Jimmy Butler

Southeast Notes: Beal, James Jones, Butler, Bjelica

Bradley Beal of the Wizards is getting a first-hand look at what a Hall-of-Fame coach looks like, and he’s loving it, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“(Gregg Popovich is) perfect, man,” Beal said. “He’s an awesome coach to be around and his energy, his intensity, it just trickles down to everybody. It’s contagious.”

The timing is interesting, Hughes notes, as the Wizards are currently in the midst of a coaching search. Whomever the Wizards hire will be the third head coach of Beal’s career, and now that Beal has experience playing under Popovich, it will be interesting to see what he makes of the new hire. It’s been reported that Beal will have input in the decision.

We have more notes from around the Southeast Division:

  • In his latest mailbag, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel discusses the question of whether the Heat missed an opportunity by not doing more to keep Suns GM James Jones – 2021’s Executive of the Year – in the Heat organization. It’s unlikely Jones would’ve gotten the same opportunity that he got in Phoenix as quickly in Miami, Winderman concludes.
  • Much has been made of Jimmy Butler‘s combative nature, Winderman writes, but Heat legend Chris Bosh says some of that is the nature of the NBA, and that competitive fire looks different when the team is winning versus when it’s losing. “There’ll always be reports of conflict when the season isn’t that good. The conflict is different. When they’re winning and arguing, it’s great, it’s a great thing,” Bosh said. “What I find is most important, is you have to talk about it. We’re all adults, right?”
  • Winderman also checks in with Heat free agent Nemanja Bjelica on the heels of Serbia’s elimination from the Tokyo Olympic qualifying tournament last weekend on their home floor. “Disaster, it is fair to say, failure,” Bjelica said. “We are always expected to always win. The only thing left is that we wanted to make these people happy. I can only apologize, if it means something. I will take responsibility as a player with the most experience here.”

Olympic Notes: Butler, Olynyk, Birch, Bjorkgren, Jokic, Australia

Jimmy Butler will not play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. Butler had an invite but he battled through a variety of ailments this season and had a short turnaround between seasons after Miami surprisingly reached the NBA Finals last summer.

We have more info on this year’s Olympics:

  • The Rockets’ Kelly Olynyk and Raptors’ Khem Birch are among the prominent players not listed among the 24 players Team Canada submitted to FIBA in advance of its Olympic qualifier, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet tweets. They’re both unrestricted free agents. The Grizzlies’ Brandon Clarke is also not on the preliminary list, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. The 24-man roster can be found here.
  • Nate Bjorkgren, who was let go by the Pacers after one season as head coach, will join Nick Nurse’s Team Canada staff, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Bjorkgren was one of Nurse’s top assistants before his stint with Indiana.
  • MVP Nikola Jokic won’t play for the Serbian team at the Olympic qualifier due to an exhausting NBA campaign, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Jokic told Serbian news agency Tanjug, “Simply, the condition of my body requires a longer absence from the court for recovery.” The Denver Post story asserts Jokic won’t play in the Olympics even if his national team qualifies, while an ESPN story says it’s unclear if Jokic would participate in Tokyo.
  • The Australian national team will play exhibitions against Team USA, Nigeria and Argentina in Las Vegas before departing for Tokyo, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. The 19-man preliminary roster, which will be trimmed to 12, is expected to be loaded with NBA players, including Ben Simmons and Joe Ingles.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

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 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 Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.

NBA All-Defensive Teams Announced

The NBA has officially announced the voting results for its two 2020/21 All-Defensive teams.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in four seasons, and Sixers guard Ben Simmons were unanimous selections for the All-Defensive First Team. Both players made the First Team lists of all 100 tallied ballots, for a perfect total of 200 points. Votes are given to 100 media members.

This marks Gobert’s fifth straight appearance on the All-Defensive First Team, and the second consecutive All-Defensive First Team honor for Simmons.

Warriors forward Draymond Green garnered 176 points (including 80 First Team votes). Green was named Defensive Player of the Year in the 2016/17 season. This year’s nod is his fourth First Team honor, and his sixth total All-Defensive team.

Two Bucks players rounded out the All-Defensive First Team this season. Guard Jrue Holiday netted 157 points (65 First Team) and All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year, earned 135 total points (43 First Team). Antetokounmpo has just made his third straight All-Defensive First Team, and his fourth All-Defensive team overall. This is Holiday’s second All-Defensive First Team appearance and his third overall All-Defensive team.

