Dan Feldman

Rumor: Bulls interested in shopping Jimmy Butler this summer

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Jimmy Butler has publicly fueled criticism of Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, a sentiment his teammates reportedly agree with. Butler’s teammates are also reportedly bothered by his shot selection.

How can Chicago fix both problems simultaneously?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

I’ve been hearing rumbling that there is legitimate interest in Chicago in potentially dealing Jimmy Butler this offseason.

I’d be very surprised if the Bulls actually trade Butler.

Just 26, he’s arguably the best shooting guard in the NBA (though I’d give James Harden – and only Harden – the edge). Certainly, no other shooting guard matches Butler’s prowess on both ends of the floor. He’s also locked up for three more seasons on a contract signed before the salary cap skyrockets.

If the Bulls keep their aging core together, Butler is good enough to help a team win now. If Chicago rebuilds, Butler is young enough to lead the next generation.

Simply, Butler’s value is incredibly high. If the Bulls receive good return, there’d be nothing inherently wrong with trading him, but it’s rare teams sell high on a star.

This strikes me as Chicago trying to appease other players who are down on Butler and send a message to Butler, whose ascent has reportedly come with egotistical complications. Maybe Butler’s teammates appreciate the organization attempting to address the problem, and perhaps the threat of being dealt scares Butler straight.

But that posturing is a long way from a trade actually occurring.

If the Bulls shop Butler, they should get plenty of offers. The Celtics reportedly tried to acquire Butler before the trade deadline. Others will have serious interest if they believe Butler is attainable.

I’m just not convinced he actually will be.

Report: Cavaliers believe it’s possible LeBron James leaves again, remain confident he won’t

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James reacts after scoring against the New York Knicks during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in New York. Cleveland won 107-93. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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If all of the recent noise created by LeBron James or his associates – cryptic tweets, associates saying he could leave the Cavaliers again in free agency, unfollowing the team on Twitter, overt contempt for his teammates’ play, stating a desire to team up with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul – were a ploy designed to gain leverage, it apparently worked.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Cavs like to downplay that — “It’s hard enough to win without worrying about a damn Twitter,” Lue said — but officials across the organization have been nervously monitoring LeBron’s on-court tantrums. “It’s time for everyone to stop all the glaring and just compete,” Lue said.

The organization is confident James won’t leave again, but officials acknowledge it would be at least a slight possibility if Cleveland flames out.

Remember, the Cavaliers reportedly didn’t fear LeBron leaving over Tristan Thompson‘s prolonged contract negotiation. Not only was re-signing Thompson key to Cleveland contending this season, LeBron’s agent – Rich Paul – represented the big man.

If that situation didn’t get the organization kowtowing to LeBron, what would?

LeBron, who will be a free agent this summer and probably next, has gotten more power. If that’s all he wants, the Cavs should be able to handle it.

It also helps that they’re aware of the possibility of him leaving, so they can guard against it.

Report: Lakers not trading D’Angelo Russell over Nick Young video

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D'Angelo Russell has become toxic with the Lakers.

His teammates are reportedly isolating him, and his coach says he won’t intervene. What Russell initially seemed to think was a harmless and funny video of Nick Young has turned into a fiasco.

What will the Lakers do?

Could they actually trade the promising rookie, who was the No. 2 overall pick just last year?

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

The Lakers are not happy that Russell has cast the franchise in this light now—and there are those in the organization fearful that he has made himself another hurdle to be overcome in the Lakers’ effort to add much-needed proven free-agent talent. But the club is not about to give up on him over this: a foolish, ill-conceived undertaking that was at least not malicious in intent.

The Lakers believe in Russell’s talent and hope he learns a lesson the hard way here about needing to be more professional.

This was always the likely course for the Lakers. Russell is too valuable just to dump, and if the Lakers dealt him this offseason, they’d be selling low. He has flashed star potential in the second half of the season, and he’s just 20. In time, the backlash over the Young video should blow over.

But this is still not an easy course for the Lakers.

Many of the teammates who are shunning Russell won’t return next season. The Lakers could even stretch Young, who has two more seasons left on his contract, if they believe it’d help chemistry. Roster churn will help Russell get past this.

But this isn’t a problem between just Russell and Young. It isn’t a problem between just Russell and his current teammates. Every player in the NBA knows what Russell did, and a large majority – if not all – resents him for it.

This could cost the Lakers free agents, and it could make Russell a pariah for the rest of his career – which is why the Lakers shouldn’t trade him. He faces similar problems wherever he goes, which likely lowers his trade value below the point a deal makes sense.

The Lakers have little choice but to bank on a few things working in Russell’s favor:

1. Time. It heals all wounds.

2. Roster turnover. New teammates might be suspicious of Russell, but if they didn’t feel burned as directly, they’ll likely be more open to accepting him.

3. Russell playing well and unselfishly. It’s easier to forgive a point guard who gets his teammates good shots and helps them win.

Russell has made it more difficult for the Lakers’ to build around him. But at this point, what else are they going to do?

Lakers interest in defending as Heat miss on 3-on-0 break? Zilch (video)

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This is the moment it appeared the Lakers would self-destruct.

Embroiled in turmoil over D'Angelo Russell‘s Nick Young recording and down double digits early, D’Angelo Russell turned the ball over. Not a single Laker got back on defense. That allowed Dwyane Wade a second chance after flubbing the layup on a 3-on-0 fastbreak, accentuating the Lakers’ lack of effort.

The Lakers were so uninterested in that end of the court, nobody even ran down to inbound the ball to Russell. (They probably didn’t want to be seen with him.)

It’s darned near a miracle the Lakers came back to win this game.

DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo get techs for sarcastically clapping, triggering Cousins suspension (video)

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DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, for better or worse, have no off switches.

As the Kings were ready to run out the clock on their win over the Wizards – Sacramento’s 30th victory this season, its first 30-win season in eight years – Rondo committed an inbound violation. No big deal. The Kings would still win handily.

But what do Cousins and Rondo do? They clap sarcastically at the ref for too long, drawing deserved technical fouls.

That was Cousins’ league-leading 16th technical foul of the season, which triggers a one-game suspension. The clapping will cost Cousins $149,108 – $5,000 for the technical and $144,108 for the docked game pay.

It also meant an ejection for Rondo, who picked up a technical earlier in the game.