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

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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.

Report: Spurs ‘shut the door’ on Lakers’ Kawhi Leonard trade inquiry

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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After shooting down trade inquiries before the trade deadline and brushing off proposals earlier this offseason, the Spurs are reportedly hearing out offers for Kawhi Leonard.

Except from the Lakers.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Lakers are reportedly Leonard’s preferred destination. Of course, San Antonio isn’t obligated to send him there. But he can influence the process by stating a plan to sign with only certain team(s) in 2019 unrestricted free agency.

The Celtics and 76ers might have better assets to send the Spurs. But if only the Lakers have a commitment from Leonard to re-sign, they might offer a greater share of their assets than Boston or Philadelphia would (especially if Los Angeles believes acquiring Leonard would be the first domino in also landing LeBron James and Paul George).

Between Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and future first-round picks, the Lakers could offer roughly commensurate value for Leonard. San Antonio might not like those particular players, but a third team could always get involved. Send some combination of Ball, Ingram, Kuzma and Hart to a team that wants them and have that third team convey players more desirable to the Spurs.

But that takes thoughtful negotiating, and San Antonio doesn’t seem interested.

There’s a belief San Antonio won’t trade Leonard to a Western Conference team, especially another historically strong franchise like the Lakers. That sentiment seems foolish to me, but it didn’t emerge out of thin air. There are real people – and real hurt feelings – involved here. Grudges sometimes trump rationality.

Maybe the Spurs will eventually explore whether the Lakers present the best offer. But this is at least circumstantial evidence San Antonio will handle this crisis stubbornly.

League buzz: Kings will take Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, Luka Doncic gone at three

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It’s hard to see through all the smoke and tell if things around the 2018 NBA Draft are solidifying as we get to fewer than three hours before the Phoenix Suns go on the clock.

The Suns are a lock to take DeAndre Ayton at No. 1.

After that, the Kings more and more seem to be leaning toward taking Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, according to multiple reports of those close to the team.

At three things really open up. Atlanta is listening to trade offers but one way or another is likely to pick Luka Doncic. There are rumors that multiple teams — Dallas, Orlando, others — would then trade their pick plus some other asset (young player/future pick) to the Hawks for Doncic. Who the Hawks reportedly really want is Trae Young, but they can move down to get him.

If the Slovenian is off the board, it’s more likely that Memphis trades the No. 4 pick, according to sources. However, there are questions about whether Memphis can get what it thinks is fair value for selling the No. 4. So maybe they just take Jaren Jackson Jr.

How is it going to shake out?

That follows my final mock draft, which was put together Wednesday for the video above. It has:

1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley
3. Atlanta: Luka Doncic
4. Memphis: Jaren Jackson
5. Dallas: Mo Bamba
6. Orlando: Trae Young
7. Chicago: Michael Porter Jr.
8. Cleveland: Wendell Carter Jr.
9. New York: Kevin Knox
10. Philadelphia: Mikail Bridges
11. Charlotte: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
12. LA Clippers: Robert Williams
13. LA Clippers: Collin Sexton
14. Denver: Miles Bridges

The problem with any mock draft now is accounting for trades, and those are coming.

Report: Spurs hearing out Kawhi Leonard trade offers, including from Lakers

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The Spurs shot down Kawhi Leonard trade offers before the trade deadline. They brushed off Leonard trade offers earlier this offseason.

Then, the already strained situation got even worse.

Leonard put out word he wanted to leave San Antonio, ideally for the Lakers. He met with Gregg Popovich this week in San Diego, reportedly directly telling the president-coach he wants out.

What are the Spurs doing now?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

The Lakers are in that mix.

The Spurs can try to mend their relationship with Leonard. They could even use a super-max contract – projected to be worth $219 million over five years – to aid that process. They don’t have to trade him.

But the clock is ticking toward tonight’s draft, teams using their cap space in other ways and Leonard’s 2019 free agency.

San Antonio has no choice but to get more aggressive in handling Leonard’s future. This is a small step in that direction.

Report: Nets to buy out Dwight Howard

AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The Magic, Lakers, Rockets, Hawks and Hornets all grew tired of Dwight Howard.

The Nets did it in record time.

After acquiring Howard in a trade from Charlotte yesterday, Brooklyn is moving toward shedding him.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

In the trade, the Nets dumped Timofey Mozgov‘s $16.72 million salary for 2019-20. Now, they could get a reduction on Howard’s $23,819,725 expiring contract. Brooklyn is doing a great job of unloading bad money.

Next year, the Nets will have their own first-round pick for the first time in six years. Though he has declined considerably from his Hall of Fame peak, Howard can still play some. Brooklyn didn’t need him interfering with its tanking and culture.

Instead, the Nets can focus on developing Jarrett Allen and losing enough to secure the best draft position possible.

It’ll be interesting to see how much Howard surrenders and where he goes. Again, he can still play. But the league is moving away from traditional centers, and he’s high maintenance.