Phoenix Suns

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.

Trade Rumors: Noah, Josh Jackson, Bledsoe, Mudiay

The Knicks would like to unload Joakim Noah‘s salary in any deal involving Kristaps Porzingis, according to a post by Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Noah was considered a major disappointment in his first year in New York after signing a four-year, $72MM deal last summer. Injuries and a suspension for violating the NBA drug policy limited him to 46 games, and he averaged just 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per night. Noah still has three years and $55MM left on his contract.

There’s more from a day filled with trade rumors:

  • Several teams are trying to convince the Suns to trade Josh Jackson, but Phoenix plans to keep the pick, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The Kansas forward was projected as a top three selection, but slipped to fourth behind Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum. Phoenix, which is loaded with backcourt players, can use the help at forward.
  • The Suns aren’t likely to trade Eric Bledsoe today, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix. The team reportedly had discussions with Denver earlier today on a possible deal. Bledsoe, 27, will make $29.5MM over the next two seasons.
  • The Nuggets called several teams to gauge interest in Emmanuel Mudiay, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link), who notes that New York has passed on Mudiay before.

Draft Rumors: Monk, Ntilikina, Hornets, Thunder

Malik Monk and Frank Ntilikina may be in “weird positions” tonight, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. As Ford explains, one of those two players is a good bet to land with the Knicks at No. 8. However, the player who isn’t picked by New York is a candidate to fall out of the top 10 and perhaps to the end of the lottery. In his final mock draft, Ford has Ntilikina going to the Knicks and Monk slipping to the Pistons at No. 12.

Here are a few more draft rumors and notes:

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post continues to hear that if he’s still on the board at No. 11, Donovan Mitchell appears likely to land with the Hornets (Twitter link).
  • There’s “growing chatter” that Frank Jackson has a first-round promise, and the Thunder may be that team that gave him that guarantee, tweets Royce Young of ESPN.com. Young adds (via Twitter) that Oklahoma City may look to trade back a few spots in the first round in an effort to pick up a second-round selection.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 identifies Davon Reed and Semi Ojeleye as two players to watch for the Suns in the second round (Twitter link).

Nuggets, Suns Discuss Bledsoe, Mudiay

6:01pm: Discussions between the Suns and Bulls on Bledsoe involved the No. 16 overall pick, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

5:39pm: The Suns currently have no trades on tap, and are preparing to use the No. 4 pick in the draft, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge.

5:25pm: The Nuggets and Suns have discussed a trade that would send Eric Bledsoe to Denver, with Emmanuel Mudiay and the No. 13 pick going to Phoenix, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). No deal is imminent, but talks remain “fluid,” per Haynes.

ESPN’s Chad Ford first reported that the Nuggets and Bulls were engaged with the Suns today on possible Bledsoe trade scenarios, while Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times tweeted that Phoenix was still looking to make a “major splash” with Bledsoe and/or the No. 4 pick.

According to Ford, if the Suns use the fourth overall pick on De’Aaron Fox, it will likely signal that they found a taker on Bledsoe. If Phoenix isn’t able to complete a Bledsoe trade tonight, Josh Jackson is the more probable pick at No. 4, assuming he’s still on the board, says Ford.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot for Bledsoe, who averaged a career-best 21.1 PPG and 6.3 APG in 66 games last year, before he was benched down the stretch by the tanking Suns. Although Mudiay is a former seventh overall pick, his development has been slow so far, leaving the Nuggets seeking a possible long-term alternative at the point guard position.

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Butler, Dudley, Drummond

The Nuggets, who spoke to the Bulls at the February trade deadline about Jimmy Butler, have engaged with Chicago again as the draft approaches, a source tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN. According to Goodman, any offer Denver makes obviously wouldn’t include Nikola Jokic, but would feature multiple young players and draft picks.

