Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler sounded off publicly about their teammates not caring enough.
The source of Wade’s and Butler’s frustration?
Apparently Bulls teammates Nikola Mirotic and Michael Carter-Williams.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Sources said Nikola Mirotic and Carter-Williams have frustrated Wade and Butler more than most players and that both Wade and Butler addressed players privately before airing their frustrations to reporters.
After a promising start to his career, Mirotic has declined each season. Carter-Williams has now fallen out of favor with at least two teams since winning Rookie of the Year, the Bucks and Bulls removing him from the starting lineup in the last two years. (It’s unclear whether the 76ers lost faith in Carter-Williams or just traded him because an extremely valuable draft pick became available.)
Does this mean Mirotic and Carter-Williams have inadequate work ethics? No, and Rajon Rondo stuck up for them while criticizing Wade and Butler.
But, coupled with Wade’s and Butler’s criticism, the slipping production of the two younger players is circumstantial evidence of a problem.
That’s not the Bulls’ only problem, though. There’s a clear rift in the locker room. Butler has become a legitimate star, and Wade’s has an elite résumé while maintaining quality production. They’ve earned a right to lead, and if teammates aren’t following, Wade and Butler expressing frustration isn’t a cardinal sin. It might be misguided depending on what’s happening internally, but it’s not a monumental violation of decorum.
Lesser players like Mirotic, Carter-Williams and now Rondo don’t get the same leeway. They can try to get Wade and Butler to set a different tone, but it’s ultimately up to the three sub-stars to fall in line.
Carmelo Anthony had a tough time setting up a meeting with Phil Jackson.
It seems Anthony isn’t the only person who struggles to communicate with the Knicks president.
Bobby Marks on The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix:
I’ve talked to a lot of teams, and it’s not just the media that he’s not out in the public with. He’s not an easy man to get in touch with. If you’re going to try to make a trade proposal with the Knicks, you’re not going to Phil Jackson. You’re going to Steve Mills. And that’s how it’s been for teams in the trade process.
Mills, the Knicks’ general manager, has held this responsibility for a while. Even with Jackson seemingly taking a more active role earlier in the season, that apparently hasn’t changed – though I wonder whether it’s still true for bigger issues like shopping for an Anthony trade.
This will only reinforce the perception that Jackson – who held no front-office experience before New York gave him $12 million per year – is more interested in cashing checks than actually doing the job. He leaves games early. He took a vacation in the middle of a coaching search. And he doesn’t even take trade calls himself?
Not all team presidents handle those day-to-day operations. For example, Pistons president Stan Van Gundy has general manager Jeff Bower handle most trade discussions until they become serious enough to bring in Van Gundy. But Van Gundy also coaches Detroit. Jackson’s only role is as an executive. Kings general manager Vlade Divac has also been notoriously difficult to reach, but that’s not good company, anyway.
Jackson hasn’t built a good team. He’s not playing a leading role trying to improve the franchise’s standing through trade. He’s not even putting a reassuring face on the franchise, refusing to speak publicly during numerous fiascos this season.
Why are the Knicks paying him so much?
The Clippers engaged the Knicks about a Carmelo Anthony trade that doesn’t include Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan – and New York appears open to it.
Probably because the other teams the Knicks approached about an Anthony trade, the Cavaliers and Celtics, rejected the overtures.
Sources told ESPN that the Boston Celtics let the Knicks know they have no interest in Anthony.
This isn’t quite the Celtics not being interested in Anthony. It might be that, but this is just the Celtics telling the Knicks they’re not interested in Anthony. It could be a negotiating ploy.
The Celtics could use another scorer, but they also don’t need another subpar defender and should be wary of someone who has too often halted offensive flow. Boston wants to preserve salary-cap flexibility until making a big splash. At age 32, Anthony might not be worth the cost.
It’s also possible the Celtics aren’t interested because of the perceived asking price. Perhaps, they’d be more receptive to Anthony trade talks if they learned New York was seeking less than expected.
Anthony possesses a no-trade clause, so there’s a closed market for his services. The Knicks probably won’t get a massive return for him. Whether or not the Celtics are intentionally trying to lower New York’s asking price, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boston takes another look at an Anthony trade if New York is committed to moving him for whatever it can get, no matter how little.
The Clippers might be looking at a bigger name in Carmelo Anthony, but they’re also eying a more modest forward addition: P.J. Tucker
Marc Stein of ESPN:
The Clippers have offered a future second-round pick for Suns forward P.J. Tucker — who is said to have a not-so-secret admirer in Doc Rivers — but sources say Phoenix is holding out for a first-rounder in exchange for the rugged defensive specialist.
Tucker would be the latest attempt by the Clippers to find a small forward to fit between Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The 31-year-old Tucker would be a fine addition. He can defend multiple positions, and he makes enough 3-pointers to qualify as a 3-and-D player.
Over the luxury-tax line and hard-capped, the Clippers have a narrow path to matching Tucker’s $5.3 million salary. They could deal Paul Pierce and Alan Anderson for Tucker, though I’m not sure Doc Rivers would trade Pierce in the forward’s final season. Another option is dealing Wesley Johnson, who’s having a down year in the first season of a three-year, $17,643,780 contract.
Tucker no longer fits in Phoenix, which is headed back to the lottery. He can help teams ready to win now. The Suns ought to get something for him before his contract expires this summer.
Can they get a first-round pick for him? Plenty of teams need wings, and Tucker’s defensive versatility is an asset. But he’s only a tolerable 3-point shooter, which could become a problem in a playoff series.
The Suns are right to seek a first-rounder now, but by the trade deadline, they might have to settle for a second-rounder.
When you’re coaching the defending champions who are heavily favored to return to the the Finals – and suddenly LeBron James is making noise about the roster, putting you in a bind, and your team is about to lose its sixt of its last eight games.