Author: Kurt Helin

Jimmy Butler

Bulls’ Jimmy Butler is back, throws down impressive alley-oop dunk (VIDEO)

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Jimmy Butler only missed one game but his return was impressive. He was blocking shots on one end and scored 22 points on the other to lead the Bulls to a win 114-105 over the Houston Rockets.

Oh, and he was throwing down impressive alley-oops. He makes a nice UCLA cut, gets the pass and finishes with authority.

It’s a crowded field, but it’s going to be tough to keep Butler off the Eastern Conference All-Star roster.

Report: With no trade found, Wizards likely to cut Glen Rice Jr.

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
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We told you yesterday the Wizards were shopping Glen Rice Jr. around, hoping to get anything back for a guy who may have been the Summer League plans but was not part of Washington’s long-term plans.

Instead, they will just cut him loose, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

The Wizards have been trying to move second-year guard Glen Rice Jr. in a trade before contracts become fully guaranteed Jan. 10, CSNwashington.com has confirmed with persons with knowledge of the situation. A 48-hour window in which a deal might have been struck has passed Sunday, however, making a trade unlikely. Rice is expected to be released by Wednesday.

There are a few reasons Rice will be gone despite being the MVP of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and putting up good numbers in the D-League. Of course there are on the court reasons — was able to blow by lesser defenders but the athletes at the NBA level slowed him down (yet Rice didn’t adjust his game and was a ball stopper).

Another is just business — Rice has a non-guaranteed contract, so when he gets cut they don’t have to pay him and they save money. Yet another, bigger reason is any minutes he might have been in play for have gone to veteran Rasual Butler, who played his way onto the roster and into the rotation with the Wizards with his steady performances this season.

But there is one final key reason, J. Michael reports.

The final nail in Rice’s stay here, however, was determined to be attitude, people with knowledge of the situation said. Coming into the league, the Wizards knew that was a red flag but thought he could work through it. He turned off several teams during the pre-draft process and that manifested itself in a blowup with coach Randy Wittman in a 19-point loss to the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 7. Rice was pulled from the game and went at Wittman in front of the bench. Rice never played again and was gone two weeks later.

Just a lesson for all you kids out there: don’t argue with the guy who controls your minutes.

It will be interesting to see if another NBA team takes a run at Rice, if he has to prove himself in the D-League and/or overseas.

Larry Sanders’ agent denies report his client wants to quit basketball

Larry Sanders
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Well, what did you expect him to say?

A report surfaced Monday that Bucks’ big man Larry Sanders told a member of the Bucks staff that he didn’t want to play basketball anymore. We tried to warn you that might be spin from inside a frustrated organization.

Of course, Sanders’ agent denied this, via Hoopshype.

Agent Happy Walters reaction to the Larry Sanders report: “I saw that tweet. It is not accurate at all. Rumor unsubstantiated.”

This was not the only push back on the story. The very well connected Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweeted this:

I’m not going to pretend to know what is going on with Larry Sanders, he’s a complex guy. The bottom line is no matter how passionate or not Sanders might be about basketball at this moment, he was as likely to walk away from $33 million (over the next three years) as you would be. He’s not leaving the game.

The questions are can Sanders really be part of the future of the Bucks franchise and can Jason Kidd guide him there? Sanders has shown flashes of being a quality rim protecting big, but the bottom line is the Bucks defense this season doesn’t really improve much when he is on the court this season. That needs to change.

Hawks to host “Swipe Right Night” sponsored by Tinder Wednesday. Yes, really.

tinder logo
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No, I don’t think the Atlanta Hawks cheerleaders are going to be fully participating in this.

The players… that may depend.

I saw this tweet Monday from one of the fun people to hang out with around the league, Robby Kalland, and did a quick double take.

Um… I’m not totally sure what this even means for a basketball game.

But yes, we checked and it’s real. And it will be spectacular.

(For those of you married and/or over 40, Tinder is a “dating” app that is really a hookup app where it tells you what other Tinder users are in your vicinity and if you like their picture you can “swipe right” to try to create a match, and if both parties agree to a match based on the most superficial of qualities, well, you’re consenting adults so it’s up to you. Let’s just say it was the most popular of apps for Olympic athletes staying in the village in Sochi.)

The Hawks have actually sold out their last three games via conventional means — having a good team that people will pay to see. Attendance has spiked in Atlanta this season. These Hawks are on top of the conference, getting All-Star level play out of Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford, plus coach Mike Budenholzer has them sharing the ball and playing selfless hoops. For a basketball purist this team is a thing of beauty. Hawks fans are catching on.

But for those that aren’t — Tinder night is here.

PBT Extra: Is it time for Carmelo Anthony to shut it down?

Carmelo Anthony
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I’m not a doctor, but I’ll play one on the Internet…

The amazing Jenna Corrado and I talk New Year’s resolutions for some NBA names and Carmelo Anthony was at the top of the list: Should he shut it down and get surgery? If his knee is really bothering him as much as it appears, absolutely he should. Yes, he should have concerns about surgery — any surgery has potential complications — and I get he wants to play in the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden, but he shouldn’t do those things at the expense of his long-term health.

We also talk about what a couple of coaches should do this new year — Kevin McHale in Houston and Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.