Jimmy Butler

Cavaliers Were Close To Acquiring Paul George

The Cavaliers nearly landed Paul George in a three-team deal in late June, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst.

The trade would have sent Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris and other assets to Indiana, but Pacers president Kevin Pritchard reportedly backed out before everything was finalized.

Prior to the draft, Cleveland made trade offers to the Pacers for George and to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. Once the Wolves acquired Butler on draft night, the Cavs stepped up their efforts for George, with the Nuggets agreeing to send Harris and the No. 13 pick to Cleveland, which would include those assets in a deal with Indiana. However, the Pacers put the trade on hold as they talked to the Trail Blazers about a deal to acquire all three of Portland’s first-rounders in exchange for George. Both proposals eventually fell through.

The Cavs continued to work on the trade following the draft, and an agreement was reached on June 30th. All three teams tentatively okayed to the deal on a conference call, and Cleveland began targeting free agents to fit with George. However, Pritchard changed his mind and the news broke soon after that George was headed to Oklahoma City.

The failed trade was part of a tumultuous offseason for the Cavaliers, as the ESPN authors examine in a lengthy piece. Cleveland also parted ways with GM David Griffin and was unable to land Chauncey Billups, who interviewed twice as a potential replacement. The team missed out on marquee free agents and had to settle for Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. Then star guard Kyrie Irving held a meeting with owner Dan Gilbert on July 7th where he issued a request to be traded.

Irving was reportedly angry that his name had been included in offers for Butler and George, and has been unhappy for some time with how much James dominates the ball. He also believes the team defers too much to James, noting that LeBron’s friend, Randy Mims, was given a position as executive administrator and flies on the team plane, while none of Irving’s friends has a similar arrangement.

The front office and the players have been aware of Irving’s intentions for two weeks, and there is confidence in the organization that the team can get enough assets for Irving to remain a contender. The Cavs have been inundated with calls from interested teams since the story broke on Friday.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving‘s request to be traded is the latest story to rock the league during an eventful offseason. The news broke Friday, but Irving’s meeting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert took place about two weeks ago, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

The Cavs tried to keep it quiet so they could work on a deal without the distractions that are starting to happen now. Apparently some players learned about the news and started talking, which is how the trade request became public.

Pluto also speculates that Irving’s demand validates rumors last month that former Bulls star Jimmy Butler was warned by Cavaliers players not to push for a trade to Cleveland. They have a close friendship, so Irving may have told Butler that he was planning to leave the team. Butler was subsequently traded to the Timberwolves, one of the teams Irving included on his list of preferred destinations, along with the Spurs, Knicks and Heat.

There’s more today on the Irving trade front:

  • The Wolves have a strong interest in acquiring Irving, even though they just signed former Pacers point guard Jeff Teague, Pluto adds in the same story. Pluto believes the Cavs should ask for Andrew Wiggins, whom the Cavs made the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2014, as part of the deal. Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are untouchable, but Wiggins will be a free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension before the October deadline.
  • The Knicks have offered Carmelo Anthony and a parcel of draft picks, adds Pluto, who says Cleveland should insist on Kristaps Porzingis. Other teams that have expressed interest include Sacramento, with rookie De’Aaron Fox as part of the offer, and Phoenix, with a package centered around Eric Bledsoe.
  • Pluto also notes that a trade would take away Irving’s opportunity to sign a super-max extension like the one John Wall just agreed to with the Wizards. The move could cost Irving between $50MM and $70MM.
  • Butler and Towns have done some recruiting work with Irving and have made it clear to Wolves management they would like to acquire him, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who first broke the story of Irving’s trade request. Windhorst believes Teague would likely be included in any Minnesota-Cleveland deal and notes that as a newly signed free agent he can’t be traded until December 15th.
  • The Spurs would be Irving’s first choice if he could pick a team, writes Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.
  • The Cavaliers had a deal on the table involving Irving before the draft, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The trade was put together by former GM David Griffin, but the Cavaliers didn’t pull the trigger because they didn’t know that Irving wanted to leave.

