Magic may want to land Ellis, but trade complicated, unlikely

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It looks more and more like the Orlando Magic are going to go with the Jerry West philosophy and call Dwight Howard’s bluff — go ahead and leave us and that guaranteed $30 million on the table. (Which is not really $30 million, really, but we’ll get to that.)

What’s more, they are trying to convince him to stay by bringing in help to the nice but not contender status Magic roster. Maybe in the form of Monta Ellis. But that trade is very complicated and hard to pull off.

The Magic likely would be very willing to do it — anything to show Howard how serious they are — but for the Warriors it is hard to make this trade work. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com explains.

The Warriors are discussing ways to acquire center Andrew Bogut from Milwaukee as part of a complicated, three-team proposal that would send Monta Ellis to Orlando, multiple league sources told CBSSports.com.

The Warriors would get Bogut from the Bucks and send Ellis to Orlando as part of the Magic’s efforts to persuade Dwight Howard that they are prepared to continue surrounding him with top-flight talent. The Magic are exploring multiple scenarios to upgrade their roster in the hopes that Howard would then relent on his strategy to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

I get why Magic GM Otis Smith would want to do a deal like this — he is desperate to show Dwight Howard that they can build a contender around him. Of course, the real problem is he’s other desperation moves to show the same thing — trading for Gilbert Arenas after the gun incidents and knee surgeries when he had the worst contract in the NBA, or letting Brandon Bass go so he could make a run at Glen Davis — have not panned out well at all. Which is part of the reason the Magic are a second tier team in the East and Howard is looking to get out.

But why would the Warriors do this? They certainly need to make changes to the roster, but is Bogut coming off another major injury and the cast-offs from Orlando really much of an upgrade? The targets in the West for the next few years are Oklahoma City and the improving Clippers — those will be the teams to beat in the next five years, barring any major changes. Not sure how this would move the Warriors much closer to that goal.

Plus there is this about the Warriors from the Contra Costa Times.

Team sources, once again, refute reports that Golden State is considering trading guard Monta Ellis to Orlando for anything other than Dwight Howard.

It’s all a long shot. But the Magic are in the long shot game right now as they try to keep Howard. So they keep pushing for deals that would send Bogut or Chris Kaman to Golden State.

They can say their deal offers $30 million more — which would not be true because while they can guarantee that fifth year Howard likely would play it somewhere for a large salary, it just would be smaller due to smaller raises. At his age, with his earnings from endorsements, the wins may matter more than that money. To sum up, Berger:

The most difficult aspect of Bogut going to Golden State in the three-team scenario that would send Ellis to Orlando is Howard’s apparent reluctance to commit one way or the other by Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. Even if Howard decided he wanted to stay in Orlando, it’s likely that he would opt out of his $19.5 million contract for next season anyway and test free agency, when he could get a five-year deal from Orlando as opposed to a four-year deal with one of his top two choices, the Nets or Mavericks.

Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid lead Sixers past Jazz 113-107

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jimmy Butler had the sellout crowd chanting his name and singing his favorite theme song.

Butler scored 28 points in his home debut, Joel Embiid had 23 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Utah Jazz 113-107 on Friday night.

Butler, the four-time All-Star acquired Monday from Minnesota in a five-player trade, got a loud ovation during introductions and quickly made an impression as the Sixers built a 16-point lead in the first quarter.

Fans serenaded him throughout the game and he got to hear the team’s “1-2-3 Sixers” theme song after the win.

“I already knew this crowd would be excited,” Butler said. “Now that I have them on my side it’s better for me. Y’all, we, have some great fans. Y’all have the catchiest song. I used to sing it in my head when I came in here.”

The Jazz rallied after a rough first quarter and the teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder‘s put-back after Ricky Rubio‘s stole the ball and missed a lay-up gave Utah a 107-105 lead with 1:37 left. JJ Redick tied it on a pair of free throws. Ben Simmons‘ driving lay-up gave the 76ers a 109-107 lead.

Butler then hit a jumper to extend the lead and drew an offensive foul, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Hall of Famer Allen Iverson jumped up to celebrate from his courtside seat.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Embiid said.

The 76ers are 29-1 in last 30 regular-season home games.

Redick had 16 points and Simmons had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Embiid scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter after he played less than a minute in the third because he had four fouls.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points.

“We competed but we have to be smarter,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some mistakes where we have to think more. They add up against a team like this.”

After the Jazz made the first basket, Butler scored on a reverse layup to begin a 12-0 run. He also nailed a 3-pointer during that stretch as Philadelphia dominated early.

But Utah closed to 54-52 at halftime following Derrick Favors‘ alley-oop dunk.

Redick and Mike Muscala hit consecutive 3s early in the third quarter. However, the Jazz came back and went up 81-80 on Mitchell’s jumper late in the quarter.

“Up until the end, we made a few mistakes, but we played passionate,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, they’re a great team, but we had the game in the bag except for a few mistakes. I think the game just got away.”

 

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

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After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.

Charles Barkley addresses Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dynamic (video)

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Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.

Trae Young: I’ll be better than Luka Doncic

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Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.

The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.

Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.

So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.

Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.