Injuries limit Pierce, Bass against Nets

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Injuries limit Pierce, Bass against Nets

BROOKLYN, NY Even before Thursday's 115-85 win over the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers was planning to sit some of his core players in the C's final two preseason games.
He may not have a choice after injuries limited the playing time of Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass.
Pierce left in the second quarter with a left ankle injury after he nailed a 3-pointer and landed on the foot of Brooklyn's Gerald Wallace.
After going to the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte shortly before the half ended, Pierce returned in the third and went on to score seven of his 18 points which tied teammate Courtney Lee for game-high scoring honors.
Although Pierce still had a noticeable limp as he left the C's locker room following the win, Rivers isn't sure how serious his injury is.
"He tweaked his ankle, or he thought we were going to practice tomorrow," quipped Rivers. "It's one of the two, I'm not sure yet. But I think he tweaked his ankle. But I am suspicious."
As for Bass, Rivers said, "I don't know if it's bad. We just couldn't take any chances."
Bass missed the final six games prior to last season's all-star game due to swelling in his right knee -- the same knee he aggravated on Thursday. During those six games without Bass, the Celtics' lone victory came against the Chicago Bulls who were without Derrick Rose.
His injury occurred in the second quarter. But unlike Pierce, the C's elected to keep him on the bench for the remainder of the game -- a place that he and Pierce may have been in these final two games even if they didn't get hurt.
"This is the hardest game they'll play. I can tell you that," Rivers said. "And maybe the last game (for them in the preseason). They may play one good half. The New York game we gotta play somebody. But a lot of them are not playing in that game. They already know that. They knew that before this game. And then we get seven days or whatever, to work and get prepared for the start of the season."

Bulls trade Butler to Timberwolves in blockbuster draft-night trade

Bulls trade Butler to Timberwolves in blockbuster draft-night trade

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ever since Tom Thibodeau took over in Minnesota last summer, a reunion with Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler seemed destined to happen.

For the coach that desperately wanted a defensive-minded veteran to set the tone for a talented young roster, and for the player who only truly realized what he had in that hard-driving leader after he was gone.

"It's been something that over a prolonged period of time there have been different moments where he's had to consider it and think about it," Butler's agent, Bernie Lee, told The Associated Press. "In some ways it feels like it was spoken into reality."

In the blockbuster move of draft night, the Bulls traded Butler and the 16th overall pick Thursday night to the Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick as the Wolves try to finally put an end to a 13-year playoff drought.

The trade brings together Butler and Wolves coach and president Thibodeau, who coached the Bulls for five seasons before being fired in 2015. Thibodeau helped Butler become an All-NBA performer and earn a $95 million contract and Butler helped Thibodeau instill the brass-knuckle mentality into those Bulls teams.

"The longer you are with somebody, the more deposits you have with each other, the trust is there," Thibodeau said. "You're not afraid to tell them the truth. So I think I know him well. I know the things that are important to him. I know he wants to win. And he wants to win big."

Now they're together again, trying to lead a franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2004.

"It's one of those moments where the excitement of tonight has to carry forward to the work that has to come," Lee said. "And if it does, it will really be a beautiful thing to see."

The Wolves paid a big price: Besides surrendering the lottery pick, they gave up a rising star in LaVine, who is coming off of a torn ACL and Dunn, last year's No. 5 overall pick. They were among the youngest teams in the league last season, cast as a team that could be a force once all of their pups grew up.

After a disappointing first season overseeing the operation, Thibodeau grabbed a fully grown pit bull to toughen the team up.

Butler played for Thibodeau for four seasons in Chicago, developing from an unheralded, late-first round draft pick into a perennial All-Star. The two strong-willed workaholics clashed on occasion during their time together and Butler said during the Olympics in Rio last summer that it was "love-hate" relationship.

But he also acknowledged that his appreciation for Thibodeau's hard-driving style increased as time went on, especially when the Bulls struggled in their first season under the more player-friendly Fred Hoiberg.

"They've come by their relationship honestly," Lee said. "They worked through a period to where they really came to learn what the other is about. ... They have a basis to work from, but things have changed and they've changed and adapted. They will take the starting point that they have, but they have to build on it."

The Wolves drafted Arizona sharpshooter Lauri Markkanen for the Bulls at No. 7 and the Bulls took Creighton forward Justin Patton at No. 16 for the Wolves. Patton is a 6-foot-11 forward who was the Big East freshman of the year after averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds last season.

When Thibodeau was hired as team president and coach last summer, he quickly set his sights on bringing Butler to Minnesota. The two sides engaged on serious discussions on draft night last year, but couldn't close it.

LaVine was having a breakout third season in the league when he tore the ACL in his left knee in February. His rehabilitation has gone well, but the injury certainly complicated the Wolves' re-engaging Chicago on Butler. Adding to the difficulty was Dunn's underwhelming first year in Minnesota, which diminished his trade value.

With all that in play, the Wolves were forced to also offer up the No. 7 pick this season to push the deal over the top. But they did receive Chicago's first-round pick in return. The move, and the package they assembled to make it, signal an organization that is desperate to start winning.

Butler averaged career highs in points (23.9), rebounds (6.2) and assists (5.5) in his sixth season. He is also one of the league's top defenders, an absolute necessity for a young team that finished 26th in the league in defensive efficiency last season. He will turn 28 in September, right in the middle of his prime for a team in need of veteran leadership.

"The most important thing to me are the things he does every day, the way he practices, the things that he does in meetings, the way he prepares before a game, the things that he does for recovery," Thibodeau said. "He'll show our players a lot of the things that he's learned along the way."

The move also represents the first significant steps toward an overhaul for the Bulls. Despite a spirited effort, the Bulls were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wade opted in for the final year of his contract, but that isn't stopping Chicago from pivoting to a new, younger nucleus that includes LaVine, Dunn, Markkanen and Denzel Valentine.

Now that Butler is gone, the 35-year-old Wade could become a buyout candidate as the Bulls go into rebuilding mode.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics draft night recap

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics draft night recap

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0:41 - Danny Ainge on why he saw Jayson Tatum as the best player in the draft, Kristaps Porzingis rumors, and why Josh Jackson canceled his Celtics draft workout.

4:49 - Rich Gotham joins to discuss taking Jayson Tatum with the 3rd overall pick, being patient with the development of players and if there were any potential trades out there.

9:53 - Kyle Draper, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Brian Scalabrine break down the selection of Jayson Tatum and talk about the rumor that the Celtics were in discussions with the Pacers for Paul George. 

13:15 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith debate if it was worth trading down to the 3rd pick to draft Tatum and how Tatum will always be compared to Markelle Fultz for his whole career.