With 1-3 start, Rockets reportedly ramp up Jimmy Butler trade efforts again

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The weekend before the NBA season started, trade talks to send Jimmy Butler to the Heat went far enough that Minnesota and Miami shared medical data on players potentially in the deal. Then, somehow, the trade fell apart on the three-yard line. After that the season started, Miami backed off some, and there seemed to be little movement on the Butler trade front.

Now the Rockets have started 1-3 with an offense and defense in the NBA’s bottom 11, and they will be without James Harden for at least a couple of games and new wing defender James Ennis longer than that.

Probably not so coincidentally comes a report the Rockets are ramping up efforts to trade for Jimmy Butler again. From Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Houston Rockets are making a renewed bid to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler, including four future first-round draft picks in their most recent offer, league sources told ESPN…

Houston’s push represents a desire to sacrifice some long-term roster flexibility and go all-in with a legitimate third star to partner with All-NBA guards James Harden and Chris Paul in pursuit of a championship.

The Rockets’ offer constitutes the maximum number of first-round picks allowable in a deal, factoring in league rules that necessitate no first-rounders can be conveyed in successive years, and no pick can be traded farther out than seven seasons.

How exactly would this work?

If one of those picks doesn’t convey because of protection put on it, this could get insanely convoluted.

A few thoughts here:

• Houston one of the teams with some urgency to trade for Butler because they do not have the cap space to sign him as a free agent next summer. Miami is in that same situation. Things are different for teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, who will have the cap space next summer and will offer less because they are willing to wait.

• Rockets GM Daryl Morey realizes his window is now and that getting past the Warriors will require bold moves (and a bit of luck still). He is taking his home run swing. This would be an all-in move for the next two seasons to get a ring, and the price would come after that when the team is capped out, Chris Paul is 37, the window has closed and this team is very, very expensive.

• Houston and Minnesota talked before, and a deal could be done involving Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker (both of them together would make the numbers work). That seemed to gain little traction.

• Houston still needs to send salary back to Minnesota to balance this out, it just can’t be picks. Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss together would make the numbers work and they can be traded on October 31.

• Is four future first-round picks going to work for Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves? One of the priorities in this trade for Minnesota is to stay good enough now to make the playoffs, a draft pick heavy trade would be focused more on the future and less on this season. It also doesn’t get rid of any bad contracts on the Timberwolves. Plus, the 2019 pick for sure and likely the 2021 one will not be high in the first round.

• Is this leak designed to pull Miami back to the negotiating table in a serious way? Pat Riley has taken a step back from the talks after the last deal fell through and the talks have been recently described as “dormant.”

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.

Hornets’ rookie P.J. Washington out weeks with fractured little finger

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In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.

While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.

Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.

The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).