Central Notes: Butler, Noah, Antetokounmpo

Several executives around the NBA say the Magic are a team to watch in regard to Jimmy Butler, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix reports. The swingman is in the first season of a five-year contract with the Bulls, but the tension between him and coach Fred Hoiberg, who’s just starting a five-year deal of his own, led several teams, including the Celtics, to ask the Bulls about trading for Butler before last month’s deadline. Orlando, with enough cap flexibility to add Butler and another maximum-salary player this summer, has several intriguing young players and coach Scott Skiles, a defensive taskmaster with similarities to former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

See more from the Central Division:

  • Many expect Joakim Noah to leave the Bulls in free agency this summer, Mannix writes in the same piece. Noah has also been linked to the Magic, though only speculatively.
  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd said a few days ago that Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t be guarding point guards and alluded to the need for a traditional point guard like Michael Carter-Williams to fill that duty, but Kidd on Tuesday said Antetokounmpo will be the team’s primary ball handler next season, notes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams will both be eligible for rookie scale extensions in the offseason.
  • Miles Plumlee is fond of the Bucks organization and Kidd admires the center’s perseverance, Gardner notes in the same piece. Plumlee is set for restricted free agency at season’s end.
  • Some Thunder players still have raw feelings about Reggie Jackson, who pushed his way off the team and into the trade that sent him to the Pistons last season, as Royce Young of ESPN.com details. Russell Westbrook disapproved of Jackson’s animated celebration at the end of Detroit’s win Tuesday over Oklahoma City. “Yeah, I did actually,” Westbrook said. “Honestly, I think that was some real [expletive]. I don’t appreciate it for our team and our organization. I don’t like it at all. But it is what it is. We’ll see him down the line. We’ll take care of that when we get there.”
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