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Report: Rival executives believe Bulls and Celtics will renew Jimmy Butler trade talks

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The Celtics reportedly tried to trade for the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler before last year’s trade deadline and again around the draft.

Considering the chaos in Chicago and Boston’s treasure trove of assets, why wouldn’t the Celtics try again?

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

There are rival executives who believe the Bulls and Celtics will rekindle trade talks centered on Jimmy Butler before the Feb. 23 deadline. The teams held serious talks in June, and the Celtics own the same assets — Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Nets’ first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — the teams discussed then.

Do these rival executives have inside information? Or are they just supposing? It doesn’t take much to figure these trade talks could resume.

A report earlier this month suggested Chicago wouldn’t trade Butler. But that was before Butler publicly admonished his teammates’ effort, drew a rebuke and apparent fine from Bulls general manager Gar Forman and then said he didn’t regret his comments.

Still, it’s hard to see Chicago parting with Butler.

Butler has become one of the NBA’s very best players, a true two-way star. He’s just 27 and locked up for two more years. It’s extremely difficult to acquire players so valuable. There should be no rush to move him, and few teams could offer commensurate return.

Boston could be one, though. Armed with those Brooklyn first-rounders, the Celtics could assemble a package that intrigues Chicago.

But the new veteran-designated-player rule offers an additional hurdle.

Because the Bulls drafted Butler and kept him through his rookie-scale contract, only they can exercise designated-player privileges on Butler. Those wouldn’t transfer in a trade to Boston.

Butler is on track to become a free agent in 2019. If he makes an All-NBA team next season, he can sign a designated-player extension during the 2018 offseason. If he makes an All-NBA team in 2018-19 or in both this season and next, he can re-sign as a designated player in 2019.

A max designated-player deal projects to pay Butler about $221 million over five years (about $44 million annually). That’s far more than another team projects to be able to offer — about  $141 million over four years (about $35 million annually).

If Butler gets traded to the Celtics, his projected max for re-signing projects to be about $190 million over five years (about $38 million annually). That’s still more than other teams could offer, but Boston wouldn’t have nearly the same incumbent advantage Chicago would if Butler qualifies as a designated player.

The Celtics would have to factor the chance Butler leaves as an unrestricted free agent in 2019 into any trade offer. Likewise, the Bulls would have to consider the odds Butler leaves them via free agency if they don’t trade him.

But the likelihood of Butler leaving Boston is higher than the likelihood of him leaving Chicago due to the financial realities of the designated-player rule. So, both teams are operating from vastly different points on this aspect. That’s a large chasm to overcome.

Simply, the designated-player rule makes Butler more valuable to the Bulls than any other team. The Celtics would have to hold Butler in much higher regard than Chicago does in other facets for a trade to be plausible.

Knicks’ Joakim Noah has expected shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff

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NEW YORK (AP) — Knicks center Joakim Noah has had right shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff, a procedure that could sideline him until training camp.

The Knicks say Noah had the surgery Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed by Dr. David Altchek.

The team didn’t give a timetable for Noah’s recovery, but coach Jeff Hornacek said late in the season that if Noah had the operation, the recovery time could be five months.

Noah had an injury-plagued season that ended early when he was suspended 20 games by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. There are still 12 games remaining on the penalty that he will have to serve next season when healthy.

Noah had surgery on his other shoulder last season, limiting him to 29 games in his final season in Chicago before signing a four-year, $72 million deal with New York.

PBT Extra: Pacers offseason moves starts with Paul George question

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Larry Bird, when not delivering All-Star Game bids, should be spending his time lighting candles and praying in churches all over Indianapolis that Paul George makes an All-NBA team.

If PG13 makes the cut, Bird’s job this summer becomes more clear: Offer George the designated player max extension, get him to sign the deal, then get back to building a contender around him.

If George doesn’t make the cut, things get much tougher for Bird. I discuss all of it in this new PBT Extra.

Fans to vote on “Best Dunk,” “Best Assist,” other categories handed out at NBA Awards show

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Fans are going to get their say at the NBA Awards Show, coming June 26 on TNT. Drake will be the host, and we to come up with an under/over on the number of players Drake gives a bro hug to during the ceremony.

That’s the night the NBA will hand out its Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and every other major postseason award — except for All-NBA Team, which has to come earlier. The media have already cast their votes for these awards.

Where the fans get to come in is the fun awards, categories created just for this event:

• Dunk of the Year
• Best Style
• Block of the Year
• Assist of the Year
• Game Winner of the Year
• Top Performance of the Year

The NBA already narrowed down the list of choices for each category to three, and voting opens tonight. Just go to  www.nba.com/nbaawards and cast your ballot, or on Twitter or Facebook just post the #AwardName and First/Last Name of their winner (for example, #DunkOfTheYear  Larry Nance).

These awards should add some energy — and good highlights — to what has the potential to be a stuffy event. It’s a bunch of NBA players in suits in a ballroom in New York, this is going to feel like a branding event at times. The NBA is hoping the fans can liven it up.

Here are the categories, with the hashtags for voting:

#DunkOfTheYear
• Los Angeles Lakers’ Larry Nance, Jr. vs. Brooklyn

• Minnesota’s Zach LaVine vs. Phoenix

• Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo vs. Atlanta

#BestStyle
• Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert
• Chicago’s Dwyane Wade
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook

#BlockOfTheYear
• San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard vs. Houston
• New York’s Kristaps Porzingis vs. Brooklyn
• Miami’s Hassan Whiteside vs. Toronto

#GameWinnerOfTheYear
• Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving vs. Golden State
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook vs. Denver
• Phoenix’s Tyler Ulis vs. Boston

#TopPerformanceOfTheYear
• Phoenix’s Devin Booker 70-point game vs. Boston
• Houston’s James Harden nets 53-16-17 triple double vs. New York
• Golden State’s Klay Thompson scores 60 in three quarters vs. Indiana
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook with most points in a triple-double, 57-13-11, vs. Orlando

#AssistOfTheYear
• Golden State’s Draymond Green to Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant
• Denver’s Nikola Jokic with no-look pass
• LA Clippers’ Chris Paul with wraparound pass

Report: USC’s Elijah Stewart intended to declare for NBA draft, forgot

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Declaring for the NBA draft is like declaring bankruptcy: You can’t just bellow it and expect it to take effect. You actually have to fill out the paperwork.

That’s why USC’s Elijah Stewart wasn’t among the 192 early entrants to the 2017 NBA draft.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Stewart:

Givony’s report will do little but embarrass Stewart. It’s unlikely Stewart would’ve been drafted, and he likely would have withdrawn to return to USC for his senior season. Perhaps, he would’ve gotten helpful feedback from the NBA before that point, but that’s minimal.

The real problem, though, isn’t Stewart’s inattentiveness, to whatever extent is exists. It’s that the NCAA won’t allow players to maintain eligibility while having an agent.

If Stewart had proper representation, there’d be no questioning whether he intended to declare for the draft. His agent would’ve handled it, one way or the other.

If the NCAA were truly about educating players, it’d allow them to have guidance from experienced professional agents. Agents don’t have to conflict with amateurism (not that amateurism is a worthy goal, anyway).

But teaching players is not the NCAA’s true goal. The NCAA prioritizes keeping its cartel in tact and money flowing to coaches and administrators.

Agents might steer players from that corrupt system entirely or at least help them leverage their immense power to gain better compensation than a wage-fixed scholarship.

This incident should spark discussion about the unseemly lengths the NCAA goes to to protect its money-makers from its revenue-generators. Instead, it’s much easier to make Stewart a punchline.