Jimmy Butler

Heat Notes: Iguodala, Dragic, Spoelstra, Rotation

The Heat list reserve forward Andre Iguodala as probable for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Iguodala missed the second half of Game 2 on Thursday with tightness in his back. He’s averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 19.1 MPG during the postseason.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Point guard Goran Dragic, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has sparkled in the playoffs after the club tried to trade him last offseason, according to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Team president Pat Riley wanted to ship Dragic to Dallas in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade but the Mavericks weren’t interested.
  • Dwyane Wade believes Erik Spoelstra doesn’t receive enough accolades for his coaching accomplishments, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “He will not get enough credit for the Big 3 era because people think if you put talent together, you’re just going to win,” Wade said. “That is not true. We had an unbelievable general to lead us to those championships and the success we had, and he’s continuing it.”
  • Spoelstra has identified his top six players and is rolling with them, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. While Spoelstra used 10 players on Thursday, six of them played at least 32 minutes. That’s not unusual in the postseason, Winderman declares in his latest mailbag.
  • A fiery halftime locker room got the Heat refocused during halftime of Game 2, Winderman writes in a separate story.

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Robinson, ECF Schedule

Jimmy Butler has been a difference maker since coming to Miami, and he proved in Thursday’s Game 2 that it doesn’t have to be with scoring, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Butler shot just 4-of-11 from the field and was limited to 14 points, but he played a huge role on defense as the Heat held the Celtics to 41 points in the second half and just seven in the game’s final 4:25.

“That was winning basketball tonight from Jimmy Butler,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not about the final line. … Jimmy did so many things in that second half that impacted winning on both ends of the floor. Either the average fan sees it or they don’t, but we don’t care.”

After a bumpy relationship with teammates and management in both Chicago and Minnesota, Butler has been a seamless fit with Miami, which emphasizes both peak conditioning and unfiltered communication. The “Heat culture” played a huge role in Butler’s desire to join the team when he hit free agency last summer.

“We look each other in the eye and tell each other when it’s BS,” Butler said. “Spo is going to do it. I’m going to do it. Jae (Crowder) is going to do it. Tyler (Herro) is going to do it. Duncan (Robinson), all the way down the line. … We know when we’re not playing the way that we’re supposed to be playing. And as bad as it sounds, it’s like a switch. It just turns on, and oh, there we go right there. I’m telling you, straight-face communication, move on and get it done.”

There’s more Heat news to pass along:

  • With Miami trailing by 13 points at halftime Thursday, Spoelstra challenged Bam Adebayo to be “All-Defensive team Bam,” according to Manny Navarro of The Athletic. Adebayo responded not only with better defense, but with 15 third-quarter points to help lead the comeback. He’s an emerging star at age 23 and has become a greater pick-and-roll weapon in the postseason. “Bam is set up for how the league is moving forward: big, athletic, can do multiple things,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “Really carved out a space for himself in this league.”
  • With shooters being a priority throughout the NBA, Rob Mahoney of The Ringer examines how the Heat were able to find Robinson as an undrafted free agent. After signing a summer league deal with Miami in 2018, Robinson blossomed as a scorer this season, pouring in 13.5 PPG and shooting .446 from 3-point range.
  • Andre Iguodala sat out the second half of Game 2 with a “tight back,” tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.
  • Competition from other sports has affected the schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The every-other-day rotation would normally have Game 4 on Monday, but it has been pushed back to Wednesday to avoid going head-to-head with Monday Night Football. A potential Game 7 may be September 29 or 30, but ESPN has seven baseball playoff series on those dates.

Heat Notes: Roster, Haslem, ECF

Zach Lowe of ESPN tracks the Heat‘s impressive front office maneuvering that took them from the lottery in 2015 back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020, despite having traded away a number of their draft picks during that time. Lowe applauds the team’s savvy drafting of All-Star Bam Adebayo and potential future All-Star shooting specialist Tyler Herro in the 2017 and 2019 drafts, respectively.

“The doubt was whether [Adebayo] could really do much on offense,” said Heat senior adviser of basketball operations Chet Kammerer. “I just felt like, with his love for the game and his work ethic, he’s going to be OK in that area.”

The Heat also hit on three undrafted free agent role players in point guard Kendrick Nunn this season, shooting guard Duncan Robinson last year, and forward Derrick Jones Jr. in 2017 after a brief stint with the Suns. Miami was apparently one of two contenders for Dorian Finney-Smith after the 2016 draft, but lost out to the Mavericks.

