The Houston Rockets made a show of really wanting to trade for Jimmy Butler.
Butler, it turns out, wanted to be in Miami.
Was that a bad thing for Houston? A number of front office personnel in Salt Lake City for the Summer League there told Tim MacMahon of ESPN the Rockets may have dodged a bullet.
The reaction from several rival scouts and executives to Jimmy Butler deciding to go to the Miami Heat over the Houston Rockets: The Rockets dodged a bullet.
Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s desire to add Butler to a dynamic that already has potential to be combustible puzzled some other talent evaluators. Especially considering that Butler would have been a distant second option to James Harden, who actively recruited the All-Star who opted to take his talents to South Beach, if not a third option behind Chris Paul as well.
“He’s not exactly a calming influence,” one league source said of Butler.
Plus, what the Rockets would have had to give up — Clint Capela, and either Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker — would have depleted the talent around a combustible core, which could have hurt the team’s prospects.
While going to Houston would have been going home for Butler, a lot of players don’t want to play at home (it comes with challenges, such as everyone you went to high school with asking for tickets). Maybe that was not what Butler wanted, maybe he felt a kindred spirit with grinders like Pat Riley and Erick Spoelstra, maybe he just likes South Beach that much. Whatever the reason, Butler made his choice.
How much of the Rockets going after Butler was real and how much was “look how hard we’re trying fans” is up for debate. Bottom line, the Rockets struck out, but with the roster they have — if Chris Paul and James Harden can go to some marriage counseling and figure things out — this team is a serious contender. Why mess with it and bring a spark to an already combustible scene?
The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.
Somewhat by choice.
Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.
Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.
Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.
This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?
Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.
Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”
In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.
The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.
Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.
Michele Roberts got a new four-year term as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association in 2018.
Yet, Peter Vecsey tweeted:
The NBPA responded with a statement on behalf of Chris Paul:
NBPA President Chris Paul’s response to the false information tweeted earlier this evening regarding NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts:
“Michele Roberts has been and continues to be our fearless leader. The Twitter post that is circulating suggesting Michele is no longer the NBPA Executive Director is untrue. A Search Firm has been hired to advise on union hiring and succession planning, which has not yet begun. In the meantime, the Executive Committee is proud to report that Michele remains the NBPA Executive Director, is very much “in power,” and continues to enjoy the support of our members!”
Roberts led the union through Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in 2016. She appears active in running the union now.
Controversially, Roberts rejected cap smoothing when the new national TV deals sent revenue soaring. That adversely affected many union members, though benefited others.
Roberts and Paul have also sometimes prioritized stars, to the dismay of the rank-and-file.
But the overall health of the union appears strong, and Roberts and Paul remain in charge.