Warriors won’t just give away Biedrins. No, we’re not sure why either.

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At new head coach Mark Jackson’s introductory press conference at the NBA Finals, a reporter asked if the Warriors would try and get bigger. Instead of citing Andris Biedrins, David Lee, and Ekpe Udoh, Jackson instead made a bizarre comment about how you can look at the Mavericks and see you don’t see size, referencing Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion. Getting past the fact that Tyson Chandler is as long as the day is, the approach was interesting and lead you to believe that the Warriors knew they needed to go in another direction down low, if only to pair a true center with Lee. With the amount of money Biedrins makes (he’s owed another $27 million over three years), it’s natural that the Latvian who has slid backwards with bigger responsibilities since showing promise with the “We Believe” team of the late 2000’s would be the one to go.

Psych.

From the Contra-Costa Times:

I’ve been told the Rockets have offered Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill. Haven’t confirmed if they were offered as a package, but the figures add up. Thabeet, a former No. 2 overall pick, is widely regarded as someone who simply not good enough to play in the NBA and probably won’t be. There is still some hope for Jordan Hill, but he’s got a Post-It note on his back that says “stiff.”

Bottom line for the Warriors: that’s not enough.

via Warriors Aren’t Just Giving Away Biedrins | Inside the Warriors.

Makes sense, except for the fact those players come off the books sooner and are cheaper and easily moved in other trades. But maybe more concerning than that (because that is a pretty terrible package for anyone) is this quote from Warriors president of Basketball Operations Kirk Lacob (son of owner Joe Lacob) from BasketUSA via Hoopshype:

Houston has offered more packages for Biedrins but we were not interested. We would not let this guy go. He is only 25 years old and is one of the most agile 7-footers  in the world. He averaged a double double average number of years ago and it will take a large package to let him go.

via Golden State, “offers the Rockets we were not interested” | USA Basketball – NBA News in daily.

Be aware that’s a translation from French, so that always comes with pitfalls. But the point shines through. The problem is that the Warriors don’t need agile bigs. They need big bigs. And they might be able to get a better package down the line, but they don’t need to be going into talks thinking they have some sort of incredible player. His stock is low. You can work to get it higher, but at some point you need to pull the trigger and move on. While Biedrins’ future in Golden State is far from certain, it does look like he won’t be going to the first team to offer an even decent package to the Warriors, and certainly not to the platter of nothingness Houston’s offered so far.

(Side note: You know why you don’t hire your 22-year-old son as President of Basketball Operations? Because of things like “He’ll openly tell a French website that another team has made an offer.” That’s a good start.)

Report: Jimmy Butler ‘isn’t dead set’ on demanding trade from Timberwolves

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Jimmy Butler says he’ll meet with the Timberwolves today – not yesterday, as initially reported.

The far bigger issue: What will happen in the meeting?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

I’m told, though, that while Butler has serious questions about the direction of the franchise, he’s still willing to hear Minnesota out, and isn’t dead set on demanding a trade elsewhere.

Butler probably wouldn’t demand a trade. That gets players fined. Paul George laid out a far more likely roadmap last offseason: Butler could inform Minnesota he won’t re-sign next offseason. Left to their own devices, the Timberwolves would probably trade him.

But would it get to even that point? That’s the big question looming over the day. If Butler hasn’t yet made up his mind, that would give Tom Thibodeau a chance to convey a plan.

Of course, this isn’t entirely up to Butler, either. If Minnesota must choose between Butler and Karl-Anthony Townswho reportedly won’t sign his rookie-scale extension until the Butler situation is handled – Butler could get dealt regardless of what he wants.

So much could come to a head today, but apparently there isn’t an inevitable outcome. Is Butler leaning a certain way, though? “Isn’t dead set” on demanding a trade isn’t exactly a huge vote of confidence.

Marcus Smart posts heartfelt tribute to mother, who died Sunday

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Marcus Smart delivered one of my favorite quotes after the Celtics beat the Rockets last season:

Smart — when asked if he prides himself in being “a pain in the ass” — chuckled.

“I guess you could say that,” Smart said. “My mom might say that. But nah, I play defense with passion, and defense wins games, and that was proven tonight.”

A deep love is the subtext behind that quip. Smart put it on display again – unfortunately after the death of Camellia Smart, who had been battling cancer.

