Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight acquired forward Jimmy Butler and the draft rights to center Justin Patton, the No. 16 selection in this year’s draft from the Chicago Bulls, in exchange for guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and the draft rights to forward Lauri Markkanen, the No. 7 selection in this year’s draft.

Butler, a 6-7 forward, has played six seasons in the NBA, all with the Bulls. The three-time NBA All-Star (2015, 2016 and 2017) averaged career highs with 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game this past season en route to earning 2016-17 All-NBA Third Team honors. Butler scored 30+ points 14 times in 2016-17, including a season-high 52 points vs. Charlotte on Jan. 2.

Butler, 27, owns career averages of 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals in 399 games. The Houston, Texas, native has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team three times (2014–2016) and was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player after the 2014-15 season after increasing his scoring average from 13.1 ppg to 20.0 ppg and his rebounds from 4.9 rpg to 5.8 rpg while averaging the same minutes in each season. Chicago originally drafted Butler with the 30th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Marquette University.

Patton, 6-11, played in 35 contests over one season at Creighton, averaging 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game en route to earning Big East Freshman of the Year honors. Patton, 20, led the Big East and ranked second nationally with a field goal percentage of 67.6%, which stands as the highest field goal percentage of any freshman from a major conference in NCAA history. The Riverdale, Georgia, native also shot 53.3% from the three-point during his line season as a Bluejay. Patton sat out the 2015-16 season as a redshirt.

Dunn (6-4, 205), selected fifth overall by the Timberwolves in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in 78 games and averaged 3.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 17.1 minutes per game last season. Dunn won back-to-back Big East Player of the Year awards while at Providence (2014-15 and 2015-16). He averaged 15.6 points and 7.5 assists in his junior season, and finished with 16.4 points and 6.2 assists in his senior season.

Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

LaVine (6-5, 185), picked 13th overall by Minnesota in the 2014 NBA Draft, averaged 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 47 games last season. LaVine shot .459 from the field, .387 from long range and .836 from the foul line. For his career, LaVine is averaging 13.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 206 games and shooting .445 overall, .378 from 3-point range and .821 from the stripe. After his first year in the league, LaVine was named to the 2014-15 All-Rookie Second Team.

Markkanen (7-0, 230), the seventh overall selection in this year’s Draft, averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in his one season at Arizona. Markkanen posted shooting marks of .492 from the field, .423 from distance and .835 from the foul line. The Finland native was named Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press, Sporting News and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and First-Team All-Pac-12 last season. Over the last 25 years, Markkanen and Kevin Durant are the players to record at least 69 3-pointers and 266 rebounds in their freshman year.

Report: Bulls will trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

After 14 months of relative inactivity, Tom Thibodeau made what may be the biggest splash in Timberwolves history on Thursday night.

Minnesota acquired all-star forward Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 pick, which it used to select Creighton center Justin Patton, in Thursday night’s draft in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick, a source confirmed.

Chicago used the No. 7 pick on Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen, who was a likely candidate to land in Minnesota prior to the trade.

– St Paul Pioneer Press

Spurs, Cavs discussing a Danny Green deal

The Spurs have been investigating the market for Green as they look to open salary-cap space ahead of the start of free agency. But the asking price has been a little too high in early talks with the Cavs, sources said. Green has two years and $20 million left on his contract. He averaged 7.3 points and shot 38 percent on 3-pointers in 68 games for the Spurs last season. He is also a strong defender. — ESPN.com

Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday night that the team is listening to trade offers for star Kristaps Porzingis. Sources told ESPN on Tuesday that the Knicks had talks with each team positioned in the top five in the lottery, trying to acquire both a pick and a young player with star potential in exchange for Porzingis.

Porzingis, 21, averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in 2016-17, his second NBA season. He skipped exit meetings with Jackson and general manager Steve Mills in April because of frustration over the dysfunction and drama surrounding the Knicks, who finished 31-51.

ESPN NY

Utah Jazz seek shooter

Here’s the Deseret Morning News reporting on the Jazz, who continue to build upward as they try to make themselves a serious contender.