Of course, All-Star Jimmy Butler was the key addition this offseason. During the 2016/17 “Three Alphas” Bulls season – when Dwyane Wade teamed up with Butler and Rajon Rondo in Chicago – Wade and Butler discussed just how special the much-ballyhooed “Heat culture” really was. That conversation apparently set the stage for Butler prioritizing the Heat above all other suitors in free agency during the summer of 2019, despite Miami lacking any room to sign a maximum-salaried free agent. Miami made a four-team sign-and-trade for the team’s now-top star.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • The Heat’s playoff-ready roster, comprised by acquiring key under-regarded prospects and never fully bottoming out, is also examined by HoopsHype’s Frank Urbina in another quality piece.
  • 17-season Heat lifer Udonis Haslem, a crucial role player for each of Miami’s three titles, remains noncommittal on whether or not 2019/20 will prove to be his final season as a player, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “There is a value and a need for me here,” Haslem said. “It doesn’t have to be the way that everybody thinks it should be. If I have to put on a suit and stand on the sideline, just because everybody else thinks I should. I found value in this locker room, and I’ve been able to move the needle and help us win games, and that’s what it’s all about.”
  • Ahead of the first game of the Heat’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Celtics, we asked you who you expected to advance to the NBA Finals from Eastern Conference. As of this writing, the third-seeded Celtics have received 54% of over 1,300 votes.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2019/20 season. Voting was completed prior to the league’s restart in July and was based on results through March 11.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers forward LeBron James, widely considered the two frontrunners for this year’s MVP award, were the only two players to be unanimously voted to the All-NBA First Team this season. Rockets guard James Harden, Lakers big man Anthony Davis, and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounded out the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis and LeBron scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Bucks forward Khris Middleton (82 points), Sixers center Joel Embiid (79), Wizards guard Bradley Beal (32), and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (26). A total of 11 other players also received at least one All-NBA vote — the full results can be found right here.

Today’s announcement is great news from a financial perspective for Siakam and Simmons. As a result of Siakam’s Second Team nod and Simmons’ Third Team spot, both players will earn starting salaries worth 28% of the 2020/21 salary cap, rather than 25%. Players who sign rookie scale extensions can earn maximum salaries up to 30% of the cap if they negotiate Rose Rule language into their deals.

The exact value of those new contracts will depend on where exactly the ’20/21 cap lands. Assuming it stays the same as in 2019/20 ($109.141MM), Siakam’s four-year extension would be worth $136.9MM instead of the $122.2MM it’d be worth if it started at 25% of the cap. Simmons’ five-year pact would be worth $177.2MM rather than $158.3MM.

While it’s also worth noting that All-NBA berths are of great importance to players seeking super-max contracts, there aren’t any real developments to report on that front as a result of this year’s votes. Antetokounmpo and Gobert remain eligible for super-max extensions, but they’d already qualified based on their previous accolades.

Embiid would have become super-max eligible in 2021 if he had earned an All-NBA spot, but he’ll need to make an All-NBA team next season to gain eligibility now, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our spring poll. Beal, Embiid, and Devin Booker were your picks who didn’t make the official list. Of the 12 who made it, 11 made the exact team you projected, with Paul (who made Second Team instead of Third Team) representing the only exception.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Leonard, Butler, Haslem

As the Heat try to maximize cap room for next summer, they have a decision to make on their backup centers, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami HeraldKelly Olynyk has a $12.2MM player option for next season, while Meyers Leonard will be a free agent after making $11.3MM this year.

While it’s generally assumed Olynyk will opt in rather than test a market where few teams have cap space, Jackson suggests the big man could be tempted if his agent learns there are teams willing to offer a three-year contract starting at the mid-level exception of around $9MM. If Olynyk does opt in, Jackson expects the Heat to either keep him and let Leonard leave or try to trade Olynyk to a team with cap space and work out a cheaper deal with Leonard.

Leonard started Miami’s first 49 games, but lost his spot in the rotation after suffering an ankle injury in early February. He made his playoff debut Friday night, going scoreless in nine minutes.

“It was a great feeling to be back out there and I still have some time,” Leonard said. “I’m more than prepared.”

The Heat have $86MM committed to 10 players for 2020/21, Jackson notes, including $5.2MM to Ryan Anderson, who was waived under the stretch provision. Jackson assumes one-year deals in the neighborhood of $20MM for Dragic and $10MM for Crowder, bringing the total salary to $116MM, which is $16.6MM below this year’s luxury tax line. He notes that money could be used to re-sign Leonard and Derrick Jones Jr. or to pursue another free agent big man such as Enes Kanter, Paul Millsap, Tristan Thompson, Markieff Morris or Aron Baynes.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s 30-point outburst in the Game 3 comeback solidified his reputation as a leader in big moments, Jackson notes in the same story. Butler joins Dwyane Wade as the only Miami players to score 25 points in the second half of multiple games in the same postseason. “He is the ultimate competitor,” Leonard said. “Everybody wondered, ‘Oh, well is he too competitive?’ He’s a winner. And he expects the same level of focus, effort, energy, mental focus, from his teammates. And you are seeing him not only do it himself, but he’s bringing the best out of others, as well.”
  • Bam Adebayo continue to gain notice from other players around the league, Jackson adds. Appearing on J.J. Redick‘s podcast, Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell said he would choose Adebayo if he were picking a team for the next 10 years.
  • Coach Erik Spoelstra said veteran forward Udonis Haslem was “controlling the huddles” Friday in an effort to inspire his teammates, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. “Our culture is probably UD screaming at everybody in one of the timeouts,” Spoelstra said. “And us liking it.”

