“This isn’t changing me up, hell no,” Butler told The Athletic. “I do what I do. I’m going to guard to the best of my ability, score, get my rhythm back and help my team win. When I’m out there, nothing else matters. I just want to win.”
“Just hoop, I told them, and I think that I can get Thibs to relax a little bit,” Butler told The Athletic. “He’s never going to say anything about offense as long as you go down there and play with effort on the defensive end and get a couple stops. It’s whenever you’re not getting stops when he starts yelling. I think Thibs has calmed down a lot, and guys are playing with effort. It’s never about offense. We’re always going to score enough points. It’s all about getting stops.
“Thibs didn’t exert as much energy as he always does the past few weeks. He needs to do that more: Sit down, take the load off and trust your guys to get a W.”
Even Wiggins, long a target of Butler’s chiding and prodding, insisted that he had no issues with the demanding veteran. Not now, not ever, despite his brother’s famous “Hallelujah!” tweet when news first broke of Butler’s desire to be traded. “We’ve never had any major problems. No problems at all,” Wiggins said. “Even when everyone said all that stuff happened in practice, nothing had to do with me. I was just there hooping. “But everyone has something to say. Once it’s out there, then everyone has their own opinion. The story gets broken down into 1,000 pieces. But at the end of the day, we’re all here to hoop. It’s always a plus to have Jimmy on the team.”
“We got room for growth,” Rose said when asked about the team’s chemistry. “We don’t even have an identity with how we’re going to play offensively and defensively. You just gotta build those things along the way. Every day you come in here, you’ve got to get your job done. … We all know it’s going to take some time. It’s going to take all of us on the same team and fighting through the hard times together.”
Minnesota star center Karl-Anthony Towns suggested it wasn't clear whether the team was "ready" for the start of the regular season, given how poorly Minnesota played during the preseason amid questions surrounding Butler's trade request. And Butler himself sounded unsure as to exactly how he'd react if his teammates didn't show enough intensity now that the season is upon them. "I think we'll bring [the intensity]. If not, you'll see me yelling at people. That's what I'm supposed to do," Butler said. "And you'll see me talking with guys nicely. That's what I'm supposed to do."
Q: Will Jimmy Butler ever get traded? I’m starting to feel bad for the guy. — @codylaws2 from Twitter. Marc Stein: I remain convinced that, yes, Butler will be traded — somehow. Things have gotten so farcical just since our last newsletter that the Timberwolves surely understand, deep down, that trying to hang onto Butler for a little longer, like the Denver Nuggets did with Carmelo Anthony in 2010 after a trade with the Nets collapsed shortly before training camp, is doomed to flop in the Twin Cities. Unless Wolves management are intent on emasculating their young cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to an even more damaging degree than we’ve already seen, I would suspect that, at some stage, Minnesota Owner Glen Taylor will realize that the wisest course is to direct his coach and team president, Tom Thibodeau, to focus all his energies on prioritizing the two players whose long-term contracts are valued at nearly $340 million combined.
This isn't to say Minnesota is blameless. Tom Thibodeau, Scott Layden, and Glen Taylor watched their team culture erode and did nothing, assuming it would repair itself. Taylor and the front office have sent contradictory messages to Butler suitors, sometimes within minutes of each other, league sources have said.
But LaVine got more personal and detailed in offering support for former teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Both players’ work ethic has been called into question both publicly and privately by Butler. “KAT and Wigs are some of my good friends,” LaVine said. “Wigs just had his newborn baby and congratulations to him on that. And KAT is a really laid-back dude, but they are extremely competitive at the same time. They work hard. I feel like they are getting some flak because some people are saying they don't work hard. People in the organization are saying that. But I think they are extremely hard workers.
“Whenever I am in the gym, they are too. I have seen Wigs go back late night after games that he didn't play well and go get shots up too. So, I think they are proven players in the NBA for sure. I think they will be just fine.”
Three days before the start of the regular season, Taylor met with his disgruntled All-Star before practice, searching for some sort of understanding to calm the noise that has drowned out any sense of excitement for the upcoming season. In the meeting, Taylor and Butler came to an agreement, sources said: Taylor will continue to work diligently to find a trade as soon as possible. Until that happens, Butler will be a good teammate and play as hard as he always does.
