Jimmy Butler

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Butler, Tucker, Hawks, Hornets

The Wizards will have plenty of options with the No. 10 pick in the 2022 draft, but it’s not realistic to expect the team to select its starting point guard at that spot, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

President of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard referred to the Wizards’ need for a point guard and their objectives in the draft as “two separate issues,” adding that the team will target the best talent available, rather than focusing on fit. He also left the door open for the possibility of moving up or down in the draft — or trading out of the first round entirely.

“For us, you’ve got to step back and say: ‘Do we have enough young guys? Do we need more talent?’ Whatever it is, we have this time to evaluate our roster, and the league tells you what it thinks about your players by the calls you get,” Sheppard said, according to Wallace. “We’re going to hear from a lot of people, already have heard from a lot of people. We can move up, we can move out, we can move — all these things are on the table.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The sideline altercation between Heat star Jimmy Butler and head coach Erik Spoelstra during a March game vs. Golden State was the culmination of “three seasons’ worth of give-and-take” between the two men, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. However, as Windhorst writes, they quickly moved past the confrontation and Butler has proven once again with his performance in the 2022 postseason that he’s worth some occasional drama.
  • Heat forward P.J. Tucker rarely puts up big numbers, but teammates and coaches appreciate his contributions that go beyond the box score, writes Wes Goldberg of The Miami Herald. “He’s one of the biggest reasons why we’re winning, because he does all the little things,” Butler said after Game 1. “It’s easy to follow suit whenever you’ve got somebody like that leading your team.” Tucker holds a $7.35MM player option for the 2022/23 season.
  • In a conversation with Chris Kirschner about the Hawks‘ upcoming offseason, John Hollinger of The Athletic explains why he thinks it’s unlikely that Atlanta and De’Andre Hunter reach an extension agreement this offseason and suggests that no one on the roster outside of Trae Young should be off-limits in trade talks.
  • The Hornets control the Nos. 13 and 15 picks in next month’s draft, and Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (subscriber-only link) believes the team should be willing to trade both of them for more immediate help, arguing that bringing in two more rookies wouldn’t do much for the team’s 2022/23 playoff aspirations.

Heat Notes: Lowry, Starting Lineup, Strus, Butler

Heat guard Kyle Lowry (hamstring) didn’t practice with the team on Sunday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Lowry was with the team for practice, but he didn’t participate. As Jackson notes, this doesn’t bode well for his status this week, as the Eastern Conference Finals will tip off on Tuesday.

Lowry suffered a hamstring injury in the first round against Atlanta. Last round, the Heat went 4-0 against the Sixers without him and 0-2 with him, but he was playing through the injury in his two games. Lowry ranked fourth on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) and first in assists (7.5 per game) this season.

With Miami playing Boston next round, the team could use Lowry as an offensive option, as the Celtics are viewed as one of the league’s elite defenses. The Heat will likely continue to rely more on Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo until Lowry returns.

Here are some other notes from Miami:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether playing Lowry off the bench is a viable option. The Heat have started Vincent in place of Lowry and may not want to impact its ongoing chemistry, but Lowry started in all 63 of his regular season games this season. Aside from being a better player, Lowry also holds more playoff experience than Vincent does, making a move to the bench seem unlikely.
  • Max Strus has played a key role in the team advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. Strus finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in Game 5 against the Sixers last round, then recorded 20 points and 11 rebounds to win the series in Game 6. “It’s one of the biggest moments, not only in my career, but in my life,” Strus said. “This is the moment you want to be in being a basketball player and doing what we do for a living. And I’m super excited and want to start [next series] tomorrow.”
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald explores how most advanced metrics say Jimmy Butler has been the best player in the playoffs. Butler’s traditional stats have also been superb, as he’s averaging a career-high 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. He has also shot 52.5% from the floor and 36% from three-point range, leading Miami to an 8-3 postseason record.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Tucker, Magic, Wizards

Heat star Jimmy Butler led his team to a 4-2 victory over the Sixers in the second round, finishing with 32 points in the final game of the series on Thursday. Butler, who played for the Sixers in 2018/19, acknowledged that leaving Philadelphia to join Miami wound up working out for his career.

“Some things happened, and now I’m where I belong, I guess where I should have been a long time ago,” Butler said after the Game 6 win, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “A place where I’m welcome.”