[RELATED: Rudy Gobert Named Defensive Player Of The Year]

Two All-Defensive First-Teamers have unlocked contract bonuses associated with the honor. Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that Gobert will receive a $500K bonus for the inclusion this season. Marks adds (Twitter link) that Holiday will pocket a cool $100K for making All-Defensive First Team. Holiday has other contract incentives associated with his team’s further postseason advancement.

The All-Defensive Second Team honorees are led by Heat stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, who each netted 111 points (37 First Team votes) apiece. Adebayo makes his second All-Defensive Second Team with the nod today. This is Butler’s fifth such honor.

Simmons’s Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle also make the cut. It is the third All-Defensive team nod for Embiid and the first appearance for Thybulle. Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, a former two-time Defensive Player of the Year, rounds out the All-Defensive Second Team this season.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

Suns guard/forward Mikal Bridges, Hawks center Clint Capela, and Pacers forward/center Myles Turner were among the highest vote-getters who missed the cut for the Second Team. You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pat Riley Talks LeBron, Butler, Ainge, His Own Future

Making an appearance on Dan Le Batard’s’s ‘Le Batard and Friends’ stream on Friday (video link), Heat president Pat Riley addressed a handful of topics, including his own future and Jimmy Butler‘s relationship with Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and the rest of the coaching staff.

Perhaps most interestingly, Riley spoke about former Heat star LeBron James, addressing whether he’d continue to leave a “key under the doormat” for James in the event that the four-time MVP wanted to return to Miami. Riley acknowledged that such a scenario is unlikely and joked that the key would be “rusted” by now, but said he’d welcome back the superstar forward who helped lead the franchise to four straight NBA Finals from 2011-14.

“LeBron, look, he’s one of the greatest of all time, and for four years down here, if we want to go back and remember what those four years were like, it was four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships… It was the best time for the Heat,” Riley said, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”

Executives around the NBA have received fines for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy for comments similar to Riley’s, so it’s reasonable to assume commissioner Adam Silver will take a long look at Riley’s statement. After discussing LeBron, Riley noted that those comments “will just get me fined,” as Botte relays.

With the help of Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, here are a few of other noteworthy tidbits from the longtime Heat president of basketball operations:

On a report that there were some “testy moments” between Jimmy Butler and the Heat’s coaching staff this season:

“It’s normal. … Look, throughout my career as a coach, there wasn’t one player on any team that I ever coached, a key player, that I didn’t have disagreements with, didn’t have yelling and screaming matches with, and whether it was Alonzo Mourning or Magic Johnson or James Worthy or Patrick Ewing or whoever, LeBron, Dwyane, Chris. That’s just the way it is. And if it’s too nice and too quiet, then you want to create something where there’s tension. Otherwise, you’re going to be apathetic at what you’re doing all the time.”

On Danny Ainge stepping down from his role as Celtics’ president of basketball operations:

“I wish him the best. I have no hate in my heart, except for the Shamrock. But all of the people I competed against in Boston all those years, I wish Danny nothing but the best. He’s had 18 years up there. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do this stuff. So, he’s free of whatever it is he wants to get away from.”

On whether Riley would’ve considered retiring if the Heat had won the Finals in 2020:

“No… At my particular age, I feel that I have a lot more left, a lot of energy, and I feel like I’ve got a sharp mind. I know, over 60 years, I’ve collected a lot of wisdom and a reservoir of knowledge about what it takes to win and what kind of players we want, and all of that stuff. So I’m not in any hurry to go anywhere else other than, right now, on vacation and then come back and try to win a championship for the Heat. That’s what we do.”

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Achiuwa, Robinson

Heat star Jimmy Butler is eligible for a contract extension this summer, and according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, it’s likely he will seek a four-year, maximum-salary deal worth $181MM. The 32-year old wing is currently under contract through the 2022/23 season, but a four-year extension would align his contract with star center Bam Adebayo‘s recently-signed max extension, as both would expire following the 2025/26 season. Such an extension would pay Butler $50MM in 2025/26, when he’d be 36 years old.