There may have been some sort of accord reached, but the situation is “fluid,” as Thibodeau likes to call it, and could change at a moment’s notice. One thing was certain: Butler wasn’t walking anything back. Speaking carefully, and occasionally coyly, to avoid breaking any league rules about publicly discussing trade requests, Butler said there has been no change in his stance and no second thoughts about how he has handled things.
“I should have left out the cuss words. That’s it,” Butler said. “It was the same type of energy today (as Wednesday), they just didn’t tell you all. Whoever told you all didn’t tell you all. The league sources didn’t tell you.”
"We don't got no more time to be here saying, 'Aw, it's OK; it's preseason.' This momentum we're riding right now, this wave we're riding, it's not good. It's not good at all," said Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished 2-of-9 shooting for eight points. Towns said the nature of the loss bothered him most. "I really don't damn know," he said when asked why the club has failed to put together solid 48-minute stretches this preseason. "But if you find out, let me know. You can get beat. Everybody in this league -- I don't care if you're the Golden State Warriors my rookie year, the 95-96 Bulls -- you're gonna lose some games. But you can't get embarrassed. That's just unacceptable."
Dane Moore: “There’s no magic switch... I’ve been on teams that were supposed to be really good and I’ve been on teams that were supposed to suck.” Jeff Teague, like the rest of the locker room, not hitting any sort of alarm. pic.twitter.com/QdnCkYcgPp
Christopher Hine: Tom Thibodeau said Butler’s conditioning was related to stamina and not anything related to his wrist.
Paul George, no stranger to uncomfortable situations with NBA management, said on Friday he's spoken with Jimmy Butler about what's happening in Minnesota and is firmly on his side. "Jimmy has a very valid point," George said. "I'm on Jimmy's side. It's not coming from a place where he's going against an organization."
"Jimmy's a guy, his whole career, he made it into the league off work, off him having to grind and scratch and claw to get to where he's at," George said. "And then he sees the potential he has around him and he just wants guys to match that because if guys are skilled and have that 'it' like KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) has, like Andrew Wiggins has, they have that 'it' that a lot of guys don't have, now they just have to match it with what Jimmy's bringing to the table. I'm all for what Jimmy is trying to do over there."
George said he talked to Butler "a little bit" and that Butler's demonstrative behavior is "not coming from a bad place." "He wants the best for that organization and is trying to bring out everything for that organization to get to where they want to get to," George said.
Royce Young: Paul George says he’s talked to Jimmy Butler about what’s going on in Minnesota: “Jimmy has a very valid point. I’m on Jimmy’s side.” pic.twitter.com/TJGWBepXcQ
Dane Moore: Q: Do you have any rules about teammates public criticism of teammates? Thibodeau: "I don't really know what you're talking about."
Dane Moore: Tom Thibodeau on the media's role in this Jimmy Butler situation: "You guys, your job is the drama. Our job is to get ready to play. So I understand you have a job to do. We have a job to do... We're not going to get into daily behavior."
As word of Jimmy Butler’s expletive-laden return to Timberwolves practice this week started to spread, those steeped in this franchise’s basketball lore found it eerily similar to the days when Kevin Garnett prowled Target Center with a foul-mouthed fury and a never-ending lather. Watching it unfold from afar, the original alpha wolf recognized some similarities in the way Butler went at coach Tom Thibodeau, GM Scott Layden and teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins during a spirited scrimmage on Wednesday. He also sees some noticeable differences. “You don’t think that I went crazy sometimes? Man, I was a damn Tasmanian devil,” Garnett told The Athletic in a phone interview. “I would say shit at (Kevin) McHale. I would say shit at Flip (Saunders). But it was all to motivate all of us. We had a big game against Chicago and I’m just raising the level to what I’m expecting the next day to be like.”
That’s why he is so concerned at the current state of affairs. He may have won a championship in Boston, but he still sees himself as Minnesotan, as connected to this woebegone franchise that he put on the map. “I’m a T-Wolf for life, man,” Garnett said. “I’m ‘Sota for life. I’ve always wanted better for not only the city and the franchise, but Wigs, KAT, those are my guys. I root for those guys. Gorgui Dieng. Those are my guys. I’m just hoping they can get through this rough patch and everybody can get on the same patch and figure it out. It’s a shit storm up there.” Butler has demanded a trade, missed the first two weeks of training camp and the preseason, then returned for an hour-long portion of practice on Wednesday before storming out and airing his grievances in a SportsCenter interview with Rachel Nichols. “What’s really the shit storm is that can’t nobody keep shit in practice,” Garnett said. “What goes on in practice should always stay in practice. And what goes on between two conglomerates as businesses should always stay (private). Everything is so god damn public now.”
