Storyline: Jimmy Butler Free Agency

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Jimmy Butler opting out

Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler intends to decline his player option — barring an unforeseen change of circumstances — yet the Sixers remain adamant about doing whatever it takes to retain the star, league sources told Yahoo Sports. In opting out of the $19.8 million player option — in which he has a June 29 deadline to do so — it sets the eight-year veteran up to be one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market.

Like all Los Angeles Lakers fans, swingman Josh Hart would love for the team to bring in a few more superstars to join LeBron James to start next season. The Lakers have had their eye on Anthony Davis since the trade deadline, but Hart went a different route. On The Eavesdrop Podcast, Hart said that he is hoping the Purple and Gold will be able to sign Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler and Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving in free agency. “S—, I hope we get a couple free agents. I hope we get a super team or some s—. I hope we get, s—, Jimmy, Kyrie. There’s no tampering for the players, so s—, I hope we get Jimmy, Kyrie… Just imagine if we had that. Like bro, and the thing is, all those dudes are good dudes, so everyone would sacrifice for each other. And people don’t realize, when everyone sacrifices and the team wins at the end of the day, that’s the biggest thing.”

The Dallas Mavericks are constantly linked to Jimmy Butler. The media created a tie when he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The media has done the same now that he’s been dealt from Minny to Philadelphia, where the Sixers small forward is about to enter July 1 free agency. Again and again and again … Maybe because he’s from Texas? Maybe because he’s a small forward and that’s a need? Maybe because he’s an All-Star and he’s just that good? But book this: Jimmy Butler, so often disgruntled, so often at the center of team turbulence, so often ball-dominant to the point of selfishness, will not be a Dallas priority this summer. And the reason is Luka Doncic.

But the Mavs’ view on Butler (assuming he declines his 2019-20 player option, something he is expected to do) is that he would not pair well with Doncic, that he wouldn’t share well, that he wouldn’t “play nice with others” here … all of which would, in their eyes, stunt the growth of the young franchise centerpiece. […] If Jimmy Butler was just dying to come here, the Mavs, I think, would have to reconsider their position. Are they really good enough to snub an All-Star? But in the end, Dallas’ thoughts here are written in pen, and are unlikely to be erased: The Mavs want to acquire a third star (or better, a star even better than Luka and Kristaps Porzingis), but that third star must come with a credential that promises he’ll help propel Luka Doncic’s development rather than stunt it. For the Mavs, Jimmy Butler is not that right guy.

Sixers maxing out Jimmy Butler?

The Philadelphia 76ers are heading toward a very important offseason where they will have to decide how to handle the free agency of mid-season acquisitions Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on his podcast The Hoop Collective, rival executives around the league believe the Sixers will max out Butler. I’ve been talking to some executives this week and the executives, I think, now believe that the Sixers will. I don’t know about the fifth year, like, full guaranteed, but yeah.

But contrary to viral speculation, Boylen did not have dinner with Butler at La Scarola, which would be a violation of tampering rules as Butler is still under contract to Philadelphia. According to a source, Boylen instead dined with new lead assistant Chris Fleming while the Golden State Warriors completed their sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. Boylen and Butler crossed paths in the small restaurant as the coaches were were departing and Butler and his party were arriving. The men briefly exchanged pleasantries and went their separate ways. The grainy photo does depict the mutual respect between Butler and Boylen. But a preemptive strike in free agency, it does not.

One source close to Harris’ camp explained how Tobias likes his role in Philadelphia, but the idea of returning home is something he will likely consider this summer. Other names have been mentioned, such as Jimmy Butler, who put the Nets atop his list of destinations when demanding a trade out of Minnesota. Similar to Tobias, a source close to Kemba Walker said the star point guard is intrigued by the idea of coming back to play in his home state — including both the Knicks and Nets.

When Butler formally requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves one week before training camp in September, his initial list of preferred destinations at the time did not include the Philadelphia 76ers. His camp met with Sixers GM Elton Brand before and immediately after the trade to express Butler being open-minded about potentially re-signing as a 2019 free agent, according to league sources. As these superstar trades typically go, Butler ended up being moved to Philadelphia, not either Los Angeles or New York team, or Miami. Less than three months from the start of free agency on July 1, questions remain about the future of the league’s top free agents.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s this: Butler’s All-NBA, two-way greatness and his volatility make him one of the most compelling figures in this year’s NBA playoffs. The league waits, popcorn at the ready, to see which Jimmy will show up for the Sixers, both for the next couple weeks (or months) and into the summer, when Butler will be among the NBA’s highest-profile free agents. “I’ll be here in Philly for a little bit, and this will be the next chapter,” Butler says. “We have the opportunity to do something special. We know what we can do. We talk about it every single day with the coaches in practice and when we watch ourselves on film. We know what we can do. We know. It’s all about going out there now and supposedly showing the world, even though I highly doubt anyone on this team gives a damn what the world thinks anyway.”

