The Spurs shot down Kawhi Leonard trade inquiries before the deadline. As other teams entered their offseasons, San Antonio gave off signals it wouldn’t trade Leonard.
But speculation into the star forward’s future is only intensifying, and teams are still circling like vultures.
Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:
Nonetheless, another Western Conference executive said teams are “lining up to try to do something” in the event the Spurs decide to trade Leonard this summer. Through back channels, those teams have gotten the brush-off from the Spurs.
A meeting between Leonard and San Antonio could clarify things – namely whether the Spurs will offer Leonard a super-max extension.
Not doing so wouldn’t mean they have trade him immediately. He’s still under contract through next season, and they’d still have a financial advantage in re-signing him in 2019 (including the super-max salary if he makes an All-NBA team next season).
But if San Antonio and Leonard don’t agree on a contract extension this offseason, expect the Spurs to take those trade calls more seriously. Again, that doesn’t mean they’ll trade him. But exploring potential deals would become much more logical.
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.
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.
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.
Jimmy Butler is officially a member of the 76ers.
His plane landed in Philly Monday and a camera crew from NBC Sports Philadelphia was there to get his first words on being a member of the Sixers. (You can see the video above.)
“I’m ready to get started, we got a little ways to go, we got some things to figure out. But all-in-all, I look forward to it,” Butler said out the window of the car that picked him up.
What should Sixers fans expect?
“Hard playing. A guy that wants to win. We got some things we want to get done here, we want to win a championship. I think the core group of guys we have, we’ll figure out a way to get it done.”
After that he rolled up the window and drove off… and we assume cranked up the country music.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler did not mesh. Off the court in particular, although this season on it the Timberwolves were -7.1 points per 100 possessions when they were paired (a sharp change from a year ago when the pair were +10.2). Butler wanted out and started trying to burn down the franchise and lob grenades at practice. It took Tom Thibodeau longer than anyone else to see this was never going to work, but once he did the move was made and Butler was traded to Philadelphia.
Towns, who some around the league felt was too timid through this drama and should have stood up to Butler, took the high road after the trade and had nothing but kind words about Butler. Andrew Wiggins took the same path. From Malika Andrews of ESPN.
“He’s one hell of a player,” Towns said Sunday. “I don’t know how many Jimmy Butlers there are in the world, so I think he’ll be missed.”
“I learned a lot of things from him,” Wiggins said of Butler. “We made the playoffs, something we haven’t done in a long, long time. So I think it was a positive either way you put it.”
We’ll see how that plays out Jan. 15 when Butler and the Sixers host Towns and the Timberwolves.