Dan Feldman

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Jimmy Butler used business phone number in planned stunt

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What was Jimmy Butler thinking when he revealed his phone number during his introductory press conference with the Timberwolves? Did he not realize how big a star he’d become?

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

On the eve of his introductory press conference in Minnesota, Butler stewed over reports claiming he had been a stormy presence and abrasive leader in Chicago, the kind of accusation big-market franchises traditionally leak about exiled alphas after mindless trades. “I ought to go out there tomorrow and be like, ‘If you got a problem, here’s my number, call me,’” Butler vented. Ifeanyi Koggu, a close friend who handles Butler’s business phone, laughed nervously. “That would be funny,” Koggu replied, “but not a good idea.” Butler commandeered the iPhone 7 in their suite at the Loews the next morning and changed the outgoing voice-mail message from an automated greeting to a personal one. “Jimmy Butler, sorry I couldn’t get to the phone, but leave your name and number and I’ll hit you back. If you got any beef, definitely leave a message.” During his presser at Mall of America, in front of 2,500 hungry souls waiting on the second coming of Kevin Garnett, Butler broadcast the digits to the world.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion,” he began. “But with that being said, my phone is in my back pocket. Whoever has anything to say to me, feel free: 773-899-6071.” The phone was not actually in Butler’s back pocket. It was in the front pocket of Koggu’s jeans. “Once he got to the last digit, I could feel my hip vibrate,” Koggu recalls. “And it didn’t stop.” Within five minutes, the mailbox was full, and within 10, he couldn’t answer a call if he tried. “There were too many coming in at the same time,” Koggu explains. “Calls and texts, but also cameras popping up with Facetime requests. You could never get to the main screen.” The phone became too hot to hold, so Koggu shut it down before restarting it. On a private plane to Los Angeles, Butler chatted with two fans on Facetime, including a boy who spent 45 seconds running around his house hollering for his older brother. Then the device froze for good.

That’s part of an excellent profile on Butler, and it’s not even the corniest thing Jenkins uncovered about Butler:

on all his homework assignments, he wrote Tracy McGrady’s name atop the paper instead of his own.

I highly recommend reading Jenkins’ article in full.

Tyronn Lue says he’s unsure whether LeBron James will play in Cavaliers’ opener against Celtics

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Cavaliers-Celtics is an awesome opening-night matchup. A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals, a meeting of the two teams still presumed to top the East and, best of all, Kyrie Irving and Jae Crowder (though unfortunately not an injured Isaiah Thomas) facing their old teams.

But Irving’s nemesis, at least narratively, might not play.

LeBron James has been dealing with a sprained ankle he suffered in practice a couple weeks ago, and that will keep him out of Cleveland’s preseason finale against the Magic on Friday.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

As for James’ availability against the Celtics next week, Lue said James “got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not.

“But it’s pretty sore today so we’ll just see what happens.”

Obviously, the Cavs aren’t going to chance LeBron in a preseason game if he’s sore – which just makes it harder to get a read on the situation. LeBron missing Friday’s game reveals little about his status for Boston on Tuesday.

But, hopefully, LeBron gets healthy. His individual matchup with Irving is highly anticipated after the point guard spent the summer distancing himself from LeBron.

Report: Andrew Wiggins’ contract extension contains no player option

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Andrew Wiggins finally signed his contract extension with Timberwolves, who didn’t reveal any key details.

Was it the five-year max extension widely reported to be on the table? Did Wiggins get a player option?

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The deal projects to be worth $146.45 million, but the exact amount won’t be known until the salary cap is set next summer. The lack of a player option is locked in, and that’s the big development.

Minnesota secures Wiggins from ages 23 through 28, what should be the prime of his career. That fifth season, allowable in an extension only with a max salary, is what the Timberwolves are paying for.

Locking up Wiggins for so long is what makes this deal defensible. Don’t let his volume scoring and athleticism fool you. He’s still lacking all-around skills necessary to being a top-flight player.

Minnesota would be overpaying based on Wiggins’ current production. This is a bet on Wiggins’ development, and it’s only even arguably worthwhile with that extra year of team control.

Steve Kerr got Warriors to click offensively by promising them two days off in Los Angels if they did

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Steve Kerr has helped turn the Warriors into an offensive juggernaut.

Talent like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and eventually Kevin Durant certainly helps. But Kerr implemented a style of ball and player movement that really works.

It didn’t initially, though. After becoming accustomed to Mark Jackson’s isolation-heavy style, Golden State looked uneven earlier in Kerr’s first season. Players remained too stationary without the ball, and they were off in their decisions to pass or shoot.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

By virtue of a schedule quirk, the Warriors were granted a four-day break after a road game against the Lakers, and when Kerr entered the visitors locker room at Staples Center before tip-off, he proffered a deal: “Play the way we’ve been talking about and play the right way — take care of the ball, defend, do all that stuff — and I’ll give you the next two days off.” The players literally gasped in disbelief.

That night, there wasn’t one moment, or a singular play, but a river of them — a constant flow, the ball pinballing around the court, side to side, to the tune of 343 passes. “Beautiful,” Kerr says, thinking back on it. The Warriors scored a season-high 136 points.

In the days prior, what Kerr had most wanted was to know that his words were being heeded. “You just want to know the ship is heading in the right direction,” he says. And as he watched the rout unfold, he saw everything he had been preaching, his players carrying out his vision with focus and flair.

This encapsulates what makes Kerr such a great coach. He obviously had a fantastic scheme, but he also knew how to reach his players.

Two days off in Los Angeles? That’s a carrot that draws attention.

Andrew Wiggins signs max contract extension with Timberwolves

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Andrew Wiggins‘ contract extension took long enough.

First, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said his team would offer a five-year max deal, but then said he wanted to look Wiggins in the eyes first. When the offer was finally on the table, Wiggins fired his agent then delayed signing.

Finally, it’s done.

Timberwolves release:

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced the team has signed forward Andrew Wiggins to a multi-year contract extension.

This is a five-year max extension. If so, the value won’t be known until the salary cap is set next summer, but it projects be worth $146.45 million.

Questions remain: Does the deal contain a player option? Is Wiggins eligible for the super max if he makes an All-NBA team this year? Will an agent receive a commission on the deal? And of course, is Wiggins worth it?

A max deal is the only way Minnesota could have secured Wiggins now for the next five years. Any lower salary, and the extension length would have been limited to four years. There’s value in locking up a young talent for so long (if, of course, the extension doesn’t include a player option).

But Wiggins’ defense and rebounding are far from commensurate with his athleticism. A volume scorer with good efficiency for his usage, Wiggins doesn’t distribute enough. He’s also too reliant on mid-range jumpers.

Don’t get me wrong. Wiggins is already pretty good, and he has the physical tools to become much more. But he’ll need to expand his game to justify this extension.