Kurt Helin

Are Bulls shopping Jimmy Butler? Despite report, don’t bet on it.

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Sean Highkin, who covers the Chicago Bulls for the Athletic, joined us for the PBT Podcast. One of my questions: Would the Bulls trade Jimmy Butler?

Highkin said only if an offer absolutely blew them away. And even then they’d pause. The day after the Bulls move Derrick Rose over the summer they considered trading Butler and stripping the team down for what would be a total rebuild, Highkin said. However, the organization was not sold on that direction, then the Dwyane Wade situation started to get real, so they returned to more of a win-now mode focused around Butler (for example, getting Rajon Rondo). There’s clearly some work to do, but the idea was to keep Butler as a core piece.

So why would they trade him now?

Except that’s what Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report said the Bulls are thinking — they are shopping Butler. Bucher cited a “league source” who said the Bulls let it be known Butler could be had for the right price.

“Shopping” is a strong word in NBA parlance — it means you’re actively trying to move him, not just testing the waters.

Highkin responded with a piece at The Athletic saying that is not the case.

A Bulls source told The Athletic that, despite a Thursday report from Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, the team is not currently shopping Butler or fielding offers for the two-time All-Star.

I like Bucher, and no doubt a reliable source told him this, but I tend to believe the Highkin side of the story here (and not just because he used to work for me). Rather, it is more logical. For one, Butler is under contract for a couple more years before he can opt out, what is the advantage of moving him now?

Butler is a top 15 or 20 player in the NBA, at age 27 and having the best year of his career – the Bulls are not going to be able to get equal value back. So again, why do it?

Trading Butler means a rebuild, which means Wade is gone because he’s not sticking around to play babysitter to young pups on a bad team for a few years. Even if he is a Chicago guy. Also, exactly what young pieces are on the Bulls that make you think “this guy is right for a rebuild?” Doug McDermott? Bobby Portis? Nikola Mirotic? Denzel Valentine? Those guys have roles in the NBA, but if that becomes the go-to, it’s going to some rough years ahead. Also, looking at those guys, you want Gar Forman and company drafting for a rebuild?

The Bulls may be making trade deadline moves. Taj Gibson could be had. Rondo will be shopped (then, when that likely fails, bought out).

But Butler? Don’t bet on it.

 

 

Chris Bosh talks about getting a ‘taste of retirement’

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Chris Bosh still is unclear about what his future holds, and while mentioning how he’s getting a “taste of retirement” stopped short of saying he will no longer pursue an NBA career.

Bosh has been sidelined since last February because of complications related to blood clots. He’s still technically a member of the Miami Heat, though has not been around the team in any official capacity since he failed a physical in September and was not permitted to resume on-court activities.

Bosh, speaking at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, was asked how he’s spent time away from the court.

“For me, I kind of just follow my passions and follow what I love to do and use my free time to kind of answer those questions and go through my bad moods and maybe a little light case of depression,” Bosh said. “Really, to search for what I’m looking for. And I’ve come to some interesting conclusions. It’s all about following my heart and what made me happy.”

Bosh did not specifically mention whether he will or will not try to play again, nor did he mention his health status. It’s expected that the Heat will waive him sometime after February, after the 1-year anniversary of his last game appearance passes. The $76 million that Bosh is owed for this and the next two seasons remains guaranteed, but he would no longer be taking up a massive amount of Miami’s salary-cap space.

Bosh was speaking on a panel alongside St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler and Golden State Warriors guard Draymond Green. The panel, titled “Life Off The Court,” was moderated by Maverick Carter, the CEO of SpringHill Entertainment and the business partner of Bosh’s former Miami teammate LeBron James.

Bosh said he went to the CES event to meet with people and leverage some business relationships.

“I don’t know what’s going to come out of it,” Bosh said. “But we’re here.”

Bosh had his 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons cut short at the All-Star break after the discovery of blood clots. He missed the last 30 games of the 2014-15 season because of the first known occurrence of the clot issue, and the last 43 games – including playoffs – last season after a second separate situation.

Bosh said “there’s still a lot of things” that he has to figure out.

