Houston Rockets

Trade Between Cavs, Knicks Appears Increasingly Unlikely

The Cavaliers have been mentioned all offseason as a possible landing spot for Carmelo Anthony, and within the last few days, the Knicks were named among Kyrie Irving‘s preferred destinations. However, a trade between the Cavs and Knicks increasingly appears to be a long shot, according to reports.

As Ian Begley of ESPN writes, Anthony’s top choice continues to be the Rockets, and the star forward still expects the Knicks to find a way to get him at Houston. It’s possible Carmelo’s stance will change at some point, but he wields a no-trade clause and appears intent on waiving it for the Rockets rather than the Cavs, particularly if he wouldn’t have the opportunity to play with Irving in Cleveland.

According to Begley, the Knicks have no interest in including Kristaps Porzingis in any trade for Irving, so they’d likely need to include Anthony in a hypothetical Irving deal with the Cavs. Not having Carmelo’s approval is, of course, a major roadblock. But even with his go-ahead, it’s not clear if the two teams would be able to reach an agreement.

Begley suggests that some members of the Knicks’ front office would be willing to trade Anthony and multiple first-round picks for Irving, but the organization is not in full agreement on the idea of giving up multiple first-rounders in any trade.

Conversely, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops hears that the Cavs would be unwilling to move Irving for only Anthony and draft picks. Sources tell Amico that the Cavs may be removing themselves from the Carmelo sweepstakes in the wake of Irving’s trade request, since their trade objectives – and possibilities – have changed.

Even if the Knicks aren’t a viable trade partner for the Cavaliers, Cleveland should have no shortage of options for an Irving deal. Amico reports that at least seven teams have made “serious inquiries” on Irving, and Cleveland is making every effort to grant the point guard’s trade request. However, the Cavs are also in no rush to get something done, as they attempt to sniff out the best possible deal.

The Timberwolves are one of those teams exploring a possible Kyrie trade with “incredible seriousness,” says Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (via Twitter). However, Krawczynski remains unsure whether Minnesota would be open to including Andrew Wiggins in an offer for Irving.

Rockets Re-Sign Troy Williams

JULY 25: The Rockets officially re-signed Williams, announcing by press release on their website.

JULY 20: Free agent forward Troy Williams is returning to the Rockets, his agency ASM Sports announced today (via Twitter). According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), Williams will get a three-year contract with a fully guaranteed first year and trigger dates for years two and three.

A 22-year-old forward out of Indiana, Williams landed with the Grizzlies last summer after going undrafted. Williams played 24 games for Memphis, starting 13 of them, before he was waived in January to make room on the roster for Toney Douglas. The Rockets picked up Williams and signed him to a rest-of-season contract, letting him become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Although the Rockets didn’t tender Williams a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, the team retains his Non-Bird rights, which allow for a three-year deal. Without those Non-Bird rights, the Rockets would have only been able to offer a two-year minimum salary contract, since the club has already used its full mid-level exception and bi-annual exception.

The Rockets also reportedly agreed to re-sign Bobby Brown.

Rockets Remain Top Choice For Carmelo Anthony

Kyrie Irving‘s trade request hasn’t affected Carmelo Anthony‘s desire to join the Rockets, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.

The Knicks are among four teams that Irving told Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert he would like to be traded to, and there is speculation that New York will offer Anthony and a collection of draft picks in exchange for the All-Star guard. However, a source tells Isola that Anthony remains “focused on getting a deal done with Houston.”

Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract and can block any deal that he doesn’t like. He has reportedly told Knicks management that he would waive the clause to join the Cavaliers or the Rockets, but he might change his mind about Cleveland if Irving is no longer there.

The Knicks and Rockets tried unsuccessfully to work out a deal involving Anthony earlier this month. Houston needs to unload Ryan Anderson, whom New York doesn’t want, so there was a search for a third — and possibly fourth — team to help make it work. The Knicks put a hold on trade talks after hiring Scott Perry as their new GM last week.

Southwest Notes: Ginobili, Rockets, Noel

Manu Ginobili said the decision to return to the Spurs for his 16th season was not an easy one to make, Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation relays.

“[Coach Gregg Popovich] told me that he wanted me to continue and he needed me on the team,” Ginobili said.“If he did not want me, it would have been easier for me.”

