Storyline: Jimmy Butler Trade?

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5 months ago via ESPN

The Miami Heat completed a four-team trade that allows them to sign All-Star guard Jimmy Butler to a four-year, $142 million contract, league sources told ESPN on Monday. The Heat are sending center Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers, guard Josh Richardson to the Philadelphia 76ers and a protected 2023 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers to secure the salary cap flexibility to complete the sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers, league sources tell ESPN.

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.

That microscope doesn’t just come from the media, but also opposing front offices. An opposing team has already called to ask if this latest blowup means Butler might be on the market, according to league sources. This, as rumors swirl around NBA circles that the Sixers, spooked that Butler will bolt when he becomes a free agent this summer, are contemplating dealing Butler before the trade deadline. The team has never considered dealing Butler, according to league sources. But it’s worth noting that the vultures around the NBA, often willing and eager to sow discord, have emerged.
1 year ago via ESPN

In his first comments since trading Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves coach and president Tom Thibodeau was surgical in describing the deal that sent the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “I said from the beginning, you always have to put the organization first,” Thibodeau said. “So you set the parameters for what you are looking for and once we felt we got to that point where the offers met some of the things we were looking for, then we said, ‘OK, now it’s time.'”

Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic. The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.

After Butler plays 39 minutes in a loss to the Clippers that dropped the Wolves to 0-3 on the trip, the Wolves have conversations with the Heat about a possible trade. But the Heat inform the Wolves that Richardson is no longer on the table after his stellar start to the season, and the Wolves move on. Minnesota begins to engage seriously with Philadelphia, New Orleans and Houston. New Orleans’ package is headlined by Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected first-round draft pick and the Rockets’ proposal has Eric Gordon, Nene and two first-round picks, sources said. The 76ers come with their proposal around Robert Covington and Dario Saric, leaving the Timberwolves to deliberate.

It​ was​ nearly​ midnight​ inside the Citizen Hotel in downtown​ Sacramento on​ Friday,​ and Minnesota Timberwolves​ general​ manager​​ Scott Layden was the only one in the crowded room still working. … It was time to put the Jimmy Butler saga out to pasture. I had no clue at the time that the Timberwolves had reached their breaking point. Layden was clearly focused on his conversation, and so I waved from a distance and offered a thumbs up as a way of saying hello in the most placid way possible. To my surprise, Layden — who had spent these past two months giving thumbs downs to every trade offer that came their way — offered a thumbs up in return. Little did I know: The T-Wolves were finally going to say yes.

According to a league source, the talks with Philadelphia were rekindled on Wednesday. The Sixers, who had announced Elton Brand as their new general manager on the same Sept. 18 day that Butler’s trade demand went public, put forth a take-it-or-leave-it style offer and waited for an answer. According to our Jon Krawczynski, Minnesota was deliberating between three offers. Houston was known to be among the most aggressive suitors, but sources say the Rockets would ultimately be convinced that Minnesota had been hell-bent on sending Butler to the Eastern Conference all along. It’s unclear if Miami was still in play or if there was another team involved at the end.

Shortly after that meeting, Butler had a conversation with Taylor to get the ball rolling on an exit strategy. Taylor was more open to the idea than Thibodeau was initially and promised to pursue all avenues to grant his request, sources said. The owner told Thibodeau and Layden on Sept. 22 to be proactive in seeking out possibilities to bring to his desk, but what followed was a mind-numbing process filled with mixed messages. Thibodeau and Layden took hard-line stances in negotiations, according to team sources who entered into the talks. Several owners reached out to Taylor directly, and while those conversations felt more productive, Taylor resisted calls to make a unilateral move.
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What is LaMelo’s relationship with Lonzo like? It seems like Lonzo could give him some good advice. Mirin Fader: “That is one of the most interesting things that I wish I had more space in the story to explore. Obviously, they’re close and they have a relationship, but I think they were much closer growing up than they are now. I found it peculiar when I asked LaMelo about the kind of advice that Lonzo gives him, he said something like, ‘Oh, just be yourself.’ I thought, ‘That’s cool, but I was more so wondering about what advice he gives on the court? What does he tell you about what it’s like bringing the ball up against the best defenders? What is it like defending [NBA players] every night for 82 games?’ He was like, ‘Honestly, I get that stuff from [his manager] Jermaine [Jackson].’ So, I’m not sure what that’s about.”
Mirin Fader, continued: “Are they less close? Why is he closer to Jermaine? I think there was some untied threads there. Maybe it’s geography or proximity… But at the end of the day, he did stress, ‘That’s my brother, I love him, I respect him. I want to be better than him.’ But I do think he’s, in a way, closer to Jermaine in that regard. I don’t know if that’s because he’s spending every waking moment with Jermaine? But I think one of interesting things to come out of the piece about the relationship with Lonzo is when Melo said, ‘I watched how he (Lonzo) dealt with the Alan Foster situation’ – with the stealing money from him – and he said, ‘Everybody makes mistakes.’ So he’s looking at Lonzo as having made a mistake for trusting this guy, and I thought that was interesting…”
November 21, 2019 | 7:47 pm UTC Update