The Sixers spent their money on Tobias Harris after the 2018/19 campaign, inking him to a five-year, $180MM deal while Butler joined the Heat in a four-team sign-and-trade deal. At the time, Harris formed a big three alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, with the team also adding Al Horford in free agency that summer.

“I’ve got a lot of love for this city (Philadelphia), love for guys like (Embiid), so any time we can beat a tough team, it’s special,” Butler said on Thursday.

There are more notes from the Southeast Division today:

  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman considers whether P.J. Tucker has surpassed Jae Crowder in Crowder’s former role. The Heat signed Tucker last summer to fill the void left by Crowder, who left in 2020 to join the Suns. Miami attempted to replace Crowder with Trevor Ariza and Kelly Olynyk last season, which ultimately didn’t pan out. Tucker has provided versatile defense and shooting this year.
  • Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel explores which Magic players will likely be with the team next season. The Magic have a young core consisting of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr., but the club will also have Jonathan Isaac returning from a two-season absence. In addition, former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz and former No. 6 pick Mohamed Bamba could also have roles with Orlando.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic conducts five different version of the lottery for the Wizards, speculating on which prospect the team would draft in each scenario. The NBA’s draft lottery will be held on Tuesday. Washington has a 13.9% chance at securing a top-four pick, but as Robbins notes, the team will likely have the No. 10 or No. 11 selection. The Wizards are coming off a disappointing season, finishing with the fourth-worst record in the East at 35-47.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Rivers, Green, Butler, Offseason

It has become clear over the course of the season – and especially in the playoffs – that the current version of James Harden isn’t the same one who earned the MVP award in 2018 with the Rockets, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, who suggests that recurring hamstring issues over the last couple years have slowed down the Sixers guard.

“Since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden,” Sixers star Joel Embiid said on Thursday, after the team lost Game 6 to the Heat and was eliminated from the postseason. “But that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a play-maker.”

While it’s true that Harden is still an elite play-maker, he’s being paid like he’s also an elite scorer, with a $44.3MM salary this season and a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s a belief in some league circles that Harden isn’t fully healthy and has bounce-back potential, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, according to Bontemps, the soon-to-be 33-year-old is viewed by many executives as more of a $25-30MM per year player than a superstar who should warrant a five-year, $270MM commitment this offseason.

During an ESPN appearance (video link), Amar’e Stoudemire, who saw Harden up close as a member of the Nets’ coaching staff this season, questioned the guard’s conditioning and advised the Sixers against offering a maximum-salary contract.

Harden, who will be eligible for a contract extension if he picks up his player option or a new free agent contract if he turns it down, suggested after Thursday’s loss that he would be open to taking less than his max, and an Eastern Conference scout who spoke to Bontemps said the 76ers would be wise to go that route.

“If there were any logic whatsoever, the answer (to giving him a max deal) would be no,” the scout said.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his job security, head coach Doc Rivers defended his track record, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).I don’t worry about my job,” Rivers said. “I think I do a terrific job. If you don’t, then you should write it. I worked my butt off to get this team here. When I first got here, no one picked us to be anywhere. Again this year, the same thing.”
  • After leaving Game 6 due to a left knee injury, Sixers swingman Danny Green will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There’s “significant concern” that Green’s injury is a serious one, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps relays.
    [UPDATE: Danny Green Diagnosed With Torn Left ACL, LCL]
  • Having eliminated the 76ers from the postseason, former Sixer Jimmy Butler rubbed salt in the wound, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, who notes that the Heat forward said in his postgame interview he wishes he were still playing with Embiid. On his way to the locker room after the game, Butler also referenced the 2019 offseason, when Philadelphia invested heavily in Tobias Harris as Butler departed for Miami. “Tobias Harris over me?!” Butler yelled, as captured by Miami’s WPLG Local 10 Sports (video link).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype both preview the Sixers’ upcoming offseason, examining some of the biggest questions facing the franchise in the coming weeks and months.

Atlantic Notes: Jokubaitis, Knicks, Butler/Sixers, Raptors

Knicks draft-and-stash prospect Rokas Jokubaitis has been named the EuroLeague’s Rising Star, per Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com (Twitter link). Jokubaitis, 21, was the No. 34 pick in the 2021 draft and was acquired from the Thunder (along with No. 36 pick Miles McBride) in exchange for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (No. 32).

