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Report: Thunder join Heat as frontrunners to sign Caron Butler


When word leaked out that Caron Butler and the Milwaukee Bucks were working on a buyout, it was almost instantaneous with reports he would land in Miami. There’s some logic to that — Butler played in Miami and was very popular in the locker room (Dwyane Wade is a fan) and in the community, plus the Heat are looking for someone they can trust to take on minutes while Wade is remains on his knees maintenance program.

But another team is in the mix as a leader — the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That according to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

The fact that Oklahoma City stopped pursuing Danny Granger has led many in the NBA to believe the Thunder are confident in their recruitment of Butler….

Despite initial reports that Butler was destined to sign with Miami, Oklahoma City has a strong chance to land Butler, sources told Yahoo Sports. The Heat are competing to lure Butler back to where his career started as the 10th overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft, but the ability to fill the gap as a complementary scorer to Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook has made the Thunder an attractive destination, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Oklahoma City could move Durant to power forward and slide Butler into the small forward spot in different lineup variations.

San Antonio and Chicago also are expected to try and woo Butler, but they have a lot of ground to make up.

There is a fit in OKC. With the attention Kevin Durant draws and the slashing of Russell Westbrook a reliable spot-up shooter could serve the Thunder well and that is what Butler is at this point in his career. He got 35 percent of his shots in Milwaukee this season on spot ups and hit 41.9 percent from three on those and scored 1.08 points per possession (stats via Synergy Sports). He would get more of those looks, and likely more open ones, in Oklahoma City. Butler also can score in transition and plays with a good basketball IQ.

Where he gets in trouble on offense is when he has to create shots for himself — he is shooting 33 percent in isolation this season. He’s not that guy anymore. Nor is he a good on-ball defender anymore and can be exposed on that end.

In Miami Butler would get looks both in transition and also as a spot up guy, he would also get a lot of run as the Heat try to keep Wade’s knees right for the postseason.

Butler has options; the question is would he feel more comfortable in Miami or Oklahoma City? Either way he should be going from the NBA’s worst team (by record) in Milwaukee to a serious title contender.

DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.