Eric Nehm: Thibodeau on Jimmy Butler doing interview right after practice: "It is what it is. In today's world, it's a different world. There's all this social media. It's the accessibility. I have no problems with a guy doing interviews. It's what happens. I want the team to be first."
Dane Moore: Jimmy Butler does not appear to have participated in Timberwolves pregame shootaround. He will not address the media after shootaround.
Alex Kennedy: Another Wolves player, Darius Johnson-Odom, tweeted (then deleted) that there was no players-only meeting. So far, we have Jeff Teague, Darius Johnson-Odom and player-development coach John Lucas III saying there WASN'T a meeting versus Jimmy Butler saying there WAS a meeting.
Jimmy Butler held a players-only meeting with Minnesota Timberwolves players on Thursday, a day after he reported to the team for a first, contentious practice. Butler, who proclaimed Wednesday his sole concern was with winning, said he reiterated to players in the meeting that his issues were with management and not his teammates. Butler confirmed the meeting in a text to ESPN's Rachel Nichols. The news was first reported by The Athletic.
Dane Moore: Not only would the roster be frail this yr but it would have taken NUMEROUS future assets to have cleared $19M. In this salary cap environment, multiple league execs told me it would have taken "two 1sts" to move Gorgui Dieng's contract (only $16M of $19M needed). Gorgui Dieng: Keep my name out of your mouth. You always talk about me. If you want this money suit up then.
Alex Kennedy: Another Wolves player, Darius Johnson-Odom, tweeted (then deleted) that there was no players-only meeting. So far, we have Jeff Teague, Darius Johnson-Odom and player-development coach John Lucas III saying there WASN'T a meeting versus Jimmy Butler saying there WAS a meeting.
NBA on ESPN: Jimmy Butler confirmed to @Rachel__Nichols that he held a players-only meeting with Timberwolves players on Thursday, a day after he reported to the team for his first practice.
Shams Charania: Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting today, airing his feelings toward situation and management, per league sources. Butler expressed to players he would compete with them, as signs pointing to him staying with the franchise into the regular season.
Shams Charania: Sources on @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: Several players spoke up in players-only meeting, but Butler led it, made known his issues with management. His message was similar to one he displayed Wednesday: I run this. He's far too competitive to sit real games.
Jimmy Butler walked into practice on Wednesday in time for the scrimmage to start. He had not been on the court with his Timberwolves teammates since Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Houston in April, but it didn’t take him long to take over, just like old times. “Y’all better hurry up,” Butler woofed, according to three people in the gym at the time. “I’m only here for an hour.”
He jumped into the fray, grabbing several members of the third team such as Luol Deng, James Nunnally and two-way player Jared Terrell to go against Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and some of the higher-profile Wolves players. He challenged them, like he has so often since he first came to town. He talked trash to the young Wolves and the old Wolves, spewed venom toward head coach Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, as ESPN first reported.
“I run this shit,” Butler howled, according to several people in the practice facility. Some players laughed. Jimmy being Jimmy. Others in the building were concerned, wondering how Thibodeau and Layden could stand for that kind of conduct, sources said.
In a meeting on Monday, Butler told Thibodeau this is how it would go, sources said. He wasn’t going to sit by and be quiet and have his desires ignored. Butler had also made clear that he wanted to sit down to discuss several issues with Towns, including the timing of his contract signing, as a means to challenge the young center about being up front and honest, league sources said. It is unclear if that meeting has taken place.
I agree with Britt that the wise move would be to pay him to stay away from the team. But before Wednesday, Thibs clearly didn’t believe that his presence in the locker room and on the court would be a problem.
There was insight sought from a Chicago media person who had watched Butler from the start of his career. The suggestion was that Jimmy came into the league driven by his underdog status, and that changed a few years later when he started hanging out with Wahlberg and seeing himself as a star.
There are people close to this situation who strongly believe that Thibs’ time in Minnesota is already unofficially over. That being said, two key factors will be taken into consideration: Money, and timing. While the $24 million he’s still owed obviously pales in comparison to what the T-Wolves’ young cornerstones are hauling in, it’s still … $24 million. Thibodeau’s arrival in April of 2016 was a big moment for this franchise that had been in the dark for quite some time, and let’s not forget that — dysfunction be darned — it was his team that broke the 14-year playoff drought.
