was done. Afterwards, the commissioner said he didn’t think the deal was done. It was amazing. Daryl is extremely efficient and does things the proper way. Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been in the league 30 years and has made countless deals and thought the deal was done. Mitch Kupchak thought the deal was done. There was no question in his Alexanders and Daryls minds the deal was done.”

via Source: NBA commish lied about failed three-team trade that involved Rockets – Houston Chronicle.

The primary source of anger is because the Rockets and Lakers thought Demps had complete control to make the trade. And then he didn’t. Again, from the Chronicle:

“He said that David was briefed and that it was a done deal,” one of the individuals with knowledge of the talks said. “He (Demps) said multiple times that he briefed both of his local officials, (Hornets president) Hugh Webber and (Hornets chairman) Jac Sperling, and they and Dell at regular intervals were updating (NBA vice presidents) Stu Jackson and Joel Litvin and that they told David himself throughout the day. Also, Hugh and Jac, who were updating the league office, understood it to be a deal.”

via Source: NBA commish lied about failed three-team trade that involved Rockets – Houston Chronicle.

So the teams involved said it was done, and that the league office had been informed of the deal and was fine with it, and then wasn’t. That seems an awful lot like the league talked to some of its owners and the owners flipped out and cancelled the trade, which is something David Stern vehemently denied on a conference call following the Chris Paul Clippers trade. Stern reiterated that while Demps had authority to negotiate a deal, the final say rested with the league.

But again, if that was the case, why was the deal brought along so far?

On the other hand, here’s a question for the Rockets. Why are you so upset over this? Yes, you would have had Pau Gasol, which is a big name. But you still would have had to talk Nene into taking one-year less, or else paying an outrageous amount for him long-term. He and Gasol would have likely hit their downslide in similar timeframes, meaning you’d potentially have $35 million-plus wrapped up in two guys past their prime. And with the leftovers of your roster, where were you really going? Is Kyle Lowry-Terrence Williams-Chase Budinger-Pau Gasol-Nene really going to win the Western Conference? Is it going to get out of the second round? I’m not convinced it makes it out of the first. Anyone remember the last time Pau Gasol was the man on a playoff team without Kobe Bryant?

The Rockets have kept their flexibility. Maybe this move was to give the Rockets some push in terms of short-term success, but it didn’t provide a long-term answer. This could wind up being a blessing in disguise if they play their cards right.

Beef? Bradley Beal says he wouldn’t have re-signed with Wizards and John Wall says he wouldn’t have begged Beal back if true

Bradley Beal, John Wall
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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John Wall and Bradley Beal defined their relationship this summer.

Wall: “I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court.”

Beal: “It’s tough because we’re both alphas. … Sometimes I think we both lose sight of the fact that we need each other.”

It’s hard to spin those direct quotes. These aren’t anonymous sources or players venting after a tough loss. In the calm of the offseason, Wall and Beal spoke bluntly about their partnership in the Wizards backcourt.

But no matter how difficult now, Beal and Wall are trying to cast their relationship in a different light.

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

“This is my brother at the end of the day,” Beal told The Vertical. “Nothing is going to change. If I didn’t want to be here, if we did beef, I wouldn’t have signed my contract. That’s what it ultimately comes down to.”

“And I wouldn’t have begged him to come back,” Wall interjected. “I would’ve been, ‘Don’t come back because in two years, I ain’t coming back.’ We would’ve figured something out. … I think everybody blew it out of proportion for no reason. I mean, if you look at any two great teammates, and two young, great guys, that’s talented and want to be great, you’re going to have ups and downs. Everything is not going to be perfect.”

The flaws in that logic:

Beal was a restricted free agent. The Wizards weren’t letting him go.

Wall is locked up for three more years. It’s in his best interest to have the best teammates possible in that time, whether or not he stays in Washington past 2019. The Wizards had no way to replace Beal with a similar-caliber player.

