But even some of Spoelstra’s closest friends had never seen him like that, not just the emotional outburst in the huddle but the dark brooding he did for the rest of that quarter, almost stopping coaching as he managed the fury. For Butler, three seasons’ worth of give-and-take with Spoelstra finally led to finding the line. It wasn’t just that moment with Butler verbally shoving back at his coach; it was a long buildup. “Spo was exasperated,” one team source said.
Even Butler, who sometimes seems to actually enjoy creating conflict on his team, wondered whether this was a breaking point, sources said. Two days later, after Spoelstra missed a game because of an unrelated personal matter, he returned, reset and ready. Butler was relieved, so was the rest of the team, and everyone started over, because at the end of the day and the end of the season, Butler is worth it. What he brings, especially in a playoff setting, buys him more leeway. It's the NBA way -- always has been, and always will be. It's a little tougher at times for the Heat, an organization that thrives on holding players to high standards and not being afraid to attack problems, but it's true just the same.
Earlier this year, Spoelstra was named one of the top 15 coaches in NBA history as part of the league's 75th anniversary celebration, making the list with Riley. If Spoelstra, 51, wants it, he will probably have a good chance of being the national team coach in the future. He's at the top of his craft and very likely in the prime of his coaching years. Butler can still drive him up a wall. And he also can get Spoelstra one step closer to a championship by doing the same to the Celtics. "I want to run into people and see who falls down first, who is going to quit first," Butler said. "I think that's the style of basketball I like to play."
June 27, 2022 | 10:24 am EDT Update
Sam Amick: Joe, there are sources very close to the situation who strongly believe Irving is trying to make his way to the Lakers here and everything else is just (necessary) noise. The sense I get is that James is very open to the idea, but the dynamics are somewhat delicate too.
Sam Amick: Is the relationship between Irving and the Nets too far gone at this point, or is this just a case of tough negotiations? How does Durant see the Nets organization at the moment, not only in regards to the Irving situation but the James Harden mess that came before it as well? As for the Knicks, Alex, I’m also told from folks who would know that the (Brunson-focused) franchise has no real interest in Irving at the moment and fully expect him to return to Brooklyn on the contract of his choosing. As for the Clippers, I think they’re in wait-and-see mode (like a lot of teams right now) and trying to get a better understanding of all the dynamics at play here. We’ll know a whole lot more by week’s end.
Joe Vardon: Durant, meanwhile, is a different situation. He has four years left on his contract, starting at $43 million this year. At that big of a number, the return on such a trade would be so lucrative for Brooklyn that it would likely be able to turn around whatever “rebuild” it was undertaking very quickly. To your point, Alex, Tsai and Marks recognize this, and it’s working into their math. All of the grumbling about Durant considering his options … well, he doesn’t really have any. I mean, like other NBA stars, Durant could force his team to trade him, but when, where and for whom is totally up to the Nets. And league rules regarding trades being what they are, they would get a huge return for one of the very best players in the sport.
Alex Schiffer: Marks has said before that he consults Irving and Durant on some of the organization’s major decisions and said as recently as May that Durant wouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens. So I would think he’s had a heads up to all of this even if he doesn’t like it. As for a Durant return, I asked a league source a few days ago about such a deal and the reply was, “Look up the Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers and start there.”
Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo each have team options, both of which have to be decided on by Tuesday. Diallo has a $5.2 million team option and, per sources, the Pistons are expected to pick his up. As for Jackson, sources tell The Athletic the Pistons are not expected to pick up his $3.1 million option. If Detroit does, it could be to execute a trade. All in all, though, I don’t anticipate Jackson being on this team next season. Then there’s the decision to bring back Marvin Bagley III, who was acquired from the Kings around the trade deadline and is a restricted free agent. Every inclination that I’ve received is that the Pistons have every intention of bringing back Bagley, who has a $28 million cap hold.
With those moves in mind, Detroit will need to add five to six players via free agency or trade to round out the roster. As I reported last week, even with room to sign a player to a max contract, the Pistons are unlikely to throw max offers at the likes of restricted free agents Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges, though things can change. Instead, signs point to Detroit looking to add quality, veteran role players to pair with its young core as it furthers this rebuild. Maintaining financial flexibility moving forward is still important to the franchise, per sources, with the 2023 free agency class expected to be far better-stocked than this year’s group. On the trade front, Detroit could elect to use its cap space to acquire undesirable contracts and picks, adding potential rotational players that way.
Keith Smith: No NBA option or contract guarantee deadlines today. However, there is a big Traded Player Exception that expires today: Dallas Mavericks – $10,865,952 – Josh Richardson Mavs are already facing a hefty tax bill, so using this TPE would only drive that even higher.