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Report: Jimmy Butler never really wanted to go to Knicks


This may be a bit of revisionist history, but it’s worth noting.

Earlier this year, before it all hit the fan in Minnesota, there were reports that Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving wanted to team up on the Knicks. Something Irving denied (he later said he plans to re-sign with Boston). Then, when Butler did request a trade and forced his way off the Timberwolves, the Knicks were reportedly on his list of preferred destinations. The Knicks were lukewarm on the idea.

Now comes a report out of Philadelphia and Keith Pompey of the Inquirer that Butler was never down with these New York plans.

Just a few quick bullet point thoughts:

• At the time he was trying to throw a tantrum and get his way force a trade from Minnesota, would Butler really have said no to New York as a destination, or threatened not to re-sign there? I doubt it. He would have gone and praised the deal because he wanted out of Minnesota badly. Was NYC where he most wanted to be? Only Butler knows that. Miami and Philadelphia were not in the original reports, but both seemed to become places he pushed to get dealt to at points.

• Even with Butler, these Knicks were going to struggle this season. Butler would have chaffed in that setting and it would have made re-signing him difficult.

• Of course the reports out of Philly are that Butler is happy and wants to re-sign there. He says he’s happy, he’s playing well, and very likely he does stay there as part of the Sixers’ new big three. But this team is still in a honeymoon phase and every report out of that city right now is going to be like puppy dogs and rainbows. Adversity will come and then we will see how strong the relationship really is.

• No doubt Butler wants to move on from being the center of trade rumors and talks, he’ll let Bradley Beal have that mantle for a while.

• Did Butler and Irving actually talk about teaming up in New York? Who knows, maybe they did one All-Star weekend over some beers, or maybe this is all just the fever dream of some Knicks fans that took on a life of its own.

• Did Butler and Irving ever have SERIOUS talks about teaming up in New York? Highly doubtful.

• The Knicks were always higher on Irving (and, according to buzz around the league, have not completely given up that dream despite what Irving has said about staying in Boston). That said, there’s a lot more Kevin Durant to New York buzz now than Irving (and take the KD to the Knicks with grains of salt).

Harden on fit with Westbrook: ‘When you have talent like that, it works itself out’

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It was the question everybody asked about 30 seconds after they heard Russell Westbrook had been traded to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul (after the initial shock of the deal wore off):

Do Westbrook and Harden, two of the most ball-dominant, isolation heavy players in the NBA, actually fit together?

Harden says yes. Of course, what else is he going to say, but he was earnest about it in comments to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle at the Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event last Friday.

“When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. You figure things out. Throughout the course of the season, you figure things out. That’s just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.”…

“It works,” Harden said. “It’s that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. And with the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in and things are going to go.”

That is essentially is what Mike D’Antoni said, and what Rockets GM Daryl Morey is betting on.

Will Westbrook, and to a lesser degree Harden, be willing to make sacrifices and adjust their games? It is the question that will define the Rockets’ season.

My prediction: The duo works it out on offense and becomes one of the hardest teams to stop in the NBA. They will work it out. However, having to play Harden and Westbrook together on defense for extended stretches will cost Houston in the playoffs earlier than they planned.

George King, Suns two-way player last season, signs to play in Italy

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For players on the fringe of the NBA, there is a choice to be made at some point:

Keep the NBA dream alive and close by making less money (the base salary for most is $35,000 a year) and play in the domestic G-League, where teams have ties to NBA organizations and scouts are watching. Or…

Go overseas, where the money gets better (six figures for most, seven figures for the best) and they will be one of the best players on a team, putting up big numbers and playing a starring role.

George King, who spent last season on a two-way contract with Phoenix — but played just six total minutes with the Suns — has chosen overseas.

George spent most of last season in the G-League with Northern Arizona, where he averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a game. He was on the wrong end of a numbers game on the wing with the Suns at the start of the season, but when injuries hit he had not earned enough trust with the coaches to get a real opportunity.

So he went where there is an opportunity.

Same with former NBA player Tyler Cavanaugh, who spent most of last season with the Salt Lake G-League team and is now headed to Berlin.

Plenty of players spend time overseas then come back and are ready for the NBA — Patrick Beverley was in the Ukraine and Greece before coming to the NBA, for example — while others find a very good career playing overseas.

James Harden broke one of his youth camper’s ankles (VIDEO)

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It’s around the time of summer when NBA players (and coaches, and college coaches, and a whole lot of other people) are holding youth basketball camps.

I went to them as a kid (John Wooden’s was the best) and like me, these youth will have the memories of a lifetime, even if they move away from playing hoops someday. Especially this boy, who will forever be able to look back at this video from camp of James Harden breaking his ankles. (Via Houston Rockets Instagram)

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Meanwhile at @jharden13’s camp…😅

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Meanwhile, over at Dwyane Wade‘s camp, he was reminding some young children he is the best shot blocking guard of all time.


Could Anthony Davis someday play for hometown Bulls? ‘I’d definitely consider it’

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Not every player wants to go home.

LeBron James returned to Cleveland (for a while). Kawhi Leonard and Paul George pushed to get back to Southern California. However, plenty of players see the return to their home town as more curse than blessing — it takes a maturity to be the face of the city, to not let hanging with your old buddies get in the way of off-season workouts, to handle everyone you went to high school with asking you for tickets to the game. A player has to be ready for a lot to go home.

Would Anthony Davis consider a return to Chicago to lead the Bulls?

He wouldn’t rule it out. Someday. Here’s what Davis said to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

“I mean, (this is) definitely hometown,” he said. “If the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”

That does not mean next summer. Technically Davis is a free agent next summer, however, he is all but certain to re-sign with the Lakers (it’s possible things go Dwight Howard/Steve Nash bad in Los Angeles and Davis wants out, but it’s highly unlikely). Davis pushed his way to Los Angeles to win and lead the biggest brand in basketball down the line, to have his name in the rafters with legendary big men (Wilt, Kareem, Shaq). He’s not bolting that after one season.

Could he finish his career in Chicago? Maybe. I’d say the same thing about Stephen Curry with Charlotte, but we are too many years from that to make any kind of prediction.

However, Davis didn’t slam the door shut. Maybe someday that will be good news for Bulls fans.