So, maybe Wall and Beal are completely cohesive. But even if they aren’t, circumstances dictated they continue their basketball partnership.

I believe last summer’s interviews exposed a rift that was forming somewhat beneath the surface. Their honest assessments in the open, Wall and Beal can now go about repairing any cracks in the foundation.

There’s an mostly unavoidable tension between a team’s two leading scorers. That they’re both guards who want to handle the ball makes it only more difficult.

But if Wall and Beal acknowledge their problems, they can try to work past them and win together.

Manu Ginobili: ‘I gave my right one for the Spurs. I can say it. I can really say it’

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) poses for photos during Spurs Media Day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Manu Ginobili missed weeks last season due to a testicular injury.

Once you finish wincing, let’s share a good laugh.

Casey Keirnan of News 4 San Antonio asked Ginobili whether he’s familiar with the phrase “I’d give my left…”


I gave my right one. I gave it all. I gave it all. I gave my right one for the Spurs. I can say it. I can really say it. True.

Why again did we anoint Tim Duncan THE franchise icon in San Antonio? I don’t think he ever made that level of sacrifice to the Spurs.

Report: Timberwolves declining Adreian Payne’s fourth-year option

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7: Adreian Payne #33 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a basket against Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of the preseason game on October 7, 2015 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Thunder defeated Timberwolves 122-99. 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 Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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A few players – Mitch McGary, Jordan Adams and R.J. Hunter – had their rookie-scale-contract team options declined as their teams waived them this offseason. Another player, P.J. Hairston, had his third-year option declined last fall.

But only one player that we know of so far from the 2013 and 2014 draft classes remains on a team but won’t finish his rookie-scale deal:

Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne, the No. 15 pick in 2014.

Minnesota will decline his $3,100,094 team option for 2017-18, a decision that will become official Tuesday.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

Payne will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Timberwolves can re-sign him, but only at a starting salary up to $3,100,094. Any other team can offer up to the max.

Payne probably won’t be worth $3,100,094 next summer. He’s a stretch four without 3-point range and a long 2-point jumper that is expectedly inefficient. He doesn’t move well enough in any direction, including vertically, to defend well. The concern on him coming out of Michigan State – that he relied too heavily on beating up on younger players – looks valid. Payne will be a 26-year-old free agent.

But $3,100,094 is a small amount against a large salary cap. Is it really worth letting Payne hit the open market without seeing what he does this season first?

This is the problem the Pacers ran into with Solomon Hill. They declined his $2,306,019 2016-17 team option, and he had a breakout year. He signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Pelicans this summer as Indiana could do nothing but watch.

I don’t expect Payne to duplicate Hill’s emergence, but the Pacers obviously didn’t see it coming with Hill, either. As long as Payne remains on the team, it’s probably worth Minnesota buying itself an extra year of potentially cheap labor.

If Payne develops, he could be an irreplaceable bargain. If he doesn’t, it won’t cost much to waive him – especially because the Timberwolves can stretch him.

Even if the odds are against that plan bearing fruit, the upside is high enough to justify exercising the option.

But Minnesota apparently feels differently. Barring a sudden change of plans in the next few days, Payne will be on an expiring contract.

Kobe Bryant says he was nearly late to final game, because was busy editing short stories

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd as he is taken out of the game after scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Already eliminated from the playoff chase, the Jazz weren’t focused for Kobe Bryant’s final game. They ceded 60 points to the over-the-hill superstar.

How locked in was Kobe?

Kobe via Thu-Huong Ha of Quartz:

“I was actually at the office until 4 or 4:15 editing a bunch of short stories, and lost track of time,” Bryant told the Wall Street Journal’s Dennis K. Berman. “And I looked at my watch, ‘Oh…I better go home. I got my last game to play.’”

Kobe clearly summoned a will to compete by the time he reached the arena. That was a sendoff for the ages.

But this is another sign he was ready for the next chapter in his life.