The future Hall of Famer added that he didn’t want to walk away while he could still play at a high level.

“I accepted because it is a great honor to be with such a franchise, at 40 years old, feeling important, with people who tell me that they love me and that I am still important to the team,” Ginobili wrote. “Everything I had in mind if I retired, I can postpone for another time. On the other hand, if I retired and took a year (off), I would not be able to compete again at 41.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Multiple sources tell Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that Daryl Morey and the Rockets‘ management team is not attempting to put together a group to buy the franchise. Leslie Alexander announced earlier this week that he is selling the team after 24 years of ownership.
  • Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates that Nerlens Noel could end up signing a one-year deal with the Mavericks. Noel has yet to reach an agreement with the franchise and the scribe believes the center is searching for leverage, but Dallas’ ability to match any offer limits his negotiation power.
  • Brandon Paul, who signed a two-year deal with the Spurs this summer, is thrilled for the chance to play for the franchise, as he tells Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Paul played in Russia, Spain, and Turkey in addition to the G-League before landing his first NBA contract.

Rockets Agree To Re-Sign Bobby Brown

The Rockets have reached an agreement with free agent guard Bobby Brown, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Brown confirmed to Alykhan Bijani of ESPN 97.5 Houston (Twitter link) that he’s re-signing with the club.

Brown, 32, returned to the NBA last year for the first time since the 2009/10 season, joining the Rockets after spending several years playing in Europe and Asia. Although he was a standout scorer during most of his international stops, Brown didn’t play much for Houston in 2016/17, appearing in 25 regular season games and seeing just 123 total minutes of action. He also played limited minutes in five postseason contests.

While Brown didn’t make much of an impact on the court, it sounds like he has played a key role off it for the Rockets. The California native was said to be one of the key players involved in the recruitment of Chris Paul to Houston, along with James Harden and Trevor Ariza.

Brown’s contract with the Rockets expired in June, and he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the club to make him a restricted free agent, so his efforts to get Paul to Houston looked a little unusual. It makes sense that the club would be willing to bring him back on a minimum salary contract — it remains to be seen whether he’ll get a full or partial guarantee on his deal, however.

Luc Mbah a Moute Excited To Play For D'Antoni

J.J. Redick Talks Free Agency Decision

J.J. Redick called his time with the Clippers the “four best years” of his career, though he knew entering the offseason that he wouldn’t re-sign with the team, as he explains on his new podcast (h/t Kevin Spain of USA Today).

“I know some Clippers fans and maybe some NBA fans may be wondering like, why did I not go back or there are probably some ignorant people out there who are questioning my loyalty,” Redick said. “Going back to the Clippers was, honestly, not an option.

“I kind of figured last summer when they signed [Austin Rivers] and [Jamal Crawford] back, they had basically guaranteed $25MM in salary for this upcoming season and I knew they weren’t going to be able to commit financially long-term to having a third shooting guard at a high rate. That’s just unrealistic. You can’t have $30-$40MM at one position, especially when you’re going to have two or three max players on the team.”

Redick added that on June 29 – two days before the beginning of free agency – he received a call from the Clippers telling him that they were not going to bring him back.

The shooting guard ended up signing a one-year deal, $23MM deal with the Sixers to join, among others, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the starting line-up. Redick said that Houston offered him more money overall than Philadelphia did, but he chose Bryan Colangelo‘s offer in part because he didn’t want to come off the bench. Also, while the Rockets’ offer may have been worth more in total, it likely didn’t come close to the Sixers’ offer in terms of 2017/18 salary.

The Nets were also interested in adding Redick and the team was his wife’s preferred destination. The two currently share a condo in Brooklyn. Redick said he likes what GM Sean Marks is building in the city, but was concerned with the number of minutes he would have received.

Redick should see significant playing time for the Sixers. The team appears to be past its rebuilding phase and ready to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Rockets Sign Luc Mbah a Moute

July 19: The signing is official, according to the team’s website.

July 16: The Rockets have reached an agreement with Luc Mbah a Moute, sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The deal will be a one-year, minimum salary arrangement, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. 

Mbah a Moute had been in talks with the team about returning to L.A, though the team only had the veteran’s minimum at its disposal. He’ll get that sized deal with Houston after choosing to opt out of a $2.3MM player option in order to hit free agency.