Heat Notes: Offseason, Robinson, Craig, Butler

The Heat have a number of free agents and may need to make some tough choices this summer, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Veteran starters Goran Dragic, 34, and Jae Crowder, 30, will be free agents this offseason. Bench big man Kelly Olynyk has a $12.2MM player option for 2020/21 that could clog up the team’s cap this summer.

The Heat will look to build on an exciting 2019/20 campaign that sees them currently up 1-0 on the top Eastern Conference seed, the Bucks, in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • Heat wing sniper Duncan Robinson has risen through the ranks, from an undistinguished high school basketball career to a little-noticed college tenure with Division III school Williams College to becoming a starter on an upstart playoff Miami squad in his second NBA season. Ramone Shelbourne of ESPN details the forward’s rise. “It’s my job to make shots,” Robinson said. “But the big shift is that I understand it’s actually my job to take these shots.”
  • The Heat have given assistant coach Dan Craig permission to interview for the Bulls‘ open head coaching position, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel in a separate story. The 38-year-old Craig has worked with the Heat organization in various capacities for 17 years. He has been an assistant coach for the past four years.
  • Five-time Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler, coming off a playoff career-high 40-point night against the Bucks, feels “welcomed” in Miami after his oft-discussed exits from several prior NBA stops, as we detailed in a previous story.

Jimmy Butler: “I Couldn’t Be In A Happier Place”

Jimmy Butler has heard himself described as a bad teammate and a coach’s nightmare in the past few years as he traveled from from Chicago to Minnesota to Philadelphia. But in a wide-ranging interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Butler says Miami is the perfect place for him — both from a fit standpoint and due to a shared commitment to winning.

Butler’s acerbic style wore thin in his other NBA stops, but his extreme training regimen has been a seamless fit with the Heat. Amick notes that they are the only team at the Disney World complex that hasn’t skipped a day of practice and they regularly use the entire three-hour window that’s allotted to them.

“Here (with the Heat), I’m wanted man,” Butler said. “And that’s all you ever want as a human being, as a basketball player, as anything is to feel wanted. I’m wanted. I’m welcomed here. And I couldn’t be in a happier place, or around better guys.”

Butler touches on several other subjects during the interview:

On previous clashes with teammates, coaches and management:

“If you’re not there, and you don’t know what’s really going on. You can only go by what you read or what somebody else says happened. I’m not one to always just tell you what happened, because I don’t give a damn what you think anyways, regardless. If me working hard makes people feel a certain way about how I go about things, I wasn’t meant to be there. Like here, I work incredibly hard. And everybody knows, so I don’t have to say it.”

On rumors that former Sixers coach Brett Brown didn’t want the team to re-sign Butler last summer:

“I don’t even think about what could have happened with Brett Brown. What could have happened. … I don’t, because if I get too lost in that I’m not doing my due diligence for these guys. … I couldn’t care less how anybody labels me. Just know that I do everything in my power to win. That’s what brings me the most joy, is that no matter what you think, or no matter what you might say, you’re never going to be able to say that I’m not a winner. I may not have won ‘it,’ but you’re not going to say that I was a loser, that I played a losing style of basketball. You’ll never say that.”

On Sixers center Joel Embiid tweeting “IF” on Monday, which was believed to be a reference to what the team might have accomplished if Butler had stayed:

“That’s my guy. Outside of basketball, I love that man to death. He knows that. I tell him every opportunity I get, and I appreciate him for making me a better player, a better leader, better at understanding so many different things. I talk to him all the time, and I tell him, ‘I wish you were still in the playoffs, because you deserve a championship.’ Because he works. He works at it, and that’s just my guy. Yeah, I saw it, and I know that he still wanted me to be on his team. And I still wanted to be teammates with him. Let’s not get that misunderstood. But here, with these guys, I’m not trading that for the world either.”

On the conference semifinal matchup with Milwaukee and Butler’s declaration that the Heat came to Orlando to win an NBA title:

“We’re in the same place. We haven’t done anything. We won a game. For us, that’s what we’re supposed to do. For us, we’re supposed to win in four. It may not be — everybody else may not think that, but for us, we’re in it to win it, man. We work too hard. Like, I can only keep saying that. We’re studying film like there’s no tomorrow. To me, we were built for this. We can do this.”

