Gerald Green receives first DNP in two seasons with Suns, team shoots down trade rumors

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Gerald Green had played in all of the 129 games he was available since joining the Phoenix Suns last season, and has been an important part of the bench unit this year, averaging 13.4 points in 21.4 minutes per contest.

But that streak came to an unexpected end on Friday, when Green received a DNP-CD in the Suns’ 99-93 win over the Bulls.

Given the sudden nature of Green’s benching, it was worth wondering if something was up; was a trade in the works involving Green, or was there an internal disciplinary reason for him remaining sidelined? According to head coach Jeff Hornacek, it was simply a coach’s decision based on the matchup.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

By coach’s decision, Suns swingman Gerald Green did not play for the first time in his two seasons with Phoenix. Hornacek said it was not predetermined that Green would not play but it worked out that way with Dragic and Bledsoe thriving and P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris taking their turns on defending Butler.

“We have a lot of guys that can play,” Hornacek said. “I thought Goran and Eric going up against Rose and Butler and these guys was just a better match and they were playing 40 minutes. There are only so many minutes out there. We just went with the shorter rotation. Maybe tomorrow, it’s his night.”

Green, often visibly upset upon being pulled from games, remained encouraging and relaxed throughout the game and took a spot on the end of the bench. The Suns said there is no discipline or trade reason for the benching. Green could be in store for a large role tonight at Golden State.

Hornacek’s answer is believable, in that he chose to go with size in the form of Brandan Wright, Marcus Morris and Miles Plumlee (along with Isaiah Thomas) for the bulk of the bench minutes.

It’s difficult to argue with the results, and reporters in the locker room said that Green was positive and professional about it afterward. It may or may not be something to watch moving forward, but as long as the wins keep coming (this was the sixth in the Suns’ last eight games), Hornacek and his decisions, however odd they may seem at the time, will continue to be trusted.

76ers sound caught off guard about Markelle Fultz stepping away

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Markelle Fultz has played in all 17 of the 76ers’ games this season, starting until they traded for Jimmy Butler. A couple weeks ago, Fultz called himself generally healthy.

Then, Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, informed the 76ers the guard wouldn’t play or practice until visiting a specialist Monday. Fultz will miss at least three games – against the Pelicans, Cavaliers and Nets.

76ers coach Brett Brown:

It’s kind of the first real sort of red-flag-type news.

This news about his shoulder, it did catch me off guard. But if it’s that real that he needs to go seek further consultation, then we support him. In my eyes, it’s not complicated. If that’s what it is, then we’ll support him.

76ers general manager Elton Brand:

We thought it was the regular bumps and bruises.

There’s nothing that we saw medically that didn’t allow him to play.

This yet another odd turn in a saga that already included plenty of contentiousness, animosity, rumors and cringe-worthy moments. At this point, it’s hard to be shocked by anything with Fultz.

It’s also hard to take the 76ers seriously when they suggest it seemed like business as usual. Fultz’s shot is disturbingly broken. There is clearly a problem. Maybe letting Fultz play without fretting over the issue was the right course, but how surprised can Philadelphia be that he took a more drastic measure?

Hopefully, the specialist helps Fultz identify and fix this issue.

Bulls’ Denzel Valentine likely to miss entire season

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Bulls wing Denzel Valentine has had a rough go of it.

A lottery pick two years ago, battled ankle injuries during his rookie year and underwent ankle surgery after the season. He stayed mostly healthy last year, but his season still ended early for knee surgery. Then, over the summer, he got torched in the Drew League by Frank “Nitty” Session, who questioned how Valentine was in the NBA:

And now…

Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago:

Denzel Valentine was originally expected to miss one to two weeks after suffering a sprained ankle on the second day of training camp. One setback led to another, and on Monday the Bulls announced that the third year guard will undergo surgical reconstruction on that left ankle. He’ll miss four to six months, the team announced, effectively ending his season.

The long end of that timeline will keep Valentine sidelined the entire season. The short end would allow him to return late in the year, but with Chicago so dismal, there’s little incentive to rush him back.

Valentine is under contract next season, the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He might need to prove himself to make Nitty’s question still relevant.

Report: J.R. Smith and Cavaliers separating as they seek trade

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DETROIT – Yesterday – yesterday! – J.R. Smith explained why he didn’t leave the Cavaliers when, a few weeks ago, they pulled him from the rotation and gave him the offer to step away.

“I can’t do that to the city and the fans,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been backing me since I’ve been here. I feel like it’s been a new start since I came here. The way the fans embraced me, the way that I’ve embraced the city, my teammates, I can’t do that to them.”

But Smith also said Cleveland is tanking and reaffirmed his desire to be traded. That probably set wheels in motion.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

Smith – who’s guaranteed $18.59 million on a contract that will surely end after this season – carries negative trade value. The Cavs shouldn’t attach the sweetener necessary to dump him. They’re better off just paying him for now.

Because just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed, Smith’s contract could prove useful in a trade.

If Smith would reduce his guarantee with a buyout, let him go. But Smith probably shouldn’t do that without a new job lined up.

So, the stalemate continues.

If everyone is happier apart, all the better. Smith wasn’t making a difference on the court for a team he correctly identified as tanking.

Report: ‘At the direction of his attorney,’ 76ers G Markelle Fultz to stop playing and practicing, see specialist

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Markelle Fultz said his shooting problems were due to injury, and just a couple weeks ago, he insisted he was generally healthy.

But something is clearly amiss.

The 76ers guard finally appears to be acknowledging it.

David Aldridge of The Athletic:

Should we read into Brothers – usually identified as Fultz’s agent – being referred to as Fultz’s attorney? That sounds ominous.

There has been back-and-forth between Fultz’s and the 76ers about who deserves blame for his struggles.