Butler, of course, has reportedly indicated that he wants to remain with the Bulls. And while a fondness for Chicago and his Bulls teammates may play a part in that stance, he’s also aware that he’ll no longer be eligible for a potential Designated Veteran Extension if he’s traded. Butler would be eligible for that super-max extension if he earns an All-NBA nod next year, but only if he remains on the Bulls, which is the “real reason” he doesn’t want to be moved, tweets Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA as the draft inches closer:

  • The Suns have talked to the Pelicans about a potential Jared Dudley trade, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), who adds that any deal would likely involve second-round picks. New Orleans may not have the cap room to absorb Dudley’s $10MM salary outright, so the Pelicans may have to send out a contract or two in a possible swap.
  • Although there have been whispers about Sacramento’s interest in Andre Drummond, a deal between the Kings and Pistons remains unlikely at this point, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press adds (via Twitter) that he has been told multiple times that any Drummond trade is unlikely, though that could change.
  • Amick passes along another note on the Kings, tweeting that while Sacramento plans to use pick at No. 5, there’s a chance the team will move the No. 10 selection in order to land a player and a later pick.
  • A source tells Jason Quick of CSNNW.com (Twitter link) that there’s “no way” the Trail Blazers acquire LaMarcus Aldridge from the Spurs.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis

3:23pm: The Celtics and Knicks aren’t engaged in ongoing talks about a Porzingis deal, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, who says the teams exchanged offers this morning and haven’t been back in contact. Sources familiar with the negotiations are calling Jackson’s demands “ridiculous,” McMenamin posted on ESPN Now. He adds that the Celtics are now expected to keep the No. 3 pick and not try to trade down.

2:25pm: The Celtics are making a strong pitch for Kristaps Porzingis and are trying to assemble a package that the Knicks will accept, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Boston has offered the No. 3 selection, an unidentified player and an additional lottery pick that the Celtics are confident they can trade for tonight, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman posts on ESPN Now that the sides are not close to a deal.

There’s more today on the Porzingis front:

  • Knicks president Phil Jackson wants the Celtics to give up tonight’s No. 3 pick, next year’s unprotected Nets pick, Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder, relays Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Boston believes that’s too much to ask, but is willing to do the deal if it involves just one of the draft picks, according to Isola. New York wants Kansas forward Josh Jackson, who is expected to still be on the board at No. 3. Phil Jackson is also a fan of Crowder and regrets not picking him up from Dallas in the Tyson Chandler deal three years ago. Brown, the third overall selection in 2016, has a close relationship with former Knicks president Isaiah Thomas.
  • Jackson’s demand was confirmed to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) by another source, who added, “[Phil Jackson] is just messing with things.
  • Ramona Shelburne posts on ESPN Now that Jackson won’t settle for anything less than his demand. “He’s dug in,” a Knicks source told her. “If he doesn’t get exactly what he wants, there will be no [Porzingis] trade.”
  • The Celtics aren’t the only team trying to pry Porzingis away from New York, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
  • One of those teams is the Suns, who have talked to the Knicks about a trade involving the No. 4 pick. TNT’s David Aldridge says the teams aren’t close to a deal, although that could always change (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Jackson, George, Porzingis, Kanter

Numerous teams are trying to obtain a top-4 pick in order to select Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. With the Sixers having obtained the top overall pick to select Markelle Fultz, that means a blockbuster deal involving the Lakers, Celtics or Suns could be on the horizon. It also strongly suggests that the Celtics have settled on Duke forward Jayson Tatum as their preferred choice, since Jackson wouldn’t be available at No. 4 if Boston wants him.

Here are some of other trade rumors floating around as the draft approaches:

  • There is a growing sense that unless the Pacers get a suitable offer for Paul George today, President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard will wait until next month to re-engage talks regarding the 2018 free agent, according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler. However, the latest projected salary cap of $99MM could motivate Indiana and the Lakers to get a deal done today, as Kyler details. The Spurs and Blazers are also making a run at George, Kyler adds in another tweet.
  • The Knicks believe Kristaps Porzingis would have been the top selection in today’s draft and next year’s draft and desire a package of picks that reflect his value, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. Team President Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday he is listening to offers for the disgruntled big man. Talks between the Knicks and Suns have not gained any traction because Phoenix is unwilling to part with shooting guard Devin Booker, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The Thunder could deal center Enes Kanter as early as today, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman speculates. The team has enough big men to take over his minutes, though Kanter is the most offensively-gifted frontcourt player they have, Carlson continues. It makes sense to obtain more shooters and veterans to help out Russell Westbrook, which makes Kanter expendable, Carlson adds. Kanter will make approximately $17.9MM next season and holds an $18.6MM player option on the final year of his contract next summer.