The Utah Jazz aren’t dominating the NBA social media buzz a la the New York Knicks, but they are hard at work trying to improve their team as tonight’s draft approaches.

Their target: shooting.

The Jazz remain “very active” in trying to trade for or move up to draft a shooter who can make an immediate impact on the roster, sources told the Deseret News.

Utah has two late first-round picks — its own selection, No. 24, and the Warriors’ slot, No. 30 — and the Jazz are trying to parlay those choices into the best available shooter in the 12-17 range, sources said. To do that in this loaded draft, Utah would likely need to sweeten the pot with another asset or two.

Anthony Randolph re-signs in Spain

Here’s Eurocupbasketball.com reporting the latest on former NBA power forward Anthony Randolph, who continues to play pro bball in Spain:

Anthony Randolph re-signs in Spain

Real Madrid reached a new agreement with forward Anthony Randolph to keep working together next season, the club announced Thursday. Randolph (2.11 meters, 27 years old) averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 34 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games last season, helping Madrid reach the Final Four. He also lifted the Spanish Copa del Rey trophy with Madrid last season, his first with his current team. Randolph was named to the 2015-16 All-EuroLeague Second Team after posting 14.5 points and 6 rebounds over 23 games for Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar that season, helping it reach the Final Four.

Will the Spurs trade LaMarcus Aldridge? He’s their second best player after Kawhi Leonard, but makes a lot of money and is on the wrong side of 30. Here’s the San Antonio Express News with the report:

NBA Rumor: Spurs may trade LaMarcus Aldridge

Multiple league sources have informed the Express-News the Spurs are exploring the trade market, hoping to find a deal to unload Aldridge, who will turn 32 next month.

“They feel it’s time to move on,” a source told the Express-News.

Considered the best free agent signing of 2015, Aldridge signed a four-year, $84 million deal with the Spurs. He’s scheduled to make roughly $21 million next season.

Wizards land Tim Frazier in trade

Here’s CSN MidAtlantic reporting on the Wizards, who yesterday traded for additional backcourt depth in the form of guard Tim Frazier:

The type of move I’ve talked about the Wizards making in the offseason — and having to do so out of necessity — came to fruition less than 24 hours before the NBA Draft when they traded their 52nd pick and sent their $2.3 million trade exception to the New Orleans Pelicans for Tim Frazier.

Frazier, a 6-1 backup point guard who bounced around the NBA intially after he went undrafted in 2014, has solidified himself as a rotation player. He averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists in 65 games last season. He also proved to be a more than competent backup for Jrue Holiday when he was out for personal reasons…

He’s proven and they needed that type of point guard immediately. Trey Burke wasn’t the answer as he couldn’t run the offense, that’s not a problem for Frazier. Brandon Jennings played with better pace but had a tendency to be erratic and was a turnstile on defense. His contract also is salary-cap friendly for a team that doesn’t have the room.

Pelicans trade Tim Frazier to Wizards

Pelicans trade Tim Frazier to Wizards

The New Orleans Pelicans have announced that the team has acquired the 52nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Washington Wizards in exchange for point guard Tim Frazier.

Frazier, 6-1, 170, was originally signed by New Orleans on March 16, 2016. In 81 career games with the Pelicans, Frazier averaged 8.3 points, 5.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 24.6 minutes per contest. Undrafted out of Penn State in 2014, Frazier has appeared in 127 career regular season games with Philadelphia, Portland and New Orleans, holding averages of 6.2 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.

New Orleans now has the 40th and 52nd overall picks in tomorrow night’s NBA Draft.

Nick Young enters NBA free agency

Nick Young enters NBA free agency

Lakers forward/guard Nick Young has elected not to exercise his option to extend his contract for the 2017-18 season, it was announced today. Young, therefore, has become an unrestricted free agent.

Acquired as a free agent in 2013, Young appeared in 220 career games (71 starts) for the Lakers, averaging 13.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 24.5 minutes.

