Report: No, the Bucks don’t want to trade Larry Sanders to your team. Nice try.

13 Comments

Last season Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders was a breakout player, his shot blocking and defensive presence in the paint was one of the reasons the Bucks were good enough to make the playoffs, plus he scored an efficient 9.5 points a game. That earned him a four-year, $44 million contract extension as the Bucks saw him as one of their cornerstones to rebuild around.

This season has been a disaster. It started with him injuring his thumb in a bar fight, needing surgery to fix that thumb and missing a lot of time. He’s argued with teammates. On the court for a 9-40 Bucks team he just has not been the same player, his true shooting percentage dropping from near the league average last year to 48 percent this season (league average this season is around 53 percent).

But no, that doesn’t mean the Bucks are trading him for pennies on the dollar, not to Dallas (where these rumors started) or anywhere else, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com that teams asking whether the defensive specialist has fallen far enough out of favor with his frustrated bosses to be made available are being turned away….

Reason being: Milwaukee is said to be fearful that trading Sanders so soon, when his value has taken so many hits in the wake of that October nightclub fight and the Bucks’ subsequent nosedive to a league-worst record of 9-40, makes it tough to get something resembling a fair return.

Sanders has made a lot of mistakes this season, but they are once he can certainly bounce back from. Next season he could be his old self again, and with that a guy that the Bucks want to keep as a defensive anchor inside, a guy who is an efficient scorer, a guy that paired with John Henson could be the future front line of this team. Do that and he’s a guy that other teams may covet but will bring decent trade offers for.

It remains possible the Bucks move Sanders before the deadline, but they aren’t going to trade a 25 year old after one rough season.

Markell Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
2 Comments

A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

Elsa/Getty Images
8 Comments

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.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

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.

Report: Jimmy Butler planned to hold out from Timberwolves unless traded, informing team during Friday’s game

AP Photo/Steve Yeater
2 Comments

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.