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Is Jimmy Butler risking long-term health to rush back to Timberwolves?

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Jimmy Butler underwent meniscus surgery on his right knee, but the Timberwolves didn’t reveal a timeline. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported 4-6 weeks.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

An NBA executive explained to me that the Yahoo Sports’ timeline suggests that the torn part of the meniscus will be “shaved” via arthroscopic surgery, which often leads to a faster recovery, but can lead to pain or complications down the line. The alternative was for Butler to undergo a full repair, which involves sewing the tear together like you might mend ripped jeans. That route would have produced fewer potential complications, but also would have sidelined him the rest of the season.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the ultra-competitive Butler and hard-driving Tom Thibodeau chose this plan because they value the present over the future. In fact, this report will undoubtedly fuel that narrative.

But we don’t know enough about Butler’s injury to say for certain what his options were. A repair isn’t always possible.

Still, regardless of how Butler got here, this will affect the rest of his career. Butler can become an unrestricted free agent next year, when he’ll be 29. How much will teams value him then?

If Butler returns and plays well, especially if he helps Minnesota in the playoffs, that will matter a great deal. But so will Butler’s long-term health outlook.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy on one-and-done rule: ‘A lot of it was racist’

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In wake of the emerging details of the college-basketball scandal, Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball shined a light on the sham of amateurism.

Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy – who previously coached collegiately at Wisconsin – went a step further, going in on the NCAA and NBA’s one-and-done rule.

Van Gundy, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

“The NCAA is one of the worst organizations — maybe the worst organization — in sports. They certainly don’t care about the athletes,” Van Gundy said. “They’re going to act now like they’re just appalled by all these things going on in college basketball? Please. It’s ridiculous.”

“I think personally — and now I’m definitely on a soapbox — the people who were against them coming out made a lot of excuses but a lot of it was racist.

“The reason I’m going to say that is I’ve never heard anybody go up arms about letting kids go out and play minor-league baseball or hockey. They’re not making big money and they’re white kids and nobody has a problem. But all of a sudden, you’ve got a black kid who wants to come out of high school and make millions — that’s a bad decision?

“But bypassing college to go play for $800 a month in minor-league baseball – that’s a fine decision? What the hell is going on. If there’s a college that can’t a kid that when you have a chance to make $2.5 million-$3 million a year guaranteed for four years that you should skip college, then the institution is no good.”

There’s a lot going on here, but Van Gundy is spot on.

The NCAA is a cartel that fixes wages of athletes in order to hoard revenue for coaches and administrators. The NBA, the most viable alternative for the harmed players (mostly legal adults), prevents them from joining until one year after their high school class graduates.

How do the NCAA and NBA get away with that? There are numerous factors, but one: The public is unsympathetic to the black basketball (and football) players most disadvantaged by this system.

Cleveland fan seemingly calls Spurs’ Patty Mills ‘Jamaican dog’ (video)

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While Spurs guard Patty Mills shot free throws late in San Antonio’s win at Cleveland, someone off camera yelled at him. It sounded as if a fan said:

Hey, Jamaican dog. They want their bobsledder back.

Hey Mills, Jamaica just called. They want their bobsledder back.

Mills was born and raised in Australia. I guess this heckle was because of his hair, which is not unrelated to his race.

Even if out of ignorance, these comments are unacceptable.

Mills responded:

DeMar DeRozan explains depression tweet

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DeMar DeRozan‘s world looks great from afar.

He’s arguably the best player on the Eastern Conference’s best team. His contract his massive. His steady improvement is finally getting widespread attention, as he and the Raptors transition to a more dynamic offensive style.

Then – the day before his fourth All-Star game, played in Los Angeles, near his native Compton – DeRozan tweeted:

DeRozan, via Doug Smith of the Toronto Star:

“It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day,” the 28-year-old Raptors all-star said. “We all got feelings . . . all of that. Sometimes . . . it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.”

“I always have various nights,” he said in a wide-ranging and wildly open glimpse into his private life. “I’ve always been like that since I was young, but I think that’s where my demeanour comes from.

“I’m so quiet, if you don’t know me. I stay standoffish in a sense, in my own personal space, to be able to cope with whatever it is you’ve got to cope with.”

“I had friends that I thought was perfectly fine, next thing you know they’re a drug addict and can’t remember yesterday . . . I never had a drink in my life because I grew up seeing so many people drinking their life away to suppress the (troubles) they were going through, you know what I mean?”

I appreciate DeRozan’s candor. It takes courage to open up about things like this.

Hopefully, his comments serve as a message to everyone:

To those going through something similar, you’re not alone. Many have worked and are working through these issues.

To those not going through something similar, remember others are. No matter how people look from afar, we can’t know what’s in their mind, and empathy should be the initial reaction.

Russell Westbrook gets off bench, lightly pushes taunting Nick Young (video)

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Zaza Pachulia‘s fall onto Russell Westbrook, which Westbrook called dirty, drew the most attention in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder on Saturday.

But it wasn’t the only tense and controversial moment involving Westbrook.

Nick Young made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter then turned toward Oklahoma City’s bench to celebrate. Like many of his teammates sitting on the bench, Westbrook stood up for the stoppage. But Westbrook dashed toward Young and lightly pushed him on the back.

This wasn’t a shove. It was barely a push. It was just a frustrated Westbrook – his team trailed by 18 at that point and lost by 32 – telling Young he’s not welcomed in that area.

It didn’t escalate into anything more, but this is also the type of thing that easily could. In a league where a player leaving the bench for any reason during an altercation draws a one-game suspension, the NBA could crack down on a player leaving the bench to start an altercation – even if it ended at the first push, even if that push was light, even if it coincided with a stoppage.

The penalty needn’t be harsh. A technical foul is probably more appropriate than a fine, and a suspension would be overkill. But it’s probably best to make clear this is unacceptable.