Hawks trade Dwight Howard to Hornets

Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has acquired center Dwight Howard and the 31st overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee and the 41st overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

“We are excited to add a player of Dwight’s stature to our roster,” said Cho. “He has been a very talented player, an elite rebounder and rim protector as well as a physical presence since the moment he entered the league. Howard’s best seasons came alongside Coach Steve Clifford and we believe their familiarity will make an immediate impact for the Hornets this upcoming season.”

“I’m excited about working with Dwight again,” added Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford. “He brings a defensive mindset, shot blocking ability and a level of physicality that will be a huge asset for us. We look forward to him continuing his career here in Charlotte.”

Howard, the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, holds career averages of 17.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 954 games played. In his 13 seasons, Howard has earned three NBA Defensive Player of the Year selections, eight All-Star appearances, eight appearances on All-NBA rosters (including five First Team All-NBA selections) and five selections to NBA All-Defensive teams.

The newly-acquired Hornets center will enter 2017-18 ranked fourth in NBA history in field goal percentage shooting 58.5% from the field, 22nd in total rebounds with 12,089 and 20th in blocks with 1,916 for his career. In each of his 13 seasons, Howard has averaged a double-double in points and rebounds, becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to do so in his first 13 seasons, along with Wilt Chamberlain, Tim Duncan, Moses Malone, Shaquille O’Neal and Bill Russell.

Among current active players, Howard ranks first in total rebounds (12,089), offensive rebounds (3,392) and blocked shots (1,916), eighth in free throws made (4,671) and 15th in total points scored (16,652).

Including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with Orlando, Howard has appeared in 95 postseason games in his career holding averages of 18.4 points (on 58.6% field goal shooting), 13.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

“It is extremely important for our organization that we maintain our flexibility and this trade helps us achieve that critical goal,” said Hawks General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations Travis Schlenk. “We appreciate the contributions that Dwight made on the court and in the greater Atlanta community this past season.”

In his 10th season in the NBA, Belinelli averaged 10.5 points on .429 shooting from the field while hitting .360 from three-point range and .893 from the free throw line, the ninth-best percentage in the league this season. He also averaged 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 24.0 minutes per game in 74 games played this season. His 10.5 point per game average marked the fifth time in his career that he topped double figures in scoring average.

The 6-foot-5 Italian shooting guard has career averages of 9.6 points on .425 shooting, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 644 games (216 starts). He has shot .377 from three-point range over that period. In 2014, he contributed to the San Antonio Spurs winning the NBA Championship, becoming the first Italian player to achieve that feat. He has also spent time with Golden State, Toronto, New Orleans, Chicago and Sacramento.

Plumlee, 28, has played in 273 games (133 starts) in his five-year career with Indiana, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Charlotte and posted averages of 5.1 points on .530 shooting and 4.7 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game. He appeared in 45 contests during the 2016-17 season, playing 32 games with the Bucks before joining the Hornets via trade and appearing in 13 games with Charlotte.

Frank Ntilikina arrives in USA for draft

Here’s the NY Post reporting on an intriguing international prospect who is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday night:

French point guard Frank Ntilikina, after arriving at Liberty International Airport in Newark on Tuesday for Thursday’s NBA draft, denied a report his preference is to be drafted by the Mavericks over the Knicks.

Ntilikina, 18, reiterated the Knicks are a strong option for him because he fits well into triangle principles. The Mavericks have hired his Strasbourg coach, Vince Collett, for Dallas’ summer-league team. If the Knicks pass on Ntilikina at No. 8, the Mavericks, whose owner, Mark Cuban, flew to Venice recently to meet Ntilikina, are expected to nab him at No. 9.

“I have no preference like that,’’ Ntilikina told The Post. “All I need is to be in a really good project for me. I know it will all then depend on me. The NBA draft is just a step to the real goal — to make a big career in the NBA. I just want to be in a good project and atmosphere.’’

