Friday, February 23, 2018

Jimmy Butler Injures Knee; Blame Thibs?

After apparently not playing in the All-Star game for rest, Minnesota Timberwolves' star Jimmy Butler went down with what looked to be a non-contact, right knee injury.

Butler had been bumped by Nene before going down, but the injury appeared to be unrelated to that.

This is a tough break for Minnesota, who has had their best season since 2003-04.

Jimmy Butler was averaging 22.4 points, 5.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game at 47.6% from field, 35.8% from 3, and 86.5% free throw shooting.

Butler was acquired over the offseason from Chicago, where he previously thrived under coach Tom Thibodeau. The star SG/SF has made a tremendous impact for Minnesota, who currently sit at 4th in the Western Conference at 36-26. 

With the Western Conference a tight race from the 3rd to 9th seed, the Timberwolves could quickly drop down the standings. Just 3 games separates the 3rd place Spurs and 9th place Clippers, and Minnesota could see themselves drop below the 4th seed and lose playoff homecourt advantage- or potentially even drop out of the playoffs. 

It didn't take long for fans and the media to turn on coach Tom Thibodeau.

Thibodeau has been criticized for playing his starters extended minutes, with Jimmy Butler leading the NBA in minutes per game at 37.3.

Derrick Rose, Zach Lavine, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and now Jimmy Butler, have had major injuries while playing heavy minutes under coach Tom Thibodeau.

While there is some hope about severity; Kristaps Porzingis had similar hopes before being diagnosed with his ACL injury as well.

Butler suffered the knee injury after just 25 minutes of play, in the first game back in over a week.


If Butler undergoes surgery Monday, he could be available 4 weeks later on March 26 vs Memphis.

Butler would miss 12 games from a 4 week recovery, returning for the final 8 games.

If Butler has to miss 6 weeks, he would return April 9th vs Memphis. That would be the next to last game for Minnesota. Butler would miss 18 games in that case.

In a tough Western Conference, 12 games could be enough for Minnesota to slide out of the playoffs. 18 games or more could be a death blow to the franchise's hopes of competing in the playoffs.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Brandon Rush Joins Portland Trail Blazers On 10-day Contract

Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Monday night that the Portland Trail blazers had signed veteran SG/SF Brandon Rush to a 10-Day contract.

The 6-6 guard/forward is a 32 year-old out of Kansas, taken 13th overall in the 2008 NBA draft by Portland. He was promptly traded to the Indiana Pacers for Jerryd Bayless on draft night.

Rush has played 9 seasons in the NBA, but has not played in the 2017-2018 regular season. The previous 9 seasons have been spent with Indiana, Golden State, Utah, and most recently the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2016-2017 season.

In 2016-2017, Rush averaged 4.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 47 games (33 starts). Known for his 3-point shooting, he averaged 38.6% from 3 last year and has a career average of 40.2%.

Currently, the Trail Blazers rotation includes 3 players who are shooting a higher percentage from 3-point range than Rush did last year. McCollum at 42.1%, Aminu at 39.4%, and Napier at 40.3%.

It is unclear whether Rush will see any playing time in a crowded backcourt that already features Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Shabazz Napier, and Pat Connaughton at the PG and SG positions. Rush may be looking at minutes at SF, where Moe Harkless and Evan Turner remain mediocre options. With Portland coach Terry Stotts opting for a 3-guard lineup more often, perhaps Rush will see minutes off the bench as a shooter at the small forward position.

After moving Noah Vonleh to the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline, the Portland Trail Blazers can sign Brandon Rush and still narrowly avoid paying the luxury tax.

If signed Tuesday, the 10-day contract would see him potentially suit up through March 1st. That would leave Rush available to play against Utah, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Minnesota. He could be re-signed to a second 10-day contract.