Smart:

Smart plays with such heart, passion and toughness. If his mother were his role model, he honors her every time he takes the court.

Jimmy Butler says his meeting with Thibodeau, Timberwolves is Tuesday (today)

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There are a lot of questions surrounding Jimmy Butler‘s meeting with Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves brass: Can the Butler/Karl-Anthony Towns relationship be repaired? Is Thibodeau the guy who could repair it, or is he entrenched on one side of that battle? Will the situation be resolved enough for Towns to sign the max extension to his rookie contract that has been sitting on the table since July? Will Butler asked to be moved?

That meeting had been reported to be Monday, but Butler said on Twitter it’s Tuesday, and did so in a snide way.

Who cares if the reporting (by Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Vertical) on the day was one off if the substance of the meeting is the same? It’s not some massive error that throws the entire reporting into question. This feels like a high school history teacher testing about the date for the battle of Gettysburg and not why it was a turning point in the Civil War — the substance is what matters more.

Butler doesn’t deny or get into the substance of the meeting, which is what matters.

What comes out of that meeting will have a significant impact on the Timberwolves one way or another this season. Minnesota won 47 games last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004, but it’s hard to see how they take a step forward if the locker room remains this fractured (and in a very deep West they need to take a step forward to make the playoffs again this season).

USA rolls past Panama in World Cup qualifying, 78-48

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PANAMA CITY (AP) — U.S. coach Jeff Van Gundy came into the start of this second round of qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup cautioning his players that they would face enormous challenges.

They clearly heeded his words, and the Americans are now closing in on a trip to China next year.

Reggie Hearn scored 12 points, Dwayne Bacon added 10 and the U.S. easily got past Panama 78-48 in a qualifying game Monday night. The Americans have won both of their second-round qualifying games so far, winning them by a combined 87 points.

“It’s just an honor to be able to go to another country and wear this jersey,” said U.S. forward Henry Ellenson of the Detroit Pistons. “It’s just something really special and I love doing it. I was so excited to get the invite. This was a blast and a hell of an experience.”

The U.S. outrebounded Panama 50-34, held the hosts to 31 percent shooting and trailed for only 67 seconds in the early moments. Van Gundy went to his bench early and often, rotating players throughout in part because of a steamy feel inside the arena named for Panama’s boxing legend Roberto Duran.

“I think our greatest strength is our depth,” Van Gundy said. “Again, we’ve pretty much done this throughout. We play 10 or 11 guys, anywhere from 10 or 11 minutes up to the low 20s. We try to take advantage of our depth. Tonight, the crowd was good, but it was warm in there.”

And now, Nov. 29 – the next day of qualifying games in the Americas Region – sets up as enormous.

The U.S. and Argentina are tied atop Group E with 7-1 records and will play that day with outright control of first place in the group standings up for grabs. Uruguay and Puerto Rico will meet that same day, each entering with 5-3 records, meaning the loser there will be three games behind the U.S.-Argentina winner with three games left in qualifying.

The top three teams in Group E are guaranteed spots at the World Cup, which starts in China on Aug. 31.

After the way they played Monday, it seems like only a staggering collapse would keep the Americans from qualifying.

The U.S. used a 16-0 run – needing only about two minutes – in the fourth quarter to turn what was a relatively one-sided game into an even bigger rout. Chasson Randle, Hearn and Travis Trice all made 3-pointers to get that spurt going, and Ben Moore‘s layup with 6:30 left gave the Americans a 73-40 lead.

“It feels great. It moves us that much closer to qualifying,” Hearn said. “It moves us that much closer to the U.S. getting to the World Cup and getting the whole thing.”

The U.S. got an ideal start in a hostile arena, running out to a 16-3 lead as Panama opened 1 for 11 from the field.

The Americans were in control throughout, though there was a brief stretch late in the first half where the U.S. grip on things seemed to slip ever so slightly. Panama got within 31-23 with 2:04 left in the half on a jumper by Tony Bishop Jr. before Hearn and White combined to score the final five points before the break and send the Americans into intermission with a 13-point lead.

When the second half started, the U.S. resumed pulling away. Frank Mason, Dakari Johnson and Bacon scored the first six points of the third quarter, and the Americans’ lead was quickly pushed out to 42-23.