Hoops News: Butler, Cavs, Lakers, Afflalo

Jimmy Butler has had an up-and-down, injury-riddled season for the Bulls.

Chris Mannix on Yahoo Sports’ Two-Man Game: “I’ve been hearing ramblings there’s legitimate interest in Chicago in potentially dealing Jimmy Butler this offseason.”

The starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith is questionable for the Cavaliers’ game Thursday vs. the Nets, per the Akron Beacon Journal. Both Irving and Smith are sick.

An unidentified prominent agent tells Sporting News that the D’Angelo RussellNick Young saga won’t scare off free agents from signing with the Lakers. “No,” the agent told the website. “The Lakers have money and they’re in LA. That’s what players are interested in most.”

Russell scored 16 points in the Lakers’ overtime win vs. the Heat on Wednesday. “His teammates will gravitate towards him if he does all the right things,” Lakers coach Byron Scott told reporters “and I think that was a start today. We’ve just got to move on and move past it and just keep working on our games as basketball players.” Russell was booed early on by the Staples Center crowd whenever he touched the ball.

NBA analyst Greg Anthony (via Bleacher Report): “NBA players will never forget Russell violated locker room code.”

Kings guard Rajon Rondo sounds optimistic about returning to the Kings, reports ABC 10-TV in Sacramento. “I don’t know why we sucked this year, but we did and it’ll make it sweeter for next year.”

From ESPN.com: “DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo each received technical fouls for sarcastically clapping at an official’s call in the waning moments of a 120-111 win over the Washington Wizards. For Cousins, it was his 16th technical foul of the season and will automatically garner him a one-game suspension.”

From Cowbell Kingdom: “And it was a strange technical foul to say the least. I guess clapping is frowned upon in the NBA. ‘If I say something I’ll get punished and if I don’t say something I’ll get punished,’ Cousins said.”

Mavericks power forward David Lee will be a free agent again in July, as detailed in a story by the New York Daily News. “I think I’ll have some good choices. And I look forward to playing three or four more years,” Lee told New York reporters.

From the Wall Street Journal: “The disagreement between Knicks swingman Arron Afflalo and interim head coach Kurt Rambis continued here on Wednesday as the Knicks, already eliminated from playoff contention, prepared to play the Mavericks. Rambis, who has moved Afflalo out of the starting lineup, reiterated that the Knicks feel the 30-year-old guard is ‘somebody who can make a major contribution for us coming off the bench.’ He also said that he informed Afflalo of his plan to tweak the lineup.”

More from WSJ: “But Afflalo maintained that he and Rambis never spoke about his role changing. ‘There’s no breakdown in communication — we never had the conversation,’ he said.”

Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll said reports he is out for the season are not accurate, per Raptors.com. “I understand there’s been a lot of speculation, a lot of assumptions with what’s going on with my knee,” he told reporters. “The matter of fact is, basically Masai [Ujiri], Dr. Paul Marks, Alex [McKechnie], my agent, Mark Bartelstein, and myself have been working closely trying to figure out what the best time is for me to come back. The Raptors have been a good job of allowing me that time. I see reports where it says I’m out. That’s all speculating.”

The Clippers will rest Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick for Thursday’s game vs. the Thunder, per the Los Angeles Times.

Celtics forward Jae Crowder could potentially return from a sprained ankle for Thursday’s game at the Trail Blazers, per MassLive. “I’m trying to get over that stage of trying to be overprotective over it but I feel pretty good,” he told the website.

Sixers big man Nerlens Noel hopes to reurn from a right knee contusion before the season ends, per CSN Philly.

Creighton junior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. will enter the draft but not hire an agent, per ESPN.

Hawaii junior forward Stefan Jankovich will declare for the NBA draft, per the school website.

USC junior guard Julian Jacobs intends to enter the NBA draft and is still deciding whether to hire an agent, per Yahoo Sports.

Grizzlies swingman Lance Stephenson’s $9.4 million team option will likely be declined for 2016-17, per a writer roundtable in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. There is a chance Stephenson could re-sign with with the Grizzlies, but he’ll likely need to accept a lower salary next season, the writers surmised.

Forward James Ennis has agreed to a 10-day contract with the Pelicans, per the New Orleans Advocate.

The Pelicans are without big man Anthony Davis (left knee), point guard Jrue Holiday (fractured orbital wall), small forward Alonzo Gee (ruptured quad), swingman Tyreke Evans (right knee), shooting guard Eric Gordon (right finger), forward Quincy Pondexter (left knee) and shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones (right wrist) for the rest of the season.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry (via ESPN): “I am gonna send out an all-points bulletin to anybody in the French Quarter or anywhere else. We need a voodoo doctor or something here. We’ve gotta find the bones under this place. We’ve got to do something, because this is becoming comical.”

Columbia is considering NJIT’s Jim Engles and Rice assistant Carlin Hartman for its head coaching vacancy, per ESPN.

From HoopDirt: College basketball coaching changes tracker.

From ESPN: College basketball player transfer list.

Former Auburn guard Antabia Waller has agreed to a contract with Mornar Bar of Montenegro, per Eurobasket News.

Former Northern Iowa center Eric Coleman has signed with French club Denain, per Eurobasket News.

Ex-Coastal Carolina forward Moses Sonko has agreed to a deal with BC Boncourt of Switzlerland, per Eurobasket News.

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