Report: Some Bulls believe Jimmy Butler gets preferential treatment

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Jimmy Butler flew separately from his Bulls teammates for last night’s game against the Pelicans. It was called a family issue, and Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said Butler’s travel was approved.

Butler started and had 23 points in 11 assists in a Bulls win.

So why did anyone care how Butler got to New Orleans?

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Some players, and I’m not saying it wasn’t a family commitment, but there were some – I know at least one player in particular, a starter – who felt like he was a bit bothered by the fact that Jimmy wasn’t on the plane. And it was a misperception. He felt it was emblematic of a little bit of the preferential treatment that a lot of people say Butler’s been getting now that he’s emerged as the best players on the Bulls from the front office and things like that.

There’s a division. There’s all types of dysfunction in Chicago. There’s kind of a division in that locker room.

The younger players see Butler as the leader. He’s clearly been their best player the last two years. They see him as the leader.

The other guys, the veterans who’ve been there, it’s not so much of disrespect of Jimmy, but they don’t see him as the team as the team leader. They remember when you were averaging two points a game.

The Bulls have at least one problem, maybe two:

  • Butler receives too much preferential treatment.
  • His teammates are so paranoid about Butler, they accuse him of receiving preferential treatment when he doesn’t.

In many circumstances, it’s not unusual for a player to travel separately when personal matters arise. Obviously, it’s impossible to judge this specific case without more information.

But Butler deserves some preferential treatment – like a high salary. He’s Chicago’s best player, and he should be treated as such. That doesn’t mean he should be above the rules, but there’s nothing wrong with the team allowing him concessions not made to others. His teammates shouldn’t resent some preferential treatment (like salary and media opportunities).

That gets complicated with Derrick Rose on the roster. He was the best Bull until injuries took a toll, though he’s still the team’s highest-paid player and point guard – statuses that naturally lend themselves to leadership. How does the team conform to both Rose and Butler?

This is why re-signing Joakim Noah might not be such a hot idea. Though Noah’s leadership deserves praise, it could naturally undermine Butler’s. Every player knows Noah as a leader. Some seem to be unsure about Butler.

Of course, if Butler is a poor leader even to the young players who look at him, that’s a whole other can of worms. But even if that’s the case, Butler can still grow into the role – if he gets a chance from his bothered teammates.

Maybe Butler needs to earn that opportunity. But I think, just as much, if not more, some of his teammates need to become more open to it.

Report: Ben Simmons back injury “isn’t a day-to-day thing”

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the back injury for Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons “isn’t a day-to-day thing”.

Simmons missed the Sixers first game following the All-Star break on Thursday. He then left Saturday’s game in Milwaukee after playing just 4:44.

Over the weekend, Philadelphia ruled Simmons out for Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks and said he would undergo further evaluation. Per Wojnarowski’s report, that evaluation is ongoing and a course of treatment is yet to be decided upon.

Expect Philadelphia to lean on Raul Neto, Alec Burks and Shake Milton as primary ballhandlers while Simmons is out. None possess the size and skill combination of Simmons, but all have had moments throughout their careers. Neto drew the start in place of Simmons on Thursday. Burks was acquired at the trade deadline to give the team much-needed bench depth. Milton has flashed at time in his second season, after beginning his NBA career on a Two-Way contract.

Philadelphia loses Simmons while in a battle with the Miami Heat for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The fifth-place 76ers are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the fourth seed, and two games ahead of the sixth-place Indiana Pacers.

Pacers: Jeremy Lamb suffers torn ACL, torn meniscus, fracture

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Kobe Bryant making two free throws after tearing his Achilles was one of the greatest moments of his legendary career.

On a day Bryant was honored, we learned Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb made a similarly gutsy pair of free throws during Indiana’s loss to the Raptors yesterday.

Pacers release:

During the second quarter of the Pacers game at Toronto on Sunday, Indiana Pacers forward Jeremy Lamb sustained a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, a torn lateral meniscus and a lateral femoral condylar fracture.

He will undergo surgery on a date to be determined. He will be out the remainder of the season. Any further updates will be provided after surgery.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb misses all of next season. This is just a devastating set of calamities.

At least Lamb has a guaranteed $10.5 million salary each of the next two seasons.

Indiana (sixth place, 33-24) will have an even tougher time winning a playoff series now. The Pacers could challenge in the first round, but they’ll almost certainly be significant underdogs.

They have depth at shooting guard, for what that’s worth. Victor Oladipo just returned. Justin Holiday is a solid reserve. Finding his lane at point guard, Malcolm Brogdon can move off the ball when T.J. McConnell or Aaron Holiday plays point guard.

Michael Jordan braces for return of ‘Crying Jordan’ meme after Kobe Bryant eulogy (video)

Michael Jordan at Kobe Bryant memorial
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The NBA just held All-Star Weekend in Chicago, where Michael Jordan starred for years with the Bulls. Jordan wasn’t a visible part of the festivities, though. He just prefers to remain out of the spotlight.

Yet, Jordan spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service today. That’s how important Bryant – whom Jordan described as a younger brother – was to Jordan.

Jordan even addressed the elephant in the room – that he was reproducing the “Crying Jordan” meme. Thank goodness for another laugh amid the tears.

Diana Taurasi praises Gianna Bryant, roasts LeBron James in well-timed joke (video)

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Vanessa Bryant’s eulogy of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant was heavy and left few dry eyes.

Diana Taurasi followed with a welcome moment of levity.

Taurasi:

The same passion we all recognized in Kobe, obviously, Gigi inherited. Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn-away fade-away jumper at 11?

LeBron barely got it today.