Multiple reports have the Rockets eliminated from contention, despite offering a package rumored to be as big as Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and several draft picks. The reasoning for Houston being ruled out isn’t because of the deal, but because, reportedly, Minnesota doesn’t want the Rockets to become the kind of juggernaut the Western Conference already has in Golden State. “We already are at [that level],” Feritta says in a phone call. “We’re an improved team over last year based on who we’ve acquired this offseason. And last year, obviously, we’re a game away from the Finals. “We would love to see Jimmy come home to Houston. It’s not a financial decision, it’s an assets decision on our part. We’ve got a great basketball team. We think we’re as good as anybody in the league. We’re not going to give up unreasonable assets, to break up this team, to get Jimmy Butler. But we would love to have him.”
While Houston continues to explore its options in the Jimmy Butler saga and has significant interest in landing the disgruntled Minnesota star, strong skepticism remains that the Timberwolves are seriously dedicated to finding a deal. So long as that remains the case, with so many executives convinced that president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau still wants Butler to stay despite the uncomfortable nature of it all, then these Rockets will have to prepare as if there is no more help on the way. Translation: The prospect of Anthony playing like a legitimate star again would be welcomed. He has plenty of personal incentive, too, as he’ll be a free agent again next summer after signing a one-year, $2.4 million deal with Houston (Anthony was traded by the Thunder to Atlanta in a three-team deal with Philadelphia, then bought out by the Hawks; he’s still slated to earn the $27.9 million he was owed for next season between the buyout and his Rockets deal).
While Houston continues to explore its options in the Jimmy Butler saga and has significant interest in landing the disgruntled Minnesota star, strong skepticism remains that the Timberwolves are seriously dedicated to finding a deal. So long as that remains the case, with so many executives convinced that president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau still wants Butler to stay despite the uncomfortable nature of it all, then these Rockets will have to prepare as if there is no more help on the way.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Miami has been the most engaged team with Minnesota on a Jimmy Butler trade. So far, no traction with Clippers and Nets. Houston's tried to be creative in its pursuit. It'll be a challenge -- although not impossible -- to get any Butler deal done without a third team.
September 21, 2021 | 3:53 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent guard Quinn Cook is signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Harrison Wind: Monte Morris says he hopes he’s the starting point guard on opening night, but that conversation with Malone about who Denver’s starter is with Jamal Murray out hasn’t happened yet. He said he wants to earn the job in training camp though and not just have it handed to him.
September 21, 2021 | 1:36 pm EDT Update
Complicating matters with that caveat of right now, of course, is the reality that the Sixers also do not appear close to a trade they are willing to go through with that gives Simmons his desired fresh start. More than two months after posting one of my Tuesday newsletter extravaganzas on Substack for the first time on July 13 — also a breakdown, on that occasion, of the latest on the Simmons front — Philadelphia looks no closer to a trade to bring an end to this stalemate.
Weeks of Philadelphia’s Simmons talks with various teams haven’t brought the Sixers to the brink of a deal, largely because Morey is the one faced with trying to get commensurate value for his All-Star and still asking for so much in return in his determination to recoup a trade package that, as one source put it, keeps Philadelphia in title contention. History, however, says that Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations shouldn’t count on getting a glittering package back when a deal finally materializes — his own history.
I reported Monday that the Sixers don’t expect Simmons to show and are resigned to try to keep working behind the scenes to try to convince him to reconsider that stance. After I published that, another source close to the situation told me: “Right now, I don’t see a scenario where Ben is back in Philly.” The source meant it with permanence. As in: Simmons’ career with the Sixers, to the source, is over.
I was told very clearly that the Sixers do not liken these circumstances to Al Horford’s last season in Oklahoma City or John Wall’s in Houston. As the start of training camp draws near, Philadelphia has shown zero interest to date in striking the sort of mutual agreement that Wall and the Rockets just hatched to shelve the former All-Star point guard.
The Sixers have not lowered the bar on what they’re seeking in a Simmons trade — yet. Toronto, Minnesota, Cleveland, San Antonio and Sacramento — all of them, league sources say, have engaged with Philadelphia in Simmons trade talks. They’re also all bubble playoff teams at best based in markets not known for attracting free agents and surely love the idea of acquiring Simmons when the 25-year-old is locked into three guaranteed seasons on his contract after this one.