After leaving the turmoil that the Washington Wizards season became, landing with the Dallas Mavericks had to feel like Nirvana for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. Stable organization, playoff team, fans in love with the team, what more could you want?
Butler doesn’t want to leave. Can’t say I blame him. However, as they always do, the Mavericks are considering roster shakeups this summer and with just one year left on his deal Butler is a tradable asset.
So in his Hoopshype blog, Butler made his pitch.
We’ll have an interesting summer now. I would like to continue to play for a winning franchise like the Mavericks. I have no more years to waste on rebuilding or something like that. I look forward to being in a great situation and that’s what Dallas has been to me. The fans have been awesome. They welcomed me with open arms and I had a great time out there.
All that said, I’m aware that it’s all going to depend on what Dirk Nowitzki decides. You kind of feel what he wants is to stay a Maverick for life, but you can never know for sure. You just have to wait and see what happens during free agency. If you ask me, I would like this team to stay together. We’re not that far off. We could return next season with the exact same squad and compete for the title. We have the experience, leadership and everything else in place to make it happen.
Actually, you need another piece or two to get past the Lakers — and maybe others — in the West. Hence the trade talk. But Butler gets that; if anybody understands this is a business it’s him. The man was once traded for Kwame Brown. Reality doesn’t slap you in the face much more than that.
Wherever he lands, Butler will be a good, professional player. That is who he is.
The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.
Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.
He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.
Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.
However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.
That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?
The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.
Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.
Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.
Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.
Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.
He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.
But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.
Except we now know he apparently likes karate.
Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.
If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN:
Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.
Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.