Caron Butler

Caron Butler says he is excited to be mentor, leader on Bucks

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Milwaukee is a team in transition, one rebuilding after the failed Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis experiment. They have one foundational piece in place with Larry Sanders in the paint. Now they will see if John Henson, Brandon Knight and others will be part of that, while guys like O.J. Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova help them get a few wins under their belt.

Enter into that mix Caron Butler.

He is part of that bridge to the future — he was a starter with the Clippers last year (but would have been bumped to the bench this year) but now will be asked to play a role on and off the court in Milwaukee. And the Racine native (about 25 miles outside Milwaukee) told the Journal Sentinel he is up for the job.

“I talked to coach (Larry) Drew and John Hammond (Bucks general manager), and we talked about my role on and off the court,” Butler said.

“They will ask even more of me, and I embrace that challenge, being a leader and a mentor. And I’ll be in my own town doing it. I didn’t think it would ever happen, that this dream I had many years ago could become a reality. That’s funny.”

Fantasy hoops alert: Butler may put up some better numbers this year. He is healthy and this team is going to need his points some nights (unless you are a big Mayo believer).

It’s going to be a rough year in Milwaukee. If things blend well they could again challenge for the 7/8 seed in the East, but more likely they are going to be just on the outside looking in. But it’s not really about this year; it’s about building that foundation.

Butler will be a big part of that.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.