Josh Harris told us last week that the Sixers want to keep both Tobias Harris and Butler because players of that caliber are difficult to acquire. He’s right. The franchise learned that difficult lesson last offseason when they had oodles of cap space but no high-level free agents to ladle it out to. Retaining Harris and Butler would zoom them deep into the luxury tax for the foreseeable future and handicap how the Sixers can fill out the rest of the roster—especially because Simmons will soon be in line to sign an extension. That would be a lot of money wrapped up in four players. “We get it,” Harris stipulated. “It’s expensive.”

Chris Haynes: “We all know that the Clippers have two max slots. They’re going to be aggressive… They have interest in Jimmy Butler. They’re going to go after KD. They’re going to go after Kawhi Leonard. And, this has been said before so I’m not reporting anything new, but I think the Clippers have a really good shot at Kawhi. I really do. Give credit to that front office over there and the way they’ve changed the culture… It depends on how things play out in Toronto. I think they really have to, if not win the championship, [at least] get to the NBA Finals to kind of cure the concern. That’s going to be really interesting. I’m looking forward to how [Leonard’s free agency] is going to play out probably even more so than Kevin Durant.”

If they can’t add any substantial pieces by Thursday, are the Sixers good enough as currently constituted to overcome those obstacles and reach the Finals? They’d certainly have a shot, but simply having a chance feels inadequate when measured against the “our time is now” declaration. The question of what to do at the trade deadline is tethered to another pressing issue: Butler’s upcoming free agency. People in and around the organization have expressed concern to me that Butler could bolt this offseason.

Most players’ production declines in their mid-30s. And being on the hook for around $38 million annually for a declining player with an injury history would set a team back. Butler suffered a knee injury last season. “No concern, because of the way he takes care of his body,” Brand said. “But, of course, there’s other things that would have to happen before you discuss those kind of things … like he has to opt out of his contract. So, I don’t want to talk about that yet.”
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April 9, 2020 | 9:12 pm EDT Update
Will the NBA’s indefinite suspension limit what the Warriors do with the checkbook in the offseason? “We’re looking at all of those questions and the possible answers. But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out,” Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday morning. “We don’t know what the salary cap is gonna be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is gonna be. We don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios. That’s what we’re doing right now. It could make a huge difference, it might make no difference.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic. As announced on March 25, our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting with food storage for hunger relief, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.

Moving forward, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, will be utilizing the United Center as a satellite storage facility in response to the increased need for food. By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols. These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Storyline: Coronavirus