Trade Notes: Carmelo, Blazers, Celtics, Drummond

The Knicks put Carmelo Anthony trade talks on hold last week, but that decision is likely temporary, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, who suggests that the team wanted to get new general manager Scott Perry involved in the process. The Knicks reportedly hope that Anthony will be willing to expand his list of preferred destinations beyond Houston and Cleveland, but there has been no indication yet that the star forward is open to going to a team like the Trail Blazers, despite alleged interest from Portland.

According to Mannix, the Trail Blazers have been involved in Anthony talks, but have primarily been acting as a third-team facilitator in discussions so far. Per Mannix’s report, an inability to find a fourth team willing to take on Meyers Leonard‘s contract stalled “at least one version” of the proposed deal.

Anthony’s preferred destination is believed to be Houston, and given his no-trade clause, the fact that Carmelo is willing to accept such a deal is a good start for the Rockets. However, GM Daryl Morey will still have to get the Knicks and potentially one or two other teams on board in order to land Anthony, which is why the situation remains in a holding pattern for now.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Within the Vertical piece linked above, Chris Mannix notes that it’s “widely believed” the Celtics will make a run at Anthony Davis if the Pelicans‘ season goes south. New Orleans has been vehemently opposed to considering Davis deals, and while it’s possible that will change if the team struggles this season, DeMarcus Cousins would almost certainly land on the trading block first.
  • According to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, many teams around the NBA sensed this offseason that Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy was dissatisfied with center Andre Drummond. Detroit took calls on Drummond, but team owner Tom Gores is a big fan of the 23-year-old, and the Pistons didn’t receive any offers strong enough to merit a serious conversation about the big man’s future, per Bontemps.
  • Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Jimmy Butler confirmed that he left a June exit meeting with Bulls brass believing that he’d remain in Chicago. “I thought I was going to be there so I’m not going to say word for word what they said, but when I left there I did think I was going to be there,” Butler said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “But like I said, it’s a business and it is what it is.”

Northwest Notes: George, Patterson, Gobert

Make no mistake, Oklahoma City’s one mission this season is to convince Paul George to remain with the Thunder once he hits free agency next summer. But what, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman asks, does the All-Star forward want?

George and his representation have been nothing if not forthright about the 27-year-old’s desire to sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 but he still has a season under contract and a fresh, new change of scenery to enjoy with the Thunder until that time comes.

If George truly wants to play for a winner, the Thunder have a legitimate chance of positioning themselves as the better option than the Lakers, Horne writes. Oklahoma City has, after all, been competitive for the past five years while the Lakers have toiled in mediocrity.

The question is whether playing for a winner will ever actually trump George’s desire to return to his home state.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The move to sign Patrick Patterson will help the Thunder on the defensive end, the forward’s former coach Kevin McHale told The Oklahoman. He says Patterson is the type of player that excels at all the little parts of the game.
  • With Gordon Hayward on his way to the Celtics, it’s become clear that Rudy Gobert may have been the leader of the Jazz all along, Brad Rock of The Deseret News writes. The big man has long been more charismatic and vocal than his Beantown-bound counterpart.
  • The move that sent Avery Bradley from the Celtics to the Pistons has all but extinguished any hopes the Jazz had of pulling off a sign-and-trade connected to Gordon Hayward’s move to Boston, Jody Genessey of The Deseret News writes.
  • The Timberwolves saw an opportunity and seized it this offseason, bringing Jeff Teague into the fold at the expense of long-time point guard Ricky Rubio. “Ricky did a good job here; we’re happy for him,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau told the media, including Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “We wish him well. He made a number of contributions to our team, our organization and community and we certainly appreciate that. For us where we are now, we have to get out of this hole and we felt we had an opportunity to improve our team, and that’s why we did what we did.”
  • An additional benefit the Timberwolves will enjoy after bringing Jimmy Butler aboard will be his contributions as a recruiter, Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago writes.
  • No team in the NBA shot worse when wide open beyond the arc than the Thunder did last season, that should change after the club welcomes Paul George and Patrick Patterson to its lineup, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes.

Bulls Notes: Wade, Butler, Team’s Direction

The Bulls unveiled their return from last week’s Jimmy Butler trade as Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, Lauri Markkanen, took the stage on Tuesday. Shipping out the so-called “face” of the franchise in Butler signaled a change in direction for the Bulls.