Jokubaitis has appeared in 35 games with Spanish club FC Barcelona this season, averaging 7.2 points and 2.8 assists along with an eye-popping .565/.595/.757 shooting line in 17.1 minutes per contest. Barcelona will face long-time rival Real Madrid in the EuroLeague Final Four, which takes place from May 19-21 in Belgrade, Serbia.

As Urbonas notes, the young Lithuanian guard joins an impressive list of Rising Star recipients, including Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Mirotic, Ricky Rubio, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Luka Doncic, and Usman Garuba, among others.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • In the second part of a discussion with colleague Fred Katz about New York’s offseason, John Hollinger of The Athletic says the Knicks are “unquestionably” looking to trade for a star player, because the roster is too good to tank, but not good enough to contend. Hollinger expects coach Tom Thibodeau to be back at the helm next season, as he’s done a solid job developing young players. Australian guard Dyson Daniels, who played for G League Ignite this past season, would be a good fit alongside Immanuel Quickley if New York’s pick lands at No. 11 or 12, says Hollinger.
  • The stellar play of Jimmy Butler in the Heat/Sixers matchup is a reminder of what could have been for Philadelphia, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Philly famously chose to placate Ben Simmons instead of retaining Butler, even though Butler was (and still is) close with Joel Embiid. Both Simmons and Butler needed the ball and didn’t complement each other well offensively, and the team felt forced to pick between the two, sources tell Shelburne. “When you get into a competition, he understands the full deal — that you have to do it on both ends,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler. “And he’s able to compete with a ferocity and an incredibly stable mind. That is really unique — when it gets the craziest is when he’s really locked in on making sure that it’s solid winning basketball for our team.” The Heat lead the second-round series 3-2, with Butler averaging 26.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals on .534/.318/.842 shooting.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic ranks the Raptors‘ trade assets, from untouchable (Scottie Barnes) to salary matching/low-stakes moves (Malachi Flynn, Khem Birch, others). Koreen notes that Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa have both drastically improved their trade values with strong seasons in 2021/22.

Heat’s Butler, Herro Available For Game 1

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and several other Heat players who were listed as questionable for Game 1 of the second-round series against the Sixers are available to play, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.

Butler missed the Game 5 clincher against the Hawks due to knee inflammation after averaging 30.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 5.3 APG in the first four games. Herro (illness), Max Strus (hamstring), P.J. Tucker (calf), Caleb Martin (ankle) and Markieff Morris (illness) were also listed as questionable on Sunday but are now expected to suit up.

Officially, these players are listed as “warming up with intention to play,” Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets.

Starting point guard Kyle Lowry will miss his third straight game due to a hamstring strain.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Heat, Sixers, Wade, Hornets

Heat star Jimmy Butler is one of six Miami players listed as questionable for the team’s Game 1 against the Sixers on Monday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Butler missed Game 5 against the Hawks last week due to knee inflammation, but he still plans to play in Game 1.

Along with Butler, Tyler Herro (illness), Max Strus (hamstring), P.J. Tucker (calf), Caleb Martin (ankle) and Markieff Morris (illness) are also questionable. Starting point guard Kyle Lowry will miss his third straight game due to a hamstring strain.

On the flip side, the Sixers will be without Joel Embiid (mild concussion and orbital fracture). The teams will also meet in Miami for Game 2 on Wednesday before traveling to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday.

Here are some other notes from the East:

  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag, Winderman examines whether Doc Rivers set the Sixers up for failure by keeping Embiid on the floor down the stretch of Game 6 against the Raptors last week. The Sixers were leading by 29 points with 3:58 remaining when Embiid was injured.
  • Cavaliers forward Dean Wade has been cleared to return to on-court activities following his meniscus surgery, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets. The Cavaliers lost to the Hawks in the play-in tournament last month, failing to make the playoffs despite a promising season.
  • The Hornets can’t afford to miss on their next move, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer writes. The team is seeking another head coach after firing James Borrego. Boone examines what the club should look for in its next coach, noting that the Hornets are determined to make the playoffs next year.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Herro, Wizards, Brown

Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee inflammation) plans to play in Game 1 against the Sixers on Monday, as Nick Friedell of ESPN relays (Twitter link). Butler missed Miami’s final game against the Hawks last Tuesday and expressed confidence his knee will hold up.

