Why Rockets' reported Jimmy Butler pursuit might be good for Warriors

Why Rockets' reported Jimmy Butler pursuit might be good for Warriors

The Warriors are wounded. Battered and broken the NBA's most feared superpower will limp into next season more vulnerable than ever before. 

Kevin Durant will miss all of next season with a ruptured Achilles and could be gone forever if he chooses to bolt in free agency. Klay Thompson (torn ACL) will be out until at least February and also has the option to find a new home this summer.

With the weakened Warriors hobbling into next season, the West's other teams are salivating at the opportunity to knock off Goliath. First, the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis, Then, the Utah Jazz landed Mike Conley.

Now, the Houston Rockets, looking to fix their gluttony of issues, reportedly are hoping to add a third star to the seemingly fragile James Harden-Chris Paul core. 

With Jimmy Butler hitting free agency Sunday, the Rockets reportedly are trying to "recruit Jimmy Butler" to get the Philadelphia 76ers to agree to a sign-and-trade, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday, citing league sources. 

Since the Rockets don't have the salary cap space to sign Butler outright or absorb his contract in a trade, Houston would need to send two of the following players out in a deal: Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker.

Daryl Morey is one to take risks. Two summers ago, the Rockets general manager was confident Houston had something up its sleeve and the Rockets landed Paul. 

Now, with rumors of discontent between his two stars, Morey is looking to add a third star to the mix in order to calm the waters and vault Houston to the top of the conference pecking order. 

But would landing Butler be the home run the Rockets think it is?

A deal for Butler would zap Rockets of their depth. Gordon arguably was their second best player in the second-round NBA playoff loss to the Warriors, giving them deadly 3-point shooting a tough-minded defender on the wing.

Capela is an important piece of what Houston does, especially on the defensive end. With Paul aging and Harden being relatively disinterested in playing defense for long stretches, Capela's rim protection was a vital part of the Rockets' team. His absence would be one that could be exploited by teams during a playoff series.

Losing Tucker might be the biggest blow. Tucker's versatility, toughness and defensive acumen have been a key to the Rockets' run over the past two seasons. His role as the Rockets' Draymond Green in their "South Beach 5" lineup allowed Houston to matchup with the Warriors' "Hamptons 5" lineup better than any other team. There aren't many P.J. Tucker's floating around the NBA landscape.

Butler, no doubt is a talented offensive player and would give the Rockets second-star insurance as Paul continues to slip into the next phase of his career. But the addition of Butler also would give Houston another ball-dominant player in an isolation-focused offense, something that already has caused friction between Harden, Paul and head coach Mike D'Antoni.

Butler also isn't captain chemistry, so adding his abrasive personality to the mix feels like a recipe for disaster.

Morey is dreaming big, and acquiring Butler could push the Rockets past the hobbled Warriors next season. But the move also would lock the Rockets into a roster that would be expensive and highly combustible.

There's also no guarantee a core of Harden, Butler and an aging Paul, with little bench support, would be able to beat the Warriors once they are fully healthy.

Even if Durant leaves in free agency -- which seems more likely than not -- the Rockets still wouldn't be seen as heavy favorites over the Warriors. They'd have sacrificed their depth, especially on the wings, and their best defensive players in the name of star power. Star power that still would struggle to bother Steph Curry and Thompson. Star power that hasn't proven it can win when the lights are brightest.

If Durant does return to the Warriors then Golden State will find their once-feared rival has turned into a trio of bickering superstars and a host of veteran minimum contracts. With Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, and two of Capela, Gordon, and Tucker gone, the team that was built to beat the Warriors would be no more. Another what if in the history of NBA teams that bungled their shot at the title.

[RELATED: Can KD find better situation than Warriors?]

In their pursuit of the crown, the Rockets are looking to take a team that was primed to take down the Dubs, and turn it into an entity that might only be championship-worthy if the EA Sports theme song played before opening tip.

Houston is swinging for the fences, but adding Butler might not be the home run it thinks it is. In fact, adding Butler could be the final nail in the coffin for the Harden-D'Antoni Rockets as we know them.