Timberwolves waive Nikola Pekovic

Timberwolves waive Nikola Pekovic

The Minnesota Timberwolves have waived center Nikola Pekovic, who has been battling lingering injuries. His NBA career may be over.

Pekovic appeared in 271 games for the Wolves, averaging 12.6 points, on 51.8 percent shooting, and 6.7 rebounds. He was drafted by Minnesota in the second round (31st overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Clippers hire Jerry West

Clippers hire Jerry West

The L.A. Clippers yesterday (Monday, June 19) announced the hiring of Jerry West, who will serve as a consultant for the team. West brings many accolades to the Clippers, including being named a two-time NBA Executive of the Year (1995, 2004), and is an eight-time NBA Champion (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2015, 2017).

“For them to want me to come here and maybe think I can help, I am really flattered,” West said. “I am sold on the ownership here. I think they want to establish their own identity in this town, and that is what to me is most important. Establish their own identity and ability to win at the very highest level.”

“When I took the job as president of this organization, one of the things I said we’re going to do is be world class in everything,” President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers said. “Our organization has to be world class. We want our team to be the best in service as well. Today is a great step for us.”

“This just another great example of the commitment that Steve Ballmer has allowed the organization, Doc Rivers and me to add someone like Jerry West,” Clippers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said. “What Jerry has done is unmatched in NBA history, and he will bring great value. It is just another example of Steve’s investment in our entire infrastructure.”

West, 79, is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a 14-time NBA All-Star and a Gold Medal Olympian. He is one of three players in NBA history to play at least 14 seasons in the league and be selected as a member of the All-Star team every year. Additionally, he ranks 24th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (25,192 points) and guided the Lakers to nine trips to the NBA Finals and one NBA Championship (1972) as a player. Overall, he averaged 27.0 points, 6.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds during his 14-year NBA career.

Following his playing career, West spent a successful three-year period as the head coach of the Lakers (1976-79, .589 winning percentage) and a brief three-year tenure as a consultant (1979-82, two NBA titles) with the team before transitioning full-time into the front office, where he spent a total of 18 years with the Lakers as General Manager/Executive VP of Basketball Operations. During his tenure at the helm of Basketball Operations in Los Angeles, the Lakers captured four NBA Championships (1985, 1987, 1988, 2000) and appeared in the playoffs in 17 of 18 seasons. West then transitioned to Memphis from 2002-2007, when he led the Grizzlies, who had previously never made the playoffs, to three consecutive post-season appearances (2004, 2005, 2006) as the team’s President of Basketball Operations. Most recently, West served as an Executive Board member for the Golden State Warriors, where he assisted the team’s ownership group and represented the organization in a wide variety of team-related functions in his role with the club. During his time with the Warriors, West saw the team win two NBA Championships (2015, 2017) and three Western Conference Championships (2015, 2016, 2017).

D-League officially renamed to G League

Beginning today the NBA Development League (NBA D-League), the NBA’s minor league, will officially become the NBA G League.

Beginning with the 2017-18 season, the NBA G League will feature 26 teams, an expansion of four teams since last season, 22 of which are owned and operated by NBA franchises.

For the first time this coming fall, NBA teams can sign up to two “two-way” players to NBA contracts. These contracts allow “two-way” players to be with their NBA parent team for up to 45 days, spending most of the season in the NBA G League.

The NBA G League has more than tripled in size since it debuted with eight teams during the 2001-02 season. Last season, nearly 1.5 million fans attended games, marking the eighth straight year the league has surpassed 1 million fans.

For the 2017-18 season, the NBA G League will unveil new on-court uniforms and collaborate with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) on programs to enhance player sports performance and recovery. Gatorade will begin to incubate its latest product and equipment innovations into NBA G League locker rooms, and teams will have the opportunity to collaborate with Gatorade to help players maximize their athletic potential and on-court performance.

“This is a pivotal moment for the NBA G League,” said NBA G League President Malcolm Turner. “The league is experiencing unprecedented success both on and off the court, and our partnership with Gatorade is helping to drive momentum and create exciting opportunities for innovation, sports performance and player development.”