Following a disappointing first round sweep at the hands of the Bucks, the Heat will be looking to add to their roster this summer. When asked if he would be taking a role in roster decisions, Butler said: “I don’t know. I’ve got to be active… Me myself, Bam, hell probably Tyler (Herro), some other guys, as well — they’re going to ask and we have to be honest. But at the end of the day, that’s not our job either.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • With the Tokyo Olypmics postponed until this summer, several Heat players will have important decisions to make, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Precious Achiuwa and Gabe Vincent are both potential members of the Nigerian national team, while Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo are in the player pool for the U.S. team and Omer Yurtseven is likely to represent Turkey. But with a short training camp this season, the possibility of missing out on yet another summer of training with the Heat represents a major decision, especially for young players such as Achiuwa and Vincent. The choice between Summer League and representing his nation in the Olympics is one Achiuwa isn’t rushing. “Right now,” he says, “I have time on my hands to kind of just weigh my options and see where I go from there.”
  • Not only do the Heat not have a pick in this year’s draft, but they have the fewest tradable future picks of any team in the NBA, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. As a result of trades for players such as Butler, Goran Dragic, and Victor Oladipo, a 2024 second-round pick is the only draft asset they have that’s available to be traded over the next seven drafts.
  • In a Q&A for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman explains why Adebayo and Butler should be considered untouchable in trades, details the fallacy of the “Leastern Conference” idea, and discusses whether adding a three point shot should be the primary focus of Adebayo’s summer.
  • With the 2020/21 season in the rearview mirror, Winderman graded each team member’s performance, as well as sharing his thoughts for their futures in Dade County. In regards to Duncan Robinson‘s impending restricted free agency, Winderman views $15MM per season as a reasonable cutoff point.

Heat Notes: Leonard, Butler, Lowry, Free Agency

Jimmy Butler‘s ties to Kawhi Leonard could impact what the two-time NBA champion decides to do if he reaches free agency this summer, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel speculates.

Leonard holds a $36MM player option for the 2021/22 season and could choose to sign elsewhere — especially if the Clippers lose in the first round. Los Angeles is currently trailing Dallas 2-1 in its series.

Miami lost all four games to Milwaukee in its own series, becoming the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs despite reaching the Finals last fall. If Leonard chooses to explore his options, the Heat could offer a compelling role alongside Butler, Bam Adebayo and others — though the team would need to create sufficient salary-cap space for him first.

There’s more out of Miami tonight:

  • The Heat could also pursue Kyle Lowry in free agency, though that situation is more complicated than some may realize, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explores. The team expressed interest in Lowry prior to the trade deadline, ultimately opting not to make a deal.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether a playoff lineup change is a sign of things to come in free agency. Miami opted to start Goran Dragic in place of Kendrick Nunn during the team’s final two games of the series against Milwaukee, though Dragic mostly struggled. Nunn will enter restricted free agency this offseason, while Dragic has a $19.4MM team option for 2021/22.
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald looks back on the Heat’s underwhelming season and what comes next. Miami dealt with a shortened offseason, COVID issues and multiple injuries throughout the campaign, complicating the club’s season from the start.

Heat Notes: Roster Decisions, Butler, Free Agency

After taking steps to maximize roster flexibility over the past 18 months, the Heat will likely need it as they try to rebuild in the wake of a first-round sweep, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider account).  Jimmy Butler ($36MM), Bam Adebayo ($28.1MM), Tyler Herro ($4MM), Precious Achiuwa ($2.7MM), and KZ Okpala ($1.8MM) are the only players with guaranteed contracts for next season, but Miami can choose to operate above or below the cap depending on its other roster decisions.

The Heat have been prioritizing cap space for this summer, originally hoping to take advantage of a stellar free agent class that included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George and LeBron James. That route has lost some luster with those players all agreeing to extensions, but Miami’s cap room will still be an asset.

The team could have about $21MM available, Marks notes, or $27MM if it doesn’t make qualifying offers to Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, which would cut their cap holds from $4.7MM to $1.7MM each. However, Marks adds that the Heat would only consider that route if they’re assured that both players will re-sign after their cap space is exhausted. Miami would also have to decline team options on Andre Iguodala and Goran Dragic by the Aug. 1 deadline and renounce its rights to Trevor Ariza and Victor Oladipo.

The other choice is operating over the cap, which means keeping or trading some of the veterans, but it also risks cutting into potential cap space for 2022/23.

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat are coming up on an important decision regarding Butler, who will be eligible for a four-year extension worth $181MM, Marks adds in the same story. Butler was outstanding during the regular season, but wasn’t as effective in the playoffs, and Miami will have to determine whether he’s worth that investment with his 32nd birthday coming up in September.
  • There may not be a realistic Plan B for team president Pat Riley now that Antetokounmpo has committed to Milwaukee, contends Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. The two-time MVP dismantled Miami in the playoffs and showed why he would have been such a great addition. Winderman suggests the alternative is to hope Kawhi Leonard becomes available if the Clippers lose in the first round or to possibly make another run at Kyle Lowry.
  • Butler said after today’s game that he will consider playing in the Olympics, but isn’t close to making a decision, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Butler won a gold medal at the 2016 Games.

