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Add Cavs, Blazers, Wizards, Bucks to list of teams calling about Jimmy Butler

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The Jimmy Butler saga in Minnesota has been difficult to track the past couple of days. No doubt that’s due to the irregular nature of the potential transaction, with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor circumventing his front office to seek a trade for Butler.

It was reported Saturday that several teams were interested in Butler, including some of the teams the star shooting guard reportedly prefers to land. That list included Brooklyn, Detroit, Houston, the LA Clippers, Miami and Philadelphia.

Now, you can add several more teams to the list who have at least placed phone calls to Minnesota now that they know Butler is available to be dealt.

According to multiple reports, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Washington Wizards are interested in seeing what they can do to add Butler to their roster.

Trading for Butler at this juncture is a tenuous balance for all parties. Butler can opt out of his current deal at the end of the season, and is expected to do as much. That means teams must be certain that Butler is going to re-sign with them, or be happy with his rental for whatever assets they decide to give up. It puts the Timberwolves in a tough situation as well, where they won’t to get fair exchange for Butler’s overall worth.

We don’t have many details on actual offers just yet. Things seem to be a bit hectic in Minneapolis and new information is still streaming in. Training camp for the Timberwolves starts on Tuesday, and reports say that they would like to have Butler out of town by then.

What teams are willing to give up is another factor, and that self-imposed timeframe could widen what Taylor sees as a good return for Butler.

For example, any deal for Butler with the Blazers would not include Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, or Jusuf Nurkic, according to NBC Sports Northwest’s Dwight Jaynes. That leaves some value for the Timberwolves, including Al-Farouq Aminu or perhaps Maurice Harkless. But if Portland is reportedly not willing to give up any of their most important core, you can expect other teams are heading to Taylor’s door with similar offers.

More teams being added to the potential list of Butler landing spots is not surprising. When a superstar becomes available, just about every general manager will at least place a courtesy call to the trading office. It doesn’t help that Taylor appears publicly to be in a position of little leverage, so no doubt rival general managers are licking their chops to try to snag Butler away for cheap.

Keep your eyes peeled. This one is going to happen quick.

Damian Lillard roasts fan who chided him for lack of workout videos

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Summer in the NBA is sort of an odd place. We wait for confirmation of players switching teams, then most of what we see is either about players having fun, or players hitting the gym.

For some fans, they only want to see one or the other. While the more mature NBA fan probably understands that players are unique, dynamic individuals with lots of time on their hands, some diehards have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

Social media has made it so that fans are able to go after players who they think aren’t keeping up with an offseason regimen. But of course, that allows players to respond to fan concerns.

That’s exactly what happened when one Twitter user complained at Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard for not working out enough. The Twitter user hadn’t seen video of Lillard working out, so they assumed the Blazers star wasn’t hitting the gym.

He was wrong, and Lillard let them know about it.

Via Twitter:

This seems like an extremely basic fact, but the idea that Lillard isn’t in the gym because people see him enjoying his life — like a normal human being — is patently insane. But the summer is long and the heat makes fools of us all, I guess. That and having to watch early-season NFL games.

The interaction did make for some good Twitter banter, at least. What a goober.

Lillard went even further, posting … uh, whatever this is:

Trail Blazers spend to keep problems from compounding, but not enough to get better

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Trail Blazers didn’t extend Shabazz Napier his $3,452,308 qualifying offer, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Portland replaced him with Seth Curry, who signed for $2,795,000 for one year. It appeared to be a cost-cutting swap.

But Napier signed with the Nets for just $1,942,422 next season (with an unguaranteed second year, to boot). Maybe the Trail Blazers were actually paying to upgrade their third guard.

Or maybe they just misread the market.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Portland is still hamstrung from its summer of 2016, when the salary cap skyrocketed and the Trail Blazers splurged on several subpar players. They haven’t won a playoff series since, and the last two offseasons have included a slow bleed of talent from Portland.

At least the bleed is truly slow.

