Despite loss, Butler impressive in first NBA start for injured Deng

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Despite loss, Butler impressive in first NBA start for injured Deng

Luol Deng missed his first game of the regular season Saturday due to a strained right hamstring suffered in the third quarter of Fridays overtime win in Boston, leading to second-year swingman Jimmy Butler making his first NBA regular-season start Deng's status is day-to-day, according to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau in Saturdays 85-82 overtime loss to Memphis at the United Center.
Butler played a Deng-like 47 minutes, 43 seconds in the contest and scored a career-high 18 points, while making Grizzlies leading scorer Rudy Gay work extremely hard for his 16 points, which he got on 6-for-19 shooting on the evening.
More: Grizzlies halt Bulls' overtime streak
Thibodeau, obviously not in a good mood after the setback in his teams third overtime game in as many contests, was complimentary of Butlers performance.
I thought he started slowly and got going, the coach said. Overall, I thought he played very well.
While the team-focused Butler was disappointed in the defeat, he took some solace in knowing that he played in a fashion worthy of his mentor, a first-time NBA All-Star last season and the leagues reigning and current minutes-per-game leader.
Before the game, he was like, Go out there and play, dont worry about anything. This is Lu talking to me. He was just like, Play the game. Play hard. Do what youve been doing to get you to this point. He was just coaching me up and came in at halftime, told me what I can work on, what I can do better and what to keep doing, so its great to have guys like that in your corner, he said. Yeah, I am tired. But I feel like Id be more tired if we had won the game, because now I feel like everybody can do something to get better. Even when you win, you can do something to get better, but if you lose, it hurts that much more.
Teammate Joakim Noah is a big inspiration for me. I look over there, I see him clapping and cheering. He wants to win the game. He has the utmost confidence in me, so it definitely helps to have him over there.
Related: Don't blow Noah benching out of proportion
Regarding his defense on Gay, a talented offensive player with excellent athleticism and a size advantage on Butler, the Marquette product made a crucial adjustment after the Grizzlies small forward started to get it going in the second quarter.
Just play hard, try to contest everything. I feel like he started to whip my expletive at one point and just had to man up. We had to stop him. If we want a chance to win this game, weve got to get some stops. I said that to myself, Jo said that to me, Booz said that to me. It was a different matchup for me, Butler explained. Just tried to crowd him, more than what I was trying to crowd. Make everything difficult for him. Hes a great player. Really, really talented. Big-time players make big-time shots. Thats what he was out there doing.
After Deng exited Fridays contest, Butler stepped up in the games extra session and he did the same thing Saturday, deviating from his usual role as simply a defensive specialist and hustle guy, but sometimes reluctant offensive player. Instead, he continued to show a knack for offensive rebounding and displayed a new-found willingness to make plays.
I feel like thats what Lu does for this team, so when hes out, Ive got to try to fill his shoes. Really big shoes to fill, dont get me wrong. But all I can do is try the best that I can, he said. Just knowing when they turn their head, cut, get inside position, knowing when your teammates are going to shoot the ball. All of that factors into offensive rebounding, but I feel like a lot of its hustle.
I feel like thats my job, to hustle and play hard. Tired, fresh legs, Ill do whatever it takes to help this team win.
By sheer coincidence, Butlers family was in Chicago from Texas to see his first NBA start and saw that hes already well-received in the Windy City, as he got a nice ovation when introduced in the Bulls starting lineup.
It was great. It brought me back to my college days to tell you the truth. I love this city, he said. It was crazy because my family was here, so they got to witness it.
It was nerve-wracking at first. I got frustrated, I was rushing things, Butler continued. Everybody was just like, Calm down. Its like coming off the bench. Just play hard.
I feel good. I see how Lu feels, obviously.

Jimmy Butler named to NBA All-Defense 2nd team

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Jimmy Butler named to NBA All-Defense 2nd team

Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler has been named to the NBA All-Defense 2nd team. This marks the third consecutive year that Butler has been given 2nd team honors, which is decided based off of votes from sports writers and broadcasters.

Butler led the Bulls this season with 1.6 steals per contest to go along with averages of 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

The 26-year-old Butler averaged five more minutes per game than any of his Bulls teammates. He was the only Chicago player to receive any votes. 

Here is a complete list of the NBA All-Defense team selections:

2015-16 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM

Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)
Draymond Green (Golden State)
DeAndre Jordan (L.A. Clippers)
Avery Bradley (Boston)
Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers)

2015-16 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM

Paul Millsap (Atlanta)
Paul George (Indiana)
Hassan Whiteside (Miami)
Tony Allen (Memphis)
Jimmy Butler (Chicago)

Sports Business Insider: Mark Cuban for Vice President?

