Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler shakes hands with general manager Gar Forman during a news conference Thursday, July 9, 2015 in Chicago. The Bulls took what they believe is a big step, announcing a maximum five-year contract for their All-Star shooting guard on Thursday. They are hoping Butler can build on a breakout season, form a dominant tandem with Rose and help them emerge from the Eastern Conference after they came up short last season. Butler's deal is worth $95.5 million. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT CHICAGO TRIBUNE; CHICAGO SUN-TIMES OUT; DAILY HERALD OUT; NORTHWEST HERALD OUT; THE HERALD-NEWS OUT; DAILY CHRONICLE OUT; THE TIMES OF NORTHWEST INDIANA OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES
Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune via AP

Rumor: Bulls told Jimmy Butler during contract-extension negotiations they’d stick him behind Tony Snell if he didn’t sign

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In the summer of 2014, Jimmy Butler was eligible for a contract extension. The Bulls reportedly offered him four years, $40 million.

That seemed low even at the time, but this is how rookie-scale contract extensions should work. If Chicago didn’t extend him, Butler would be a restricted free agent the following year. The Bulls would still control his future, incentivizing them to lowball him in hopes he valued security. If Butler passed, Chicago could always re-sign him or match any offer sheet.

But, according to one report, the Bulls — in the backdrop of a disconnect between general manager Gar Forman and then-coach Tom Thibodeau — went even further in playing hardball.

Ryen Russillo of ESPN:

 

What I was told is — and I don’t know who it was in the front office; I don’t have a name — but that he was told, “Well, if you don’t take this, we’re going to play Tony Snell your minutes. We’re going to play Tony Snell over you, and then good luck trying to get this kind of money when your number sare down. And that, if it’s true — and it’s what I was told, and I believe it, but it’s the same thing of any gossipy industry that you’re in — then it doesn’t make sense that Jimmy Butler can’t stand the front office and loves Thibs, because Thibs apparently went, “No, I’m not playing Tony Snell over Jimmy Butler. Are you freaking kidding me?”

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

That’s certainly not the denial I expected, but a few things to keep in mind:

  • Butler excelled between the contract-extension window and free agency, winning Most Improved Player earning much larger deal. The Bulls eagerly signed him in 2015 to a de facto max contract worth $95 million over five years. In fact, they were so convinced of Butler’s value, they extended him a max qualifying offer.
  • It’s not clear, even if we completely trust Russillo’s telling, that Bulls management ever instructed Thibodeau to play Snell over Butler. Thibodeau could have heard it from Butler himself and reacted to the idea.
  • Butler was reportedly ready for Chicago to fire Thibodeau. That obviously doesn’t disprove this report, but it shows a limit on the Butler-Thibodeau bond that runs counter to what Russillo presents.
  • The Bulls planning to reduce Butler’s playing time purely as retribution for passing on a contract extension would be bad. But it seems entirely plausible a more innocent message could’ve been misconstrued in retellings. What if a Chicago executive told Butler something like: “Hey, just warning you, your starting spot is not assured. Tony Snell has been working hard, and he could overtake you. If he does, it’ll be more difficult to get paid next summer.” That’d be a non-story.
  • Even if the story isn’t true, Butler was reportedly bothered by Forman not shutting down Butler trade rumors. Butler might not rush to stop a narrative that embarrasses Forman.

 

Anthony Morrow says he’ll switch from No. 1 with Bulls after Derrick Rose fans complain

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Anthony Morrow #1 of the Chicago Bulls participates in warm-ups beofre the Bulls take on the Phoenix Suns at the United Center on February 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Anthony Morrow clearly didn’t follow the Michael Carter-Williams saga.

Morrow, like Carter-Williams, took No. 1 when joining the Bulls.

And Morrow, like Carter-Williams, swiftly changed course when Derrick Rose fans protested.

Morrow:

Morrow had never worn No. 1 in the NBA. The No. 23 he wore with the Mavericks is obviously retired in Chicago for Michael Jordan, and two of Morrow’s other previous numbers — No. 2 (Jerian Grant), No. 3 (Dwyane Wade) — were already taken. As far as Morrow’s other previous number, Cameron Payne, who came from the Thunder with Morrow, kept the No. 22 the point guard wore in Oklahoma City.

So, Morrow needed a new number. I’m just not sure why the Bulls didn’t warn him off No. 1 and the backlash that would come with it.

Doc Rivers on DeMarcus Cousins: “I’m 55. It’s tough for me to call a grown man ‘Boogie'”

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The Kings trade with the Pelicans has made DeMarcus Cousins the NBA’s mostdiscussed player lately.

But Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers isn’t sure he can address Cousins by his nickname.

J.A. Adande of ESPN:

Cool story, Glenn.

Deron Williams clears waivers, intends to sign with Cavs

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Deron Williams #8 of the Dallas Mavericks brings the ball down the floor against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on December 1, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Free agent guard Deron Williams has cleared waivers and told the Cleveland Cavaliers he intends to sign with them.

Williams, a five-time All-Star, was waived earlier this week by Dallas. He will give the defending NBA champions a playmaker they’ve needed all season and one LeBron James demanded.

Williams cannot sign with the Cavs until Monday. Cleveland hosts the Milwaukee Bucks that night. The Cavs will be the fourth team for Williams, who is averaging 13.1 points this season.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue can bring him off the bench and also play him with Cleveland’s starters to give James and Kyrie Irving rest before the playoffs.

Kyle Lowry plays through injury in All-Star game, out for Raptors now

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors in action during the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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Kyle Lowry participated in the 3-point contest. He played nearly 18 minutes in the All-Star game.

But when the Raptors played the Celtics in their first game after the break, Lowry never saw the court.

He was sidelined with a right wrist injury suffered in Toronto’s final game before the break.

Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet:

He can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened and didn’t even feel it during the game, but when Lowry woke up the next morning he knew something was up.

“Honestly, I thought I’d slept on it wrong — I thought it would go away,” Lowry said. “It was a little sore, but I paid no attention to it.”

Unconcerned at the time, Lowry didn’t tell anyone but his wife about the wrist pain, and took off for New Orleans where he participated in both the NBA’s three-point contest and all-star game this past weekend. He received some treatment in between his all-star appearances and iced his wrist on and off, but he still saw little cause for alarm.

“I thought over the break it would rest up and heal up,” Lowry said. “But it constantly stayed bothering me.”

“That’s a blow — that’s a huge blow for us,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Friday evening after announcing the injury. “I don’t know how long he’s going to be out. But, no, it’s not a one-day thing.”

This is bad — bad for the Raptors and bad for Lowry’s reputation.

Lowry might have wanted to show his toughness by not running to the doctor for every bump or bruise. But this will also raise questions about whether he prioritized the shine of All-Star Weekend over the grind of Toronto’s season. Lowry is not a trained medical professional, so it’s understandable he misdiagnosed his injury. But he makes his living using his body, and his employer provides trained medical professionals to handle these types of things. Lowry’s bet that his wrist would heal over the break clearly backfired.

And now the Raptors pay the price. They traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to make a push, but that’ll be much tougher without the the team’s best player. Toronto beat Boston without Lowry, but the Raptors are still fourth in the Eastern Conference. Passing the Wizards for third is paramount to avoiding a second-round matchup with the Cavaliers and getting a clearer path back to the conference finals.

Every game matters now for Toronto, and wherever blame falls, Casey nailed the outcome: Lowry’s injury is a huge blow.