Spurs Rumors: Hill, Aldridge, Jackson, Summer League

A reunion between unrestricted free agent point guard George Hill and the Spurs is a possibility, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News. Hill wouldn’t mind playing once again for coach Gregg Popovich and he continues to maintain a residence in San Antonio, according to Young. Hill played for the Spurs from 2008-11 until he was traded to the Pacers in a deal that gave San Antonio the draft rights to Kawhi Leonard, among others. The Spurs are expected to make contact with Hill, who played for the Jazz last season, when free agency begins next month. However, Hill would seemingly be a fallback target for San Antonio, which is expected to make a serious run at the top point guard in free agency, Chris Paul.

In other news regarding the Spurs:

  • The Blazers are interested in bringing back LaMarcus Aldridge and reuniting him with point guard Damian Lillard, according to Young. That is unlikely because Portland only wants to make a deal in which it can match salaries, Young continues. The Spurs are trying to move Aldridge in a deal that would clear cap space in their pursuit of top free agents.
  • The Spurs’ efforts to land a Top 10 pick by moving Aldridge are hampered by Aldridge’s contract situation, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. Any lottery team trading for Aldridge would have to feel comfortable it can re-sign him, Stein adds. Aldridge will make $21.46MM next season but can opt out of the final year of his contract next summer if he chooses to leave $22.3MM on the table.
  • The Suns, who hold the No. 4 pick, could be a trade match for Aldridge, according to radio host Ric Bucher (Twitter link). Phoenix went hard after Aldridge in free agency before he chose San Antonio and the Spurs cover Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, Bucher adds.
  • The team has hired Dejan Radonjic of Red Star Belgrade as its associate head coach for its Summer League team, international journalist David Pick tweets.

Spurs Exploring LaMarcus Aldridge Trade Market?

JUNE 22, 9:21am: The Spurs have spoken to at least three teams about dealing Aldridge for a Top 10 pick in tonight’s draft, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright report.

JUNE 21, 7:29pm: The Spurs appear to be exploring a number of options for possible roster moves as the offseason gets underway. In the wake of a report on the team’s willingness to entertain a Danny Green trade, multiple outlets are suggesting that San Antonio is gauging the market on LaMarcus Aldridge as well.

According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), the Spurs offered up Aldridge in an effort to move into the top five of the draft. While Gambadoro doesn’t specify which team the Spurs talked to, he’s plugged in when it comes to the Suns, so if Gambadoro’s report is accurate, it’s probably safe to assume San Antonio asked Phoenix about its No. 4 pick.

Meanwhile, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net also notes (via Twitter) that the Spurs are believed to be dangling Aldridge as a way of moving into the lottery. Amico cites one executive who tells him to “watch out for the Kings.” Sacramento has the Nos. 5 and 10 overall picks.

As Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News observes (via Twitter), the Spurs will be open to doing due diligence on possible trade scenarios involving anyone not named Kawhi Leonard. So even though Aldridge’s name is out there, that doesn’t mean anything is close or that a deal will ultimately be made.

Still, as I wrote in our story on Green, it seems the Spurs – who have been linked to top free agents like Chris Paul – are exploring ways to cut costs and create extra cap room. Aldridge’s $21.46MM salary for 2017/18 is currently the largest cap number on San Antonio’s books for next season. If the team were to move him without taking much salary back, that would go a long way toward opening up maximum-salary space for a free agent.

Aldridge, who is set to enter the third year of his four-year pact with the Spurs, saw his production dip a little last season. His 17.3 PPG represented the lowest mark since his rookie season, and his .477 FG% was a career worst. He’ll be eligible to opt out of his contract in 2018.

Hoops Links Vol. 10: The Process, The Godfather, More

Tired of mock drafts yet? I didn’t think so. Still, it’s important to pace one’s self on a fine day such as this. Before the day is done there will be 60 new NBA players and half that many Woj bombs (we hope), so take a fleeting moment to read about the NBA landscape in general before zeroing in on obscure international sleeper picks and combine results.

To be featured in next week’s Hoops Links (where we prance about telling everybody on the internet why we love the NBA blogosphere so much), submit your favorite articles for nomination. Connect with Austin Kent on Twitter (@AustinKent) as our Thursday publication date approaches and tell us why you think your content deserves a shout out in this most heralded of link dumps.


Kyle Lowry verticalThe offseason is a trying time for sports fans as the balance between passion and rationality can be difficult to strike. For South of the 6ix, Adam Corsair used recent confusion surrounding Kyle Lowry and the Raptors as a telltale example of why fans should be leery of unsubstantiated rumors. Until a decision is made and deal is done, there are too many variables at play for fans to take things at face value all the time.

