Jimmy Butler on who he would play with if he had the choice: Kyrie Irving

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Jimmy Butler has played with some pretty solid players in the NBA, but when the Chicago Bulls star was asked on Friday who he would pick to play with if he had the choice, with no other considerations attached, he went for one dude: Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving.

Now don’t get too rattled here, this was all in good fun. The conversation happened on ESPN’s First Take, and it was simply a question to get some chatter going. Butler, sensing the mood, said not only would he pick Irving, but that the Cavaliers star was his favorite player outside of himself.

“I’d probably have to go with my favorite player who is not myself, and that’s Kyrie [Irving]. I love Kyrie’s game, man. And he’s a really good dude,” said Butler.

That actually makes a lot of sense, as NBA players love Irving’s game. In fact, Irving received the third-most votes in the Eastern Conference when it came to All-Star player voting this season, just behind teammate LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks wing Giannis Antetokounmpo.

On a more serious note, Butler said he would add a shooter to the Bulls to make them more tenable as a playoff team and because it would help him operate on the floor.

“Any type of shooter to where I can attack the paint, get to the rim, get to the free-throw line and do what I do best because you can’t leave that guy. So, I don’t know, Kyle Korver? A shooter like that.”

The First Take crew was trying to get Butler to say he wanted to play with Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, with Max Kellerman even suggesting so much after Butler finished.

I, for one, am excited to see the new Chicago Bulls lineup of Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Korver, Kevin Durant, and Cristiano Felicio.

You heard it here first. Five alphas.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.