Kurt Helin

rosebutler

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: “I don’t think we have any beef or whatever”

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After the Bulls had been eliminated from the playoffs, the rumors started: There was tension between stars Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. There is only one basketball and they weren’t sharing it well, the stories went.

Since then, Butler has gone on record denying any issue.

That continued Wednesday. Butler — who got an invite to Team USA mini-camp in Las Vegas this summer — was on ESPN’s First Take this week and again denied that there was any tension between him and Rose.

“I think he’s always been supportive of me being aggressive, especially on offense,” Butler said … “We all know that I’ll be the aggressor on defense. So from what I can tell, the guy’s always been in my corner…

“The only reason that it came up is because we lost,” Butler said. “I don’t think we have any beef or whatever you want to call it. I think we just want to win. We didn’t win, so now [people say] we’re beefing, now we have a problem with each other, and I don’t think that’s the case.”

Butler has admitted in the past not everyone in the Bulls locker room has gotten along in recent years, but he said his issues were never with Rose.

If there was tension around touches and shots in Tom Thibodeau’s grind-it-out offense, then new coach Fred Hoiberg’s up-tempo, motion offense should help diffuse things. Everybody’s going to get touches if they hustle and move off the ball.

What would really help smooth over everything in Chicago? Winning. As in, be the team in the East that is the biggest threat to Cleveland winning. The Bulls on paper look like a team that can be a threat, but now they have to make that promise a reality.

Rumor: Seth Curry near guaranteed deal with Pelicans

Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Pelicans
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LAS VEGAS — Seth Curry has been putting up points at the NBA Summer League. A lot of points — 25.3 a game. That’s more than anyone else in Las Vegas. He has shown some ability to create space for himself off the dribble and knock down midrange jumpers, but he lacks the efficiency of his brother — Seth is shooting 47.8 percent overall and 18.5 percent from three.

Still, that appears to be enough to get him a deal

From Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times.

Other sources have said there are talks but nothing is certain, including guaranteed money.

New Orleans has Jrue Holiday — hopefully finally healthy — at the point, likely with Norris Cole behind him (Cole is a restricted free agent who played well for New Orleans last season, it seems unlikely there would be an offer at this point the Pelicans would not match).

Curry as a third point guard makes some sense — again, he can score. But he’s got to be more consistent from three, he’s got to set others up better, and he has to play much better defense to get any serious run. As long as it’s a minimum deal, it works fine. This Curry is not a game changer.

Report: Lakers, Rockets, Pistons interested in trading for Ty Lawson

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers
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Ty Lawson’s trade value — already not very high, Denver has been trying to move him since the draft to no avail — plummeted this week when he was arrested for his second DUI this year.

But it is not dead.

At least three teams are still interested in potentially dealing for Lawson — the Lakers, Rockets, and Pistons, reports Chris Mannix at Sports Illustrated.

While Lawson’s off-court problems have raised red flags, teams remain intrigued by his talent. Last season, Lawson averaged 15.2 points per game in 75 games with the Nuggets. His 9.6 assists per game was good for third in the NBA—the second straight season he finished in the top three in the category. And with this summer’s exploding salaries—five years, $80 million for Detroit’s Reggie Jackson; four-years, $70 million for Dallas’s Wesley Matthews—the two years, $25 million Lawson has left on his contract is a reasonable number.

As Mannix notes, do not leave Sacramento off the list of potential Lawson suitors. Kings coach Goerge Karl was a huge fan of Lawson and coached him in Denver, he might want him back (although with Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison why they would add Lawson is beyond me… or logic).

Any team that brings him in needs to be concerned about the potential locker room distraction, and what punishments he could face for the multiple DUIs. Maybe a fresh setting can change things for Lawson (especially if there is a potential playoff berth and something worth playing for on the line), but if he has an addiction issue a move alone will not be enough. There’s a lot for teams to assess.

There is not much interest in Lawson, but it is more than zero.

News, notes from Summer League Thursday: Kristaps Porzingis learned some lessons in Vegas

Golden State Warriors vs New York Knicks
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LAS VEGAS — The Summer League playoffs continued in Las Vegas Thursday, and while the crowds have dwindled a little — the Lakers weren’t playing, and frankly even Laker fans are not flocking to watch this Summer League team anymore — the action has still been good.

Here are some news and notes from Las Vegas (and with the PBT crew headed home, this will be our last notes column from Sin City, so savor it).

• Kristaps Porzingis isn’t the first guy to learn some lessons — a few of them hard lessons — in Las Vegas.