Philadelphia will be without superstar center Joel Embiid (orbital fracture and mild concussion), however, which Butler says he and the rest of the Heat are disappointed about. Butler also said Embiid deserves to win the Most Valuable Player award this season.

“I think I speak for everybody that’s a part of this team, we want Jo to play,” he said. “We want to go up against them at full strength and prove that we can hang with anybody and we can beat anybody.”

As we wrote on Friday, Embiid doesn’t have a timetable for his return. The Sixers and Heat will play Game 2 on Wednesday, then travel to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday.

Here are some other notes from the East:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel explores whether Tyler Herro‘s illness absence should raise concerns for the Heat. Herro didn’t practice on Saturday because of a cold, but he’s still expected to play in Game 1. The 22-year-old struggled during Miami’s first-round series against Atlanta, averaging 12.8 points on 39% shooting from the floor and 18% from deep.
  • The Wizards could greatly benefit from the Jazz blowing their roster up this offseason, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines. Utah lost its first-round series against Dallas 4-2 and could explore trading key pieces in the summer. Hughes believes Washington may express interest in a number of Jazz players, including Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley. The Wizards naturally want to build a competitive roster around Bradley Beal and keep him in town.
  • Celtics star Jaylen Brown told reporters that he should be “ready to roll” for the team’s Game 1 against the Bucks, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. Brown, who has been dealing with hamstring tightness, said he’s feeling good. Boston will open up the series at home on Sunday afternoon.

Injury Notes: Heat, Brown, Hill, Z. Williams, Reid

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was noncommittal on Friday when asked for a status update on Jimmy Butler (sore right knee) and Kyle Lowry (left hamstring), according to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Butler missed Game 5 of Miami’s first-round series against Atlanta, while Lowry missed Games 4 and 5 after leaving Game 3 early.

I don’t want to jump the gun on anything. I just like the progress that everybody’s made. We’ll see if they can make more progress tomorrow. It will just be a daily update,” Spoelstra said.

Butler’s injury is considered relatively minor, with no MRI or other imaging planned. Muscle strains are notoriously tricky to deal with, so Lowry might be out longer, but his hamstring strain is also not considered to be serious, per Chiang and Jackson.

I’m expecting them to get healthy day by day, honestly,” Bam Adebayo said when asked if he expects Butler and Lowry to be available for the start of the second round. “If they can go, they can go. If they’re not, we got to go out there regardless. You can’t push back Game 1.”

Here are some more postseason injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Head coach Ime Udoka told reporters, including Jay King of The Athletic (Twitter links), that Celtics star Jaylen Brown is dealing with hamstring tightness and had it evaluated recently. Despite the injury, Brown is expected to play in Game 1 against Milwaukee on Sunday.
  • George Hill (abdominal strain) was unable to practice on Friday, per Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. He’s out for Game 1 but the team is hopeful he might return during the second-round series against Boston, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The veteran guard missed the entire first-round series against Chicago with the injury and hasn’t played since April 8.
  • Grizzlies rookie wing Ziaire Williams (right knee soreness) was unavailable for Friday’s Game 6 contest against the Timberwolves, the team announced (via Twitter). He’d previously been listed as doubtful. Wolves big man Naz Reid also missed Game 6 due to personal reasons (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic).

Heat, Jimmy Butler Fined $15K Apiece By NBA

All-Star forward Jimmy Butler has been fined $15K for making an obscene gesture and the Heat organization was also fined $15K for posting Butler’s act on social media, the NBA announced (via Twitter).

The incident occurred on the bench in the second quarter of Miami’s Game 5 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday (video link). Butler was sidelined for the contest with right knee inflammation.

The Heat closed out their first-round series in five games despite missing Butler and point guard Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain). The team is hopeful both players will be available for the second-round matchup against either Philadelphia or Toronto, which will start next Monday.

Butler had another strong regular season for Miami, averaging 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals on .480/.233/.870 shooting in 57 games.

After leading the Heat to the Finals in 2019/20 with several brilliant performances, the 32-year-old struggled mightily in last year’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks, posting averages of 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.3 steals on .297/.267/.727 shooting.

However, Butler was outstanding in Miami’s series win over Atlanta, averaging 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals on .543/.438/.794 shooting in four games. The Heat will need more strong play from the six-time All-Star in order to make another deep postseason run.