Jimmy Butler

Atlantic Notes: Butler-Brown, Theis, Knicks, Celtics

Current Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler, formerly a clutch swingman on the star-studded, title-contending 2018/19 Sixers, acknowledged that his relationship with coach Brett Brown was not particularly great, as he told his former Philadelphia teammate J.J. Redick on The J.J. Redick Podcast With Tommy Alter.

On the podcast, Butler described an uncomfortably tense and silent film-watching session with Redick, Butler, and Sixers All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. “And I told you this as we walked out, ‘J.J., why would we ever go in there again?,'” Butler said on the podcast. “‘Nothing’s getting accomplished. Nobody’s saying nothing to anybody.'”

Butler also discussed having spoken up about the offense in a subsequent film-watching session in Portland that became a hot topic in the national media. Butler suggested the conversation was blown out of proportion by outside observers, a point his former Sixers teammate agreed with. “I don’t know why it got reported the way it did,” Redick said.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Daniel Theis, the Celtics‘ starting center replacement for the departed Al Horford, was having a comparable season to his predecessor before play was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to The Stats Corner of NBC Sports Boston. Theis’ production per 36 minutes has actually been better than Horford’s during 2018/19. Their scoring numbers are similar, while Theis is pulling down more rebounds and blocks and shooting at a higher field goal percentage. The 27-year-old German signed a two-year, $10MM contract with Boston during the summer of 2019. The 33-year-old Horford, meanwhile, inked a four-year, $97MM contract ($109MM if he hits all incentives) with the Sixers this summer.
  • As the Knicks continue to overhaul their front office, Cavaliers salary cap expert Brock Aller has emerged as a potential addition to new team president Leon Rose‘s staff, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. After spending a decade as the personal assistant to team owner Dan Gilbert, Aller graduated to a position as senior director of basketball operations in 2017.
  • The Celtics team, staff, and attendant beat reporters experienced a tense journey on the road as the coronavirus spread beyond tenable levels, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe in his first-person account of what transpired.

Southeast Notes: Herro, Butler, Hawks, Jones Jr.

Heat guard Tyler Herro initially feared he might be done for the regular season when he injured his foot, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Herro, who suffered the injury on February 3, might be able to take off the protective boot sometime this week, Chiang adds. The 13th pick in last June’s draft, Herro is averaging 13.1 PPG and shooting 39.3% from deep.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s personality hasn’t changed but he has helped, rather than hurt, the Heat’s team chemistry, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Guard Goran Dragic says the franchise’s culture made Butler fit seamlessly into the locker room. “They push you here. Jimmy is the same,” he said. “If you’re not used to it, it can [be] like, ‘I don’t like him.’ But this is the perfect situation for us and Jimmy. He just wants you and the team to get better.”
  • The Hawks will be looking to accelerate their rebuild during this offseason, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. They will likely look to add younger veterans instead of acquiring bad contracts as they did last offseason, Kirschner continues. Davis Bertans, Joe Harris, Gordon Hayward, Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless are potential targets, Kirschner adds.
  • Re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. and Dragic will likely be at the top of the Heat’s priority list this offseason, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. Negotiations will Jones could be tricky, since Miami wants to protect its cap space for the summer of 2021, when the free agent market could be robust. At his young age, Jones will probably be looking for a long-term contract, Winderman adds.

Jimmy Butler Does Not Rule Out Return To Bulls

In Chicago to play in the 2020 All-Star game, Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler said it’s a “definite possibility” he could suit up for the Bulls once again later in his career, tweets Cody Westerlund of 670TheScore.

Butler spent his first six seasons in the Windy City, transforming from a 30th overall pick into a perennial All-Star. Chicago traded Butler to the Timberwolves in June 2017. Butler’s time in Minnesota lasted just over a season before he was dealt to the Sixers. He signed a four-year, $141MM deal with the Heat as part of a sign-and-trade this past summer.

The 30-year-old is committed to Miami for three additional seasons after 2019/20. However, he had praise for Chicago’s front office and what the team is building.

“I got faith in (Bulls) management,” he said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). “They have a lot of young talent.”

In 46 games this season, Butler is averaging 20.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 6.1 APG for Miami.

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Butler, J. Robinson, Embiid

Justise Winslow is thrilled about his new start in Memphis, but in an interview with Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel he offered little insight into an injury that has forced him to miss all but 11 games this season. Winslow has taken the court just once since December 6 because of a lower back bone bruise. “The (Miami) coaching staff thought I was able to play,” Winslow said without further explanation.

After being taken with the 10th pick in the 2015 draft, Winslow developed into a versatile forward for the Heat and often handled play-making duties. However, the lingering injury and the development of young talent in Miami made him expandable in last week’s trade for Andre Iguodala.