The general feeling on that front is that he’d probably be more inclined to pursue a different, less toxic, coaching chair. As for the question of whether or not he should be having a voice on a trade here, the reality for Taylor is that he’s not a basketball man, per se, while Thibodeau and Layden are the hoops experts here.
Christopher Hine: Butler in another ESPN clip on Tom Thibodeau: "I know Thibs. He's in there by himself, he locked his door and he's smiling. He's laughing. He's like, 'yeah.' " Rachel Nichols: Is he happy with today? "Yeah, Thibs is like me. He likes confrontation."
Dave McMenamin: Asked a source present for Jimmy Butler’s practice in Minnesota today if it could have been staged by Butler’s camp to drum up trade value: “He really kicked ass ... that was not orchestrated”
Alexis Morgan: Jimmy says KAT is the most talented player on the Timberwolves, Wiggins is the most "god gifted" but he plays the hardest on the team.
Jon Krawczynski: SVG says he talked to Minnesota coaches and said "Best practice of the season. Loved the intensity." Are you kidding me?
Disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler’s emotional, profanity-laced tirade Wednesday was directed primarily at Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, as well as members of the franchise’s front office, during an unexpected practice session appearance, sources told Yahoo Sports. “I ain’t never seen some [expletive] like that. Jimbo showed out,” one of Minnesota’s players told Yahoo Sports.
Butler showed up to practice late and just subbed himself into the scrimmage on the third team to go against the starting group, league sources said. Throughout the practice, Butler verbally bashed Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden, league sources said. Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates such as “They ain’t [expletive]!” and “They soft!”, league sources said. Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, league sources said.
Neither Towns nor Wiggins confronted Butler at any point, league sources said. Some players were motivated by Butler’s theatrics, but others were distraught and speechless, and most notably Towns, league sources said. When practice concluded, Butler stormed out of the facility without stretching with the rest of his teammates, league sources said. However, before he departed, Wiggins gave him a hand dap, league sources said.
Christopher Hine: Butler, from the ESPN clip. On today's practice: "All my emotion came out at one time. Was it the right way to do it? No. But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing. That’s raw me. Me at my finest, me at my purest. That’s what you’re going to get inside the lines."
Sports Center: "All my emotion came out at one time." Jimmy Butler sat down with @Rachel__Nichols to talk about today's practice and what led to it. See more on SportsCenter at 6 ET and NBA Countdown at 7 ET
Adrian Wojnarowski: A lot of Minnesota players left Timberwolves practice today energized by Butler's performance, mesmerized with him taking end-of-the-bench players and running the table on the regulars, sources said. At the end, he marched out like if a mic drop. Butler delivered a tour de force.
Darren Wolfson: Told Butler is breaking his silence right now in a sit-down with ESPN. Interview to air tonight. #Twolves
All-Star Jimmy Butler participated in the Minnesota Timberwolves' practice on Wednesday, a session that included him verbally challenging teammates, coaches and front office executives, league sources told ESPN. Butler was vociferous and emotional at times, targeting president/coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, league sources said. He had not practiced with the team so far this season after requesting a trade three weeks ago.
Adrian Wojnarowski: At one point in a scrimmage, sources said, Butler turned to GM Scott Layden and screamed, "You (bleeping) need me. You can't win without me." Butler left teammates and coaches largely speechless. He dominated the gym in every way. Jimmy's back.
Darren Wolfson: Here's Tolliver and Teague on Butler, who did practice today - neither would fully confirm. Another player via text when I asked how Butler looked: "I'm legally blind!" Also, RIP me. I have now officially died on the hill of Butler never wearing a #Twolves uniform again. pic.twitter.com/nk20gWmm7B
Jon Krawczynski: Anthony Tolliver on Butler practicing: "He was ... around. That's really all I gotta say about that."
Dane Moore: Today after practice, Jeff Teague on if he wants Jimmy Butler around: "I love Jimmy, man. Him being around and his energy. He's a good person and his energy is amazing. I mean, I can deal with anything, I can adjust to anything, I can adapt to any situation. So, I'm cool."