Author: Adam Corsair – @ACorsair21
Rating: 8 out of 10 Grains of Salt
Link: Kyle Lowry free agent rumors.


A pair of news reports that came out this week suggest that the Spurs could be considering a home run swing in free agency this summer, and Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock has broken down exactly what that might look like. The combination of Pau Gasol opting out and the club supposedly shopping Danny Green frees up cap space, and a few other moves could get the Spurs into a scenario where they could offer max money.

Author: Jesus Gomez – @JejeGomez_PtR
Rating: 8 out of 10 Pennies Pinched
Link: Spurs could make big free agent pitch.


Around this time five years ago, the Sixers swung a deal for Andrew Bynum. This, Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers writes, was the true start of “The Process.” In the years since, Sam Hinkie has come and gone, assets have come and gone, and now the franchise approaches the NBA Draft with more optimism than they’ve had since the Allen Iverson Era. Here’s a a celebratory reminder of all that Philly fans have been through and why it was worth it.

Author: Michael Levin – @Michael_Levin
Rating: 8 out of 10 Bowling Injuries
Link: The Process, in summary.


The Suns were wise to turn down an offer for DeAndre Jordan this week, but only because the price was too high. Given more reasonable terms, an acquisition of the three-time All-NBA big man could be wise. For Valley of the Suns, Lucas McLean breaks down scenarios in which Phoenix could make a play for the center and what that could mean.

Author: Lucas McLean – @LucasMcLean
Rating: 7 out of 10 Airplane Emojis
Link: DeAndre Jordan could fit with Suns.


Hockey fans saw an expansion draft unfold in Las Vegas last night, prompting Shameek Mohile of Piston Powered to think about what the Pistons might do in a similar situation. Notably unprotected throughout the hypothetical exercise were Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer, while the prioritization of those protected was telling in and of itself.

Author: Shameek Mohile – @ShamShammgod
Rating: 8 out of 10 Marc-Andre Fleury Knights Jerseys
Link: The Pistons in an expansion draft.


Nikola Pekovic verticalWhen the Timberwolves waived Nikola Pekovic this week it brought an official end to an era. In honor of the hulking big man, John Meyer of Canis Hoopus published a streamable video-filled recap of the Godfather’s NBA tenure. It wasn’t always graceful, but that doesn’t mean Pek’s stint in Minnesota didn’t have its fair share of highlights and laughs.

Author: John Meyer – @TheDailyWolf
Rating: 9 out of 10 Brandon Knight Body Slams
Link: Celebrating Nikola Pekovic’s career.


The Nets were wise to capitalize on their valuable cap space and land D’Angelo Russell, who has the sort of potential star power that Brooklyn’s roster lacked. Ti Windisch of The Step Back writes that the 2015 second overall pick will be given every opportunity to succeed with the new club, and that the organization finally appears to have a plan.

Author: Ti Windisch – @TiWindisch
Rating: 8 out of 10 Inappropriate Ravens
Link: D’Angelo Russell could thrive with Nets.


The staff at Mavs Moneyball is well aware that LeBron James could hit the open market next offseason and isn’t wasting any time brainstorming potential ways to lure the biggest of fish to the Mavs. Consider the plethora of “Dear LeBron James” letters penned by the blog and let us know which you think would be the most effective.

Author: Rebecca Lawson – @BeccaAfterSix
Rating: 8 out of 10 Elevator Pitches
Link: Mavericks writers recruit LeBron James.


I’ll admit, it’s easy to pile on the Warriors these days, but that doesn’t mean there’s any logic behind it. Count Ron Moskovitz of Golden State of Mind the latest to be offended by the lack of respect Stephen Curry gets from a significant portion of the basketball community. The scribe puts a Dave McMenamin tweet on blast while reminding us all that the back-to-back Warriors MVP is a genuine “bet-the-house franchise changing solo talent.” Y’know, he’s not wrong.

Author: Ron Moskovitz – @Hotspurrrr
Rating: 9 out of 10 Supervillains
Link: Steph Curry disrespected, again.


Until Paul George is formally traded away from the Pacers or he officially signs with the Lakers next summer, there will be a whirlwind of speculation about possible trade suitors. Minh Dao of Rip City Project has capitalized on the growing notion that the All-Star will be on the move sooner rather than later, making the case for the Trail Blazers as a viable option.

Author: Minh Dao – @BeyondTheArcBTA
Rating: 8 out of 10 ESPN Trade Machines
Link: Blazers should trade for Paul George

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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