DEAL OR NO DEAL? NO DEAL

Rockets miss out on trade for Jimmy Butler, who goes to Philly

Rockets miss out on trade for Jimmy Butler, who goes to Philly
Jimmy Butler will not be a Rocket. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Early Saturday new broke that the Minnesota Timberwolves had completed a trade to send their disgruntled all-star guard Jimmy Butler to a team not named the Houston Rockets. After what was reported to be a strong push by Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey to acquire Butler, the Timberwolves opted instead to send him east to Philadelphia in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second round pick.

The news comes as a blow to Rockets fans, many of whom had assumed until midway through the week that a Butler acquisition was all but certain. The assumed move would have helped jump start an otherwise lifeless offense that has plagued Houston's young season. With the hopes of Butler's assistance dashed, the Rockets’ front office is left to search for a plan B.

To assume that the Rockets are standing pat following the Butler sweepstakes defeat would be foolish. Less than six months removed from an impressive seven-game Western Conference Finals series against one of the greatest teams the NBA has ever seen, the pressure to challenge Golden State once again is at an all-time high. The Rockets’ bewilderingly slow start has only compounded the pressure on Morey to add another reliable scoring threat.

Houston will continue to make phone calls while the current team focuses on finding a 3-point shot that has been MIA all season. In the meantime, the smart money would be to bet on Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Gerald Green to break out of their simultaneously crippling shooting slumps. That, combined with maintaining a more concerted effort on defense would more than likely hoist Houston out of their dreadful slump and give the Rockets the fuel necessary to begin a climb up the Western Conference Standings. Until then Houston will be forced to exercise a sports fan's least developed skill: patience.

At this point, one of two things are certain: either the Rockets fix themselves, or Morey will fix it for them.


 

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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