Heat Notes: Butler, Yurtseven, Long-Term Outlook, Bam

Heat star wing Jimmy Butler has had an outsized impact on the club during the games he has been available this season, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. As Chiang observes, the Heat are 6-13 in games played without Butler this year. Miami is 33-19 when Butler has suited up.

The veteran swingman is averaging 21.5 PPG and career highs of 6.9 RPG, 7.1 APG and 2.1 SPG for the club, though Chiang notes that Butler’s impact goes beyond these basic counting stats — his on/off-court net rating differential is 11.4 points per 100 possessions. Chiang posits that Butler, whose early-season injuries kept him out of making his sixth All-Star team, will earn significant consideration for All-NBA and All-Defensive team honors.

“I think if we had a complete year and a full year and health and everything, yeah Jimmy Butler, in my mind, has to be in that conversation for [league] MVP,” head coach Erik Spoelstra raved, while taking into consideration the fact that Butler and several of his teammates have missed significant time due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols and injuries during a truncated 2020/21 season. “I think his game is just continuing to grow, that’s as a winner, as a throw back player. A guy that really impacts the game on both ends of the court. He truly does, it’s not just talk. He has as much of an impact on the defensive side as he does the offensive side.” 

The 39-32 Heat, currently the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, will conclude their season today against the 20-51 Pistons. Butler missed yesterday’s loss to Milwaukee due to lower back stiffness, and Chiang tweets that he will sit out the season finale as well.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • The Heat’s latest addition, 275-pound seven-footer Omer Yurtseven, inked his deal with Miami Friday. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reveals that the 22-year-old big man’s contract covers the 2021/22 season, though next year’s salary will be non-guaranteed. Yurtseven was undrafted out of Georgetown in 2020. “I think that will be the biggest thing, the rebounding and the defending,” he said during a video call with reporters Friday. “And on the other side of the floor, being able to stretch the floor, being a hybrid big.” Yurtseven played for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, during the 2020/21 NBAGL “bubble” season in Orlando. Across 14 games for the Blue, he averaged 15.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.4 BPG during 21.1 minutes. He also boasted a solid slash line of .626/.381/.680.
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel suggests that thinking too long-term could hurt the Heat’s short-term aspirations. Winderman points to the club’s decision to sign unproven rookie Yurtseven to its 15th and final roster spot over a veteran who could help the club in the playoffs.
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo could net a major payoff if he earns end-of-year awards honors during the span of his maximum five-year, $163MM rookie extension with the club, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. If Adebayo is named to the All-NBA First Team, the value of his deal increases to $186MM over the length of the contract. If he nets the Defensive Player of the Year award, his cumulative salary would increase to $179MM. Neither of those outcomes seems particularly likely this season, however.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Spoelstra, Hayes, Williams, Wizards

Heat star Jimmy Butler recently reflected on his relationship with head coach Erik Spoelstra, a partnership that’s lasted since the team acquired Butler in a sign-and-trade back in July of 2019.

Butler and Spoelstra are known as basketball purists, a competitive player-coach duo that helped lead Miami to its first Finals berth since 2014 last season.

“(We) keep it real with one another,” Butler said of his relationship with Spoelstra, as relayed by Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “We got in a little predicament [Wednesday against the Spurs]. But it’s nothing new. Everything is not all good all the time. But we both want to win, we both have the same agenda.

“So I think he’s helping me grow a tremendous amount, talking about leadership as a player and what to look for with my guys. He’s making sure that I put a lot of trust in my teammates and in my young guys, and I appreciate him for it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Pistons rookie Killian Hayes is still playing with a sense of urgency despite his team being eliminated from playoff contention, as relayed by Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The 19-year-old Hayes was the team’s No. 7 pick in the draft last year and has only appeared in 19 games this season due to injury.
  • The Bulls need more production from rookie Patrick Williams, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. “I’m trying to be aggressive,’’ Williams said. “But kind of like I said, it’s a learning experience, for sure. We have some more games to go, so hopefully I can continue to get better at that.’’ On the season, Williams has averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game across 63 starts.
  • The red-hot Wizards have three secret weapons in the middle, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Boswell examines the production the club has received from Daniel Gafford, Robin Lopez and Alex Len, all of whom have seen valuable minutes in recent weeks. Washington has been playing without its starting center, Thomas Bryant, since he suffered a partially torn ACL in January.