Mbah a Moute has bounced around the league since the Bucks selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft. He played well in the Clippers’ starting lineup last season, shooting 50.5% from the field on 378 attempts while providing excellent defense.

Rockets Notes: Potential Buyers, Carmelo, Williams

Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo is among the potential buyers interested in making a run at the Rockets, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston details. While Mutombo won’t be the lead investor in such a bid, he’s in talks with potential partners in the hopes of putting together a prospective ownership group, telling Berman that he’s “trying to convince some people” to get involved.

“I’m working on it,” Mutombo said. “I’m talking to a lot of people already since (Monday). We’ll see. I’m just talking to the people who can cut the check and they can make me be part of it. I’m working on that.”

Mutombo’s name is one that has surfaced as a possible buyer since Monday’s announcement that the Rockets are up for sale, but it’s far from the only one. Here are more items on investors interested in the Rockets, along with a couple other notes on the club:

  • Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who founded Landry’s restaurants and owns multiple hotels and casinos, confirmed he has interest in buying the Rockets, writes Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle. “[I] just hope it doesn’t go for crazy numbers,” Fertitta said. “I’ve never really wanted to own a professional team outside of Houston. Houston is my hometown and the place I would prefer to own a professional team.”
  • Fernando Alfonso III of The Houston Chronicle has the details on another prospective bidder for the Rockets, writing that Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale – the owner of Houston’s Gallery Furniture – has expressed interest in buying the team as part of an investment group. McIngvale confirmed that he has spoken to a few potential partners, adding that “we’ll see where it goes from here.”
  • In his latest piece on the Carmelo Anthony situation, Marc Berman of The New York Post cites a source who says the Knicks have yet to restart trade talks with the Rockets. However, according to Berman, Anthony doesn’t have much interest in meeting with the Knicks’ new management group and trying to bury the hatchet. Anthony’s camp continues to push for a trade to Houston, says Berman.
  • During his introductory press conference as a Clipper, Lou Williams likened his departure from the Rockets to a “bad breakup,” per Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Williams, traded to the Rockets prior to the deadline, said he enjoyed his time in Houston, but added that “it was short-lived and it really didn’t make a huge impression on my life.”

Trade Notes: Carmelo, Blazers, Celtics, Drummond

The Knicks put Carmelo Anthony trade talks on hold last week, but that decision is likely temporary, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, who suggests that the team wanted to get new general manager Scott Perry involved in the process. The Knicks reportedly hope that Anthony will be willing to expand his list of preferred destinations beyond Houston and Cleveland, but there has been no indication yet that the star forward is open to going to a team like the Trail Blazers, despite alleged interest from Portland.

According to Mannix, the Trail Blazers have been involved in Anthony talks, but have primarily been acting as a third-team facilitator in discussions so far. Per Mannix’s report, an inability to find a fourth team willing to take on Meyers Leonard‘s contract stalled “at least one version” of the proposed deal.

Anthony’s preferred destination is believed to be Houston, and given his no-trade clause, the fact that Carmelo is willing to accept such a deal is a good start for the Rockets. However, GM Daryl Morey will still have to get the Knicks and potentially one or two other teams on board in order to land Anthony, which is why the situation remains in a holding pattern for now.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Within the Vertical piece linked above, Chris Mannix notes that it’s “widely believed” the Celtics will make a run at Anthony Davis if the Pelicans‘ season goes south. New Orleans has been vehemently opposed to considering Davis deals, and while it’s possible that will change if the team struggles this season, DeMarcus Cousins would almost certainly land on the trading block first.
  • According to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, many teams around the NBA sensed this offseason that Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy was dissatisfied with center Andre Drummond. Detroit took calls on Drummond, but team owner Tom Gores is a big fan of the 23-year-old, and the Pistons didn’t receive any offers strong enough to merit a serious conversation about the big man’s future, per Bontemps.
  • Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Jimmy Butler confirmed that he left a June exit meeting with Bulls brass believing that he’d remain in Chicago. “I thought I was going to be there so I’m not going to say word for word what they said, but when I left there I did think I was going to be there,” Butler said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “But like I said, it’s a business and it is what it is.”
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