Despite making the postseason in eight of the last nine seasons, general manager John Paxson believes that the team is well prepared for rebuild with young talent, ABC News’ Andrew Seligman writes.

“I’m excited about what the environment in this building is going to be like going forward,” Paxson said. “I’m not worried about perception. We understand this could take time, it’s a process. But as long as these kids can play hard and compete our fans will appreciate them, and we’ll get better.”

Dunn is coming off an inconsistent rookie campaign; LaVine missed most of the second half of 2016/17 due to a torn ACL; and Markkanen is a heralded but unproven prospect. With decisions on veterans Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade looming, Chicago is poised to assemble a young team with potentially great upside.

Below are additional notes surrounding the Bulls:

  • Speaking of Butler, the now-former Bulls All-Star addressed his trade to the Timberwolves last week to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times and vented some frustrations about the ordeal. The 27-year-old said being the “face” of the team doesn’t mean a damn thing,” He also added that despite any label, he learned that ” eventually you’re going to see the back of his head as he’s leaving town, so no thanks.” Butler added that he is not mad at being traded but wishes some things went differently.
  • In a separate piece, Cowley writes that Wade came out a winner after the Butler trade. The three-time NBA champion picked up his $23.8MM player option for 2017/18 early and that gives him power. Cowley notes that Wade planned to press Bulls brass on a buyout if Butler was dealt and since that’s the case, Wade’s days with his hometown Bulls could be numbered

Bulls Notes: Wade, Rondo, LaVine, Butler

Now that Dwyane Wade has opted into the final year of his contract with the Bulls, the team doesn’t appear to have much interest in buying him out, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes, Executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson told reporters today that the Bulls and Wade’s camp haven’t discussed a buyout for the veteran guard, and for the club to consider such a move, it would “have to be advantageous for us.” In other words, Wade would likely have to give back a significant chunk of his $23.8MM salary for the 2017/18 season if he wants out of Chicago.

Here are a few more Bulls-related notes:

  • At season’s end, the Bulls sounded committed to bringing back Rajon Rondo, whose contract for 2017/18 is mostly non-guaranteed. However, the team sounds less certain now, and Paxson said that decision is still being weighed. “We’re going to sit down with [Rondo’s agent] Bill [Duffy] and talk through [things],” Paxson said today, per Friedell. “We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team. The right veterans. The guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys, and continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we’ll be addressing.”
  • While it’s possible the Bulls will cut Rondo and try to re-sign him at a lower number than his current $13MM+ salary, that looks like a long shot, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • Zach LaVine, who was introduced as a Bull today, is optimistic about his rehab process, but doesn’t want to put an exact timetable on his return to the court, writes Friedell. “I’m going to be safe,” LaVine said. “The main thing is always being safe. And I always have to take care of myself and this franchise as well, so I’m going to be safe. I’m going to do everything I can physically to get back, and then when I’m at that point, I’m going to be ready.”
  • Shortly after he was traded to the Timberwolves, Jimmy Butler spoke to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Although Butler said he wasn’t mad at the Bulls, he admitted he didn’t exactly love the way the franchise handled the process. I guess being called the face of an organization isn’t as good as I thought,” Butler added. “We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me.”

Nuggets Rumors: Lyles, Cancar, Bledsoe, Connelly

Forward Trey Lyles will earn playing time by his efforts on the defensive end, according to Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. The Nuggets acquired him in a draft-day trade with the Jazz that involved a swap of first-round picks. Lyles joins a crowded frontcourt but Denver needs a better defensive presence at the power forward spot. “I think personally, for me, being able to be versatile and guard different positions, keep guys in front of me and just compete is the main thing for me,” he told Kosmider. “This past summer I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on that. I’m continuing to focus on it through different training exercises to get better with it.” Lyles shot just 36% from the field last season while averaging 6.1 PPG during his second year in the league.