Christopher Hine: Couple quotes from tonight's game. Here's KAT on the #TWolves' defense: "There’s no reason to make excuses. At the end of the day, new players, new situation, new this, new that. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day you have to go out there to perform."
The Bucks took control of this game in no small part due to errors and miscommunication from the Timberwolves on offense — usually one of their saving graces. Andrew Wiggins and Tyus Jones both had four turnovers and Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague had three each as a part of 21 total turnovers. “You can tell the teams who got together over the summer,” Teague said afterward. “I think those guys spent a lot of time together over the summer, you can tell. We didn’t see each other until the season started, so we got a little more time to get right, but we’ve got to hurry up.”
The problem for Thibodeau is that, for one of the first times in his head coaching tenure, he couldn't keep all the issues going on inside his locker room from leaking out.
It was an open secret throughout the league last season that Towns, and fellow max player Andrew Wiggins, didn't show the type of consistent work ethic that Butler respects. There were far too many lapses from both players, especially Wiggins, that left Butler and others within the Timberwolves organization shaking their collective heads. As usual, Thibodeau figured he could get through the summer, get the players into camp, and put in more work so that his team could improve together. After all, one of the veteran coach's favorite mantras is that "the magic is in the work."
While Thibodeau said on Monday that last week was the first time Butler made a trade request, the warning signs of discontent were there much earlier. After the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs in May, Butler did not fly with the team back to Minnesota, sources said. He took a flight to Los Angeles shortly after the game was over and refused to do the standard medical exam all players go through as part of their exit interviews.
Barry Jackson: Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau today, on Jimmy Butler's trade request: "We're going to honor his request but we're not going to do a bad deal.... We're trying to make the best deal for the Timberwolves."
Christopher Hine: Tom Thibodeau declined to talk about any discussions he had with Jimmy Butler yesterday. Said the organization is still working to honor Butler’s trade request.
As the standoff reaches a week old, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Thibodeau isn’t bluffing when he says he sees a scenario where Butler dons a Timberwolves uniform again. “When I talk to Thibs he always tells me this is nothing and we’ve been through worse situations than this in Chicago. I kind of glanced at him with a smile,” Gibson said. “It’s weird. It’s really hard to explain. It’s a weird feeling right before training camp.”
Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, who is the point man for trade conversations, continue to leave rival executives and owners unclear about both the specific players and broader kinds of assets that the Wolves value in a deal, sources said. Even more doubt exists about whether there's even yet alignment between Taylor and Thibodeau on a structure and a timetable for a deal, league sources told ESPN.
Dane Moore: When asked if he sees the Jimmy Butler trade request as a distraction, Jeff Teague responded "I really don't." Jokingly said he pays more attention to pro wrestling.
John Meyer: Taj Gibson says all of this Jimmy Butler stuff really is distracting and it’s a weird feeling right before training camp. He also said Butler gave him a big hug after his physical today and he understands the NBA is a business.
Christopher Hine: Gibson on if Butler's trade talks are a distraction: "It is. It really is. You look at the talent and the strides we took last year just to get to the playoffs, so many up and downs and you get hit with a right hook before training camp, it's weird."
Christopher Hine: Gorgui Dieng was asked about tension in the locker room last year and said "That's why we have a locker room." And then laughed.
Christopher Hine: Towns on signing the contract and his relationship with Butler: "That situation never had anything to do with Jimmy. It was me and Glen Taylor and it got handled."
Right now, there’s no reason for any of the places Butler reportedly wants to go to give up picks or young players as part of a package for him. (Sources indicated over the weekend that the Knicks, supposedly one of those teams, haven’t made any inquiries about the 29 year old.) The Nets and Clippers, the two other teams reportedly on his short list, will have room for at least one -- and, most likely, two -- max free agents in the Summer of 2019. Each can just wait for Butler to opt out of his final year and become an unrestricted free agent, at which they can offer him a four-year max deal.
Steve Aschburner: There were teams that had questions about Butler’s locker-room style and impact on chemistry the first time he was traded, per league source. This Minnesota episode raises more.
Butler had his own double standard. Privately and publicly he occasionally roasted both Wiggins and Towns for their shoddy defensive effort and acumen. But the most consequentially bad defender on the Wolves, by far, last season was Jamal Crawford, the sixth man who played 42 percent of his team’s minutes and compiled a defensive rating of 112.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. Phoenix finished last in team defensive efficiency allowing 110.6 points per 100 possessions. Towns and Wiggins both had a defensive rating of 107.7 points allowed per 100 possessions. But Butler never felt the need to criticize Crawford, who also had a higher usage rate on offense than anyone on the Wolves but Butler and another ex-Bull, Derrick Rose.