Eastern Notes: Butler, Hawks, West, Cavaliers

Jimmy Butler has fit in perfectly with the Heat’s culture, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. The Bulls and Timberwolves traded Butler away and the 76ers didn’t make him a priority in free agency. However, Miami has been a better spot for the sometimes abrasive swingman, since the front office and coaching staff welcomes a measure of friction, believing it can be a positive in the long run. It leads to more focus, camaraderie and trust, Windhorst adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers flameout in the first round of the playoffs could benefit the Hawks. Philadelphia could be willing to deal one or more of its starters, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, who joins forces with Peachtree Hoops’ Andrew Kelly to explore how various Sixers – along with some other potential trade targets from around the league – could fit in with Atlanta’s current mix.
  • The Pistons have finalized a contract with former Lakers executive Ryan West, Jerry West‘s son, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The news that Detroit was hiring West broke three weeks ago. He will concentrate on player evaluation with Detroit. West and the Lakers mutually agreed to part ways last summer after both sides felt he had reached a ceiling in his 10 years with their franchise.
  • The Cavaliers are likely to use their mid-level exception to upgrade the team, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If there’s a player worth signing, the Cavs are eager to upgrade the roster before next season and push for a playoff spot, Fedor adds. Fedor also explores the Cavaliers’ draft strategy in his mailbag column.

Injury Updates: Butler, Westbrook, Lowry, Beverley

The Heat have a week-long break after sweeping the Pacers in the first round, and the time off has given two players a chance to overcome injuries, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Jimmy Butler, who played Game 4 against Indiana with a strained left shoulder, and Jae Crowder, who has been dealing with a sprained left ankle, were both able to practice today.

“We had a couple of really good days of work and nobody was in a mood to work on Wednesday night or Thursday,” said coach Erik Spoelstra, who now has a fully healthy roster. “And that was the reason for this pause. We’ve been able to get a couple good days of work (Friday and Saturday). We’ll watch the (Bucks-Magic) game this afternoon and see what happens. Either way, our guys will be ready.”

There’s more injury news around the league:

  • Russell Westbrook will make his playoff debut for the Rockets today, but his minutes will be restricted, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Westbrook, who has been sidelined since Aug. 11 with a strained right quadriceps, will be limited to 25-28 minutes in Game 5.
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has been upgraded from questionable to probable for Sunday’s opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Lowry sprained his left ankle in the final game of the Nets series when he stepped on Chris Chiozza‘s foot. He was able to practice today, and Toronto coach Nick Nurse said he “looked OK.”
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley has been moved from doubtful to questionable for Sunday’s Game 6 against Dallas, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Beverley hasn’t played since the series opener because of a strained left calf.
  • Nuggets guard Gary Harris is listed as questionable for Sunday’s Game 6 against Utah, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Harris is dealing with a strained right hip and hasn’t been able to play since the season restarted.

Injury Notes: AD, Rondo, Lillard, Westbrook, Lowry, More

Although he left Game 4 on Monday due to back spasms, Lakers star Anthony Davis is expected to be good to go on Wednesday and is being listed as probable on the injury report. However, point guard Rajon Rondo is still “banged up” and likely won’t play, per head coach Frank Vogel (Twitter links via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). Rondo is being listed as doubtful for Game 5.

Meanwhile, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who has already been ruled out for Game 5 due to a right knee sprain, is unlikely to return this series even if Portland can extend it by a game or two, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. According to Haynes, Lillard is currently unable to extend his right leg.

Here are more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said today that he still thinks Russell Westbrook could return in the first round, but it won’t happen on Wednesday, as the team has listed Westbrook as out for Game 5 vs. Oklahoma City (Twitter links via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry didn’t participate in practice on Tuesday and is considered day-to-day for the time being, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, who tweets that Lowry’s status for Game 1 vs. Boston on Thursday remains uncertain.
  • Nuggets guard Gary Harris (hip), who was previously listed as questionable for Game 5 against Utah tonight, has been downgraded to out, the team announced (via Twitter). With Denver trailing 3-1 in the series, it’s possible Harris won’t return this season.
  • Heat wing Jimmy Butler has been battling a left shoulder strain but doesn’t expect the issue to limit him going forward, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Head coach Erik Spoelstra, who referred to it as a “soft-tissue” injury, said no MRI is scheduled for now.
  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon (hamstring) appears unlikely to be ready for Game 5 on Wednesday, according to head coach Steve Clifford, who says that Gordon is still unable to sprint up and down the court and the team doesn’t want to risk him suffering a more serious injury (Twitter links via Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel).