Caron Butler went down with the scariest of all injuries last night, clutching his knee before he even landed. An MRI Sunday will reveal what exactly Butler suffered, but the truth is, these things very rarely work out well. A calf like Kevin Garnett and you know it immediately. A shoulder can be bad, but can also be nothing. Same for the elbow, same for the foot. But the knee? You don’t have to be a doctor, just a patient observer to know that the knee usually only goes one of two ways: a tweak or a tear. And the tear is almost always severe.
Art Garcia of NBA.com reports that the fear from the Mavericks is that Butler sustained a torn patella tendon. Goodnight, nurse. That’s a long-term injury, though it’ll take test results to determine how long-term and whether that means season or regular-season.
The worst part? His wife and family were in attendance for the game in Milwaukee (Butler is from Racine, Wisconsin). That’s got to be terrible to go through that pain and have your family watch it happen in front of them.
Losing Butler hurts the Mavericks’ versatility, which had been one of their biggest strengths. It means that Shawn Marion, no spring chicken himself, has to take over more of the small forward load and that Dominique Jones will be recalled from the Texas Legends to fill in. Jones has shown some ability but has all the issues you’d expect from a rookie.
Heading into the week, the Mavericks looked like one of if not the best team in basketball. It would appear that injury is intent on robbing them of that title. The Mavericks have lost three straight.
Only high schoolers who would’ve been consensus draft candidates to receive $125,000 minor-league offer
The NBA is limiting eligibility for the professional path program to prep players who would be considered consensus candidates for the draft if there were no early entry rule to prohibit them. Feaster will work with a group that includes Strickland and the NBA’s basketball operations and player development staffs to evaluate the potential players.
“It will be elite prospects with a readiness for a professional league,” Feaster told ESPN. “We want to target players who would not be going to a university if it weren’t for the NBA eligibility rule. That’s more or less what’s going to dictate this.”
Feaster expects a “handful” of players to be part of the initial group in the professional path. Feaster and Strickland emphasized that the program will be judicious in choosing those eligible for the pro path opportunity.
For reference, 17 high schoolers were picked in the final two drafts (2004 and 2005) before the NBA implemented its one-and-done rule. So, that suggests about 8-9 players annually will get offered the $125,000 deal.
That still leaves the other question: Who will take it?
Then, Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, informed the 76ers the guard wouldn’t play or practice until visiting a specialist Monday. Fultz will miss at least three games – against the Pelicans, Cavaliers and Nets.
76ers coach Brett Brown:
It’s kind of the first real sort of red-flag-type news.
This news about his shoulder, it did catch me off guard. But if it’s that real that he needs to go seek further consultation, then we support him. In my eyes, it’s not complicated. If that’s what it is, then we’ll support him.
76ers general manager Elton Brand:
We thought it was the regular bumps and bruises.
There’s nothing that we saw medically that didn’t allow him to play.
It’s also hard to take the 76ers seriously when they suggest it seemed like business as usual. Fultz’s shot is disturbingly broken. There is clearly a problem. Maybe letting Fultz play without fretting over the issue was the right course, but how surprised can Philadelphia be that he took a more drastic measure?
Hopefully, the specialist helps Fultz identify and fix this issue.
Bulls’ Denzel Valentine likely to miss entire season
A lottery pick two years ago, battled ankle injuries during his rookie year and underwent ankle surgery after the season. He stayed mostly healthy last year, but his season still ended early for knee surgery. Then, over the summer, he got torched in the Drew League by Frank “Nitty” Session, who questioned how Valentine was in the NBA:
Denzel Valentine was originally expected to miss one to two weeks after suffering a sprained ankle on the second day of training camp. One setback led to another, and on Monday the Bulls announced that the third year guard will undergo surgical reconstruction on that left ankle. He’ll miss four to six months, the team announced, effectively ending his season.
The long end of that timeline will keep Valentine sidelined the entire season. The short end would allow him to return late in the year, but with Chicago so dismal, there’s little incentive to rush him back.
Valentine is under contract next season, the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He might need to prove himself to make Nitty’s question still relevant.
Report: J.R. Smith and Cavaliers separating as they seek trade
“I can’t do that to the city and the fans,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been backing me since I’ve been here. I feel like it’s been a new start since I came here. The way the fans embraced me, the way that I’ve embraced the city, my teammates, I can’t do that to them.”
But Smith also said Cleveland is tanking and reaffirmed his desire to be traded. That probably set wheels in motion.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
JR Smith will no longer be actively with the Cavs, a league source tells me. He is working with the team to trade him, and in the meantime will work out on his own
Smith – who’s guaranteed $18.59 million on a contract that will surely end after this season – carries negative trade value. The Cavs shouldn’t attach the sweetener necessary to dump him. They’re better off just paying him for now.
Because just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed, Smith’s contract could prove useful in a trade.
If Smith would reduce his guarantee with a buyout, let him go. But Smith probably shouldn’t do that without a new job lined up.
So, the stalemate continues.
If everyone is happier apart, all the better. Smith wasn’t making a difference on the court for a team he correctly identified as tanking.