Monday, February 19, 2018

LeBron James wins All-Star game MVP, Trade Deadline

Two weeks ago it looked like NBA superstar LeBron James might just be mortal after all. With the superstar facing an impending free agency and tasked with an aging roster, it looked like James' streak of 7 consecutive NBA finals would come to an end. With limited trade chips and the face of the franchise rumored to be looking to leave again this summer, the Cavaliers and LeBron James were looking vulnerable in the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.

How much can hope really change in 2 weeks?

The surprise of the NBA trade deadline, the roster overhaul that Cleveland GM Koby Altman pulled was nothing short of a miracle for James.

Entering the NBA trade deadline, Cleveland's roster had 2 All-Star caliber players (Kevin Love, LeBron) and a bevy of selfish, overpaid, or washed-up players. Chemistry became an issue when reports came out that Isaiah Thomas had called out Kevin Love for leaving a game with illness, questioning the validity of his illness in a brutal loss. Thomas was recovering from illness, playing atrocious, and a new addition to the team. Calling out the 2nd best player on the team who had helped Cleveland win its only championship in history, wasn't the smartest move.

Isaiah Thomas tried to settle the storm by publicly denying any beef with Love, but the damage was done. Later reports came out that Dwayne Wade had actually thrown the first shot at Love- another surprise considering Wade's new addition to the team as well. Jae Crowder had also been brought in by the Boston trade in the off-season but proved to be a poor fit in the Cavalier's offense. Derrick Rose was a distraction on and off the court as he battled injuries and mental stamina; Rose left the team on multiple occasions.

Cleveland cleaned out the players with personal agendas- shipping out Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, and Derrick Rose. Crowder, Channing Frye, and Shumpert were also shipped out in an effort to get younger, athletic, and productive players.

A roster overhaul without giving up the coveted 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick? Impressive.

Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill are quality additions that immediately proved their worth in consecutive wins following the trade. With 2 more roster spots, the Cavs will likely be able to add a solid veteran contributor from the buyout market.

The trade deadline was a clear win for LeBron and the Cavs, but the All-Star weekend was the cherry on top.

Despite injuries to LeBron's All-Star team (Wall, Porzingis, Love, Cousins), Team LeBron rallied past Team Stephen for the 148-145 win. LeBron put up the clear-cut best numbers of the game, producing 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. Winning All-Star MVP for the 3rd time (2006, 2008) was impressive for a 33 year-old future Hall of Famer who continues to deny Father Time.

The game was just a reminder that LeBron James isn't moving aside for the young guys just yet, with his 15th season as strong as ever.

Two weeks ago it looked like LeBron was stuck on a washed up team with an uncertain future.

Not anymore.

Jimmy Butler skips All-Star game; fine coming?

Sunday night featured one of the most competitive NBA All-Star games in recent history, but one of the NBA's best players didn't play- by choice.

Despite being one of the NBA's best 2-way players, the key to Minnesota's best winning percentage since the 2003-2004 season decided to sit out of the All-Star game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have posted a 39.6% winning percentage over 29 seasons, but currently sit at 59.0% and proud owners of the 4th seed in the Western Conference at 36-25.

Sitting just one game behind the San Antonio Spurs for 3rd place in the West, it would make sense for Butler to take the All-Star weekend easy so that he can have enough in the tank to propel the Wolves to homecourt advantage. This was the rationale that Butler gave himself, when citing how important this season was to him. It seems odd to request to completely sit out the game when even the Spurs allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to play some (a franchise known for resting players).

However, many fans and media members have been quick to point out that the game being in Los Angeles and Butler not feeling well can hardly be viewed as a coincidence.

Whether Butler didn't play because he was incredibly hungover from a night out in Los Angeles or he chose to sit for the minimal injury risk- it is very unusual for a player to completely skip a game without injuries. Even Joel Embiid managed to play significant minutes in the game.

We'll see if the league opts to fine Butler for not playing.

