Just a few weeks ago, Suns owner Robert Sarver was saying emphatically that Steve Nash would not be traded.
But since then the Suns have struggled — 3-7 in their last 10 — and however they try to spin it the recent trade with Orlando was not going to make the Suns better right now. Rather, it seems to have hurt their playoff chances. It was not about shoring up the defense in the paint (something Marcin Gortat has not really done yet anyway) but about saving money.
So long as that is the case, and so long as they have a still very good but now age 36 Steve Nash in the fold, there will be trade speculation and talk.
Even the Suns are not sure what to do and are “on the fence” about whether or not to trade Nash, according to Sam Amick at FanHouse.
It’s a no win situation for the Suns. Trade Nash — who is an ingrained part of the Phoenix community and much beloved — and you will anger the fan base.
However, if you are serious about rebuilding — and you should be because the championship window with this Nash-led roster is closed — then trading Nash is the fastest way to turn things around. There would be a lot of interest and quality offers to come your way if he were available. The Knicks would be the loudest but, like with Carmelo Anthony, there likely would be better offers from teams with better young players and more picks.
Nash will say nothing and keep plugging along, playing well. It’s who he is and what he does.
It’s not an easy choice. Sarver may have sounded sure a few weeks ago, but a few weeks from now it would not be a shock to see a totally different game plan.
LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.
How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?
LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”
LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.
If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.
So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.
Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.
With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.
It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.
A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.
But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.
It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.
According to one narrative, the Timberwolves decided after Friday’s loss to the Kings to trade Jimmy Butler.
But he might have forced their hand, resulting in his trade to the 76ers.
Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic.
The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.
Butler reportedly held out for a game a couple weeks ago, though he and Minnesota both denied it. It’s quite believable he would’ve held out again if not traded. Still, informing the team during a game he’s playing would have been quite bold.
I’m not sure who actually blinked first. This could be an I-quit, no-you’re-fired (or vice versa) scenario. Both Butler and Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau are stubborn.
But the most important thing is Butler is gone and both sides can move on – whatever ugliness preceded the trade.
Jimmy Butler is officially a member of the 76ers.
His plane landed in Philly Monday and a camera crew from NBC Sports Philadelphia was there to get his first words on being a member of the Sixers. (You can see the video above.)
“I’m ready to get started, we got a little ways to go, we got some things to figure out. But all-in-all, I look forward to it,” Butler said out the window of the car that picked him up.
What should Sixers fans expect?
“Hard playing. A guy that wants to win. We got some things we want to get done here, we want to win a championship. I think the core group of guys we have, we’ll figure out a way to get it done.”
After that he rolled up the window and drove off… and we assume cranked up the country music.