“I’m not going to give any dates (for a possible return), I’m sorry,” Winslow said. “But it’s been an ongoing thing this season. That’s the bottom line. I’m sure the Miami Heat did everything that they thought was right to try to help me. Things didn’t work out. I’m here now. I wish I could tell you a date that I’m expected to be back, but there isn’t one.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler has finally found a team that views the NBA the same way he does, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Butler clashed with teammates, coaches and management in his previous three stops, but his ultra-competitive attitude is welcome with the Heat“When [Butler] was in other places, he got knocked for (speaking his mind),” Iguodala said. “He was disruptive toward his other teammates, but you put him around some guys that actually want to get to the grind, what did he do for them? He upped their level of play, right?”
  • Jerome Robinson sees the Wizards as an ideal fit and is ready for the opportunity he never got with the Clippers, relays Chase Hughes of NBA Sports. Robinson was a lottery pick in 2019, but often languished on the bench as L.A. focused on challenging for a title. He’s hoping for more playing time in Washington after being traded there last week. “Experience, that’s what you really learn from,” Robinson said. “To grow as a player and a person, I think this is a great step for me right here.”
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer believes the Hornets should pounce on the opportunity if Sixers center Joel Embiid ever goes on the trade market.

Latest On Joel Embiid, Sixers

Things have felt a little off in Philadelphia this season. Widely considered a top-two team in the Eastern Conference entering the season, the fifth-seeded Sixers have fallen short of those expectations so far and have struggled to smoothly incorporate major offseason signee Al Horford.

Franchise center Joel Embiid hasn’t been immune to the ups and downs of the 76ers’ season, having spoken last week about wanting to “get back to the fun Joel.” On Sunday, when Philadelphia hosted the Bulls, Embiid heard some boos from fans during pre-game intros and later appeared to shush the home crowd and say “Shut the f–k up” after hitting a dagger three in the fourth quarter (video link via Michael Lee of The Athletic).

Embiid, who claimed after the game that his comment was aimed at himself and not Philadelphia fans, said he didn’t care how it looked, adding that he wants to get back to being a “good a–hole.” On Monday, he posted an Instagram photo of that shushing moment, accompanied by the caption, You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Not content to leave it at that, Embiid later exchanged comments with Heat swingman Jimmy Butler, who replied to his former teammate’s Instagram post with the message, “I know a place where villains are welcome,” an apparent reference to Miami. Embiid’s response? “Damn right my brother.” (hat tip to Bleacher Report).

It’s premature to read too much into Embiid’s on-court actions on Sunday and his social media posts after the game. Considering the way the 76ers’ season has played out, the big man was probably just letting out some frustration and then engaging in some light trolling. He published a tweet later on Monday night reasserting his commitment to Philadelphia.

Still, given the ongoing drama, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on. When the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring, head coach Brett Brown‘s job security seemed tenuous, and if the team doesn’t advance even further in this year’s postseason, changes of some kind are probably coming.

A head coaching change and/or secondary roster moves are much more likely than anything drastic involving Embiid or Ben Simmons, but teams around the NBA are monitoring the situation. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his podcast this week (hat tip to RealGM) that rival executives have started to openly wonder whether the Sixers would consider moving Embiid. As Windhorst acknowledged, that’s an extremely unlikely scenario, but it’s notable that execs don’t believe it’s an impossibility.

“My point is people are talking about that,” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “I don’t think they would do that without making an adjustment to the head coach. It’s such a radical thing. But the fact that we’re in mid-February and the people who work in the league, who have to prepare in advance, are mulling over Joel Embiid potentially coming to market, whether that’s true or not… I mean, (Sixers owner) Josh Harris can come on this podcast and deny it if he wants, but the fact people are talking about it, is not good. It’s a symptom of where they are.”

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Jimmy Butler May Not Return Until After All-Star Break

An MRI on the shoulder of Heat swingman Jimmy Butler came back clean, but there is no guarantee he will play in Miami’s upcoming three-game road trip before the All-Star break, tweets Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

The All-Star wing has been a revelation for the new-look Heat, leading the charge to the team’s robust 34-17 record. He is averaging 20.5 PPG and career highs of 6.8 RPG and 6.3 APG in 34.5 MPG for the Heat. Butler has been meriting MVP consideration with his efforts, according to NBA.com’s Sekou Smith.

The Heat face a fairly easy road game schedule, playing two teams with sub-.500 records: the 24-29 Trail Blazers tomorrow and the 12-40 Warriors on Monday. Miami will wrap up its road trip in Utah Wednesday against the 33-18 Jazz, who are 19-5 at home. The Heat will not play again until the 20th.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this article.

Heat Notes: Butler, Injuries, Waiters, Battier

The latest injury concern for the Heat involves star forward Jimmy Butler, who sprained his ankle during the team’s home game against the Clippers on Friday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Miami is also currently dealing with injuries to primary ball-handlers Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic (calf) and Justise Winslow, making Butler’s absence a tougher pill to swallow.