For now, it remains an interesting wrinkle from a stellar All-Star game.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sprite Slam Dunk: Preview

   Arguably the most anticipated contest of all of All-Star weekend, this game is featuring the biggest names in decades to conclude the Saturday events. All-Stars Damian Lillard, John Wall, and Paul George have made this such an anticipated event this year. Returning champion Terrence Ross has had a great season of late too and it will be very difficult for any of the other contestants to beat his acrobatic high flying dunks that he hasn't been shy to show off in games. Just how long has it been since there were so many stars in the contest? Via
This marks the first time in 26 years that three All-Stars are competing in the Sprite Slam Dunk. In the 1988 competition in Chicago, All-Stars Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, and Dominique Wilkins squared off, with Jordan claiming the crown in front of the hometown fans.
  Here are the teams:
Eastern Conference: Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors), John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Western Conference: Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings)
   The format for this game has changed this year into a team competition too, and here's the details of the controversial change from
This year's event will feature the participants competing as a team -- three players representing the Eastern Conference and three players representing the Western Conference -- in an above-the-rim two-round format. In a significant first in the event's history, the competition will tip off with a Freestyle Round where the dunkers for each conference will have 90 seconds to showcase as many dunks as they want. At the conclusion of the Freestyle Round, the panel of judges will then choose a winner by voting "East" or "West." The winning conference will earn the advantage of deciding whether its dunkers will dunk first or second in the head-to-head battles that take place in the Battle Round.
The Battle Round will feature head-to-head matchups pitting East dunkers vs. West dunkers, with the judges choosing a winner for each battle. Upon losing a head-to-head battle, that dunker is then eliminated from the competition. The first team to win three battles will win the competition and be crowned 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions. Complete rules for the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk and State Farm All-Star Saturday Night can be found on
After the competition, fans will also have the opportunity to vote for the player of their choice as "Dunker of the Night" through SMS, Twitter, and the NBA GameTime app.

  Personally I don't like the change and think they should have stayed with the classic format. It just feels like they're trying to make this a kids game, where there aren't as many "losers". The "winner" is the team so the individual best dunker won't actually be recognized as the sole champ, an idea I don't like and others have questioned as well.
   For the West team to win this they're going to have to be extremely creative as they haven't showcased the athletic throw downs during games that the East constantly has. Ross and George seem like the 2 best dunkers in the group from what they've shown before, but the West's dunkers aren't too shabby either. Lillard has competed in 2 previous events so his athleticism(while already questioned) will be put to the test while facing all these elite dunkers tonight. Hopefully cheesy props will be avoided and this year can help bring back the dunk contest and set up the contest for strong contestants for years to come. We'll just have to see tonight, tune into TNT or TNT Overtime to see how this all goes down.

Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout: Preview

   The much anticipated Three-Point Shootout, with some of the best shooters in the competition from top to bottom in years. Not really much to say about this other than it should be a fun short event to watch. The event's simple, breakdown by
Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four Official Spalding NBA game balls worth one point each and one Spalding NBA All-Star 2014 commemorative "money ball" worth two points at each location. New to this year's contest, each player will also be able to switch one of the five shooting locations to a full rack of five "money balls," each of which will be worth two points.
The contestants in this years event:
Eastern Conference: Arron Afflalo (Orlando), Bradley Beal (Washington), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Joe Johnson (Brooklyn)
Western Conference: Marco Belinelli (San Antonio), Stephen Curry (Golden State), Damian Lillard (Portland), Kevin Love (Minnesota)
The winner from each Conference will face off in the championship round. Here's the incentives behind winning:
For the second consecutive year, the Eastern and Western conferences will compete during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night in an evening of challenges that will raise money for charity. NBA Cares and State Farm will make a joint donation of $500,000 as part of the event, with $100,000 awarded to each event's winning conference's charities and $25,000 going to the charities of the runner-up for each event. The Eastern Conference will be playing for the American Heart Association and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF while the Western Conference will compete for Teach for America and Wounded Warrior Project®. All-Stars Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and George, winner of the 2012-13 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, will serve as captains of the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. The charities were selected by George and Curry, the NBA, and State Farm.
Tune in to TNT or TNT Overtime to see who the champion will be, or expect it to be on Sportscenter and later tonight.