That season, Simmons’ free-throw shooting regressed once again, plunging back down to 60%, not quite as bad as his rookie-season marks but still a significant drop from his playoff rate. He also took just 25 shots outside of 16 feet after attempting 40 as a rookie. At one point during the year, Jim O’Brien, a longtime NBA coach and former Sixers assistant who was serving as a special adviser to Brown, posed a question during a coaches meeting. “Name me one area where Ben Simmons has improved,” he asked his colleagues. The room fell silent.
May 31, 2023 | 5:48 pm EDT Update
Caleb Martin: Our game plan is always to force Jaylen Brown to dribble to his left
Dan LeBatard Show: “Once Jayson Tatum was injured, was the entire game plan to send Jaylen Brown to his left?” – Dan “That’s always the game plan.” – Caleb Martin
Caleb Martin: Getting waived by the Hornets was the biggest slap in the face
Dan LeBatard Show: “Getting waived by The Hornets was definitely the biggest slap in the face…at that point I’m thinking I’m going overseas.” – Eastern Conference Champion, Caleb Martin speaks on the ups and downs within his journey as he prepares for the NBA Finals. #HEATCulture
Jimmy Butler after being asked about ankle health: Nobody cares, I'm still expected to do my job at a high level
Anthony Chiang: Jimmy Butler asked if his ankle is 100 percent: “Nobody cares. You don’t, either. I’m still expected to do my job at a high level if I take the floor, which I will. We’re going to be okay. We’re going to get the job done, bum ankle or not.”
Brady Hawk: Jimmy Butler: “Maybe I’ll hit a game-winner like @DwyaneWade, I think that would be really good. I’m not standing on any tables, but it’d be really cool to be D-Wade for a day.” pic.twitter.com/hV3SRLZAzJ
Aaron Gordon was an obvious answer, but one with a crowded path to that outcome. Gordon stood as one of the biggest attractions of that 2021 deadline, with the Magic deciding to tear down a core that featured Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. Gordon had also requested a trade from Orlando, league sources told Yahoo Sports, with a large pool of teams, including Portland, Minnesota, Boston and Houston, pursuing his services from the Magic.
Aaron Gordon had a known fan in Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard. The Timberwolves were kicking around potential frontcourt fits next to Karl-Anthony Towns. The Celtics were high on Gordon dating back to his own entry into the 2014 draft. The Nuggets, though, were able to include Hampton, an uber-athletic guard whom Orlando, sources said, had strongly considered selecting the previous year, when the Magic ultimately drafted Cole Anthony No. 15 in November 2020.
A dearth of wing depth, though, revealed itself to Denver’s decision-makers in Jamal Murray’s absence. And as the 2022 trade deadline approached, the Nuggets discussed a three-team deal with the Wizards and Thunder, league sources told Yahoo Sports, which would have landed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Denver. The framework, however, fell apart.
This time, Booth surrendered Morris, breaking a promise to him to give Caldwell-Pope and Denver at large another chance to compete for a banner. Booth had a specific vision for the offensive weapons he wanted at Jokić’s disposal. “You have to have positionless guys, guys who can contain the ball and make shots,” Booth told Yahoo Sports. “Everybody wants two-way players, but [Jokić] likes to play with guys who know how to play basketball the right way.”