Welcome to the Monday edition of The Cooler, where sometimes it takes a while to get moving. Let’s get to it:
*It has been pretty well accepted by now that the Penguins’ Phil Kessel vetoed a trade to the Wild. But in case you needed more evidence, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford went on the radio Monday and confirmed it.
“In Phil’s situation, He was just part of a decision … where we were trying to retool and we had a chance to get a good player,” Rutherford told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.
Though he didn’t elaborate, the prevailing report was that Kessel and Jack Johnson were set to be traded to the Wild for Jason Zucker and Victor Rask. And later, Rutherford did mention the Wild.
“Minnesota was never on his list,” he said. “To that point, he’s a player that deserved to get the position he’s in where he had a no-trade and pick eight teams that he would go to and otherwise have some say in whether he’d go to other teams.”
Kessel remains with the Penguins, while Zucker remains with the Wild. Whether that is the case two weeks from now remains to be seen.
*This article about all the turmoil with the Rockets last season (and into the offseason) is an interesting reminder of what might have been had Houston been able to swing a deal for Jimmy Butler with the Wolves.
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is quoted as saying, “The only reason we weren’t in it last year is because people said no.”
ESPN notes: He’s referring to the Rockets’ unsuccessful attempts to trade for Jimmy Butler and give the pro-rated midlevel exception to buyout market target Wesley Matthews, who prioritized a starting job when he signed with the Indiana Pacers.
Indeed, I’m not sure adding Butler would have given the Rockets a title last season but imagining Houston with Butler, James Harden and Chris Paul heading into 2019-20 and beyond — given what has since happened to the Warriors — is intriguing.
*Speaking of Butler, the Anthony Davis trade could make it easier for the 76ers to re-sign him.
*Listen, if I’m going to throw out the first pitch, it’s going to be the regulation 60 feet, 6 inches.