No Caron Butler, so what is next for Mavericks?

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UPDATE Jan. 4, 4:04 pm: What was rumored to be the case became official Tuesday when Butler underwent season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured right patellar tendon.

It is a particularly challenging thing for Butler, who will be a free agent this summer.

Jan. 3, 12:43 pm: We will not formally know how long Caron Butler will be out until the results of the MRI — and a treatment plan — are released later on Monday, but it’s not good. Look at it this way, the team is leaking that he may have a partially tearing his patella tendon, and the team is usually the most optimistic source for this kind of news.

So if no Caron Butler for the Mavericks, then who?

Shawn Marion made his case on Sunday with a 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting performance game. Granted, he was starting for the injured Dirk Nowitizki and it was against the Cavaliers. Still that is a quality line and a good sign. Marion has seen his minutes drop a little this season at age 32, but his production per possession is right where it was last season for Dallas — and his production per minute is very comparable to Butler’s.

However, Marion changes the offense when he is in. Butler gets 26.4 percent of his offense on spot-up jumpers and he is very efficient at it, including hitting 46.7 percent on spot up threes (according to Synergy Sports). Marion is not a good spot up shooter (29.9 percent overall and 21 percent from three). Marion gets his offense more off cuts and off-ball movement. Marion, as we have seen in the past when he was in Phoenix, can be a force in transition as well.

Jason Terry will see more minutes as well and his game is more similar to Butler. Terry is very effective and gets a quarter of his shots in catch-and-shoot situations (although Butler is better from three). Terry works well coming off screens and in transition, too.

The one other wild card is Rodrigue Beaubois. When the speedy point guard returns from injury — three weeks to a month from now —he will provide some depth lost when others had to step up for Butler (and Nowitzki), but he will change the offense as well. More transition chances, more drive and kick-plays. Terry is suited to both of those things.

Don’t look for Dallas to make a quick trade to fill the hole, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. They want to see what they have. Of course, if they could seriously get into the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes…. let’s not go there yet.

LaVar Ball confronts wrestler at WWE event (video)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring.

The outspoken father of NBA draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday’s “WWE Raw” at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

During the segment, LaMelo Ball twice used the n-word, which was broadcast over the air. WWE says in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that the language “was not scripted nor reflects WWE’s values.”

For LaVar Ball’s appearance, the ring was decorated with mannequins displaying his Big Baller Brand clothing line. He got in a heated confrontation with WWE wrestler The Miz, and took his shirt off to cheers from the crowd.

Bulls, with Michael Carter-Williams, first team to decline extending qualifying offer to Rookie of the Year

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Just four years ago, Michael Carter-Williams won Rookie of the Year.

Now, the Bulls don’t even see a $4,187,599 qualifying offer as worth extending.

David Kaplan of CSN Chicago:

Credit Sam Hinkie for trading Carter-Williams (to the Bucks) at just the right moment, netting the 76ers a valuable Lakers first-round pick that Philadelphia used to trade up for Markelle Fultz. Carter-Williams hasn’t nearly lived up to the typical production of a former Rookie of the Year.

The Bulls got Carter-Williams far cheaper from Milwaukee, for Tony Snell (who had a breakout year with the Bucks). But Carter-Williams continued to regress in Chicago. It’s just hard for a point guard with such a shaky outside shot, and Carter-Williams’ injuries haven’t helped.

With a smorgasbord of point guards that now includes Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne, the Bulls can move on.

Carter-Williams can probably latch on as a backup point guard somewhere. As an unrestricted free agent, teams will have greater comfort pursuing him. But this is a blow for someone with such a big accolade on his résumé.

Celtics’ reported plan: Sign Gordon Hayward, trade for Paul George

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The Celtics are trying to sign Gordon Hayward.

They want to trade for Paul George.

It seems those goals are not mutually exclusive.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Boston Celtics are pursuing an aggressive summer plan of sequencing the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward and relinquishing the assets needed to complete a trade for Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.

For salary-cap purposes, Boston wants a Hayward commitment before it can finalize a trade for George and secure the most dynamic free-agent coup in franchise history, league sources said.

For Boston, here’s the hitch: While Indiana believes Boston can offer the best possible package, the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until the start of July free agency on Boston’s timetable and could turn toward making a deal elsewhere for George, league sources told The Vertical.

The Celtics can clear cap space to sign Hayward. They have the ammo to trade for George. They could do both.

But, as covered before, there’s probably not a path to signing Hayward and extending George’s contract.

So, how much would Boston surrender for George on an expiring contract? The risk he walks in a year, particularly for the Lakers, should lower the Celtics’ offer.

Still, Boston could trade for the Pacers star and roll the dice on re-signing him. Playing with Hayward – and Isaiah Thomas and whichever other players the Celtics keep in this arrangement – would be pretty appealing.

Rumor: LeBron James would ‘never’ join Clippers

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The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.

But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.

Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:

I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.

I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.

He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.

I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?

Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.

One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.