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The juggernaut Warriors of the last five years are no longer, but some key star holdovers have a chance to reach some NBA records this season.

With the departures of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and the injury to Klay Thompson, the playmaking and scoring for the Warriors will mostly fall on the shoulders of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and newly acquired D'Angelo Russell. So as the construction of the team changed dramatically, the Warriors now potentially face a struggle to play the same suffocating defense most have come accustomed to.

Instead, they will rely on a high-powered offense and individual key defensive players to lead the charge. Here are some records that they could break this season.

Most 3-pointers in a regular season: Steph Curry 402 (2015-16)

The biggest key to Curry toppling his own historic 3-point season will be staying healthy and in the lineup. Curry has not played over 70 games in a season since 2016-17, and played 79 games when he shattered the season record.

Since the Warriors might have to outscore teams in shootouts with their defense less reliable, Curry will be able to fire away with abandon. Curry hit 354 3-pointers in just 69 games last season. If he played 10 extra games and maintained his average 3-point rate, he would have broken his record.

So what else could help Curry break 402? Well, just keep reading ...

3-point attempts per game: James Harden 13.2 (2018-19)

When Curry made 402 3-pointers, he averaged 11.2 attempts per game. Last season, he averaged a career-high 11.7 3-point attempts per game. Shooting two more 3s per game is within reason, and definitely a welcome proposition for all Warriors fans. 

Most consecutive games with 5+ 3-pointers made: James Harden 12 (2018-19)

The more Steph shoots, the more he makes. Harden might be watching a few of his milestones surpassed this season.

Most 3-pointers attempted in a game: Klay Thompson 24 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Most 3-pointers made in a game: Klay Thompson 14 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Curry already jokingly (probably) proclaimed that he would shoot 22 3-pointers on opening night against the Clippers. So would you be surprised if he had a few games this season in which he launched endlessly from long range? Unfortunately for Klay, he will have to sit idly on the bench for most of the season while Curry goes after his record.

[RELATED: Steph Curry primed for another MVP season]

Most steals in a game: Larry Kenon 11 (Dec. 26, 1976), Kendall Gill 11 (April 3, 1999)

The defensive category belongs to Draymond Green, and after signing a $100 million extension and getting into the best shape of his life, he is primed for a breakout season. If last playoffs are any indicator of how he will play next season, then there are several defensive records and milestones that can be within his sights.

On Feb. 10, 2017, Green recorded a triple-double in Memphis. But it was not just any triple-double, it included 10 steals, one away from the single-game record. There will be many games next season that he will carry the team defensively, so perhaps he approaches the record again.

200 steals plus 100 blocks in one season: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen

In 2016-17, Green set a career-high 154 steals and blocked 106 shots -- down from his previous career-high of 113 the year prior. Remaining healthy and in the lineup for most of the season will be imperative for Green to even have a chance at approaching a 200-100 season.

It still is a long shot for Draymond to reach those totals, but when he is in shape, motivated and playing with fire, there's always a chance. 

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Slowly but surely, Kevin Durant is moving on from the Warriors. 

After electing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. Durant expressed his feelings on his time in the Bay, including the elation of winning the NBA Finals and the belief that he never would be accepted in the same way Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.

The next step in Durant's quest to move on from the Warriors came Thursday when he donned the black and white of Brooklyn for the first time in a promotional shoot.

Seeing KD rocking a No. 7 Nets jersey is ... a little weird.

Those jerseys are clean, though,

Durant won't see the floor this season as he continues to rehab from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Once Durant is back to 100 percent, he'll join Kyrie Irving and a band of young Nets trying to take over the Eastern Conference.

[RELATED: Steph fires back at KD after criticism of Warriors offense]

As for the Warriors, they remade their roster after Durant's exit and will be looking to go back to their roots with a ball-movement centric attack that lets Curry, new addition D'Angelo Russell and Thompson -- when he returns from his torn ACL -- torment opposing defenses.