“I’m still learning more about myself and my situation, and really off the court how to function there because I’m kind of getting the taste of retirement now,” Bosh said. “Just trying to navigate those waters because it gets a little complicated sometimes. … Hoping one day that the stars align and I figure some things out and things kind of just go my way and I’ll be able to do what I want to do. I don’t know what that is yet.”

Chris Paul expected to return to Clippers lineup Friday vs. Sacramento

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Chris Paul has missed seven of the last eight Clippers’ games due to a hamstring strain — games Blake Griffin also missed — and the Clippers went 2-6 in that stretch with a bottom seven offense and defense. The Clippers have had success with Griffin out in the past, but they did it with a heavy dose of Paul/DeAndre Jordan pick-and-rolls. Take CP3 out of the equation, and things get ugly fast.

Which is why Paul returning to the lineup Friday against Sacramento is such good news for a Clippers team looking to turn things around. He should be good to go, as reported by ESPN.

LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers said guard Chris Paul might be able to play Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

Rivers added that Paul fully participated in Wednesday’s shootaround prior to the Clippers’ 115-106 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

“Chris looked great today, had a full workout, played up and down,” Rivers said before the game. “He looked terrific. We’ll wait to see how he feels tomorrow. Obviously, again, if it was a playoff game, Chris would be playing. But we just want to make sure he doesn’t have any soreness. If he doesn’t, then he’s cleared.”

The Clippers fell to the four seed in the West during the CP3-less slide, and they are now four games back of three seed Houston (and just a game up on five-seed Utah). That matters: If the Clippers are the fourth seed when the playoffs start, that means if they win their first-round series they likely get Golden State in the second round. And if the Clippers are out in the second round again this season, there is going to be some real soul-searching both by the organization, as well as Paul and Griffin, both of whom will opt out and be free agents. We could see big changes to the Clippers next summer.

Damian Lillard expected to return to court for Trail Blazers Thursday vs. Lakers

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Damian Lillard has missed five games with a sprained ankle, and the Trail Blazers went 2-3 in those with an offense that fell 5.3 points per 100 off its season average. C.J. McCollum had some monster nights, but they need both guys at the head of the attack.

The Blazers will get that back Thursday night when the Lakers come to town for a nationally televised game.

The challenge for Portland is that their defense has been better of late, including during the five-game stretch without Lillard. Having two smaller guards in Lillard and McCollum creates problems. If Portland can keep defending, they can climb back up into the playoff mix in the West.

They were also going to need Lillard to do that.

Don’t like two-minute report? Sounds like 48-minute report eventually on way.

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Adam Silver’s march toward a more transparent NBA is not taking a step back — it’s going full steam ahead.

After the Christmas Day games, when the NBA admitted that Richard Jefferson fouled Kevin Durant on the final play of regulation and KD should have gone to the line with a chance to win the game, there has been a backlash against the NBA’s Two-Minute Reports, which break down the officiating in close games and explain each call. Durant said it was unfair to officials. Dwyane Wade flat-out hates the reports. Stan Van Gundy, Gregg Popovich, and Steve Kerr have all questioned them at times. The list of coaches/players/GMs who despises those reports is too long to list here, and they all need to get in line behind the referees union.

The NBA’s response? Probably going to start releasing full game reports someday. That’s what Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, told Zach Lowe at ESPN.

(As an aside, Vandeweghe confirmed the controversial last-two-minute reports aren’t going anywhere. In fact, he said the NBA would “probably” start releasing full game reports at some point.)

I’m one of the few supporters of the Two-Minute Reports — I would rather have a league that owns up to its mistakes in critical moments rather than taking some dictatorial, monolithic stance that everything is right. Transparency is a good thing.

But there can be too much of it. I don’t like the idea of a 48-minute report. Do we really need to go back and hash out a first-quarter block/charge call and how that may have impacted the game? Do we need to expose the NBA officials — who make hundreds of decisions a game and get almost all of them right — to more criticism?

I hate to sound like a stodgy old baseball fan, but the game is refereed by humans, and on some level we have to accept and live with the mistakes officials make. They are not robots, and if Westworld has taught us anything it’s that we may not want to put too much faith in androids anyway.

But it sounds like the 48-minute report is on the way, want it or not.