April 9, 2020 | 7:56 pm EDT Update

Pau Gasol contemplating retirement

With the league’s current campaign suspended indefinitely due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Gasol, who will turn 40 years old in July, is contemplating retirement at this point of his career. “With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, via NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, [retirement] is definitely on my mind.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 14 more rumors
“It’s something that will come one time, sooner or later,” Gasol said of retirement. “We hope that time hasn’t come yet. But I also take the opportunity to focus on the Gasol Foundation and other off-court projects. And also think of what my next professional stage may be, my next challenges. All this while I’m still recovering, trying to give myself a chance to keep playing. Now, the priority is to overcome this pandemic among all. Everything else is completely secondary.”
In 2011, Jacob Hamilton was a 26-year-old cinematographer looking to expand his portfolio by directing a documentary. He came across a two-minute interview online titled, “The Man Who Invented the Jump Shot.” Four years later, Hamilton was screening his short film in Kevin Durant’s backyard, shocked to see one of the NBA’s best-ever jump shooters geek out over footage he’d gathered of Kenny Sailors from the 1940s. The film was still only halfway to the finish line. “Jump Shot” premiered at South by Southwest in 2019, but still hasn’t been released to the public. That will change next week, when the feature-length documentary will be available online April 16-18. Pre-order is underway at jumpshotmovie.com.
“Jump Shot” got two of its most important assists from NBA superstars Steph Curry and Durant. Hamilton had simply hoped for an interview when, through a connection between an executive producer and a chaplain for USA Basketball, the former Golden State Warriors teammates were introduced to Sailors’ legacy. The crew flew to Oakland and were invited to Durant’s home. Partway through the screening, KD asked for the film to be paused. Hamilton feared the worst, a bored millennial. In reality, the former Longhorns star was mesmerized. “These are moves that I’m doing today,” Hamilton recalls Durant telling them. “I was literally working on this in practice this week, and Kenny was doing this 60-70 years ago? This is unbelievable.”
Curry took his adoration a step further when he told Hamilton he was not only up for an interview, but wanted to get more involved. That’s how basketball’s greatest jump shooter became an executive producer. Both players are interviewed in the film, along with a lineup of basketball legends — from Dirk Nowitzki to Bob Knight, Nancy Lieberman and Clark Kellogg. Their astonishment at Sailors’ pioneering shot, particularly a photograph that appeared in Life magazine in 1946, will resonate with basketball fans.
April 9, 2020 | 6:35 pm EDT Update
When this all ends, whenever that is, what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to doing on that first day? Dion Waiters: Just trying to hoop. Just vibe out and hoop. I’ve had damn near the whole season off. I’m trying to get back and hoop. I got something to prove at the end of the day. During this quarantine I’ve been dieting, getting my weight down, getting in shape. For me, it’s just playing basketball.
“I am in such debt to the people who worked so incredibly hard on the technical side to make what I believe is still magic — there might be some elves involved, it is Disney after all,” ‘The Jump” host Rachel Nichols told Insider. “I can’t believe that they were able to figure out a way to produce an entire television show with everybody at home, not a single person in our television facility.”
April 9, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
If nothing else at a time when the Clippers have more questions than answers amid the NBA’s hiatus because of COVID-19, the team is confident in at least one thing to be true. Should the season resume, the same roster that had been dogged by injuries since last summer is on track to be the healthiest it has been. “The Kawhi [Leonard] we’ll see will be in phenomenal shape,” coach Doc Rivers said, adding that Paul George “is another guy that’s goig to be in phenomenal shape. Reggie [Jackson], who was injured when we got him, will now be healthy.”
Since there is a pause on all roster transactions across the league, the 10-day contract Noah signed remains in effect one month later. That has left the former defensive player of the year able to work into shape under the supervision of the team’s medical and performance staffs. “It’s been great for him,” Rivers said. “There are certain individuals who this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit, and Jo is one of them for sure because he’s got a chance now to get healthy, and to get in shape and that will be a factor for him. He will be a guy that will be able to help us.”
A whopping 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Storyline: Coronavirus
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games.
Storyline: Coronavirus
April 9, 2020 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, NBA owners are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The league plans to keep all options to resume the season available for the time being, sources told ESPN, but the financial realities of the situation demand near immediate action. That has become clear in talks between the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and player agents, sources told ESPN, as the league tries to get its finances in order in the event the rest of the season must be canceled.
Storyline: Salary Reductions
The league’s CBA includes a force majeure clause, enabling owners to cancel games and recover salary in the event of a pandemic. This clause also gives the league a 60-day window within which it can rip up the CBA entirely — effectively beginning a work stoppage. No one wants to do that. But it underscores the gravity of the situation. Still, in recent years the two sides have worked as well together as ever, and the CBA isn’t set to expire until 2024.
The agreement between owners and players in the last CBA calls for roughly splitting revenue 50/50 and also splitting the coming losses. So, the owners want to hold back a percentage of players’ checks going forward — both giving them extra money they can use now, if needed, and also to help balance the books in the event some, or all, of the remainder of the season is canceled. From an economic standpoint, both sides would prefer to limit the pain of the shutdown to only this season and not start next season with IOUs on the ledger. Setting the money aside now would help do that.
Karnisovas will have full decision making over basketball operations, including the futures of Forman, head coach Jim Boylen, and the entire coaching staff. He was even asked about Paxson, and had the option of having the organization move on from the long-time Bulls executive if that’s what he desired. However, a source indicated that Karnisovas had no issues with the Reinsdorfs keeping Paxson around.
There were multiple reports that the search angered a handful of African American executives around the league, who felt like people of color weren’t involved in the searching process by the Bulls. A source close to the situation, however, indicated that not only did Michael Reinsdorf reach out to multiple minority candidates to try and get interviews – but was denied permission to do so by their current organizations, and in some cases simply turned down.
April 9, 2020 | 5:10 pm EDT Update
One of the most indelible images from the night the NBA shut down was a young girl crying at a Sacramento Kings game. Her tear-stained face and broken heart reflected how many people felt about the temporary end of life as we knew it and the indefinite stoppage of sports. That girl’s name is Sophie, and Kings player Harry Giles wanted to make her feel better. So he recently sent her and her brother a sweet video message. He apologized for the way their last game ended, and to make up for it, he invited them to a Kings game when sports are back underway. Not surprisingly, Sophie was extremely excited.

Shelby Delaney of the Summit Medical Center in Oakland was one of the first nurses to volunteer to help coronavirus patients at the hospital. Curry made sure the 27-year-old knew how important that was. “I can’t thank God enough for what you’re doing and just the sacrifice, the selflessness and the way everybody’s coming together,” Curry told her on the call. “Thank you so much for just what you do, your heart and the inspiration you provide for everybody.”
April 9, 2020 | 5:02 pm EDT Update
“I have an organization who basically gave me the keys,” Beal said. “‘We’re going to build around you. We’re going to get guys around like’ – if I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here is, I love what it is. I love [Scott] Brooks. I love what we have. I love our young guys. I think the fact that we actually have guys that are committed to getting better.”
Lowe opened the podcast by giving Beal the opportunity to address the omission: “I was angry, but I wouldn’t say I played angry because of that,” Beal said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to make the playoffs. The All-Star game was what it was. I’m not mad at you for your votes. For me, I will never take that moment away from the other 24 guys. Because that was me two years ago and a year ago. I can’t sit here and take that moment away from Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell and guys who got their first one.
April 9, 2020 | 4:50 pm EDT Update
Eric Gordon said he would not object to having a season restarted in a sequestered location, one of the ideas the NBA is considering. But he also indicated it is too soon to know if even that will be possible. “That sounds like almost our only option,” Gordon said. “That’s the only thing that can make sense. Just coop us up in a hotel for months and see if we can have that chance to have the season. It’s still a dicey situation, so we’re just hoping this virus calms down and goes away quickly. As of right now, it doesn’t seem like it is.”
Storyline: Season Suspension