In other news involving the Nuggets:

  • Second-round selection Vlatko Cancar will remain in Europe for a couple of seasons before joining the Nuggets, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. The Nuggets used the 49th overall pick in last week’s draft on Cancar, a 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia. He currently plays for Mega Leks in the Serbian League.
  • GM Tim Connelly nearly pulled off another draft-day swap but it fell apart at the last minute, Kosmider reports. A disappointed Connelly thought he had a done deal before the trading partner backed out, though Connelly wouldn’t provide any details (Twitter links). The Nuggets tried to trade for Jimmy Butler before the Bulls dealt him to the Timberwolves and also pursued a deal for Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The Nuggets were also involved in three-way negotiations that would have brought Cavs power forward Kevin Love to Denver.
  • The front office led by Connelly hasn’t proven it can attract top free agents to Denver, Kiszla writes in the same story. The Nuggets are reportedly targeting Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap but Kiszla doubts that the team’s brass can close the deal on any of this year’s high-level free agents.

Pluto’s Latest: George, Love, Ingram, Butler

The Pacers want to make a Paul George deal while they can still get value, but they aren’t interested in taking back Kevin Love from the Cavaliers, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Indiana is focused on getting young players and draft picks in return for its star forward, who has announced that he will opt out of his contract next offseason and has expressed a desire to return to his hometown of Los Angeles and play for the Lakers.

The Pacers proposed a deal to the Lakers involving Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft. However, Magic Johnson, L.A.’s president of basketball operations, doesn’t want to part with Ingram, who averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 79 games as a rookie.

Pluto passes on several other tidbits in his latest column:

  • The Celtics could have as many as 10 first-rounders over the next three years and seem like a natural facilitator to take on Love and get George to Cleveland in a three-team trade. But an unidentified NBA executive tells Pluto the Celtics also want George and are more likely to deal with the Pacers directly.
  • The Bulls weren’t interested in Love either, which is why the Cavaliers had little chance of trading for Jimmy Butler. Chicago has gotten tired of being mediocre and is looking for young talent to start rebuilding around. However, Pluto says most of the league iwas “stunned” that the Bulls couldn’t get more than Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a swap of first-rounders in return for Butler. The Celtics reportedly offered a better package that included several future draft picks.
  • The Cavaliers are still waiting to hear if Chauncey Billups will accept their GM offer. Sources tell Pluto that Billups has been pursuing a GM job for more than a year, so it’s not clear why there’s a delay. Billups has never worked in an NBA front office, Pluto notes, so he would need to hire an experienced executive as an assistant. A top candidate is George David, a former assistant GM with the Pistons who has a background in scouting.

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Ainge, Raptors, Nets, Sixers

After much speculation, the Knicks ultimately decided to select French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eight pick in the NBA Draft. Names like Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk — both of whom were still available when the Knicks were on the clock — were bypassed in favor of the athletic guard.

As Ian Begley of ESPN writes, team president Phil Jackson spoke about New York’s highly-debated selection and the ability that made the 18-year-old a must-have prospect.

“We like the size of this young man, we like his aptitude for the game, athleticism, actually the ability to incorporate himself in a winning type of a situation,” Jackson said.

New York used its 44th pick on Houston’s Damyean Dotson and its 58th pick on Serbian guard Ognjen Jaramaz. Under Jackson, the Knicks have emphasized selecting European talent and college seniors; with the team looking to build aorund young talent, it’s likely that the 2017 draft picks — particularly Ntilikina — get decent looks next season.

Here are additional notes from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (via Twitter), the Raptors tried trading up in the draft to select OG Anunoby but were pleasantly surprised when he was still available come the 23rd pick.
  • On a similar note, the Nets liked Michigan’s D.J. Wilson and tried trading up, but did not have the assets to do so, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (via Twitter). Wilson was taken 17th overall by the Bucks.
  • Despite rumors linking the Celtics to Jimmy Butler, general manager Danny Ainge told reporters, including ESPN’s Chris Forsberg, that no recent discussions to acquire the former Bulls All-Star happened.
  • Per Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly (via Twitter), all of the Sixers‘ international picks are expected to stay overseas next season.
  • After drafting Markelle Fultz this year, Ben Simmons last year, and assembling a drove of young talent, now is the time for Sixers head coach Brett Brown to put together a winning product, Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Cooney writes.

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.
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