• Jimmy Butler has his sights set East with the goal of teaming up with close friend Kyrie Irving, according to a report from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

    The report notes that Butler is “all but fed up with the nonchalant attitude of his younger teammates, specifically Karl-Anthony Towns” and that he has no intentions to sign an extension.

    There’s a lot to unpack here, first and foremost bearing in mind the source and who this benefits. Cowley and Butler are apparently close, whether on an agent-reporter or personal relationship is unclear. This report doesn’t benefit the Wolves at all, but puts a little more power in Butler’s court. That, in and of itself, is enough to pause at this report.

    Then considering his denial to sign an extension, a move that was unexpected going into the offseason. Butler could be leaving as much as $80 million on the table if he signs an extension now. He was always much more likely to hit the free agent market and cash-in next summer, so the fact that he’s not interested in the reported four-year extension worth $110 million is no real shock, young players notwithstanding.

    His teammates do seem to be the crux of the underlying issues here, though. It’s no secret that he’s butted heads with the Wolves’ prominent youth on numerous occasions. The report seems to be using old instances as new revelations in this case, though, and there are no indications that things have escalated to a boiling point. The vocabulary used by Cowley (“all but fed up”) is quite vague and seems like an exaggeration.

    It is worth noting that Butler has a long history of clashing with his teammates due to his personality, dating back to Chicago. Cowley even brings up that he “gets lost in how everybody isn’t built the way (he’s) built.”

    Unfortunately things could get dicey for Minnesota if things continue to spiral out of their control. It’s difficult to envision Thibs trading Butler and it’s plausible that he could walk for nothing. Perhaps they work something out and Butler re-signs next summer, but he continues to clash with Towns and Wiggins. Would Thibs trade Towns in that case? It’s no secret that Butler craves a championship and wants to dictate the personnel around him to achieve that goal. Butler teaming up with Irving in Boston or Minnesota is near impossible, though.

    At this point it’s a situation worth monitoring, but not overreacting to as nothing has reached a breaking point in the relationship as of yet. The report feels like bits of old material packaged together to make it seem new. Butler is a tremendous player but has carried a lot of baggage along the way in his career. When adding in a serious knee injury to his medicals and heavy minutes in his career, he’s a risky long-term bet.

    The Wolves are in a precarious position over the next 12 months and their future is still quite unclear.

    UPDATE: Joe Cowley later joined KFAN radio station and doubled-down on his statement and went on to slander specific members of the Wolves’ media and concluded that the Wolves should trade Towns.

    It’s hard not to see some behind the scenes pot stirring going on here, the question just becomes where it’s originating. Cowley is the mouthpiece, but who is feeding this to him? We may never know, and Cowley doesn’t have the most spotless reputation.

    Butler’s agent Bernard Lee stated that “If (Butler) had an opinion to share about anyone or anything in particular they would know and they wouldn’t have to read about it.”

    We’ll keep you updated if more revelations come forth.

Fantasy News

  • Kyle Anderson - F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Kyle Anderson underwent successful thoracic outlet decompression surgery on Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery before the Grizzlies' 2019 training camp.

    Anderson was hampered by injuries throughout the 2018-2019 campaign. Hopefully, this operation will allow Anderson to bounce back from a disappointing season.

    Source: Grizzlies PR on Twitter

  • Patrick McCaw - G - Toronto Raptors

    Patrick McCaw (right thumb sprain) is officially listed as questionable for Friday's Game 3.

    McCaw is expected to be available so this could just be a formality, but we'll wait for final word tomorrow either way. He's not a lock to be in the rotation, but he'd likely take Jodie Meeks' minutes as a guy who can help defend Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier and D.J. Augustin.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Chris Boucher - F - Toronto Raptors

    Chris Boucher (back spasms) will not play in Friday's Game 3.

    Boucher is at the very end of the Raptors' bench and is not expected to see any minutes against a heavy Orlando frontline. Eric Moreland will remain the team's third center.

    Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter

  • Deandre Ayton - C - Phoenix Suns

    When asked what he'll be focusing on this offseason, Deandre Ayton mentiong ball-handling and 3-point shooting.

    Ayton didn't mention his defense, which might be something that the Suns should encourage. Regardless, Ayton looks like he's trying to grow into a true modern big man who can push the ball in transition and stretch the floor a bit. He's a decent mid-range shooter and hits his free throws at a good clip so working on an outside shot shouldn't be a monumental stretch or anything. He was already a third-round player in his rookie season, and if he can add some assists and threes to his game without sacrificing efficiency then we could see another jump in year two.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Dwight Howard - C - Washington Wizards

    Dwight Howard is likely to pick up his $5.6 million player option for next season.

    Howard was limited to nine games because of back/glute problems, so it's not surprising that he'd quickly opt in as it'd be surprising if another team offered him that much on the open market. His presence is going to be a headache for fantasy players that are already looking at Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis for next year.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Gary Harris - G - Denver Nuggets

    Gary Harris says that he's finally feeling like himself again after struggling with nagging injuries through so much of the regular season.

    Harris missed 25 games for the second time in the last three seasons (the third season featured 15 absences) and had a hard time regaining his form as Denver's bench pieces provided quality play in the interim, meaning he didn't get to jump back into a big role. So far, Playoff Harris looks like the guy that fantasy owners invested middle-round picks in, as he's scored 43 points on 17-of-28 shooting in his first two postseason contests. The injury concerns are obviously there but his frustrating regular season may mean that Harris is available at a discount in next season's drafts.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Ricky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz

    Ricky Rubio put up 17 points with four rebounds, nine assists and four steals in a loss to the Rockets in Game 2 on Wednesday.

    He shot 7-of-17 from the field and had the unfortunate matchup against James Harden for much of this game. Harden hit him with a crossover that sent Rubio to the floor, but he missed the shot. The Jazz have been getting good performances from Rubio and Derrick Favors, but the inconsistent play from the remainder of their roster has left them with a two-game series deficit. The Jazz are heading back to Utah for Game 3 as they will try to steal their first game of the series.

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell had another poor shooting night as he went 5-of-18 from the field on his way to 11 points in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets on Wednesday.

    Mitchell shot just 1-of-8 from 3-point territory and 0-of-2 from the stripe. He also had five fouls and four turnovers while playing a team-high 37 minutes. He did add six assists and two steals, but this was a disappointing performance from the second-year rising star. Eric Gordon has been outshining him, but Mitchell has a chance to rectify things as the Jazz head home for Game 3.

  • Derrick Favors - F/C - Utah Jazz

    Derrick Favors played well in his 22 minutes of action in a Game 2 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday, with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

    Although Favors is putting up good numbers in such limited minutes, you should not expect to see him go above 25 minutes at all in this series. He shot 7-of-11 from the field and missed both of his attempts from deep. Also, the Rockets play a lot of small ball as PJ Tucker is their power forward, so Favors is often at a defensive disadvantage when on the court.

  • Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert did not have a great showing in Wednesday's Game 2 loss to the Rockets as he managed just 11 points and 12 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting.

    He made five of his seven attempts from the stripe and added one assist and two steals to the stat sheet. He did not record a block in this one which is rare to see from Gobert as he averaged 2.3 blocks per game on the season. Clint Capela has been defending Gobert well, which is making things a lot tougher on the Jazz to score and rebound the ball. Gobert will look to bounce back as the Jazz head home for Game 3.