Forty-four percent of players on 2016-17 end-of-season NBA rosters had NBA G League experience, while 65 percent of players selected in NBA Draft 2016 spent time in the NBA G League last season, including more than half of the first-round picks.

Cavaliers and GM David Griffin to part ways

Here’s a statement from the Cavs:

The Cleveland Cavaliers and its General Manager, David Griffin, have mutually decided not to extend David’s current contract, which ends June 30, 2017.

On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA Championship.

We have no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group, but we are confident our current front office will continue to aggressively explore and pursue opportunities to improve our team in the weeks ahead.

Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo announced today that the team has acquired the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Boston Celtics.

In exchange, the team sends the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and a future first-round pick to Boston.

The future first-round pick that Boston will receive will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, provided that such pick is No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, or No. 5 in the 2018 NBA Draft. If the Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick is No. 1 or is No. 6 or later, the Sixers will instead convey to the Celtics the rights to the more favorable of the Sixers’ own 2019 first-round pick or the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first-round pick, provided that the more favorable pick is not the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. If the more favorable of the Sixers’ and Kings’ 2019 first-round picks is the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Sixers will instead convey the rights to the less favorable of those two picks.

“We’re thrilled to be able to select what we expect be an impact player with the third pick in this year’s very talented draft class, while also adding a highly valuable future asset as we continue to build towards Banner 18,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

With the acquisition of these two first round picks, the Celtics now potentially own the rights to seven first round selections over the next three years, including picks from Brooklyn (2018), Memphis (2019, protected 1-8), and the LA Clippers (2019, protected 1-14).

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this trade, which puts us in the enviable position of selecting first overall in consecutive draft years,” Colangelo said. “History suggests that No. 1 has the greatest odds of producing franchise-level talent and we are confident that this year’s draft class has that very potential. Thursday night will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”

The Sixers will choose first overall for the fourth time in team history. Philadelphia chose Ben Simmons with first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Allen Iverson in 1996 and Doug Collins in 1973.

“I am incredibly excited that we’ve acquired the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft,” Josh Harris, Sixers Managing General Partner, said. “This pick provides us a tremendous opportunity to add another foundational player to our promising core. Bryan and his team have done a great job in positioning our organization for what we believe will be long-term success.”

Multliple reports say that the Celtics may trade the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft to the Sixers, who have the No.3 pick. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting:

Saturday was Markelle Fultz Night for the 76ers.

Hours before Fultz’s arrival at the team’s practice site in Camden, Joel Embiid tweeted out a selfie of himself and Dario Saric standing in front of a locker with a Markelle Fultz name plate.

There was an overflow of reporters and photographers taking pictures as Fultz walked into the building at 7:08 p.m. wearing a black Sixers cap.

And the team’s employees and guests watched intently as Fultz’s workout - that weeks ago seemed nothing more than wishful thinking - took place.

The Washington point guard working out for the Sixers was an indication that the team is getting closer to acquiring the only perfect fit in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

Pablo Prigioni now a head coach in Spain

Here’s Euroleaguebasketball.net with an update on former NBA guard Pablo Prigioni:

Pablo Prigioni now a head coach in Spain

Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz has turned to one of the great players in club history to guide the team as head coach with the hiring of Pablo Prigioni on Friday. The sides agreed to a two-year contract. Prigioni, 40, played briefly for Baskonia last season before announcing his retirement in January. In all he played parts of eight seasons for Baskonia and retired ranked fifth in assists in the EuroLeague’s all-time list (804) and is third in steals (322). This will be his first time coaching.

Prigioni started his playing career with Obras Sanitarias in his native Argentina and played for two Spanish clubs, Fuenlabrada and Lucentum Alicante, before joining Baskonia in 2003.

Reggie Bullock and Monta Ellis suspended by NBA

The NBA announced today that Monta Ellis of the Indiana Pacers and Reggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons have each been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Their suspensions will begin with the next NBA regular season game that they are eligible and physically able to play.

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