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Sports Business Insider: Mark Cuban for Vice President?

Mark Cuban for Vice President?

It may not be as far-fetched as you think.

The Dallas Mavericks owner admitted it's too late to run for president, but he did offer his canidacy for vice president for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Check out the latest Sports Business Insider video above

NBA Draft: Will Bulls try a major trade?

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NBA Draft: Will Bulls try a major trade?

Now that Tuesday’s uneventful draft lottery is in the books (all teams holding their pre-lottery positions for the first time), the Bulls are left with the 14th pick in Round 1 of what most experts consider to be a below average talent pool.

Sure, there could be some useful players available in that range like point guards Demetrius Jackson of Notre Dame and Wade Baldwin of Vanderbilt, plus project big men like Domantas Sabonis (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas), Skal Labissiere, Deyonta Davis and Diamond Stone. But if the Bulls really want to change over the roster, they’ll need to do something bold.

Anyone who’s watched the Cavaliers storm through this year’s playoffs will safely conclude LeBron James and Co. figure to own the Eastern Conference for the next 3-5 years since Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are all signed to long term deals, and James isn’t going anywhere. And, with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah ready to become free agents on July 1st, followed by Derrick Rose in the summer of 2017, the Bulls’ core group that put them on the fringe of championship contention is gone.

So why not get started on the rebuild in a major way with a significant trade on draft night?

The front offices with the 76ers and Lakers have already expressed their desire to add All-Star caliber veterans to the roster instead of more young players. And, those teams also wound up with the top two picks in this year’s draft. So why not explore what the Sixers and Lakers are willing to give up for a two-time All-Star like Jimmy Butler?

Philadelphia has drafted three young bigs in recent years, and might be willing to include Chicago native Jahlil Okafor in a possible deal. Would the Sixers be willing to trade the top pick and Okafor for Butler, Niko Mirotic and the Bulls' 1st round pick this year? Maybe the Bulls could sweeten the deal by including Taj Gibson or that future Sacramento No. 1 pick.

Similarly, Mitch Kupchak has seen the pitfalls of trying to build a team around mercurial young talent. Would the Lakers deal the No.2 overall pick and controversial young guard D’Angelo Russell (last year’s No. 2 overall pick) for Butler? The Lakers need to add an established player like Butler to possibly attract one of the premier free agents this summer, who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in joining a rebuilding team with a flock of young players like Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr.

Jimmy is only 26 and has established himself as one of the best two-way wing players in the league. But can the Bulls hope to threaten the Cavs with a team built around Butler? Or, are they better off trying to acquire a player like Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-10 versatile playmaker who might have the chance to be a superstar?

There’s also the potential to make a deal with Boston and Phoenix for Picks 3 and 4. Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge already inquired about Butler at the trade deadline and has three 1st round picks to offer this year, plus serviceable rotation players like Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley. The Bulls are reportedly intrigued by Providence point guard Kris Dunn, who’s a lock to be picked in the Top 6 on June 23rd.  So, would the No. 3 overall pick, Bradley/Crowder and another No. 1 get the deal done?

Phoenix also might be looking to trade out of their position at No. 4. The Suns hit on shooting guard Devin Booker last summer to go with their point guard duo of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, so they might be willing to pass on the chance to draft Dunn or Oklahoma sharp-shooter Buddy Hield to acquire an established talent like Butler.

Bulls GM Gar Forman could even call his old buddy Tom Thibodeau to see what the T-Wolves (who hold the No. 5 overall pick) might offer for Butler.

John Paxson and Forman figure to be presented with all kinds of intriguing trade proposals in the days leading up to the draft. Now it’s up to them to decide whether hoping to get a bottom-four seed in next year’s playoffs makes it worthwhile to hang on to Butler and Rose, and possibly re-sign Noah, or is it better to blow it all up and start building a team that can contend when James finally slows down?

Let’s be realistic, given the fact about two-thirds of the league will have enough cap room to offer a max contract this summer, the Bulls will not be a destination for the top free agents. So, forget about Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, Nic Batum or any of the other top free agents coming on board this summer, any major change will have to come through the trade market.

I know it’s very small consolation, but after a painfully disappointing 2015-’16 season, the Bulls figure to be relevant over the next month as one of the most prominent teams in the NBA rumor mill.