But his could have some payoff for the Knicks. Porzingis is a project, but just through the course of four games in Las Vegas there has been clear growth. One of the biggest adjustments was just the schedule — four games in six days.

“For me it’s something new, because I had at most two games per week the first part of the season, then the second part of the season only one game, so you have to recover and stuff,” Porzingis said. “That’s not an excuse, that’s how the NBA schedule is so I just got to get used to it… You’ve got to have the same energy and going out there and competing. I can learn.”

There also was the lesson where for a half the Sixer’s Jahlil Okafor bullied him in the paint. To Porzingis’ credit, he adjusted and used his length to deny and frustrate Okafor some, even blocking a couple shots in the second half. But there were hard lessons to learn.

“I just could see just how big he is, how physical he is,” Porzingis said. “Those are the five men I’m going to have to guard sometimes in the league. I’m going to be playing the four mostly, but there are moments I’ll be playing the five, so I’ve got to be ready for that physicality.”

The important thing is that Porzingis did learn and did improve as the games in Vegas went on (the Knicks have one more game but Porzingis could sit out). Coach Derek Fisher would not commit to starting Porzingis come the regular season, but he liked what he saw.

“Just how it complements so many different players and situations,” Fisher said. “I think defensively he complements guys because of his length and his rim protection. He’s pretty active and can guard multiple guys. I think offensively because of his ability to stretch the floor and do some things around the basket as well. I think he’s a player that fits with just about any lineup, no matter how you’re trying to play. So I think that versatility has been obvious during Summer League.”

Knicks fans need to be a little patient, but they have a good player here, maybe more than good.

• After the injuries to Marcus Smart and Allen Crabbe, expect teams to start pulling guys who could be part of their rosters and rotations come the fall. At this point, what they learn in another Summer League game may not be worth the injury risk.

• Can a point guard who had 7 turnovers and 1 assist still look good? Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay did Thursday. It may have been an off night for him, but he was still making smart passes and just controlling the game for stretches despite the Hawks throwing hard doubles at him every chance they got.

The project for Mudiay will be to work on his shooting, he hit just 37.2 percent overall and 14.3 percent from three through his first three games in Las Vegas.

“This weekend I wasn’t too focused on the scoring part because I wanted to facilitate,” Mudiay said, saying he prefers to be a passing point guard not just a scorer. “The reads I was making was was wide open for my teammates…

“I didn’t shoot it like I wanted to, but I’m gonna keep shooting. You’ve got to put pressure on the defense. It’s only four games, you can’t go off four games.”

He said he also wants to work on finishing around the rim, too.

• The Spurs are just winning here in Vegas (shocking, I know), but the only name on this roster who will likely be playing for the team come the fall is Kyle Anderson — and he has looked good. Like a guy who has put in the work good. Like Popovich needs to find him a little run good.

Anderson has averaged 21.3 points a game for the Spurs and helped the Spurs execute at the end on Thursday and beat the Nets.

“I think he’s great,” said Spurs coach Becky Hammon. “The last defensive possession he’s the one who rallied everyone on the court, he’s the one who’s speaking, he’s the one being more demonstrative in a leadership role — and that’s really what we want to see from him in this setting. It was nice to see him take ownership of the situation.”

• By the way, a lot has been written about Hammon and how she’s breaking barriers at Summer League as a woman coach. And that should be lauded. But here’s what you really need to know about her:

She can flat out coach. She’s as good as any other coach in Vegas.

• Phoenix’s T.J. Warren continues to be one of the best players in Las Vegas. Thursday he put up 23 points, four assists and three rebounds to lead the Suns to a blowout win. His averages for Summer League are 20.3 points on 56.9 percent shooting, and on defense he’s averaging 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks a game.

Marcus Smart dislocates two fingers in Summer League game

Portland Trailblazers v Boston Celtics
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LAS VEGAS — When Marcus Smart walked out to start for the Boston Celtics in Thursday night in a Summer League playoff game, a few eyebrows were raised among the NBA folks and media watching. Why run a player that’s a starter or at least part of your regular season rotation out there, didn’t they see what happened to Allen Crabbe just the night before?

Early in the game Smart dislocated the index and middle fingers on his right hand at the middle knuckle and is out for the rest of the game, the Celtics announced before halftime of their contest. He was undergoing X-Rays.

It’s not pretty, here’s a screen grab of the injury.

Smart averaged 27 minutes a game and scored 7.8 points a night in a solid rookie year for the Celtics. He also plays good defense. He may not be a future star, but he’s a future rotation player in the league.

He also was scheduled to be part of the NBA’s first game in Africa, but that may now be up in the air.