Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw unhappy with lack of energy from rotation players following loss to Suns

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PHOENIX — The Suns improved to 4-2 on the young season with a 114-103 win over the Nuggets on Friday, in a contest that saw some extremely wild swings in both score and momentum before the night was through.

The first half was all Phoenix, as they followed up a 35-point first quarter by holding Denver to just 18 in the second, and led by 17 points at intermission. The third quarter began as the first half ended, with the Suns cruising and maintaining their large lead for another couple of minutes before Ty Lawson decided to strike.

Lawson singlehandedly outscored Phoenix 21-20 in the third, and the Nuggets turned an 18-point deficit into an 11-point lead in the span of less than eight minutes. Phoenix fought back to cut the Denver lead to just three heading into the fourth, before the Suns reclaimed momentum and pulled away for the team’s impressive fourth win of the season.

The Nuggets continue to struggle to find any type of cohesiveness, and are now just 1-4 on the season. JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov were brutal defensively, to the point where head coach Brian Shaw had no choice but to sit them for the bulk of the night after being woefully ineffective during their short stints on the floor.

“I’m at a loss for words from the lack of energy from some of our guys that are rotation guys,” Shaw said afterward, while discussing his disappointment in his team’s slow start.

“I tried to stick with our normal rotation, but with the speed of their bigs, they spaced out the floor and it just wasn’t a game I thought JaVale or Timo could ever make an impact in,” he said. “Just lapses defensively, not having good court balance and getting back. We take the layups away, and we’re giving up walk-up threes in transition. But what I’m most interested in is the low energy level of some of our guys. We’re deep enough at a few positions where if those guys aren’t going to come with any energy, then I’ll just go down the bench and find the guys that want to play, and their minutes and their opportunities will go down.”

Meanwhile, this Suns team has been a blast to watch in the early going, in part due to young talent like Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee, and a work ethic that makes you want to root for these guys to succeed. Markieff Morris reached a career high for a second straight game off the bench with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, and while his production outweighs that of Channing Frye in the starting lineup, his presence on the second unit has been far more valuable to the team’s overall success.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.

Report: Cavaliers nearly traded Richard Jefferson last year when he revealed championship rings on Snapchat

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Richard Jefferson announced his retirement after the Cavaliers won the 2016 championship, changed his mind, re-signed with Cleveland then played another season there. He played big playoff minutes for the Cavs both years.

But they traded him to the Hawks (who waived him, allowing him to sign with the Nuggets) in a rather abrupt end to his Cleveland tenure.

His exit could have been far more strained.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Then he was nearly traded the summer after the championship because he revealed what the Cavs’ rings looked like on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to release them to the public. Then-GM David Griffin was so ticked that he was ready to ship him out of town, sources told ESPN, before eventually calming down and accepting Jefferson’s apology.

Talk about some petty nonsense. And Griffin was known for soothing tension!

Thankfully for Jefferson – at least if he wanted to stay in Cleveland – he revealed the ring design in September. As a newly signed player, he couldn’t be traded until Dec. 15. That gave Griffin time to cool down.

Carmelo Anthony: Phil Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips”

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Carmelo Anthony wanted to be traded to the Houston Rockets. Badly. (Whether that was good for Houston is a different discussion.) His time in New York was over by mutual consent, but now was time to move on, however, thanks to a no-trade clause Phil Jackson gave him, Anthony had leverage. And he wanted to be a Rocket with James Harden and Chris Paul.

It looked at one point like a deal would get done between New York and Houston, then it fell apart. So what happened?

Phil Jackson was booted, that’s what happened, Anthony told Marc Stein the New York Times.

The delay to find a workable trade, in Anthony’s view, stemmed from the fact that Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” while Scott Perry, who became the Knicks’ new general manager after Jackson’s departure, took a harder line in trade talks with Houston and Cleveland that eventually fizzled.

“They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak,” Anthony said with a laugh.

‘Melo can laugh, he landed in a good spot with Oklahoma City. He’s on a potential contender.

As for his feelings on Jackson and leaving the organization? Still some hard feelings there.

“There was no support from the organization,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”