The Trail Blazers’ biggest loss was Ed Davis, who signed a one-year, $4,449,000 contract with Brooklyn. He was a solid backup who fortified the rotation. Portland will surely bank on second-year big Zach Collins to play a larger role, and maybe he’ll be up for the challenge. But it would have been reassuring if Davis were available as insurance in the event the younger Collins isn’t ready.

On the bright side, the Trail Blazers are fast-tracking Collins only into a larger reserve role – not into the starting lineup.

Portland re-signed starting center Jusuf Nurkic to an astonishingly reasonable four-year, $48 million contract. It seemed possible the Trail Blazers would be content to let Nurkic take his qualifying offer, play cheap next season then walk next summer as Collins ascends. But Nurkic agreed to this team-friendly number, and Portland wisely spent more than necessary this season to secure him for the following three years.

The Trail Blazers also paid cash as part of a trade for the No. 37 pick to get Gary Trent Jr., a superb shooter who should be more ready to contribute than No. 24 pick Anfernee Simons, a de facto high schooler.

Portland is still on track to pay the luxury tax this season. The cost-saving moves of the summer might just reduce the bill. Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is far more willing to spend than most, and it’s to his team’s benefit.

The panic of Portland quickly agreeing to a minimum contract with Nik Stauskas in the opening moments of free agency was overwrought. Nearly all teams fill the end of their roster with minimum players. The Trail Blazers just aggressively targeted the minimum player they wanted before conducting other business or hoping a better player fell into the minimum tier. It’s a strategy more teams should take.

But Portland getting the clear-minimum player it wanted is not exactly inspiring. None of this offseason was.

The Trail Blazers seem to be just waiting out the contracts of Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard and hoping for the best. With Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in their primes, that stagnancy is disappointing.

I’m just not sure there’s a better alternative short of a massive luxury-tax bill for a team that’d still land in the same success range Portland has been the last few years. That seems unfair to ask of Allen.

Offseason grade: C

Cavaliers to replace LeBron banner with photomosaic of fans (PHOTO)

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LeBron James long hung in dramatic fashion in Cleveland as the former Cavaliers star was the highlight of the sporting world in Northeasten Ohio. Now LeBron is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cavaliers — along with the city of Cleveland — needed to find a way to replace the iconic banner hanging at Ontario Street and Huron Road.

The solution is apparently going to be a photomosaic of Cavaliers fans constituting a “Guardian of Traffic” that stands over a local bridge.

From Cleveland.com:

The central image, of one of the Art Deco “Guardians of Traffic” that stand sentinel over the Lorain-Carnegie (Hope Memorial) Bridge, will be a collage of crowdsourced photos of Clevelanders and Cavs fans. The tagline, in capital letters on a black background, is “All for the land.”

This is pretty cool. Plus, Cleveland needed something good after LeBron left and the Browns tied the Pittsburgh Steelers in a bumbling effort to close the first game of the NFL season on Sunday. Long-suffering Browns fan CJ McCollum summed up that one nicely.

It’s going to be a weird year in Cleveland.

Damian Lillard is breaking news on Twitter (for some reason)

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It’s not exactly clear why Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has decided to dip his toes into the world of sourced reporting on Twitter. However, we know that the summer in the NBA is always the weirdest time of year, so here we are.

This week, Lillard decided to drop news of not one but two moves in the journalism world. First, Lillard revealed that friend Chris Haynes would be taking over the main national NBA post for Yahoo! Sports. A couple days later, Lillard tweeted news that USA Today’s Sam Amick would be joining The Athletic.

Via Twitter:

Reading between the lines, it’s likely that Haynes was the source for each of these moves as he is one of Lillard’s closest confidants in the sports media world. Pro Basketball Talk has confirmed that Amick will be heading to The Athletic, so at least Lillard’s sources — whoever they are — seem accurate.

In the meantime, no doubt this will fuel the running joke around the Blazers about “journalists in the locker room”. Lillard’s backcourt teammate CJ McCollum completed journalism school while he was at Lehigh.

It’s a brave, weird new world.