Storyline: Sneaker Deals
November 21, 2019 | 7:11 pm UTC Update
November 21, 2019 | 5:40 pm UTC Update
But on June 30, there was no five-year maximum offer for Butler, multiple sources say. Perhaps the Sixers pivoted after learning of Horford’s interest in joining. Perhaps they were concerned about tension between Butler and some within the team, including on the coaching staff. Maybe those two things were interrelated. Like every team chasing Butler, they probably wondered how he would age.
They have so many coaches, Brown took the unusual step of excising some — the player development group, some strength and conditioning personnel — from his film sessions. That decision tears at Brown. “I don’t feel right about it,” Brown says. “I want the young coaches to hear my voice. But you reach a point where there are just too many people.” Team sources insist the decision is unrelated to leaks last January about Butler questioning Brown at a film session.)
Butler didn’t publicly weep or need any heartfelt consoling, as Joel Embiid did in the immediate aftermath of that shot. But the pain was just the same, if not more, because Butler had never been closer to a possible ring at any other point in his first eight seasons in the NBA. “It just goes to show you how fragile life is. Not just basketball. Life,” Butler said in an interview with The Athletic. “How things can change in an instant, in the snap of a finger and it hurts because you think about what could’ve been. What happens if we win that game? Do we win a championship? Am I in Philly? All of these ifs. Who knows?
“I don’t give a damn. I don’t,” Butler continued. “I ain’t battling a rep. If you’re one of my teammates, you know better than that. That’s the part that helps me cope with it all. If you played with me, ask my teammates that, like, we fuck with each other. If you don’t like me, you don’t like me. But to say that I was on your team and I did some bullshit to you? Nah. I was on some team and I didn’t have your back? Nah. That’s just not how I operate. It’s just not who I am. That’s why I don’t worry about nothing. I want all my teammates to be happy. If you feel like you don’t have a voice. I know somebody that got a voice. And his voice is loud. It may be taken as being challenging. It may be taken as being a team cancer. That individual is OK with it, because I know that you my teammate. You my guy. I’m rocking with you. I’ve always been like that. I’m always going to be like that.”
Hachimura, who has drawn comparisons to Jabari Parker, Terry Cummings, Antawn Jamison and Pascal Siakam, among others, according to NBA pundits Hoop Scoop has contacted in recent days, recognizes that getting to the free-throw line on a consistent basis is something he needs to do more of. He’s only attempted 18 free throws, but made 5 of 6 against the Spurs. Being aggressive and scoring inside, even when contact is made by an opponent, is a priority. “Yeah, you have to,” Hachimura said, referring to completing scoring chances at the rim, according to The Washington Times. “Even if I get fouled, you have to go up strong.”
The Knicks had to really sink south for a coaching change to be made by Game 20. Indications are it was far-fetched for a change to be made this early anyway. Was owner James Dolan, who has given Fizdale private reassurances, really going to let president Mills hire a new coach from the outside on a long-term deal with Fizdale still having at least one season fully guaranteed on his pact for 2020-21? Sources indicated the major deterrent to making a change at Thanksgiving was the sketchy alternative of promoting one of the assistants – Jud Buechler, Keith Smart or Kaleb Canales.
Storyline: David Fizdale Hot Seat?
November 21, 2019 | 5:05 pm UTC Update
“It’s so many good memories,” said Deng of his decade with the Bulls from No. 7 pick in the 2004 draft until a 2014 trade to Cleveland. “When you are going through it, you really don’t see it that way. You’re in the league, you’re trying to prove a point, you’re trying to be the best player you can be. Every day, ‘You can do this, you can’t do that, we need this, we don’t need that.’ You kind of forget the relationship you have and what you are building. And then you think back to Chicago and what it meant. I know we never won a championship, but there’s a lot of good memories of how hard we played, how hard we battled growing up in front of the fans; those are things you look back on. For me to be here 10 years is such a blessing.”
But Deng did believe the Bulls would get that championship, and he believed it was in 2011 when they lost that conference finals to the Miami Heat or in 2012. “Everyone has their own opinion and I’m not taking anything away from the teams that won it that year,” Deng said. “But there’s two incidents that happened. People don’t remember with Omer Asik that season I think we won (62) games. Every time we had Omer play the whole fourth quarter, we beat Miami that year four times during the season and we won the first game (of the conference finals). But in the last few minutes of that game Omer broke his leg. I don’t know many people who know that story, but we really couldn’t beat the Heat without him after that. We all knew it in the locker room and we had a hard time doing it. I felt like we could’ve won that year. And then obviously the (following) year when Derrick got hurt I think mentally we didn’t prepare ourselves for what would happen if that happened.”
The Portland Trail Blazers have completed the two-way transfers of center Moses Brown and forward Jaylen Hoard from the Texas Legends of the NBA G League to Portland, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. In three games with the Legends this season, Brown, 20, has averaged 5.7 points (66.7% FG) and 4.7 rebounds. Brown (7-1, 245) has played in two games for the Trail Blazers this season, recording three rebounds in five total minutes.
“Unbelievable. But we were talking about if he can keep this up, and I was like, ‘Yo, if somebody can keep this up, it’s him,'” said veteran Mavs guard J.J. Barea, who serves as a mentor for Doncic. “He plays on the ground. He’s super smart. He’s shooting the ball well. He’s finishing really well. I see him keeping it up. “It’s not hard for him to do this right now. He’s not forcing crazy s—. It’s just coming. That’s why I think he can keep this up. He’s making it look easy.”