Butler has clashed with Towns and Wiggins as teammates, league sources said. Butler's and Wiggins' tension played out on social media in recent days.
But all of that affection from Towns seemed to disappear this summer as the Wolves were thrust into the headlines for rumors of chemistry issues and a disconnect with coach and president Tom Thibodeau. It’s been no secret that Towns and Thibs have never quite been on the same page in their two years together, and the relationship wasn’t helped when Thibodeau in May let go of assistant coach Vince Legarza, who worked closely with Towns in his first three seasons in the league.
Team owner Glen Taylor has engaged in discussions with teams about a possible trade, but those teams have been rebuffed by Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden when contacted directly, a bizarre dynamic that has several executives around the league scratching their heads. Given the chaotic nature of the situation, Butler sought and has been granted permission not to appear at the team’s media day on Monday, when every player on the roster answers questions from the media and poses for photos with teammates.
July 27, 2021 | 11:06 am EDT Update
New York will pursue Evan Fournier in free agency and are considering making a push for Spencer Dinwiddie, according to sources. Dinwiddie declined his player option for $12.3 million with Brooklyn Nets to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Boston Celtics acquired Fournier from the Orlando Magic in March. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent. The French guard, who helped his native country upset the U.S. in the Olympics earlier this week, is expected to ask for around $18 million per season, while Dinwiddie’s asking price is $25 million per, sources say.
If they lose Ball and miss on Lowry, the Pelicans might be on the lookout for Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie is looking for big money; in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, he tossed out a five-year, $125 million contract as what he would be looking for to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets.
A reasonable number of these players are expected to move in August with potentially more being involved in trades. Collin Sexton of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves are among those who so far have been floated on the trade market.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Bryn Forbes is declining his player option for the 2021-22 season and will become an unrestricted free agent, sources told ESPN on Tuesday. Forbes played a significant role off the bench as the Bucks delivered the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years. He had his most efficient NBA season in several offensive categories, including 3-point percentage and true shooting percentage. Forbes, 28, was fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting (45.2%) — and third best among players with 200-plus attempts. Forbes averaged 12.2 points on 48% 3-point shooting in February when starting guard Jrue Holiday was sidelined.
Davis suffered a knee sprain in Game 3 but played through the pain in Game 4; however, he took a hard fall in Game 4 and suffered a groin strain. From that moment on, the balance of the firepower tilted towards Phoenix, who ensued to blow out the Lakers in the final games of the series. Though it’ll never be known how things would’ve transpired with a healthy Davis, Metta World Peace believes the Lakers would’ve advanced when discussing his thoughts on the Bucks-Suns matchup and Giannis Antetokounmpo being a great player, via Chris Sheridan of BasketballNews.com: “Now imagine, Giannis, one of the greatest players in the league, doesn’t really have to go up against the greatest team, then you would say Giannis was going to win. Because the Lakers got hurt. The Lakers were going to beat Phoenix before Anthony Davis got hurt.”
The Dallas Mavericks are on the verge of hiring Igor Kokoskov to join Jason Kidd’s coaching staff, sources confirmed to ESPN. Kokoskov, whose two decades of NBA experience includes a one-season stint as the Phoenix Suns’ head coach, has a strong relationship with Mavs superstar Luka Doncic stemming from his time coaching the Slovenian national team. Kokoskov coached Slovenia for two years, culminating with the EuroBasket 2017 title, when Doncic and Goran Dragic led the nation to its first championship in that event.
Ahead of the 2021 NBA draft, projected top overall pick Cade Cunningham has signed a multiyear footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Nike. After a COVID-19-impacted market found a majority of last season’s rookies playing out the 2020-21 season without a sneaker deal, brands are now returning to aggressively sign top players heading into this week’s draft. Nike had its eyes set on Cunningham, who starred at Nike-sponsored Oklahoma State University and has long had an affinity for the brand. “More than anything, they show that athletes are more than just athletes,” Cunningham told ESPN. “They really put the right message out for people to see. That was important to me. … I felt like it was a perfect match for me.”