“It’s a sprain,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler’s injury, as relayed by Winderman. “We’ll have to re-evaluate. I don’t even like commenting after sprained ankles. You have to wait until the next day to see how a guy feels. He’s getting treatment already and we’ll go from there.

“Same with Goran and K-Nunn. At least we have a couple of days before the next game and it’ll give them an opportunity to really get into the training room and get some treatment.”

Butler, Dragic, and Nunn are all listed as questionable to play on Monday against Orlando, with Bam Adebayo (ankle) probable and Winslow remaining out.

Miami is a half-game behind Toronto for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 31-14, sporting an impressive 20-2 record at home. Players such as Tyler Herro, Dion Waiters and James Johnson could receive more ball-handling responsibilities in the interim.

Here are some other notes out of Miami:

  • Dion Waiters has taken full responsibility for his three suspensions this season, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Waiters finished with 14 points in 18 minutes against the Clippers in his first game of the season on Friday, making key late-game plays on both ends of the court. “I’m a grown man,” Waiters said. “I don’t point fingers. I could easily say this and that, but at the end of the day, it’s me. I made immature decisions. So, you know, I take full responsibility.”
  • Ira Winderman ponders in a different Sun Sentinel article whether Waiters could become a trade chip for Miami before the February 6 deadline. Waiters will make $12.1MM this season and $12.65MM in 2020/21, currently serving as a third-string option at guard. During his tumultuous first half, he was viewed as virtually unmovable.
  • Winderman also examined the front office role of Shane Battier, who played with the Heat for three seasons and won two championships. Battier currently serves as Miami’s Director of Basketball Analytics and Development.

Spoelstra On Butler Not Being All-Star Game Starter: “It’s A Joke”

When the All-Star game starters were announced earlier this week, Heat swingman Jimmy Butler was not among those voted to get the starting nod. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra took exception to Butler’s snub, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes.

Butler, who was listed as a frontcourt player on All-Star ballots, lost out to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Pascal Siakam for a starting spot. He likely would have had a better shot if he was listed as a guard, where he would’ve been up against starters Kemba Walker and Trae Young.

Spoelstra stressed Butler’s flexibility in the Heat lineup and being able to essentially play all five positions as needed. The Heat coach expressed hope that voting changes in the future to not limit players based on position alone.

“These are such antiquated labels that I feel like we’ve moved on from that years ago when we started talking about positionless [players],” he said. “But either way, regardless of how you want to label it or discuss it, Jimmy Butler should be a starter in this All-Star Game. It’s a joke that he’s not. Hopefully this will change things in the future.”

Butler, 30, is averaging 20.3 PPG along with a career-high 7.0 RPG and 6.5 APG in his first season in South Beach. The four-time All-Star has been a focal point in helping the Heat to a 31-14 record, tied with the defending NBA champion Raptors for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Butler left the Heat’s Friday loss to the Clippers due to a sprained ankle.

“You have to wait until the next day to see how a guy feels,” Spoelstra said.

Heat Notes: Nunn, Winslow, Butler

Impressive rookie guard Kendrick Nunn has regained his hot hand by staying true to himself, not becoming overconfident and continuing to push the action, Khobi Price of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Nunn, a Rookie of the Year candidate, was averaging 16 points on 46% shooting entering Sunday’s game against San Antonio. He’s provided solid production as starting point guard with Justise Winslow still rehabbing from a back injury.

“He has to [pick his spots offensively] because there are a lot of guys that are very similar, that are efficient with their shooting attempts,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said, as relayed by Price. “Our team is built, the success is built on the more guys having an impact. But he’s ignitable. He’s finding his own way to fit into this offense, but fit in with Jimmy [Butler]. Kendrick can score in a lot of those random situations because he has a great feel for getting the ball in the basket.”

Nunn finished with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting against the Spurs, also recording four assists and two steals in 36 minutes of work. Miami will continue relying on his production as the team shoots for a high playoff seed this spring.

“We want Kendrick to be aggressive and we try to put him in the right spots to have a quality shot,” Goran Dragic said. “He’s great at reading those situations and you can see he can make shots.”

Here are some other notes from Miami tonight:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether the timing of Justise Winslow‘s back injury has sabotaged potential trade options, with the forward set to be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff in two weeks. Winslow would likely play just a few games before the February 6 trade deadline, and that’s only if he returns after his evaluation. Miami currently holds a 29-13 record, but the team is just 5-5 in its last 10 games.
  • Winderman listed his mid-season report cards for each Heat player in a separate Sun Sentinel article, giving Jimmy Butler the highest grade of an A+. Butler has struggled in clutch situations and behind-the-arc this season, but the veteran forward has propelled Miami to the second-best record in the East on All-Star-level play.
  • Despite a very strong first half, Miami remains focused on improving throughout the rest of the campaign, Price writes in a separate story. “We got something special in the making,” All-Star hopeful Bam Adebayo said. “We just have to keep our heads down and keep the same mentality we’ve been having and we’ll be okay.”